My fridge is always bursting with fresh seasonal ingredients but I love to have a nice stash of my 10 fridge staples to nourish hubby and yours truly during the week. Having my 10 fridge essentials at hand, allows me to plan my meals and be prepared for the week. Smoothies or eggs for breakfast, salads and veggies for lunch and nourishing soups for dinner….it’s a no fuss formula that creates quick, healthy meals that taste delicious.
When I go shopping, I always select brightly coloured, seasonal fruit and vegetables. Fruit and veggies start to lose nutrients immediately after they’re harvested, so the fresher the produce, the better! This is why I shop at farmers’ markets or at my local greengrocers as they let me know which are the best foods in season and where they come from.
Whole foods are alive with all of nature’s enzymes, proteins, vitamins and minerals. I eat as cleanly as I can because I believe my body deserves the best nourishment it can get. Nutrition isn’t as complicated as it is often made out to be. There’s a sense of ‘food anxiety’ among many people who are trying their best to do the right thing. When it comes down to it, we’re all different and it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. We should all take the time to think about what foods make us feel good nutritionally and what foods don’t. My advice is to eat whole foods and customise your diet based on your unique needs. Check out my top 10 foods below.
1 – FRESH VEGETABLES
My fridge is filled with antioxidant rich bundles of broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, leeks and Tuscan kale. Perfect for making into nourishing soups or warm salads, which I make on a daily basis as a quick healthy dinner. Broccoli for instance is a wonderful super food, loaded with cancer-protective glucosinolates (a type of phytonutrient) and antioxidants, including vitamin C, E and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Check out my Superfood Green Tabouli or a delicious broccoli hash from my new cookbook. Studies show that enjoying a diet that focuses on a daily intake of fresh vegetables have many health benefits, such as weight loss, diabetes control, lowered insulin secretion, improved sports performance and reduced risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
2 – NUTS + SEEDS
Nuts and seeds are high in fibre, minerals, healthy fats and protein! Perfect for total body nourishment. Just one handful will satisfy your hunger and keep blood sugars stable for hours. Pumpkin seeds for instance are also high in the amino acid tryptophan that helps to make serotonin. Almonds are anti-inflammatory for the body and are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help fight off free radicals for a healthy immune system. They are also a great source of potassium – a mineral necessary for nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles including the heart. I love making my own nut + seeds milks and butters for smoothies and generously scatter them into salads or over yoghurt bowls with fresh berries.
3 – FRESH FRUIT
Fruits are extremely high in antioxidants and fibre that help to fight free radicals in the body, reducing the risk of disease. Choose colourful seasonal fruits, such as berries, kiwi fruit, citrus, apples, pears, pomegranates, pineapple and papaya . Use fresh fruit to sweeten your recipes such as desserts, cakes, cookies, smoothies and juices. It’s amazing how something as pure as a grated apple or smashed banana can add natural sweetness to your recipes and add a lovely depth of flavour, texture and delicious nutrient boost. Try it in your next wholegrain muffin recipe.
4 – FERMENTED FOODS
Fermented foods are naturally packed with probiotics that promote healthy gut bacteria. Examples include kefir, kombucha, labna, yoghurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented vegetables. I was brought up on sauerkraut and yoghurt. My Polish great aunt was a specialist sauerkraut maker and I remember we used to have it most days with our meals. Sauerkraut produces amazing amounts of lactobacilli – a healthy probiotic that helps with digestion and a healthy immune system. Cultured unsweetened yoghurt is rich in acidophilus and lactobacilli cultures that can nourish your immune system and support digestive health. Make sure to check the label to ensure it contains live yoghurt cultures with no added flavours, emulsifiers or thickeners. I love to make yoghurt bowls for breakfast and top with smashed raspberries and banana or add a few spoonfuls into my breakfast smoothies. Thick Greek style yoghurt also makes the perfect base for dressings and as a replacement for sour cream or cream fraiche.
5 – OLIVE OIL
I am truly in love with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil! I use it liberally in all types of cooking. This oil is beautiful tasting, velvety and bursting with health benefits. It’s a rich source of antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids – one of the main reasons why a traditional Mediterranean diet is wonderful for heart health. I adore the versatility of olive oil. It’s a lovely heat-stable and all-purpose oil so it’s great for most cooking purposes including sautéing over medium heats and baking, as well as making dressings. Cold-pressed olive oil is also a wonderful base for fresh homemade salad dressings or delicious on its own with some fresh, crusty sourdough bread. I store all my oils in the fridge which helps keep them fresh.
6 – LEAFY GREENS
The most nourishing alkalising foods are green foods such as leafy greens, green vegetables including broccoli and cabbage, wheat grass and matcha. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that eating at least 5 serves of greens a day is ideal and an effective strategy in the prevention and treatment of obesity and chronic disease. A serve is about a large handful of leafy greens. Make up a large leafy salad then pour over a little dressing. Use cold-pressed vegetable, nut or seed oils as they contain heart healthy fats that can promote good health. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) which can pretty much be used in all dressings. Most dressings need a little acidity to add flavour and balance as well as improve digestion; my top choices are balsamic and apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
7 – EGGS
I absolutely love eggs. They are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available and make a perfect high protein meal any time of day. An egg provides 13 essential nutrients and is a great source of B-group vitamins, which are needed for vital functions in the body. The vitamin E in eggs helps protect us against heart disease and some cancers and the vitamin D promotes mineral absorption and good bone health. When it comes to sourcing your eggs, make sure to buy the best quality you can find. Organic or pasture-raised eggs are laid by chickens that aren’t fed antibiotics, growth hormones or additives. You can find good pasture-raised eggs at your local farmers’ market.
8 – AVOCADO
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats that have compounds to protect against inflammation and cancer. They’re loaded with the antioxidants lutein, vitamin E and beta-carotene and can promote blood sugar reduction and support cardiovascular, digestive and skin health. Avocados are perfect chopped into salads or smashed with citrus aromatics and garden herbs as a side for breakfast or a vegetable component to any meal. Avocado makes the best chocolate smoothie or healthy chocolate mousse. I love drizzling avocado oil over salads as well as cooking with it. The fatty acid profile is similar to that of olive oil, so it’s a great choice for medium-heat cooking.
9 – GREEN / SUPERFOOD POWDERS
These nutrient dense powders are a great way to add more mineral-rich super foods to your meals. Make a green juice or smoothie a daily habit. Cold-pressed green juices (such as wheatgrass) are rich in chlorophyll, which helps to alkalise the body and works as a natural anti-inflammatory. Chlorophyll also helps to nourish the digestive system, supports detoxification and the elimination of waste.
10 – FRESH HERBS
Herbs are little bundles of super food goodness….They help stimulate digestive function, relieve bloating and protect the immune system. Parsley for instance is adored worldwide and makes a mean base for my pesto and stirred through a classic minestrone. Thyme works nicely with slow braised dishes, fresh roasted figs and Mediterranean style veggie soups.