In honor of the many health-related resolutions made this week, I have put together a list of the Top 10 Foods that I like to keep stocked in my kitchen. These are foods that I've been eating regularly for years now, and they have always served me well. Whether I'm making a healthy breakfast or packing my lunch for work, I can usually combine these items to come up with a pretty tasty and healthy meal.
This list is by no means all inclusive, but it might be helpful to keep in mind the next time you're writing up a grocery list for the week.
- Organic Eggs - Despite the bad press that eggs have gotten related to cholesterol, I think they are still one of the cheapest, quickest, and most delicious sources of protein available. I buy my eggs from Waterview Foods at the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market every Sunday, and they taste better than any eggs I've tried from the grocery store. If you haven't made the switch to organic eggs, make a fresh start this year. Not only is it better for the environment, it just tastes better. My favorite way to prepare eggs is Steam Frying, and I like to serve one with a pinch of salt and pepper on a piece of Sunflower Flax toast from Atwater Bakery.
- Plain Yogurt - I won't even share how much plain yogurt C and I go through in a week, but let's just say it's more than one large container. Sometimes we get nonfat Greek (Fage 0% is the best), other times we buy the Organic Plain (I like the kind at Trader Joe's), and when we want something special, we pick up the great fresh yogurt from Keswick Creamery on Sundays. If your grocery store doesn't carry organic Greek yogurt (most don't), you can easily make your own.
- Apples - Despite the "apple a day" saying, I didn't eat apples for a very long time. I never wanted to bite into them, and slicing just seemed like a lot of work. And then there was the issue of them turning brown so quickly. Anyway, I've changed my ways and now love to eat apples in my muesli for breakfast or in a fruit sundae for dessert. They're also pretty darn delicious with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some homemade peanut butter...
- Bananas - Bananas are up there with yogurt as far as the most-frequently--consumed item in the house. I buy tons of bananas every week and freeze any that are ripe and not going to get eaten. Frozen bananas are perfect for just about any smoothie, including my Vegan Mocha Breakfast Smoothie, the Carrot Beet Smoothie, and the Peanut Butter Banana Power Smoothie.
- Nuts - I really couldn't pick just one nut for this list, as I usually have at least 5 different kinds in my refrigerator or freezer at once (the nuts stay fresh much longer when refrigerated or frozen). I use cashews to make homemade cashew milk (a great substitute for processed soy or almond milk). I keep peanuts around to make homemade peanut butter (so easy and delicious), smoothies, and trail mix. Walnuts are perfect for baked goods like Pumpkin Apple Walnut Bread or for the top of Vegan Ice Cream sundae.
- Rolled Oats - Great for muesli and all kinds of delicious baked goods, oats are great to keep in your cupboard at all times. I add them to smoothies when I want something filling after a workout and sprinkle them on top of muffins and scones.
- Spinach - I buy the big bins of organic spinach at the grocery store and try to add it to as many dishes as possible. To keep your spinach fresh longer, I recommend putting a piece of dry paper towel in the spinach bag or bin to keep the spinach fresh even longer. Replace it every day or so, and your spinach will last at least an extra couple days. The most bizarre use for spinach that I've developed, which really increased my intake, is my Vegan Mocha Breakfast Smoothie. It might sound a tad crazy at first, but I really recommend giving it a try. Best case scenario: you'll start buying 2 bins of spinach per week and never worry about it wilting in the fridge.
- Beans - Again, I can't pick just one kind, but my favorites are garbanzo beans and black beans. I usually buy the canned kind and rinse them well to remove the excess salt. Keep them on hand to throw in any salad to make it extra filling. My other little secret that hasn't turned up in a blog recipe yet: Add a handful of beans to your breakfast smoothie for a fiber and protein boost. Or just make some Flourless Brownies or Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars for dessert. Your choice.
- Applesauce - I actually don't even eat applesauce plain, but I use it so much for baking that it made the list. It's a wonderful substitute for oil in many different recipes, including my Pumpkin Granola and Vegan Chocolate Cake. It keeps baked goods moist and has a very mild flavor. Try substituting half of the butter in your favorite baked good with applesauce and see if you can taste any difference.
- Quinoa - Quinoa is the new kid on the block in my kitchen, but it has definitely proven itself to be a great addition to my pantry staples. I've been using it as a substitute for pasta, a breakfast grain, and as a base for serving some of my favorite soups.