A well-stocked kitchen can help you to meet your weight management and exercise training goals. Packing your cupboards and icebox full of healthy food staples will provide you with the needed ingredients to prepare well-balanced, nutrient-dense meals. A sufficiently prepared pantry can also aid in the creation of quick meals and snacks for those hectic, on-the-go days.
Regular exercise taxes your metabolic system, increasing your nutritional requirements. There are certain "fitness foods" that no kitchen of the physically active should be without. These healthy pantry staples provide the essential building blocks for fueling and repairing your physically active body and should serve as the base of your meals. Below is a list of "fitness foods" that you should keep on hand.
Healthy Pantry Staples
Healthy Icebox Staples
- Dried Beans: These supply your body with protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Furthermore, they are relatively low in fat and contain no cholesterol. A diet that is abundant in this healthy staple can help to decrease cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar values in diabetics, and lower the risk of certain cancers. Dried lentils are a good choice if you are short on time because they do not require soaking overnight before cooking.
- Whole Grains: The fiber content of this "fitness food" group can help with weight management by providing a sensation of fullness with a consumption of fewer calories. Whole grains are a low-fat source of the protein and complex carbohydrates that are needed for repairing muscle tissue and replenishing glycogen stores after a training session. Quinoa is a good choice because it is a complete protein (contains all eight essential amino acids) and is a good source of iron.
- Healthy Oils: Although you should not consume a high-fat diet, your body does require a certain amount of fat to carry out numerous metabolic processes. The type of fat you consume is of importance in regard to your health. You will want to stock your pantry with an oil that is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is a good choice because it has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and has a protective effect against heart disease.
- Spices: Cinnamon has been linked with improved fasting blood sugar levels of diabetics. Sprinkle it over your morning oatmeal or use it as a flavoring for roasted nuts. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Use it to flavor brown rice or other whole grain dishes.
- Canned Tuna: Albacore tuna fish is an excellent source of protein and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Mix a can of tuna fish with whole-grain pasta for a post-exercise meal.
- Canned Tomatoes: This "fitness food" pantry staple can be used to make salsas, sauces, and soups. Thanks to the lycopene content, tomatoes offer protection against certain cancers (lung, colon, breast, prostate, and skin) and reduce the risk for heart disease.
- Nut and Seed Butters: A great source of protein, nut and seed butters can be spread on whole grain bread, mixed with hot cereal, or used in sauces to top whole grain noodles or rice.
Useful Kitchen Appliances for Healthy Meal Preparation
- Soybeans (Edamame): Soybeans are an excellent source of protein, unsaturated fat, and fiber. They are also high in carbohydrate. Edamame can be tossed in a mixed-greens salad or eaten alone as a healthy snack.
- Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: These icebox staples are a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They also help with weight management due to their fiber content. Frozen fruit can be used to make smoothies and frozen vegetables can be added to soups and sauces.
- Blender: This kitchen appliance assists in making on-the-go meals and snacks, such as fruit smoothies. Vegetable purees for soups and sauces can be made with a blender as well.
- Crock Pot: A friend of the "short-of-time" individual, the crock pot allows you to toss in healthy ingredients in the morning for a delicious meal that will be cooked and ready by the time you get home from work.
Food for Fitness, Eat Right to Train Right, 2004, Carmichael, C.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2005, Murray, M.
Labels: fitness food, healthy pantry staples, kitchen staples, whole grains