Ten foods you should always have on hand
by Rachel Hannah
TRAVEL, HOLIDAYS, COMPETITIONS and other unforeseen life events can make fuelling at regular intervals a challenge. Sports psychologists would agree that in training and competition it’s critical to “control the controllables.” The same idea should be applied to nutrition. With adequate planning and thoughtfulness, athletes can control what goes into their grocery cart and what’s available in the pantry and refrigerator at home. By making the right staple food choices, nutritious eating can be feasible even when time is tight. Consider what follows to be an excellent shopping list to bring with you on your next athlete-minded adventure down the grocery store aisles.
1. EGGS: Not only are eggs one of the most cost effective sources of protein, they’re one of the most versatile. Use them in an omelette or frittata or simply boil half a dozen at a time to have as a quick and convenient snack.
2. PLAIN GREEK YOGURT: Another highly adaptable protein source that is high in calcium and low in calories (fat free). Consider having it at breakfast with fresh or frozen berries, used in a yogurt parfait with low fat granola or substituted for high fat dairy products in recipes; the choices are endless.
3. NUTS, SEEDS AND NUT BUTTERS: Nut superstars include almonds, walnuts and pistachios
thanks to their naturally occurring healthy fats and protein content. Walnuts are one of the best plant sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Natural nut and seed butters like peanut, almond and sunflower seed can be a fine accompaniment to whole-grain toast, crackers, hot cereal or incorporated into a homemade smoothie.
4. OATMEAL: Try different varieties to allow flexibility depending on the time available to cook. Steel cut oats are the least processed, but most time intensive to prepare. Consider having quick cooking steel cut oats, large flake oats and plain quick cooking oats. Instant packages are handy when travelling since all you need is a bowl and hot water.
5. FRESH FRUIT BOWL: Foods we see on a regular basis can influence our food choices and
cause cravings. Keep healthy choices always in sight by placing a fruit bowl on your counter with the following: bananas, apples, oranges, grapefruit, pears and avocado. What better way to satisfy a sweet tooth than with nature’s candy.
6. SWEET POTATOES: When stored in a cool, dry location this highly nutritious starchy vegetable will stay fresh for at least a month. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, fibre and low glycemic carbohydrates. Craving fries? Cut into thin pieces and toss with olive or canola oil and roast in the oven for a delicious side dish to any meal.
7. FROZEN VEGETABLES: Since vegetables are one of the most time intensive items to prepare, having frozen vegetables on hand will ensure half the plate is full of these nutrition all-stars. Top choices include spinach, butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, bell peppers and stirfry mixtures.
8. BUCKWHEAT: Buckwheat pasta (soba) noodles can be used as a substitute for regular pasta and are a unique grain that is high in protein and iron. Quick cooking buckwheat cereal can be used as a substitute for oatmeal in the morning and is ready in less than three minutes in the microwave.
9. CANNED CHICKPEAS AND BEAN MEDLEYS: Beans are an excellent source of fibre, protein and
low glycemic carbohydrates. Try adding bean medleys into vegetable soup or chili, or chickpeas on top of a fresh salad. Combine them with salsa for a quick snack.
We live in an environment where unhealthy choices are convenient and readily available at the turn of every corner. The kitchen can be a safe and controlled environment by planning ahead and keeping these healthy staple items on hand.
Rachel Hannah is a registered dietitian at the Medcan Clinic in Toronto. She is also the Canadian 10 km road champ.