Gaining entry into someone’s fridge is an intimate experience. After all, whatever lies beyond the double doors can say a lot about a person. (No judgment if it’s only last night’s leftovers and a bottle of champagne.) For example, we have a feeling that the contents of our fridge are vastly different from those of a certified nutritionist, who is sure to stock her kitchen with only the best and healthiest foods. Curious to find out if that was the case, we asked three nutritionists for a list of foods they always have in their kitchens—come hell or high water, these foods will stay stocked on their shelves. As it turns out, some foods we already have stocked, while others add to the long list of things we have under #fridgegoals. Keep scrolling to discover 10 foods nutritionists always have in their kitchens!
If you don’t always stock your fridge with a dozen eggs, now would be the time to change that. “Proteins are essential to the building, maintenance, and repair of your body tissues including your skin, internal organs, and muscles,” says certified holistic nutritionist Elissa Goodman. “Proteins are also major components of your immune system and hormones.” Many foods contain proteins, but Goodman says eggs contain “complete proteins”—in other words, they contain all of the essential amino acids. Goodman prefers her eggs organic pastured, which she boils each week for her daughter to take to school, or cooks over easy with coconut oil. Nutritionist, personal trainer, and Spiderbands founder Franci Cohen agrees, saying hard-boiled eggs are something you’ll always find in her fridge, too. “It’s a filling, high-protein, heart-healthy snack that keeps my kids satiated until dinnertime, instead of combing through my pantry looking for sugary or salty snacks,” she says.
The one oil every nutritionist uses? Coconut oil (it’s a beauty editor staple, too). Certified nutritionist and Be Well by Kelly founder Kelly LeVeque says she always has it in her cabinet because the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) help produce quick brain fuel while the lauric acid kills candida and yeast overgrowth. Goodman agrees, saying the MCTs help raise your body’s metabolism, fight off pathogens, and may even serve as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. “MCTs are a primary source of ketone bodies, which act as an alternate source of brain fuel that can help prevent the brain atrophy associated with dementia,” she says.
Another reason to choose coconut oil? It’s easy on the digestive system and doesn’t produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. If you wanted a quick energy boost, Goodman suggests eating a spoonful of coconut oil or adding it to your meal. LeVeque even says that coconut oil can increase 24-hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%.
Here’s one thing we don’t have in our kitchen but should probably add soon: fermented foods. Goodman says that fermented foods are a necessity to maintaining a healthy gut, and just a quarter to half-cup of it eaten with your meals can have a dramatic impact on your health. She names yogurt and kefir as two examples, but also suggests a variety of cultured and fermented foods, since each one provides different beneficial bacteria. She marinates tempeh to always have on hand, makes a coconut kefir yogurt, and stores Sonoma Brinery’s sauerkraut in her fridge.
If you’re going to stock up on one grain, make it quinoa—at least, that’s what Cohen does. “It’s high in protein and fiber and is so versatile,” she says. “I mix it with beans and veggies for a heart salad, I use it to replace flour in muffins, and I often use it as a base for my gluten-free pizza crusts.” She recommends having cooked quinoa in your fridge at all times, which makes healthy cooking super easy. (For a filling, low-cal lunch, try this quinoa mac ’n’ cheese recipe.)
LeVeque tells us she always has wild salmon in her fridge, mainly because of its health benefits. “It’s one of the best food sources for omega-3 fatty acids and protein, plus it full of vitamin D and selenium,” she says. If stocking your fridge with fresh salmon is out of your price range, LeVeque says canned versions will work too.
On the veggie front, LeVeque says it’s all about dark leafy greens like spinach and kale. “Kale is anti-inflammatrory, chock-full of antioxidants, vitamins A and C, fiber, and calcium,” she says. “Sautée kale in olive oil to make a healthy side dish, or add a little to your morning smoothie.” Spinach, on the other hand, is loaded with lutein, which keeps your eyes sparkling for the camera, says LeVeque. “It’s also a great source of omega-3s, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins B, C, and E.” Prolong the life of your farmers market bundle by storing them in the freezer, which will keep them fresher for longer.
Looking for something that’ll help you slim down and beat water weight? LeVeque says you should always have a bag of lemons on hand. “Rich in vitamin C, this citrus fruit will help your body purge excess water weight and balance the sodium and potassium levels in your cells,” she says. If you’re like most people and probably don’t enjoy biting into a fresh lemon, just add a slice to a mug of warm water in the morning, or squeeze some over your salad to help aid digestion.
Like lemons, LeVeque says, cucumbers contain hydrating, nourishing, and astringent properties that are good for your health and your skin. “The enzymes cucumbers contain ‘digest’ damaged skin cells, remove dead skin cells safely, and add a fresh glow,” LeVeque promises.
Cohen calls grilled chicken breast her “in a pinch” go-to. “If I’m on the run and need a healthy, filling food, I grab some grilled chicken right out of the fridge, wrap it in a lettuce leaf that I line with Dijon mustard, and I’m out the door,” she says. It’s a great source of lean protein and a good option for fueling up before a workout.
Lastly, LeVeque she keeps her kitchen stocked with another beautifying food: blueberries. They’re antioxidant powerhouses and also a great source of vitamin A—i.e., your skin will love them. “Throw some blueberries in your chia seed pudding for a protein-packed breakfast, or add them to a spinach salad for lunch,” LeVeque says.
Do you have these 10 things in your kitchen? What are your healthy kitchen staples? Sound off below!
This post was originally published on August 24, 2015.