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Jan 04, 2018

15 Healthy Foods to Always Have in Your Kitchen

What’s a better way to start the new year than cleaning out your kitchen and restocking it with healthy items?! Let’s face it, when hunger strikes sometimes our only options are the bag of chips or cookies we have in the pantry. So, with the help of nutritionist and founder of Life Well Lived, Kara Swanson, we’re making a conscious effort to set ourselves up well in the kitchen. Below she shares the 15 healthy foods to always have in your kitchen and why she loves them. What are you waiting for? Grab your grocery list and read on!

Kara says, Why is it much more tempting to grab a granola bar from the pantry than something fresh from the fridge? When hunger strikes, we naturally gravitate towards convenience. Unfortunately, this often means overlooking the healthier option. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult. The hurdles of a busy schedule make the drive thru and prepackaged snacks much more appealing. But one of the keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to keep healthy foods around. If you have healthy foods ready to make {or better yet, prepared}, and no processed foods to fall back on, then you won’t be tempted to grab a sugar filled granola bar on the way out the door.

There are certain items I always have stocked in my kitchen. This makes throwing together a quick + healthy meal or snack a breeze. The last thing you want to do after a busy day of work, errands, taking the kids to practices, or whatever keeps you busy, is to run to the grocery store at 5 pm because you don’t have anything in the fridge. Plus, having a well stocked kitchen will keep you from making excuses and getting takeout. So, I’m welcoming you into my kitchen to show you my top 15 healthy items that I always have on hand.

1. Nuts + Seeds: Packed with tons of healthy fats, they make for the perfect snack. Try having them alongside carrots or snap peas to get in more veggies.

2.Veggies: This is probably a no brainer but worth mentioning. Vegetables are one of the most important food to always have on hand. Fresh or frozen will do. I recommend always having at least one bag of frozen veggies in your freezer for a quick last minute meal. Spinach is my go to veggie to keep stocked because I can use it in my smoothies, omelets, or salads.

3. Frozen Meat: Having a protein on hand in the freezer will make life easier when trying to come up with dinner plans. Thaw during the day or grab turkey burgers that don’t require any time to thaw.

4. Quinoa: This is a great non-perishable grain to have in your pantry. Quinoa cooks quickly and is packed with protein, iron, and fiber.

5. Quality Protein Bar: Notice the word quality! Make sure your protein bars have minimal ingredients and aren’t loaded with sugar. A lot of so called “healthy” protein bars have so many additives and sugar, and, quite frankly, aren’t healthy. My favorites are Rx Bars and Square Bars.

6. Sweet Potatoes: My love for sweet potatoes runs deep. Sweet potatoes are a healthy carbohydrate that you absolutely should be adding into your diet. And they are so versatile – roast them whole, cut them and make fries, sautee them…the possibilities are endless.

7. Fruit: Apples, bananas, berries are all great choices to keep on hand. And I know it’s tempting to throw away your brown bananas but instead, peel them and put them in the freezer for smoothies or banana bread.

8. Coconut Oil: I always keep coconut oil on hand to cook with, add to recipes, or use on my skin! It has so many uses and I’m always using it for something.

9. Avocados: Keep these in the fridge after they are ripened to keep fresh longer. They’re a great source of healthy fats, you can add to your toast, salad, or top with some sea salt and eat out of the shell for a quick snack.

10. Eggs: Eggs are a protein powerhouse and are the perfect on-the-go-breakfast when hard boiled. You can also fry them and pair them with sauteed broccoli and sweet potatoes to make for a quick, easy dinner.

11. Oatmeal: Talk about an easy, filling breakfast! Oatmeal is a favorite in our household and we love topping it with nut butter and berries.

12. Almond Milk: It’s a staple in our fridge. We go through almond milk like water these days. I use it for substitutes in recipes instead of milk or cream and my girls love drinking it too.  

13. Almond Flour: Almond Flour is one thing to buy in bulk if at all possible. It is much cheaper to buy in larger quantities and will save you money in the long run. I love using it to whip up paleo banana pancakes or make chocolate chip cookie bars.

14. Nut Butters: I use some type of nutter butter multiple times a day. From smoothies to drizzling it on a banana, it’s my go to and always adds something extra to my meal or snack.  

15. Dark Chocolate: Okay, I had to add dark chocolate because my cabinets are never without some good dark chocolate. Make sure to get one that is 70% dark or higher to really benefit from all the antioxidants.

This requires being proactive and a little bit of planning. But if you want to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can’t wait until you’re hungry to look for a healthy option. I encourage you to make these 15 healthy foods a part of your kitchen.

I’d love to hear what other healthy go-to items you keep in your kitchen. Drop your suggestion in the comments below!

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