by Michael Geary - Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
In most of my Lean-Body Secrets Newsletters, I like to provide a healthy snack or meal recipe that not only is delicious and healthy, but also helps to get you closer to that hard-body appearance that everyone is looking for, while also more importantly, improving your health for life. In this article, I'd like to give you healthy food ideas in a different way. This time, I figured I'd just give you some ideas of what I stock my fridge and cabinets with.
Remember, if you don't have junk around the house, you're less likely to eat junk. If all you have is healthy food around the house, you're forced to make smart choices. Basically, it all starts with making smart choices and avoiding temptations when you make your grocery store trip. Now these are just some of my personal preferences, but perhaps they will give you some good ideas that you'll enjoy.
Alright, so let's start with the fridge. Each week, I try to make sure I'm loaded up with lots of varieties of fresh vegetables. During the growing season, I only get local produce, but obviously in winter, I have to resort to the produce at the grocery store. Most of the time, I make sure I have plenty of vegetables like onions, zucchini, spinach, fresh mushrooms, red peppers, broccoli, etc. to use in my morning eggs. I also like to dice up some lean chicken or turkey sausage into the eggs, along with some swiss, jack, or goat cheeses (preferably raw grass-fed cheeses when I can find them).
By the way I'm talking about whole eggs, NOT egg whites. Always remember that the yolk is the most nutritious and nutrient dense part of the egg, so only eating egg whites is like throwing away the best part... and no, it's NOT bad for you because of the cholesterol... eggs actually raise your GOOD cholesterol. Try to get free range organic eggs for the best quality. Here's an entire article I did on the topic of whole eggs vs egg whites.
Coconut milk is another staple in my fridge. I like to use it to mix in with smoothies, oatmeal, or yogurt for a rich, creamy taste. Not only does coconut milk add a rich, creamy taste to lots of dishes, but it's also full of healthy saturated fats. Yeah, you heard me...I said healthy saturated fats! Healthy saturated fats like medium chain triglycerides, specifically an MCT called lauric acid. If the idea of healthy saturated fats is foreign to you, check out my healthy fats article
Back to the fridge, some other staples:
- Chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds - delicious and great sources of healthy fats.
- Cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and yogurt - I like to mix cottage or ricotta cheese and yogurt together with chopped nuts and berries for a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon meal.
- Whole flax seeds or chia seeds - I grind these in a mini coffee grinder and add to yogurt or salads. Always grind them fresh because the omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are highly unstable and prone to oxidation, creating high levels of free radicals in pre-ground flax.
- Whole eggs - one of natures richest sources of nutrients (and remember, they increase your GOOD cholesterol so stop fearing them).
- Salsa - I try to get creative and try some of the exotic varieties of salsas.
- Avocados - love them...plus a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients. Try adding them to wraps, salads, or sandwiches.
- Butter - don't believe the naysayers; butter adds great flavor to anything and can be part of a healthy diet (just keep the quantity small because it is calorie dense...and NEVER use margarine, unless you want to assure yourself a heart attack).
- Nut butters - Plain old peanut butter has gotten a little old for me, so I get creative and mix together almond butter with sesame seed butter, or even cashew butter with macadamia butter...delicious and unbeatable nutrition!
- Leaf lettuce and spinach along with shredded carrots - for salads with dinner.
- Home-made salad dressing - using balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and Udo's Choice oil blend. This is much better than store bought salad dressing which mostly use highly refined soybean oil (full of inflammation-causing free radicals).
- Whole grain wraps and whole grain bread (look for wraps and bread with at least 3-4 grams of fiber per 20 grams of total carbs).
- Rice bran and wheat germ - these may sound way too healthy for some, but they actually add a nice little nutty, crunchy taste to yogurt or smoothies, or can be added when baking muffins or breads to add nutrients and fiber.
Some of the staples in the freezer:
- Frozen berries - during the local growing season, I only get fresh berries, but during the other 10 months of the year, I always keep a supply of frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cherries, etc. to add to high fiber cereal, oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt, or smoothies
- Frozen fish - I like to try a couple different kinds of fish each week. There are so many varieties out there, you never have to get bored.
- Frozen chicken breasts - very convenient for a quick addition to wraps or chicken sandwiches for quick meals.
- Grass-fed steaks, burgers, and ground beef - Grassfed meats have been shown to have as high as, or even higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than salmon (without the mercury). Also, grass-fed meats have much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) compared to typical grain-fed beef. I recently found an excellent on-line store where I buy all of my grass-fed meats now (they even deliver right to your door in a sealed cooler) - www.healthygrassfed.2ya.com
- Frozen buffalo, ostrich, venison, and other "exotic" lean meats - Yeah, I know...I'm weird, but I can tell you that these are some of the healthiest meats around, and if you're serious about a lean healthy body, these types of meats are much better for you than the mass produced, hormone-pumped beef and pork that's sold at most grocery stores.
- Frozen veggies - again, when the growing season is over and I can no longer get local fresh produce, frozen veggies are the best option, since they often have higher nutrient contents compared to the fresh produce that has been shipped thousands of miles, sitting around for weeks before making it to your dinner table.
Alright, now the staples in my cabinets:
- Various antioxidant rich teas - green, oolong, white, rooibos are some of the best.
- Whole wheat or whole grain spelt pasta - much higher fiber than normal pastas
- Oat bran and steel cut oats - higher fiber than those little packs of instant oats.
- Cans of coconut milk - to be transferred to a container in the fridge after opening.
- Brown rice and other higher fiber rice - NEVER white rice
- Tomato sauces - delicious, and as I'm sure you've heard a million times, they are a great source of lycopene. Just watch out for the brands that are loaded with nasty high fructose corn syrup.
- Stevia - a natural non-caloric sweetener, which is an excellent alternative to the nasty chemical-laden artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharine, and sucralose.
- Raw honey - better than processed honey... higher quantities of beneficial nutrients and enzymes. Honey has even been proven in studies to improve glucose metabolism (how you process carbs). I use a teaspoon or so every morning in my teas. Yes, it is pure sugar, but at least it has some nutritional benefits... and let's be real, a teaspoon of healthier raw honey is only 5 grams of carbs... certainly nothing to worry about.
- Organic maple syrup - none of that high fructose corn syrup Aunt Jemima crap...only real maple syrup can be considered real food. The only time I really use this (because of the high sugar load) is added to my post-workout smoothies to sweeten things up and also elicit an insulin surge to push nutrients into your muscles.
- Organic unsweetened cocoa powder - I like to mix this into my smoothies for an extra jolt of antioxidants or make my own low-sugar hot cocoa by mixing cocoa powder into hot milk with stevia and a couple melted dark chocolate chunks.
- Cans of black or kidney beans - I like to add a couple scoops to my Mexican wraps for the fiber and high nutrition content. Also, beans are surprisingly one of the best sources of youth promoting antioxidants!
- Dark chocolate (as dark as possible) - This is one of my treats that satisfies my sweet tooth, plus provides loads of antioxidants at the same time. It's still calorie dense, so I keep it to just a couple squares; but that is enough to do the trick, so I don't feel like I need to go out and get cake and ice cream to satisfy my dessert urges.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this special look into my favorite lean body meals and how I stock my cabinets and fridge. Your tastes are probably quite different than mine, but hopefully this gave you some good ideas you can use next time you're at the grocery store looking to stock up a healthy and delicious pile of groceries.
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