Five on Friday - Part Two

Five on Friday – Part Two

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Well folks, here are are again at the end of the week. I hope you have all had a great one.
It’s time for another Five on Friday, and today’s topic is actually a fairly simple one which is aimed at anyone who is just getting started on their health journey, or starting to make changes for the better.
Today I am going to show you my 5 kitchen staples. The things I am never without, and with which I can always make something to eat.

I encourage you to work out your own staples, which may differ to mine as mine are not SCD or low FODMAP friendly, or low histamine for example.

Once you know what yours are however, the trick is to stock up when you are low, not when you have run out, so you always have these things to hand.

One of my top tips for success with healthy eating or making big changes, is never be caught in a food emergency. Nobody makes good decisions about food (not even me), when they have to make a decision while they are hungry, stressed or tired.

So without further ado, here are my 5 kitchen staples.

1. Healthy Fat

My top 2 healthy fat priorities are good quality, organic extra-virgin olive oil, and coconut oil. These are the two that I am never without.

I cook with the coconut oil (This is the one I personally use), or pop it in a cup or tea or dandelion coffee if I am struggling with a sugar craving or feeling tired. But really coconut oil has a thousand and one uses and can be used in many recipes in both simple (stir fries) or complicated (home made dairy free chocolate truffles) ways.

I doubt anyone is unaware of the value of good quality olive oil for health, so I won’t labour the point here. I don’t usually cook with olive oil (and there are different theories about whether you should or shouldn’t that I may write about another time), instead I buy the best quality that I can and I use it to finish food or dress salads. I use it as a base for fancy schmancy salad dressings with lots of ingredients, in desserts (olive-oil ice-cream is insanely good if you’re avoiding dairy), but mostly I keep it simple and just drizzle it over fresh greens or cooked veg with a little salt. The darker the colour of the olive oil, the richer the flavour and this combined with a simple veg turns a meal from boring to bursting with flavour. Those mediterraneans really knew what they were doing!!

Other healthy fats to consider include nuts and seeds, avocado and coconut milk or coconut cream. I especially love these little coconut cream packets.

2. Seasonings

Ok, this is cheating a little bit because I am lumping a few things together here. But I only have 5 points, so I had to get creative.

When I say seasonings, the ones that I am never without are Vinegar (Apple Cider for me, Balsamic for the hubby), Good quality salt (Flaked, Smoked and Truffle), cracked black pepper and Tabasco Sauce (Jalapeño).
If I had to narrow this down further to just the bare bare basics for you, I would say Apple Cider Vinegar and Smoked Sea Salt.

My favourite salad dressing of all time is Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar and Smoked Sea Salt. So simple, so easy and so full of flavour and I can use it or variations of it on absolutely everything I eat. Except sweets. That would be weird.

Salt, vinegar, pepper and hot sauce can give you zing for plain meat like steak or chicken, stews and casseroles, steamed vegetables, salads, canned beans or chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). If you have these basics then you are good to go at all times.

And there are lots of fun variations on these themes, lots of different flavours and additions to salts, like rosemary sea salt, or truffle salt, or flavoured balsamic vinegars, like raspberry, chilli or even chocolate!

3. Frozen Broccoli

For me this is quite specific, because I could easily eat broccoli with every meal. But there are lots of great, organic, frozen veg available now that you can have on hand. Obviously in an ideal world, it’s better to eat fresh, but actually frozen vegetables sustain a high nutrient content because they are frozen soon after harvest. Some supermarket vegetables have been transported a long way by the time they reach your plate and may have lost valuable vitamins and minerals by this time.

You may prefer green beans, spinach or a host of other vegetables that are available. No, frozen chips do not count here!

A few minutes in a steamer, followed by – you guessed it – olive oil and smoked salt, and this is a fast, easy, delicious and nutritious choice at lunch or dinner. Or even just for a snack.

4. Canned Fish

I always have a couple of tins of sardines and a couple of tins of mackerel in my cupboard. I choose these fish specifically because they contain high levels of healthy omega-3 fats, and are smaller and lower down the food chain, so don’t come with the same concerns about mercury content or other contamination.

These are a brilliant choice, in my opinion, for a quick and easy serving of protein as well as those omega-3’s. And they don’t require defrosting or cooking, making them the most convenient of foods.

I prefer sardines in tomato sauce or with lemon or basil. And I only buy them in water or olive oil.
I really love mackerel with lemon, and so I just eat that one and have never really tried any of the others as a result.

If you don’t eat fish, then I find canned beans or canned chick peas to be a good, quick and easy source of protein and nutrients to keep on hand. You can also whip up a quick vegetarian chilli with the addition of some tomato and the tabasco sauce for a quick and filling meal. Or, see my favourite chickpea snack here.

5. Sweet Potatoes

Mmm, mmm. I love love love sweet potato. And I find it very versatile. It can be eaten with breakfast, lunch, supper, as a snack or for dessert. They can be enjoyed hot or cold (as in pre-cooked and eaten cold, not raw). They are on my table in one form or another on a regular basis and I know if I have a sweet potato or two to hand, I am never stuck for a meal or snack.

You can eat mashed sweet potato with coconut milk, almonds and blueberries for breakfast. You can eat a sweet potato baked or roasted for lunch, with a variety of toppings or sides. You can make sweet potato noodles into Pad Thai, or make spicy wedges or use them as a base of nachos for dinner and you can add chocolate and banana to make a pudding, or just bake one with coconut oil and cinnamon for dessert.

There is nothing that the humble sweet potato can’t do.

So there you have it. If you have all these foods on hand, or variations of, you will have great, nutrient dense sources of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fibre plus antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You will have the makings of several different, easy meals that will make you feel both virtuous and satisfied, and you will never be in a food emergency and be forced to eat a bowl of pasta, a whole packet of chocolate digestives or fish and chips out of desperation.

Have a great weekend everybody!!

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Robyn is a Clinical Nutritionist with a specialised interest in the Functional Medicine approach to health. Robyn is very involved with the field of Coeliac Disease, Gluten-Reactive Disorders and Autoimmune Disease. Her passion for the healing power of food, has led her to work with complex cases, involving multiple diagnoses, and chronic health issues such as ME, auto-immune diseases and fibromyalgia. She also has a passion for working with the growing tide of chronic, lifestyle mediated illness; diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, and runs a lifestyle intervention clinic for these issues. Robyn works with patients to nutritionally support their bodies, so that they can heal. She has successfully helped many people around the world improve their health and increase their quality of life. Robyn sees clients in London, Tokyo and New York, and has a virtual practice that allows her to work with people all over the world.