9 Healthy Foods for a Diet-Friendly Fridge
Must-have items for quick, healthy snacks and meals.
6. Jar of Marinara or Pizza Sauce
Armed with a jar of marinara or pizza sauce, you're on your way to several
quick and healthy snacks or meals. Use it for:
- Design-your-own pizza using whole-wheat pitas, bagel halves, or
- All kinds of pasta dishes.
- Italian-style hot sandwiches or panini.
- Topping for meat loaf or casseroles.
- Bread dip or enchilada sauce.
Tomatoes are packed with important nutrients, and your body can absorb more
of their phytochemicals if the tomatoes are cooked and eaten along with a
little healthy fat. That fits the description of most bottled marinara and
pizza sauces. Tomatoes contain all four carotenoid phytochemicals: alpha- and
beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene, which work together for even more
nutritional pop. They also have three high-powered antioxidants thought to work
together: vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.
7. Prepared Pesto (Made With Olive Oil)
Pesto, made with basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and some type of nut, is
a tasty way to work a little olive oil into your day. Along with the healthful
monounsaturated fats, olive oil contributes more than 30 phytochemicals, many
of which have antioxidant/anti-inflammatory action in the body.
Pesto makes a great spread for sandwiches and pizzas, or a tasty sauce for
all your favorite hot or cold potato and pasta dishes (choose whole-grain pasta
for added nutritional punch). You can even add pesto to goat cheese or light
cream cheese and serve with whole-grain crackers for an impromptu appetizer.
More good news about pesto: it's strongly flavored, so a small amount can help
perk up your dishes while keeping calories under control.
8. Almond Butter
Nuts in general contain "smart fats" (mostly monounsaturated fat and
a little polyunsaturated fat, including plant omega-3 fatty acids for some
nuts). Most nuts also have phytosterols, which in sufficient amounts can help
lower cholesterol and enhance the
immune system, and may decrease the risk of some cancers. Some of the vitamins
and minerals many of us are lacking, like vitamin E and magnesium, are also be found in
One of the most studied nuts is the almond. Almonds have phytochemicals that
can help lower cholesterol; vegetable protein
that may lower "bad" cholesterol (LDL); and monounsaturated fat
that may increase "good" cholesterol (HDL). To top it all off, almonds
are rich in antioxidants.
An easy way to work almonds into your day is with almond butter. Use it
anywhere you would use peanut butter: spread on whole-grain toast, bagels, or
crackers; as a dip for fruits and veggies; or for cooking everything from
cookies to sauces and dressings. Remember, though, that nut butters are high in
fat (albeit the healthy kind), so be sure to practice portion control.
9. Iced Green Tea
One of the best ways to cut calories is to avoid beverages that contain
them. Your body will thank you even more if you choose no-calorie drinks that
can also give you some health benefits. Here's where green tea comes in. Tea
contains phytochemicals that are thought to have a host of health benefits. For
example, tea has catechins, which are thought to not only have antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory activity, but also to stimulate the immune system and
possibly boost weight loss. Both green and black tea have healthy properties,
but green tea is thought to be especially beneficial.
The phytochemicals in green tea have a half-life of just a few hours, so I
make it a habit to drink a cup of green tea in the morning and another toward
the end of the day. Having ice-cold green tea in the refrigerator makes it easy
to enjoy a glass in the afternoon when you're looking for a little refreshment.
There are all sorts of flavored green teas available (like tropical green tea,
pomegranate green tea, etc.). Find a few flavors you like, and keep some brewed
and ready to drink in your refrigerator.