"But what do you eat?!" It's a question every dietitian has undoubtedly been asked at some point in their career. Of course it isn't always that simple. Dietitians, like everyone else, have vastly different tastes, cooking styles, time commitments and audiences. But there do seem to be some trends in staple items—the following items are certainly staples in my own kitchen. In no particular order:
- Extra virgin olive oil. I have a friend whose family is of Greek heritage, and I think I buy olive oil in almost as big of bulk as they do! I use it in homemade salad dressings, to sauté veggies and to substitute fats like butter, shortening and vegetable oil in recipes. In short, there's barely a food prep step that I do that doesn't involve this handy oil.
- Almonds. This piece of advice might be overly shared by now, but a simple handful of almonds makes the perfect snack. They have significant amounts of both protein and fiber—two nutrients that will keep you full—and a ratio of healthy fats. They are a great addition not only to the cupboard at home, but to your emergency snack drawer at work (because we all have one)!
- Dark leafy greens. You won't get more nutrient bang for your calorie buck than with green leafy vegetables. And not only that, they make a great base for quick-and-easy packed lunches such as salads and sandwiches. If you look in my fridge at any given moment, you'll find either spinach, lettuce or kale—and sometimes all three.
- Salmon. Salmon is a source of lean protein and contains some great healthy fats. It's also very versatile and easy to prepare. It makes a great addition to a busy night's meal and can easily be re-heated for the next day's lunch. Not to mention it's so tasty!
- Whole grains. When it comes to grain foods such as bread, tortillas and pasta, it is recommended that you make at least half your grains whole grains. These foods contain more nutrients than their white flour counterparts and will keep you full for longer. You'll likely find whole grain versions of these foods in every dietitian's pantry.
- Dark chocolate. Maybe it's just me, but I am almost always searching for a nibble of something sweet after a meal. Dark chocolate is a great option for those moments because it has less sugar and more antioxidants than the average candy.
- Yogurt. We've all heard the hype about probiotics, and yogurt seems to be the most common staple food to contain them. It's not only easy to include in breakfasts, but it's a good item to keep around for healthy recipe substitutions. Try to pick the option with the most protein and the least amount of added sugar.
- Lunch box and water bottle. I have an emotional attachment to my water bottle—it goes with me everywhere—and I hardly know a fellow dietitian who doesn’t have similar feelings. Having a lunchbox and water bottle on hand makes choosing water as a beverage and packing meals from home much easier. It will also save you some money as a result!
So there you have it. These items are staples in my kitchen and on my grocery list, and I almost always have them on hand. But remember, every food fits in a balanced diet if you consume it in moderation!
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