Attics. Closets. Garages. What do these areas have in common? Dust, overcrowding, fire hazards and they are on most people’s spring cleaning hit lists. Although the fridge is not an area, this appliance is just as purge worthy. Why? Besides diabetes mellitus or heart disease waiting for you in a can, stocking your fridge with the right foods will help fuel your body with important nutrients to support optimal functioning. Also, summer is around the corner and who isn’t trying to get beach ready? Once you’re done tossing out the high sugar and sodium items, stock your fridge with these 10 dietitian approved foods.

1. Greek Yogurt

Not only does Greek yogurt taste good and possess a thicker consistency, but it contains nearly double the amount of protein than regular yogurt. It is also a source of phosphorous, potassium, and calcium. The fat content of Greek yogurt can vary thus opt for the lower fat and unsweetened options. You can always add flavour by pairing it with fresh fruit or spices like cinnamon.

How to include them into your diet: Add to smoothies or baked goods; use as a base in parfaits, tzatziki sauce, spinach dip, dressings, and soups.

2. Fruit

They are a major source of various vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, potassium and carotenoids. Many phytonutrients have antioxidant properties, which have a role in reducing risk of various health conditions like cancer and heart disease.

How to include them in your diet: Pair with all-natural nut butters or unsalted nuts; add to smoothies, whole grain cereals, low fat yogurt parfaits, salads or use as a topper for pancakes/waffles.

3. Vegetables

Similar to fruit, vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre. They too, have antioxidant properties and can reduce the risk of many diseases. It is important to eat different types of vegetables as each one offers various types and amounts of nutrients.

How to include them in your diet: cut-up and pair with hummus, tzatziki or a healthy dressing; add to a stir fry, soups, pasta dishes, baked goods or salads.

4. Hummus

With chickpeas being one of the major ingredients in hummus, this food is known for its’ protein, folate and fibre content. Approximately 1/4c of hummus can provide up to 4g of fibre!

How to include them into your diet: Use as a dip for raw vegetables; spread for whole grain crackers, whole wheat pita wedges or sandwiches.

5. Leafy Greens

Yes, leafy greens are a vegetable, but they have V.I.V. status (very important vegetable), which puts them in their own category for this list. Leafy greens are notorious for their vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and folate content. Not only are these nutrient dense vegetables low in calories and high in fibre (increases satiety), they are naturally low in fat and sodium.

How to include them into your diet: Chop kale or spinach and add them to tomato/meat sauce; add to a stir fry; make a pesto sauce for a pasta dish.

6. Eggs

Eggs are a high-quality protein source as one large egg provides approximately 6g protein and all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make. Don’t be too quick to dump out the yolk! While the egg white provides most of the protein, the yolk provides some protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B12, folate, and carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) that are essential to eye health. In general, a healthy individual void of high blood cholesterol, diabetes or history of heart disease can have an average of one whole egg per day.

How to include them into your diet: Slice hard boiled eggs and add them to salads or sandwiches; pair with whole grain crackers, low fat cheese, cucumbers and salsa.

7. Avocadoes

This creamy textured and nutrient loaded fruit contains 20 vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fibre, and is a good source of monounsaturated fats – the healthy fat associated with heart health and brain function. Ripened avocadoes can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. Cut avocadoes can be stored in an air tight container or sealed in plastic wrap. To prevent oxidation, splash with lemon or lime juice prior to storage.

How to include them into your diet: Slice an avocado and add to salads, sandwiches or whole grain crackers; make guacamole.

8. Nut Butters

Although nutrients vary between nut butters, most are a good source of healthy fats, fibre, protein, vitamin E, phosphorous and folate. The best choice of nut butter is one that is natural and contains minimal ingredients (i.e. no added sugars).

How to include them in your diet: Use as a dip or spread for fruits and vegetables; add to smoothies, overnight oats, oatmeal or yogurt; nut butter sandwiches.

9. Milk and/or Alternative

Milk contains 16 essential nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, B12 and protein. If you cannot consume milk and/or prefer a non-dairy beverage (e.g. soy), choose those that are unsweetened and fortified or enriched.

How to include them into your diet: Use as a base in smoothies or overnight oats; add to oatmeal, pancakes and/or whole wheat muffin recipes.

10. Ready to eat lean protein (i.e. chicken, meat, fish, tofu)

On a time crunch, but still need to make sure your meal is balanced? Have your lean meat ready to go!

Protein is part of every cell in your body and is essential to build and repair muscle tissue, nails, hair, skin, hormones and enzymes. Not only does protein assist with your body’s ability to function, it helps to control appetite by keeping you full for longer periods of time.

How to include them in your diet: add to salads, soups, stir fry, wraps and sandwiches; pair with vegetables as a snack.

Devika Sharma

Devika is a registered dietitian, and is certified in health and fitness studies. She currently holds a position as a renal dietitian and nutrition consultant for Synaptitude Brain Health and is the founder of One More Bite - a Vancouver-based nutrition consulting company that aims to provide evidence-based dietary information to assist with nutrition impacted diseases. She is a strong advocate for health and nutrition and firmly believes that embracing the concept of moderation contributes to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

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