Over the years, I've learned that in order to ensure I'm eating healthy at home I must have go-to ingredients to make it easy to prepare my meals. Below are just some of my favorite items I ALWAYS have on hand to prepare healthy meals that don't pack on extra pounds!
- Yogi tea! Used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine for centuries, dandelion root is known for its detoxifying properties, constipation relief, soothing an upset stomach, and helping shed water weight. In the days leading up to my NPC Bikini Competition last year, I drank dandelion tea three times a day truly believe it helped me shed water weight and helped with overall water retention. In addition to dandelion tea, I love ginger and lemon tea. Ginger tea isn't too popular here in the US, but it's quite common in other parts of the world. The benefits of drinking ginger tea include: improved circulation, reduction in arthritic inflammation, PMS, and overall stress. I also happen to love Chai Spice Mate tea by Guayaki, but it has since been discontinued! If you drink tea as an alternate to coffee (i.e.: for the caffeine boost), check them out. They have tons of other tasty flavors.
- Chia seeds. Chia - the acient Mayan word for strength. These little seeds are a nutrition powerhouse! High in quality protein - meaning they contain a ton of amino acids - and provide a great alternative for non-meat eating folks to get a little extra protein in their diet. Additionally, chia seeds are 40% fiber, by weight. What does that mean? It means they'll expand in your belly and help you feel fuller, longer - which means you'll ingest less calories. The fiber also feeds the "good bacteria" in your intestine AND have more Omega 3 fatty acids than salmon! I know - who knew?!? I love putting chia seeds in my morning oats or mixed into non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Since they've become increasingly popular, it's easy to find them at any grocery store near you!
- Healthy baking staples. I can't lie - I get cravings to whip up some tasty treats just as much as the next person. So when cravings kick in and I decide to bake up something yummy, I always am sure to have the best quality ingredients to make small, relatively guilt-free treats. My go-to items are: almond flour, coconut flour, and enjoy life mini chocolate chips (they are dairy, nut and soy-free).
- Coconut Secret Organic Raw Coconut Aminos. That's a mouthful! This has become a staple in my pantry ever since being diagnosed with a soy allergy. If there are any fellow Jewish New Yorkers out there reading this, you'll know Chinese takeout is a 3x a week staple in most homes. I was so sad to hear the days of chinese takeout, soy sauce on my sushi and snacking on edamame were long gone however once I found this, I've been able to replicate my favorite meals and they honestly taste even better than before. Even if you're not allergic to soy check this out. It's 100% organic, gluten-free, vegan, and 65% less sodium than soy sauce.
- Walden Farms Pancake Syrup. Traditional syrup has WAY too much sugar, so this condiment is a great way to top my protein pancakes with the maple syrup taste without all the calories and sugar.
- Coconut Oil Spray. I do not cook with oil at all in an attempt to limit my fat intake, so this coconut oil spray helps ensure my food doesn't stick to my pans.
- PB2. For those of my fellow peanut butter/almond butter lovers, the struggle is real. Nut butters taste delicious and are so versatile (I mix them into greek yogurt, dollop a tablespoon on plain egg whites, mix into smoothies, spread on half a banana, eat out of the jar, bake with it... you get the idea) BUT they are fat-laden. PB2 is a powdered peanut butter that has all the taste without the fat. I limit myself to a few tablespoons a week - but all you do is mix it with water and BOOM! Healthy alternative to nut butter.