(Psst – missed Part I, where I talked about my favorite healthy pantry ingredients? Check it out here.)
Ahhhh, the fridge. Command Central for healthy eating. Home to fresh ingredients – produce, dairy, the works. No kitchen is complete without one, and I like to strategically stock mine with the raw materials for all kinds of healthy meals.
Veggies. This one’s a given, right? I keep most veggies in my fridge. (Winter squash and potatoes go in the pantry, but everything else is fridge-bound.) I’ve always, always, got salad greens, carrots, onions, cucumbers and broccoli on hand – those are the most basic of basics in my casa. Other frequent visitors include kale, baby spinach, brussels sprouts, cabbage, red and green bell peppers. When I’m feeling particularly fancy, I’ll also pick up some fresh mint or cilantro, my two favorite fresh herbs.
Fruits. Another given. I am a huge fan of fruit – it’s my favorite food group – and I always need at least a little bit in the fridge. I try to eat in season, both because that’s when produce has the most nutrients and it’s the cheapest. So I favor apples and Asian pears in the fall, citrus in the winter, stone fruits and berries in the spring and summer. At the moment my fruit drawer is stocked with avocados (I always have those on hand for salads, Mexican food night, sandwiches, smoothies and snacks), oranges (I’m trying to eat lots of cold-preventing foods), lemons (another fridge constant) and a few apples (Honeycrisp are my favorites).
Eggs. They’re a quick, easy protein – I whip up scrambles for “brinner” (breakfast for dinner) many nights when I just can’t face anything more complicated. If I have any eggs left from a carton after a week in the fridge (I usually do), I hard-boil them and eat them for snacks or lunch. I know eggs get a bad rap sometimes, but I think they’re great. I buy Omega-3 fortified eggs and we eat them in moderation for a kick of protein that feels more indulgent than it really is.
Yogurt and Skim Milk. These were two of my biggest cravings during pregnancy. In fact, one of the first hints I had that something was “different” with me was when hubby and I were grocery shopping and I suddenly felt a massive urge to drink skim milk, which I rarely bought before getting pregnant. And my Greek yogurt “like” turned to full-on “love” when Peanut took up residence. Even now that she’s out of the oven, I’m still enjoying skim milk, although not in the quanties I did while pregs. (I pounded that first half-gallon in one day.) And I love Greek yogurt for being a low-cal, fat-free source of protein and calcium.
Nuts. I keep nuts in the fridge since they go rancid too quickly in the pantry. They’re high-cal, high-fat nuggets, so I practice careful portion control, but they make for a wonderful hit of protein and healthy fats. My favorites are pecans and almonds, so I always have at least one or the other kicking around my fridge. I use them for snacks occasionally, but more often for sprinkling over salads or my morning yogurt or oatmeal.
Hummus. This one is for hubby, since he can’t get enough of the stuff (although I like it too). Hummus makes a wonderful sandwich spread instead of mayo, but hubby especially likes it for dipping pretzels or veggie crudites. I love to put it out when we want a snack – it’s far better than a high-fat dip (although it does have some fat from the olive oil and tahini, so mind yourself). I will occasionally make my own hummus or bean spreads, but I don’t always have time, so many weeks we buy a tub of our favorite grocery store brand and that stands in for us until I have a few minutes to whip up a homemade batch.
Dates. They’re nature’s candy! I love to grab a date or two for a sweet treat at the end of a meal (unless I’m having a square of dark chocolate) or for fuel before long runs when I’m training for a race. I buy a big tub from Costco, and it lasts me forever.
What do you keep in your healthy fridge?