As nutrition and fitness experts, we are ALWAYS asked by our clients “what do you eat?”. So let’s dive right in with our 5 favourite fridge staples!
1. Cauliflower
Cauliflower has experienced a huge surge in popularity, and we’re absolutely on the bandwagon! As a vegetable, it’s naturally a good source of fibre and prebiotics for gut health, and antioxidants for cardiovascular health, antiaging and reduced inflammation. But the main reasons we have selected it as a fridge staple are its versatility and long shelf life. In particular, it has become a fashionable and effective substitute for higher calorie/carb grains and starchy foods, to assist with weight loss and blood sugar control.
For example, cauliflower can be transformed into ‘cauli-rice’ – a low calorie and low carb alternative to standard rice, which cooks in a fraction of the time as an added benefit! For a lighter mash, prepare a combination of 50% potato/sweet potato, and 50% cauliflower. Similarly, for a lighter mac and cheese, replace 50% of the pasta (or more) with steamed or roasted cauliflower. Cauliflower is also delicious roasted with a little extra virgin olive oil.
2. Baby spinach
When it comes to dark green leafy vegetables, such as baby spinach, the health benefits are numerous and widespread. For example, spinach is rich in folate, and adequate intakes of folate may help to prevent stress, Alzheimer’s and depression by reducing blood homocysteine levels (1). Folate is also essential for foetal spine development, with requirements almost doubling in the first trimester of pregnancy, and during the pre-conception period.
In addition to folate, baby spinach is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants and phytonutrients, all of which support healthy skin and anti-aging, a strong immune system, improved cardiovascular health, and reduced inflammation. Calcium in baby spinach supports bone and joint health.
Baby spinach is super versatile, which is why it’s a fridge staple! Use it as a base for salads, sautee it for breakfast alongside eggs or in an omelette, stir it through pasta sauces or stir fries, and add to a breakfast smoothie.
3. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is often thought of as a bland, old-fashioned ‘diet’ food. But – it’s convenient, affordable, filling, and we absolutely love it! As far as nutrition goes, it’s higher in protein and lower in natural sugars compared Greek yoghurt, and lower in saturated fat and sodium compared with other cheeses.
In terms of usability, cottage cheese can be enjoyed plain or in savoury and sweet recipes to elevate the protein content, and reduce the fat content. For example, dollop it on top of salads instead of mayonnaise or fetta, use it in a lasagna or pasta recipe to replace cream or bechemal, serve it with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey for a low-cal dessert, or our personal favourite – spread it on wholegrain crackers with jam as a healthy alternative to a ‘monte carlo’ sweet biscuit!
4. Eggs
Eggs are and age-old fridge staple, and with good reason! On their own, they can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, they are quick and easy to prepare, affordable, readily available, and nutrient rich. For example, eggs provide B vitamins for energy production and red blood cell development, fat soluble vitamins for skin, bone, eye and heart health, and zinc for immunity and many other metabolic processes. In particular, eggs are an egg-cellent (sorry, we had to!) source of protein, containing all essential amino acids for muscle growth and repair. Eggs also rank highly on the ‘Satiety Index’, and have shown to be more filling than a carbohydrate snack of equal calorie (2, 3).
We always have a handful of boiled eggs in our fridge, which can stay fresh for up to 5 days. Add them to salads, wraps and sandwiches, slice them on toast or crackers, or simply enjoy them as they are for a protein packed snack. We also love making baked eggs for a special weekend breakfast, and omelettes for a casual Sunday night dinner.
5. Fresh salmon
Fresh salmon is a luxury, but we think it’s worth it. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are powerful anti-inflammatories. To summarise quickly, studies have linked omega-3 fats with reduced risk of heart disease, reduced inflammation among patients with arthritis, improved cognitive function, improved eye health, and reduced risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Last but not least, omega-3’s reduce inflammation in muscle tissue post exercise, and delay/prevent muscle soreness and injury (4).
Acknowledging the many, well researched benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, the Heart Foundation recommend we consume oily fish three times a week. And unfortunately, many tinned varieties do not match the omega 3 levels of fresh fish.
As far as proteins go, salmon is quick and easy to cook, and also very forgiving – it’s safe to enjoy slightly undercooked (or raw even, when very fresh), and it’s very hard to overcook due to its high fat content. We love oven baking it in a foil pouch with a variety of dressings and flavours, such as dill, lemon and garlic, or soy, ginger and mirin.