Choosing Healthy Foods… What’s in a Dietitian’s Pantry?

Blog, Food

Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDE

A healthy eating plan begins with making sure you’ve got good options to choose from at home.  In some cases, I’ve listed brand names in italics, but know that we don’t endorse any of these brands. They are included to give you some examples of good options…

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Fruits and Veggies

· Fresh and frozen – all varieties!

· Bags of snack size carrots

· Oranges,  clementine’s (takes longer to peel and eat)

· Lettuce for wraps (Boston Bibb, butter lettuce, romaine)

· Leafy greens (for salads and sautéing): spinach, kale, arugula

· Packaged salad kits (a lifesaver for a quick meal)

· Bags of frozen fruit (I like blueberries, mango chunks)

· Avocados (a source of healthy fat, but also adds calories)

·  Lemons and limes  (for adding flavor to seltzer and salads)

· Fresh herbs for flavor (such as basil and mint)

· Canned diced tomatoes 

Choose wisely and plan ahead!  These foods are low calorie and very healthy but can go bad if they sit in the fridge for too long.  Don’t be afraid of keeping some fruit in the freezer for a cold snack (I love frozen grapes) or to toss into yogurt or overnight oats. Cut up veggies soon after you purchase them and keep in easy to see-and-grab containers.
Meats and Seafood

·  Chicken breast and chicken tenders

·  Pork tenderloin

· Oven roast sliced turkey

· Canned or vacuum-packed tuna / salmon (water packed)

· Fresh or frozen Salmon, Tilapia, Cod (or your favorites)

· Frozen shrimp (easy to pull out just enough for a quick meal)

Take advantage of sales and buy in bulk when you can. Then divide up meat or fish in 4-6 oz servings and freeze. 

Trim fat before cooking. 

Whole Grains

· Oatmeal

· Whole grain cereal (I buy bite size wheat squares and they also serve as a snack.

·Thin sliced whole grain bread (Dave’s Killer Bread)

· Variety of grains: Brown rice, quinoa, bulger, farro

· Whole grain crackers  (Mary’s Gone Crackers)

· Whole wheat pasta

· Popcorn kernels (the old fashioned way)

I make overnight oats often for a filling, quick breakfast (using oats, chia seeds, frozen fruit and yogurt). I’ve tried to omit most white and refined grains and when I do make pasta, it is with lots of veggies and some protein (meat or beans).  Make-from-scratch popcorn is my fav snack.
Beans/ Legumes/ Nuts / Seeds

· Dried and canned beans: white, black, kidney, garbanzo

· Lentils (red lentils cook really quickly)

· Tahini (sesame paste; to use when making hummus)

· Peanut butter

· Walnuts, slivered almonds, chia seeds

Add beans to a veggie stir fry or to salads and soups for a meatless meal. Adding a few nuts or a little nut butter to apple slices, celery or a whole grain cracker will help you stay full longer. 
Dairy

· Greek yogurt – plain

· Low-fat milk

· Eggs

·Snack cheese sticks (low-fat)

· Cheese (but only occasionally – I’ll eat too much of it!)

Read yogurt labels carefully. Many have lots of added sugars and calories. I tend to buy plain and flavor it myself with fruit or small amounts of honey.  Snack cheese sticks are portable and an easy to carry snack with a piece of fruit.

Fats and oils

· Extra virgin olive oil

· Corn or canola oil (flavorless)

· Tub spread – Smart Balance Light

Small amounts of healthy fats are important in helping you feel full longer! Don’t make the mistake of avoiding all fats!
Treat food – but still low calorie

· Bamboo Lane Crunchy Rice Rollers

· Nonni’s Thin Addictive Cookies

· Guittard Chocolate baking wafers

· Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bars

· Outshine Frozen Fruit and Veggie Bars

Most of us need a few “treats” to help us get through the week. These are some of my favorites. 
Seasonings, beverages and other…..

· Flavored vinegars (balsamic, red wine, rice….)

· Spicy sauces and toppings (pesto, sriracha, zhoug,)

· Dijon mustard

·  Lots of herbs, spices and seasonings  (including frozen varieties such as Dorot Gardens frozen herb cubes)

· Herbal teas

· Meal replacement shakes

Frequent meals of fish and chicken can get tiring unless you spice them up with different seasonings, sauces and toppings.  In an effort to not use too much salt when cooking, I season with lots of garlic, herbs and spices. I have a variety of herbal teas (hot or cold) and meal replacement shakes are handy when I don’t have time to prepare something.   

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