I get these kinds of questions a lot… what’s your go-to ___ (fill in the blank)… People always want to know what the “magic” food is that they need to eat every day or always have on hand. While I can’t tell you a magic food or the ONE food you should always eat, I can tell you some foods that I think you should keep around for quick and healthy meals or snacks!
First let’s look at some quick cooking staples- these are go-to foods that should always be in your kitchen for those quick throw-together meals that have to be done with little no no preparation. We all I’ve busy lives with work and kids and families and sports, there are always times when we need to eat but little time to cook! These staples should be stocked in your kitchen at all times.
Quick cooking brown rice or a similar grain (like faro) is a great foundation to any meal… just about anything can be served over rice! Not only is this a quick fix, but brown rice is full of fiber, magnesium and B vitamins, and this is true for almost all other whole grains as well.
Another quick cooking carb you can use as a foundation to any meal is a protein pasta. A trendy protein-filled food these days, there are tons of pastas that are marketed as protein pasta that are made with chickpeas, black beans, edamame, or, my favorite, lentils. These pastas cook in less than 10 minutes and has the flavor and texture of any other pasta. They come in all sorts of shapes and can be the start of any traditional pasta dish… with less than HALF the carbs, and none of the processed junk you are trying to avoid by not eating pasta.
Another pantry staple should be canned beans, particularly black beans or chickpeas. A great source of protein, fiber, folate and iron, these can replace meat in just about any dish. So when there’s no time to cook a chicken breast or brown ground turkey, these cans work perfectly! Or toss them into your salad for some extra fiber and texture.
Next, let’s look at some nutritionally dense power foods that should always be kept be on hand to keep a healthy immunes system, digestive system and just all around healthy bod! Healthy fats are essential for a healthy heart, skin, nerve and brain function. An easy way to get these in each day is to keep your favorite nut butter in your pantry. Some of my favorites are almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or nut butter blends. Look for nut butters that have no added sweeteners and preferably made with organic nuts or seeds.
Another power food to keep on hand is an organic protein powder. My recommendation is to find a plant based protein powder, as this eliminates the worry for tummy troubles if you are sensitive to whey. In any case, find great quality protein powder that is free of fillers, artificial ingredients and artificial sweeteners, as this will be crucial for those times when you don’t have time to eat right or cook a meal. Instead, throw some protein powder in a shaker bottle and use this to hold you over until you CAN eat a real meal. You can also use this as the start of your breakfast smoothie- a super fast option in the morning!
WhIle I could make this list a mile long, I think these foods I’ve listed here can give you a great starting point to make a create a nutrition-packed pantry, that will give you some great, QUICK options for some healthy meals in a hurry.