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Must-have items for quick, healthy snacks and meals.

How many times do you open your refrigerator door each day, peering in and hoping to be inspired? It stands to reason that if you keep your refrigerator stocked with appetizing foods that also happen to be good for you, you're much more likely to eat healthy meals and healthy snacks.

But keep in mind that the "out of sight, out of mind" principle applies to your fridge. Many of us, for example, have colorful fruits and vegetables on hand -- but keep them buried in the crisper drawers at the bottom of the fridge. You are more likely to see, eat, and enjoy healthy foods if they're in a ready-to-eat form, staring at you from the eye-level shelves in your refrigerator.

Here are nine must-have healthy foods for a diet-friendly refrigerator:

1. Fruit Salad

Take that fruit from your crisper and fruit bowl and turn it into a tasty fruit salad, drizzled with a high-vitamin-C fruit juice (to keep the fruit from browning), and packed in a see-through, covered container. You might also find bags of pre-sliced organic apples in your market that you can keep front and center in your fridge.

2. Crunchy Raw Vegetables

Try cucumbers, celery, zucchini, jicama, and carrots, cut into sticks or slices, rinsed, and kept in a see-through covered container.

3. Ready-to-Eat Green Salad

A salad made with high-nutrient spinach or romaine lettuce, and embellished with cherry tomatoes, beans, and even nuts, is more likely to be gobbled once liberated from the crisper. Looking for a healthy meal in seconds flat? This salad can quickly transform into an entree with the addition of grilled chicken breast, cooked shrimp, or lean steak slices.

4. Whole-Wheat Pita Pockets and/or Tortillas

Switching from refined (or white) grain products to whole grains is one of the most powerful dietary changes you can make. Research has suggested that eating plenty of whole grains may lead to an assortment of health benefits, including lengthening your life span, helping with weight control, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers.

Keeping a pack of whole-wheat pita pockets or whole-grain tortillas in the refrigerator can inspire quite a few quick, healthy meals or snacks. The pita or tortilla can serve as a base for quesadillas, pizzas, and hot or cold sandwiches or wraps. These items tend to get moldy fairly quickly at room temperature, but will last at least a week in the refrigerator.

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