Are these healthy essentials in your kitchen?

October 15, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Sometimes the main roadblock to eating healthier is realizing you have to cook at home.

It’s not always easy to plan ahead. Prepping takes some time. And while it’s worth it, it’s not always feasible on top of work, kids, errands and everything else that seems to pile up over the course of a week.

So what is a busy, health-conscious person to do? Stock their kitchen with healthy go-to items that can be whipped up into something tasty on the fly.

These essentials of healthy eating are easy to combine and require minimal prep:

  • Canned beans, veggies, tomatoes, tomato paste. Beans provide healthy protein and fiber—stir them into soup or toss them into a food processor to make dip. Canned veggies and tomatoes are convenient and add healthy nutrients while tomato paste can add flavor to soup, sauce and stew. Canned beans are a great way to increase plant based protein by adding to a can of pinto or black beans to taco meat, Sloppy Joes or meatloaf.
  • Whole grains, such as quinoa, millet, spelt, teff, brown rice, wheat berries or steel-cut oats. Whole grains promote heart health and are easy to prep in batches ahead of time for the week. Whole wheat pasta is another high-fiber meal component that can serve as a vehicle for sauce or tossed in a salad.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil. EVOO contains monounsaturated fat, which can help lower your cholesterol, and antioxidants. It’s high in calories, though, so use sparingly.
  • Canned salmon, tuna or sardines. Another source of “good fat,” fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve your heart health.
  • Lowfat Greek yogurt. Low in calories, high in protein and calcium. Try it as a substitute for sour cream.
  • Eggs. In moderation, eggs are a great source of low-calorie protein, vitamins and nutrients. The cholesterol content of the yolk is high. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 7 yolks per week.  You can eat all of the egg whites you want. Try an omelet with one egg and several egg whites.
  • Garlic and dried herbs. Add flavor without fat and sodium.
  • Flavored vinegar and mustard. Another way to add flavor without adding excessive fat or sodium.
  • Nuts and/or natural peanut butter. Great source of nutrients, fiber and protein. Just don’t overdo it, they’re higher in calories.
  • Frozen salmon, fruits and veggies. An easy way to keep healthy food on hand and heat in the microwave or oven. Use frozen fruit in smoothies with your lowfat Greek yogurt.
  • Ground chicken or turkey. A healthier alternative to ground beef, ground chicken or turkey adds protein with less fat and calories.
  • Leafy greens. Dark green vegetables provide a wide range of nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Try them with a mustard vinaigrette.

This blog was reviewed by Toni Havala MS, RD, Endeavor Health Weight Loss Clinic dietitian.

Related blogs

How to make meal planning work when you’re busy

Use by, best by — how to know when to toss pantry items

Help fight inflammation with these foods

Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:

Five ways to get a healthy meal on the table faster

HDLife Mediterraneandietcrop

Mediterranean diet: Foods to put on your plate

According to U.S. News & World Report’s annual list, the Mediterranean diet is the top ranked diet for four consecutiv...

Read More


Mole or melanoma – how to tell the difference

Summer is here. It's time to take a good look at the skin you’ve been hiding under warm clothes.

Read More


7 ways your heart benefits from exercise

Learn seven heart-healthy reasons why regular cardiovascular work belongs in your exercise plan.

Read More