As a nutrition specialist, people pay a LOT more attention to what I eat, what I buy, and what I bring out at parties. I’m a true believer of snacks being great conversation fuel-ers, so when I had an unexpected guest, I pulled out what I happened to have at the time.
In this case, it was some delicious organic sweet potato chips and a can of fake dipping cheese someone left after a party. Yes. Healthy chips and horrible processed cheese.
The truth is, we nutrition buffs don’t always eat perfectly healthy meals and snacks. We have cravings too, but we appreciate the art of not going overboard. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and now I have 4 things I always make sure to have around that will allow me to fight cravings, tend to unexpected guests, and spice up any meal without turning to over-processed foods.
1. Raw Almonds
I’ve never been much of a nut person, until I discovered raw almonds. They have a neutral flavor, are hearty enough to fight hunger with only a handful, and can easily be spiffed up for company.
I keep a bag of raw almonds in my purse all the time! When I am stuck in traffic, in line at the bank, or missed breakfast, I start nibbling on almonds.
I prefer raw almonds over roasted, salted, and flavored ones because those usually have ridiculous amounts of sodium, artificial flavoring, and coloring. If I want to make them a little more interesting, I spread them out on a parchment-lined pan, heat up the oven and sprinkle on my spice of choice.
If you want a sweeter option (perfect for the fall), sprinkle them with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. If you are up for a savory version, try some powdered garlic and parmesan cheese.
2. Fresh Rosemary
Rosemary is my favorite herb of all time. While it does offer a range of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamins C and A, Calcium, and Iron, I love that it packs in tons of flavor for only a few calories.
I always keep a pot of fresh rosemary in my garden, and regularly snip off a sprig or two to add to my meals at least three times a week. I put it on roasted chicken, in soups, and even in my breakfast eggs (try it! You’ll be surprised).
Apples are often underrated because they seem like a pretty “basic” fruit. Fact is, one apple has almost 20% of your %DV (Percent Daily Value) for dietary fiber, and has a bit of most vitamins and minerals.
The reason I always keep them around is that they seem like they never go bad. While your melons, spinach, and strawberries will begin to wilt and go moldy within about a week, your apples can seem just as fresh as when you bought them even a month after their purchase.
This is perfect for a busy person like me who feels funky if I don’t get enough fruit for the day, but is often too busy to make frequent visits to the market. It’s much better than reaching for a packaged granola bar or a piece of candy, for sure!
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Credit: Steve Buissinne
Olive oil is packed with Omega-3 monounsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy fats that promote heart and brain health. I love the taste of extra-virgin olive oil on my salad, or as a side to some freshly baked bread.
I also cook pretty much everything with it. When a recipe calls for vegetable oil, I usually switch it out for olive oil to get an improvement to the flavor.
There are tons of other food items that I love to have around in addition to these four things, but these are the ones I always make sure I never run low on. They help me make better choices and keep me feeling like I am on the right track.
Credit Image: Mandy Martini