After a busy day or during a hectic morning, it can be really hard to make healthy choices when trying to decide what to eat. Even as a health coach who truly believes that food is fuel and medicine, I am occasionally guilty of making poor decisions because at the end of the day I am so hungry that I simply need something…anything! Whilst the odd treat or takeaway can be enjoyed in moderation, it’s important that this does not become a habit. Most of us are well aware of the foods we should be eating but making them taste delicious so that we want to take the time to prepare them and subsequently enjoy them can be a challenge.
With this in mind, here are five items that I always have on hand at home and how I use them to create delicious, varied meals that allow me to stay full of energy, healthy and ready to face whatever the day throws at me!
Lemons & limes
I absolutely adore citrus fruit, and lemons and limes are at the top of my list. If you’re not a fan of plain water, add a slice of lemon for some much-needed flavour. Lime juice is always delicious drizzled over avocado on toast, and both lemons and limes work really well for lifting salads or in dressings. Moreover, freshly squeezed lime is usually a key ingredient in green juice recipes, so you really can’t go wrong with having these two on hand.
Sticking with fruit, if you ever find yourself wondering what to do with those left-over bananas that are just starting to turn (and you can’t face the thought of making yet more banana bread), simply peel the bananas and freeze them. You can chop them beforehand if you wish, but I tend not to as I find that even when they’re frozen, I can still halve them if I need to.
Frozen bananas are perfect in creamy smoothies or when making ‘nice cream’ with the kids. And if they’re already frozen, you don’t need to wait and get tempted by other forms of dessert!
Oats are my favourite type of grain due to their versatility and the many health benefits they bring. If you’re gluten intolerant, you can also find gluten free versions – just make sure you store them separately to avoid cross contamination.
If you’re feeling super organised, you can make overnight oats for the following morning simply by soaking them in your choice of milk along with some chia seeds, cashew nut butter and a drizzle of pure maple syrup – or whatever takes your fancy! In more of a hurry? You can’t beat a bowl of porridge with some fruit and nuts/seeds on top. Add them to smoothies (along with the above-mentioned frozen banana) for a boost of carbohydrates if you have a long day ahead of you or use them in cookies and snacks. They’re simply delicious, however you choose to eat them!
Brown rice is a whole grain that is gluten free and high in fibre, meaning that it can help to keep you regular. I always ensure I’m stocked up as it’s such a good accompaniment to the many curries and chilis that I like to make when I’m food prepping.
Other than this, if I’m running short of time and am in need of a quick, nutritious and satisfying dinner, I like to make my own bowls with brown rice as a base. To this I usually add some steamed or roasted vegetables, black beans, and maybe even some tofu. Yum!
Herbs & spices
Finally, no kitchen would be complete without a good selection of herbs and spices. These are relatively cheap to buy (if you buy them loose and then put them into your own jars) and have a long shelf life. Not only that, but they bring with them a range of health benefits.
My top herbs and spices would be:
Turmeric – this is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be a base in many curries.
Ginger – also a natural anti-inflammatory. If you can buy it fresh, even better as it adds a delicious heat to green juices.
Cumin – cumin is great if you experience indigestion, and I always add it to my chilis. It can be very overpowering though, so just add a little at a time.
Chilli Powder – again, something I always have on hand as I really enjoy spicy food.
Basil – with basil, I do believe that fresh is better. Use it as a garnish or make your own pesto. You can even add it to risottos with parsley, lime and water for an extra boost of nutrients.
Cinnamon – finally, cinnamon is a great way to add extra flavour to roasted sweet potatoes, or to use in crumbles or on porridge in a morning. It is packed with anti-oxidants and like turmeric and ginger, is a fantastic anti-inflammatory.
Herbs and spices are an important part of any kitchen, as they transform taste and have several health benefits. You can even use some of them to make teas!
If you would like to learn more about healthy food, or even if you eat relatively well but still feel out of balance somehow, I offer a free one on one consultation as part of my health coaching services. Together, we can chat through the challenges you’re currently facing, and I can suggest ways in which I can help. To learn more, visit Chasing Zest or email me at [email protected]. See you next month!