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5 Versatile and Healthy Foods To Stock Up On

February 6, 2014

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It’s no secret that our hectic schedules and rushed weeknights make it challenging to prepare healthy meals on a daily basis. But with a little planning and by stocking up on a few key ingredients, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to whip up delicious and tasty meals all week long!

Stocking your pantry and fridge during the weekend with versatile foods that can be prepared a variety of ways and can be incorporated into breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes will not only help you save money and time, but also give you a jumpstart on your weekly meal planning.   

Here are 5 healthy and versatile ingredients to add to your grocery list this week:

1. Avocado

Health benefits: This creamy and delicious fruit is a nutritional powerhouse providing numerous health benefits including heart healthy fats, protein, and vitamins K, B, E, and C, as well as almost half the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber.

Research shows that incorporating avocado into your diet can help reduce bad cholesterol and lower the risk of certain disease such as diabetes, stroke, and coronary artery disease, and promote a healthy weight by lowering BMI (Body Mass Index).

How to use it:  Avocados are not only incredibly nutritious, but they are also extremely versatile! Try this delicious Spiced Eggs and Spinach with Avocado Mash,  that’s suitable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can also spread avocado on toast for a quick snack, or add in a salad to make it more filling, like in this Orange, Avocado & Arugula Salad. I think you’ll find that when you have avocados on hand, the possibilities for creating a healthy and nutrition meal are endless.

2. Sweet Potatoes

Health benefits: Sweet potatoes are rich in one of the most potent antioxidants, Beta-carotene or vitamin A. One medium sweet potato provides your body with the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, which helps protect skin from sun damage and can aid in the prevention of several types of disease. It’s also an excellent source of other vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and E and manganese.

How to use it: Having a few sweet potatoes in your pantry before the start of the week can provide you with numerous quick and healthy dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Believe it or not, sweet potatoes make for a great breakfast option. Try pureeing your cooked sweet potatoes and adding to oatmeal like in this sweet and savory  Sweet Potato Oatmeal.  Add roasted sweet potatoes to a salad like in this Sweet Potato & Green Bean Salad for lunch, or just simply mash for a quick and easy dinner side dish. 

3. Eggs

Health benefits: Eggs are a nutrient-rich whole food, and provide a complete range of amino acids, including lysine and tryptophan, as well as all other essential amino acids. All B vitamins are found in eggs including choline, biotin, and folic acid. Research shows that consuming one large egg yolk can also provide about 6 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin D. 

How to use it: Eggs might be one of the most versatile foods around, as you can eat them just about any time of day. You’re probably most familiar with eating eggs for breakfast, however there are tons of lunch and dinner recipes featuring eggs. Try this Roasted Asparagus Frittata for a creative and delicious way to enjoy eggs for lunch or dinner.

4. Quinoa

Health benefits: Quinoa is a grain that is adorned by health food advocates everywhere and for good reason. Quinoa is considered a perfect protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It contains twice as much fiber as most other grains, which helps lower cholesterol and keep your heart healthy, and it’s also rich in other essential vitamins and minerals that are important for optimal health.

How to use it: This supergrain is simple to cook and has a mild flavor that makes it a great nutritious addition to just about any meal.  It’s also an easy food to prepare ahead of time so that it’s accessible to use in a variety of dishes throughout the week. If you’re tired of eating oatmeal for breakfast, then switch it up with this Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa. Quinoa is also a great base for a salad—just add your favorite vegetables, fruits, and nuts for a quick and healthy lunch. And if you’re looking for a flavorful and gluten-free dinner option, then you’ll want to try this delicious Quinoa Risotto.

5. Almond butter

Health benefits:  Almond butter (simply ground almonds with no other ingredients added) is loaded with healthy fats, vitamins E and B, and essential minerals. Research shows that incorporating almond butter into your diet may help lower bad cholesterol, reduce body fat, and decrease blood pressure. 

How to use it:  Almond butter is another extremely versatile ingredient that’s great to include in your recipes throughout the week. Try scooping one teaspoon of almond butter in your morning smoothie to add richness. Almond butter’s creamy texture also makes it ideal for dipping fruits and vegetables for a healthy snack. Or, use it as a base for sauces by folding in savory spices and other ingredients and tossing it on salads or a lean protein.

What are your favorite healthy and versatile ingredients to use throughout the week?