HEALTHY FOOD BITES TO GO: What’s In My Fridge?
As a board certified holistic health counselor and nutrition educator seeped in the lifestyle of eating for nutrient density, my eating prescription revolves around foods regularly stocked in my refrigerator; that is, whole food, mostly plants. I have a few other secrets hidden elsewhere in my kitchen.
Current research leads me to conclude that one’s ability to thrive is intrinsically linked to what gets tossed into one’s shopping cart, and makes its’ way onto the shelves and into the crisper of one’s refrigerator.
As a health coach I work privately with individuals hungry for change. Previously, as a Healthy Eating Specialist for Whole Foods Market, I navigated the grocery aisles with customers and team members to highlight fresh and packaged foods with the biggest nutritional bang for your buck.
Crowding out your eating routine which may include an assortment of processed foods, with more intact whole foods (a rainbow of produce options, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds) is a worthy health goal. You will be providing your body with sustainable nourishment and lasting energy throughout the day. Alternating between indulgence and deprivation is, on the other hand, a recipe for chronic hunger and uncontrolled cravings. Good news is that once established, good habits are as hard to break as bad ones.
Let’s go inside…
Depending on the season, some fruits and vegetables in my fridge will change. In photo: Baby bok choy, pre-washed, bagged curly kale, sugar snap peas, romaine lettuce, fresh garlic and ginger, steamed packaged lentils and varietal mushrooms (shitakes and bellas), berries, watermelon and Honeycrisp apples (on sale because they’re in season!) Packaged goods include: watermelon seeds, sprouted Manna bread, raw cashew butter, nutritional yeast, cage-free egg, soy chorizo and steamed lentils.
Where do you shop for food?
I shop at Trader Joe’s and Green Organic Market (on Central Avenue in Hartsdale), with occasional stops at Fairway, Whole Foods Market and Stop & Shop.
What is the single most important thing on your mind when shopping for food?
Nutrient density is top of mind as I shop for food. Because of the benefits that this style of eating delivers, it has become my baseline. And my ‘cheat days’ now consist of created upgraded versions of old comfort foods (macaroni and cheese, brownies and hot chocolate), so I am not cheating anymore. The stigma of bad foods goes away when you cook with nutrient-rich ingredients. You eat less and feel satisfied longer.
How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet or fly by the seat of your pants?
There is no spreadsheet for me. One or two days per week I will batch cook simple ingredients (brown rice, quinoa, Yukon Gold or orange sweet potato wedges, steamed or grilled vegetables) and simple recipes (stir-fry, soup, chili, hummus, oatmeal or healthy dessert bites). These can last for days and can be re-purposed in different ways with fresh fruits and vegetables in the way of bowls, salads, veggie sushi and more, saving lots of prep time and money. Favorite veggie burger recipes or homemade pizza allow for stocking up the freezer with healthy meal options. It’s gratifying to know that you can have a home-cooked meal waiting for you, and that it can be prepared in just minutes.
What is your most coveted food in the fridge right now?
I love cashews and use a dairy-free European Style Cultured Vegan Butter made from organic cashews and coconut oil called Miyoko’s, available at green grocers at Trader Joe’s. It melts, browns, bakes and spreads like butter. The rich, buttery texture and taste will make you say “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” I just started melting it over air-popped popcorn – the perfect study snack, and spread it over a perfectly-baked Japanese Satsuma-Imo potato… No words.
Do you believe in eating leftovers?
Yes. Cook once, eat thrice!
Stock your fridge and freezer to be meal ready and leftovers are transformed into healthy fast food. Make nutrient-rich soups, stews, and bakes (casseroles) that will roll into later meals all week long. Rice and bean burritos are not just for lunch or dinner anymore. And who doesn’t love ‘Brinner,’ which is a meal consisting of a fusion of breakfast (one’s first meal upon awakening) and a latter day meal.
What convenience product can you not live without?
It’s a toss-up between freshly made guacamole which, beyond dipping, makes the best topper for skillet- meals and veggie grain bowls, and Harissa ketchup. This is an earthy ketchup that packs heat. It’s available at the market bottled now, or you can whip it up in a minutes using one-half cup of ketchup and two tablespoons of Harissa paste now available at a grocery store near you.
What cooking utensil/piece of equipment or appliance can’t you live without?
I love a simple lemon juicer. Mine costs under five dollars. I am a fan of drinking lemonade all year long. Just add the juice of a small lemon to your water bottle with ice and a few drops of liquid stevia for a refreshing and easy way to hydrate and enjoy the powerful health benefits of lemon water. A simple grain cooker saves time in the kitchen. A Nutribullet (for smoothies and dressings), a food processor (for dips, desserts and batch cooking simple recipes) and a Vitamix (for just about everything) are my kitchen essentials.
Hmmm… anything else?
Have fun filling your fridge abundantly with a variety of healthy meal components that are overflowing with vitamins, minerals and health-supporting antioxidants. Keep it stocked with recipe basics so better-for-you meals in minutes are at the ready.
Building an arsenal of easy, delicious and nourishing meals/snacks that you can repeat, allows you to ease into a pace and space which doesn’t feel too extreme. You might just want to stick with a style of eating that brings so much pleasure both short and long-term. In fact, you can get a taste of what’s possible and feel so good doing it, that you will want to take your healthy eating pursuits and culinary adventures even further.
I share favorite whole food, plant-based recipes and favorite healthy food finds on Instagram (@wholefoodieronna) or for non-Instagram users, go to www.Pictaram.me and type in @wholefoodieronna.
Here is the direct link: http://www.pictame.com/user/wholefoodieronna/551026243