It may sound obvious, but it bears repeating: What we put into our bodies has a lot to do with what we put in our kitchens. In other words, if we pack our freezers full of ice cream cartons, we will most likely dig into the stuff when we crave a sweet fix.
That's why it's so important to foster everyday healthy eating by making good choices at the grocery store. And even though it's fun (and healthy!) to spice up the grocery list every week with new items, there's something to be said for those same high-performing, delicious and healthful staples we stock at all times.
We know what we like to keep on hand, but we decided it was time for a lesson from the experts: We asked our favorite nutritionists to share with us their personal go-to kitchen staples.
What items do they see as essential for a long-term dedication to health? To take a peek behind the refrigerator door, read on below. And tell us in the comments: What can always be found in your kitchen?
Greek Olive Oil
"Touted as 'liquid gold' by Homer and 'the great healer' by Hippocrates, delicious Greek olive oil has a high percentage of monounsaturated fats and polyphenols which promote cardiovascular health, weight loss, energy production and is a great source of antioxidants, just to name a few! And try it on your skin as an effective, non-toxic moisturizer that won't clog your pores!" -- <a href="http://www.SheerWellness.com" target="_blank">Dr. Valerie Alikakos</a>, Chiropractor and Nutritionist <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) Organic, free range eggs 2) Green leafy vegetables (spinach) 3) Herbs (oregano, rosemary, etc) 4) Wild organic blueberries (fresh or frozen if out of season)
Raw, Unsalted Seeds
"Chia seeds for chia pudding, flax seeds and sunflower seeds for crackers, and nuts and seeds for pesto, salad dressings and sauces, and nut and seed milks." -- <a href="http://rocnutrition.com/" target="_blank">Rochelle Sirota</a>, MS, RD, CDN <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) Green tea with matcha 2) Vanilla 3) Greens and herbs 4) Nut milks 5) Avocados
Canned Chick Peas
"To add protein to a salad or whip up a bunch of hummus" -- <a href="http://nutritionovereasy.com/" target="_blank">Monica Reinagel</a>, MS, LDN <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) Olive oil 2) Lightly salted roasted almonds 3) Fresh lemons 4) Coffee
"French green beans (hericot verts) and broccoli are always in my freezer so that I'm never without some sort of vegetable!" -- <a href="http://anutritionisteats.com/" target="_blank">Emily Dingmann</a> <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) Protein 2) Parmesan cheese 3) Canned beans 4) Nut butters
Whole Grain Pasta
"Last night I made a summer veggie pasta dish using Dreamfields pasta, fresh asparagus, frozen green peas, garlic and a few other items. Perfect for the hot Florida weather. Will also roast veggies and toss with pasta and a basil pesto or use pasta in pad thai." -- <a href="http://susanmitchell.org" target="_blank">Susan Mitchell</a>, Ph.D., RD <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) High quality extra virgin olive oil 2) Good quality balsamic vinegar 3) Fire roasted tomatoes 4) Low sodium canned black beans 5) Delicious dark chocolate (very dark)
Fish (Cod, Orange Roughy, Or Mahi Mahi)
"Eating fish one to three times a week can have a profound impact on our wellbeing overtime. In fact, one serving of fish a week may reduce your risk of fatal heart attack by 40 percent." -- <a href="http://www.drwayneandersen.com/bookstore/" target="_hplink">Dr. Wayne Andersen, M.D.</a> <strong>His Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) 9-inch Plates 2) A Journal 3) Zipper-Style Bags 4) Water
"Not just an anti-Vampire repellant, garlic is considered one of Mother Nature’s most potent antibiotic, and anti-fungal roots. Most beneficial consumed raw, if you slice it thinly, it has more of a sweet taste and can be tossed in salads and guacamole. The more the cell wall is damaged, the less likely you will want to be smooching. Garlic also helps with the elimination of toxins from the blood, lymph, and body." -- <a href="http://www.theglowdetoxdiet.com" target="_blank">Lauren Talbot</a> <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) Curly Kale 2) Lemons 3) Probiotic Capsules 4) Avocados
"I'm a new mom and can use all the energy I can get. Coffee also has the benefit of antioxidants. I like to make a latte with soy milk in the morning, and an iced version in the summer." -- <a href="http://www.rebeccascritchfield.com" target="_blank">Rebecca Scritchfield</a> <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) Eggs 2) Baby spinach 3) Beans 4) Peanut butter
Arugula or Watercress
"My choice for salads, naturally a great digestive (in the old sense of the word), never bloating and high in powerful antioxidants, sulphofuranes -- I love the bitter bite and branchiness." -- <a href="http://parkavenutrition.com/" target="_blank">Lisa C. Cohn</a> <strong>Her Other Kitchen Necessities</strong>: 1) Fresh lemons 2) A cold pressed olive oil 3) Peppercorns of mixed types in a mill 4) Blueberries or raspberries
Also on HuffPost:
Karen Ansel, MS, RD, CDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and coauthor of <em>The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life</em> "As for what I wouldn't eat: hot dogs, without a doubt. Even if they're nitrate-free, they're still made up of too many parts and pieces, which is just unnatural."
Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, author of<em> Nutrition at Your Fingertips</em> and fellow Eat + Run blogger "I would not eat brains, frog legs or bugs. Otherwise, no foods are off limits, as I think all foods can fit into a healthful and balanced diet. And when I want something that I don't think of as healthy -- like a hot dog, pastrami, French fries, Doritos or a Hostess cupcake -- I have it, but keep the portion small."
Patricia Bannan, MS, RD, author of <em>Eat Right When Time is Tight</em> "<a href="http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2012/10/11/soda-calories-and-a-full-accounting">Sugary soda</a>. Not only does it taste overly-sweet, it's such a waste of calories. A 12-ounce can of soda has almost 40 grams of sugar, and research shows excess sugar can lead to excess pounds and a myriad of health issues. If you do love a soda, limit it to once or twice a month, and get used to other options like citrus-infused water or non-sugared iced tea."
Jackie Newgent, RD, culinary nutritionist and author of <em>1</em><em>,000 Low-Calorie Recipes</em> "I won't eat anything that's neon! Basically, if a food or beverage is a color that you can't find in nature -- like electric blue or glow-in-the-dark orange -- I won't go near it. It's one indicator of an artificial ingredient. I always keep it real."
Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of <em><a href="http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/flexitarian-diet">The Flexitarian Diet</a></em> "Spray butter, whipped topping and other similar 'diet foods.' My food philosophy is to eat real food with simple ingredient lists. I'd rather enjoy my food with smart amounts of real butter, oil, sea salt or whipped cream rather than artificial flavors and chemicals."
Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, author of <em>Read It Before You Eat It </em>and fellow Eat + Run blogger "I don't like to eat anything that looks like it did when it was alive! Whether it's a cornish hen or a whole fish, I'd rather not see my food in that 'whole' state. I was a strict vegetarian for years, not eating any meat, fish, or poultry, and although I slowly added some of those foods back into my diet, certain animal products are still tough for me to swallow."
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, author of <em>S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches</em> "Diet soda. It doesn't offer any nutrients, and my rule of thumb is: If it's artificial, it's not going into my body. Also, some research has linked diet soda consumption to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and depression. Plus, one analysis found that, on average, diet soda drinkers weigh more than regular soda drinkers."
Rachel Begun, MS, RD, spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics "I avoid all foods that contain hydrogenated oils. There is absolutely no need for them in our diet, and nowadays, it's easy to find foods that don't contain them."
Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, RD, spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics "By preference, I'm mostly <a href="http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/vegetarian-diet">vegetarian</a>. I wouldn't eat bacon, hot dogs, chicken, hamburgers, steak, soup made with animal broth or anything cooked in lard."