Diet Essentials – 15 Staple Foods
I get asked a lot about what my grocery list includes – about what I have in my fridge and kitchen cabinets.
If you were to look in our fridge and cabinets, you would see basically the same thing every time.
As I mentioned before, I am a creature of habit. And part of habit is having the same basic foods around every week.
Here are the 15 groceries I make sure I have around the house every single week. (Note some are seasonal…Berries I have around the house during the summer but not once they go out of season.)
1. Grass-fed Beef – We always have grass-fed ground beef around the house. Occasionally we will have some sort of steak as well, but we ALWAYS have ground beef. Bunless burgers, chili, meatballs, meatza pie (meat pizza), stir fry….you can make a ton of different things EASILY. So if we ever need a last-minute meal, ground beef is the go-to. It can easily be cooked in a skillet OR thrown in a crockpot and just left to simmer and cook (this is where the tomatoes come in handy for a quick and easy chili). Plus grass-fed, naturally raised beef is leaner than conventionally raised beef (unless you get the like 90/10) and has a much better omega ratio. HEALTHY FAT! And it freaking just tastes SO GOOD! (Sorry vegetarians and vegans reading this…BUT IT DOES!)
2. Cage-free Eggs – Eggs have been considered healthy than unhealthy than healthy again all because of the cholesterol they contain, but EGGS ARE GOOD FOR YOU! Especially eggs from free-range, naturally raised chickens which have way more good fats than conventional raised chicken eggs (the proof is in the color of the yolk!). Eggs are such a versatile protein. They can be eaten for any meal of the day and can easily be made ahead for the week and then transported anywhere for a snack anytime. Hardboiled eggs, egg muffins, omelets, protein pancakes, healthy deviled eggs…and that is only just a bit of what you can use them for! You could even put them in your coffee….Hmm….
3. Free-Range Chicken – On high carb days we use the lean white meat to stay under 50 grams of fat for the day while on low carb days we eat all that delicious dark meat and skin. Sometimes we buy pieces of chicken, legs and thighs and then breasts separately OR sometimes we get the whole chicken, slather it in pasture-raised butter and bake it in the oven and then have our protein source already cooked for numerous days. (You can even throw it in the crock pot and just let it simmer away no matter what pieces of chicken you buy) While chicken doesn’t have as good an omega ratio as the grass-fed beef by itself, it can easily be made even better by cooking it in a healthy fat like coconut oil or pasture butter. Plus it is really perfect for those carb days – my favorite use of it is in my homemade chicken fried rice! (Eggs can also be a great way to thicken sauces so that you don’t have to use any fake or processed crap to hold things together.)
4. Avocados – A great source of healthy fat to improve your omega ratio AND SUPER YUMMY AND DELICIOUS. I could seriously just eat avocados by the spoonful….oh wait…I actually do that…So creamy and delicious. Often people think that eating healthy means eating bland food with no sauce or toppings. But slice a few strips onto your burger or mash into a guacamole to put on your chili or salad…YUM! I never miss dressing when I top salads with avocados or guacamole. Avocados can also be added to other condiments to make sauces and dressings creamier without having to use bad processed things…like miracle whip…..While we can easily get avocados all year around here, this will be one of those seasonal things in many places (and we do tend to eat more during the summer when we can get really great ones at the farmer’s market). The more you can eat locally and/or seasonally, the better off you are going to be.
5. Berries – Another seasonal food, but super delicious. When I want fruit, berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…even cherries) are my go-to. They are lower in carbs and antioxidant filled. Plus…THEY ARE JUST SO GOOD! You can eat them plain for a low-calorie snack or you can blend them into a smoothie, which is super refreshing after a workout on a super hot day. They are also delicious frozen. A nice little cold treat to satisfy those frozen yogurt cravings. You can even take it a step further and mash the slightly frozen berries up with a bit of coconut milk (or cream) and some dark chocolate chunks if you really want frozen yogurt…Delicious and addicting!
6. Coconut Oil – Good for sauces, cooking, dressings, skin care….Why wouldn’t you have it around? While we don’t need to buy it every week (since one jar can last awhile) it is most definitely a staple. It can easily be added to smoothies and even protein pancakes for a source of healthy fats (and to keep you feeling fuller for longer since that is what fats do).
7. Raw, Pasture, Grass-fed Dairy – Raw Milk, pasture-raised cream, pasture-raised butter, even some raw milk cheese can be found in our fridge. While we don’t tend to keep a ton of cheese around, we do have a bit to occasionally sprinkle on top of things. A little blue cheese on a burger or a little cheese melting in your chili just makes everything taste that much better. However, don’t go overboard with the cheese. And your cheese should never come in a bag or be shredded. It should also be as minimally processed as possible. Just as all of your dairy should be. The pasture-raised butter we get, we use daily to cook in. It holds up well in the heat and helps create a great omega 3-6 ratio in any meal that we cook. Just make sure your butter is truly healthy. Just found out the Kerrygold has some processed crap in it! The cream, Ryan uses in his coffee each day…yuck…coffee…While I more often eat it in dressings and sauces. The raw milk, we drink straight or add to protein shakes. So rich and creamy with a ton of health benefits NOT found in pasteurized milk. (Most people also don’t realize there really isn’t that much more fat in whole milk than in skim. Don’t get me wrong, there is more fat. Just not as much as you would think. Especially not enough in my opinion to consume something MORE processed.) I have no problems with dairy and really enjoy it. But it should still be used in moderation. While we have it around every week, it isn’t something we go overboard with. It is more used as a sprinkling to make every meal taste delicious.
8. Leafy Green Vegetables (Spinach, Broccoli, Spring Mix, Romaine, Arugula) – We most often have some sort of organic lettuce mix around so that we can make side salads to go with our meals because if I’m not eating a side salad, I’m probably forcing Ryan to eat cauliflower since I LOVE IT! Leafy greens are a necessity though in any form that you choose. Really meat and vegetables make up the base of almost every meal for us especially on low carb days. Leafy green vegetables are a great source of nutrients AND they make you feel full and satisfied after eating. And if you are like me and need a certain amount of “content” on the plate to feel like you’ve eaten enough, getting to cover your plate in vegetables is very satisfying.
9. Cauliflower – Did I mention before that I LOVE cauliflower? And now I’m pretty sure Ryan does too! Since we’ve found a great place to get cauliflower at the farmer’s market, we’ve been getting a couple of heads every single week. You can eat it raw or steamed or baked or as “rice” or “mash!” We’ve riced it and put it in chilis. We’ve also been super into making it into a mash and eating it along with our protein. Seriously LOVE the cauliflower mash. You can add cream or butter or a little cheese even. The other day, Ryan threw in garlic chives we found at the farmer’s market, a couple of farm-fresh eggs and CHICKEN LIVER! We got a whole chicken straight from the farm and it had the innards in it still so Ryan decided to throw the liver into the mash since liver is so good for you (and I really really don’t like the taste). In the mash you couldn’t even taste it yet it added some great nutritional benefit to the meal! You of course don’t have to get that crazy with your mashes, but you can get a ton of nutrients into your meal by mixing them in. Cauliflower is also super low-calorie, which I love because that means I can eat like a whole head of it myself…Just kidding…sort of…
10. Tomato Sauce – Tomatoes are great for you in any form as long as a ton of crap hasn’t been added to them. We generally get an organic sauce with no additives in a BPA free can, which is great to pull out when we want to make a last-minute chili or sauce. And the best part about using tomatoes in a sauce is that more lycopene is actually released as the tomatoes are cooked! As I said though, we always have this around just so we can make that quick healthy meal. I do also love fresh little cherry tomatoes though with a little bit of green onion, garlic and olive oil as a nice little summer salad (Sometimes I add in cauliflower too!).
11. White Rice – Our carb day staple. Replenish your glycogen stores quickly and efficiently. Plus white rice is just so tasty! No it isn’t nutrient dense, but that is what the veggies, fruits and meats are for! And while it isn’t nutrient dense, it doesn’t have the phytic acid that brown rice does. This article basically sums up why I choose white rice over brown rice aside from the fact that I enjoy it more and that the whole purpose of the carb refeed is to get your muscles glycogen FAST. So while this isn’t a daily indulgence, it is consumed 2-3 times per week on refeed days. Remember, if you are looking to cut that last little bit of fat, you may need to ADD IN carbs on some days not cut out more stuff. Cutting out foods isn’t always the answer!
12. Balsamic and Olive Oil – We don’t often cook with olive oil, but both olive oil and balsamic vinegar are condiments you always need to have around. They are the quickest and easiest way to make simple and healthy sauces and dressings. Get good ones too. Get a nice thick balsamic and a California Olive Oil.
13. Salsa – You must be careful when picking out salsas. You don’t want to get one with a ton of extra crap in it (you can also make your own salsas if you feel so inclined!). But all-natural salsas can be a great way to add flavor to any meal without adding a ton of calories (most salsas are very low-calorie). I also love to use them on salads since I don’t like dry lettuce. Plus, if the salsa really is all natural, it will add more than just flavor to your meal since many have vegetables, or even fruits, in them!
14. Whey – I’ve wavered on whether or not this one is a staple food, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is in our busy and sometimes hectic lives. While it shouldn’t be used every day as a meal replacement, it can be a quick and easy protein source to keep you on track if you don’t have time to make a meal or prepare a snack. It is much better than eating cookies or any other crap we give ourselves permission to eat when we get super hungry and there isn’t a super easy and quick healthy option around. Whey at least has nutritional benefit AND can be combined with other ingredients in protein pancakes or smoothies to make it even better for us. A good thing to have around especially if you are always on the go and not the best about cooking. It can be a quick replacement. Just make sure you get one that has as little extra stuff in it as possible.
15. Wild Caught Seafood – We have some form of seafood basically every week. While we are better about this in the “warmer” months when we go to the farmer’s market every week, we do try to eat seafood at least once a week. We shy away from larger fish and anything farm-raised. We eat shrimp and salmon most often. Fish is a great source of healthy fats. And depending on the fish you get, it can be a super low-calorie protein source. Plus when fish is fresh, it just tastes so good! And it can be super quick to cook so is great for a last-minute meal. It can also be cooked the night before and then thrown on a salad or into an omelet the next day!
BONUS: On occasion foods….These are foods we will have around and use maybe once a week at most. They are also foods we can go awhile without replacing.
Nut butters – I love nuts. But they have phytic acid and I have problems consuming them in moderation. We don’t usually keep whole nuts around unless they are macadamia nuts but we do generally have a nut butter or two around. I will put them in protein pancakes or occasionally on fruit. They are a nice little treat, but should be eaten in moderation!
Bacon – I love bacon. LOVE IT! But we’ve gotten away from eating it often just because it is hard to find truly good bacon. We do have it around though on occasion and then use a piece or two to top burgers. We also use the grease to cook in. So if we’ve made bacon for burgers, we usually cook the burgers in the bacon grease right after. Waste not!
We also have a TON of spices. Spices are really key to making great tasting meals. Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland. You just need to learn how to spice it! Here are the grinders and spices we always have around – Garlic Salt grinder, Pepper combination grinder, Paprika, Chili Powder, Cumin, Oregano, Dill, Cayenne Pepper, Basil, Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Cinnamon, Nutmeg. Just make sure you get ones that don’t have additives!
So that is what we have in the kitchen. What are your Diet Staples?
Can I also just ask a question…Why does everyone love almond milk and think it is so healthy? For one, almonds have phytic acid, which prevents your body from absorbing minerals especially if you eat a ton of them. And two, almonds don’t have milk so processing has to go on for you to have almond MILK.