If you want to have your healthiest Christmas holiday season ever, you NEED to have these six foods in your kitchen …
Using them in your meal preparation will help you eat healthier, and get leaner while still enjoying some festive indulgence:
1. The best cooking oil
Most South Africans cook their food insunflower oil or Canola oil. Without going into too much detail I’m going to ask you to STOP using these products immediately.
They are both ‘hydrogenated’ oils – and this makes them TOXIC to our bodies
Hydrogenation is a process by which unstable oils are bubbled through hydrogen gas to make then stable at room temperature. Doesn’t sound HEALTHY right? They are essentially man-made chemically produced ‘foods’ – Mother Nature did not intend for us to use them this way.
Another common mistake is when people use olive oil to fry food. Olive oil is wonderfully healthy when it is cold. When heated past a certain point it becomes rancid, or poisonous – that’s why you should only buy cold pressed olive oil.
So what should you use for warm/hot cooking?
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature (which makes it very easy to work with – bonus!). It has no taste or smell and is completely stable when heated. It is also a NATURAL product. It is a very good source of healthy fats so you are ADDING to the nutritional value of your food by cooking with it.
2. The best sugar
Fruit is FULL of sugar, but it’s not the bad kind!!! Fruit is packed full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and energy. It’s as ‘natural’ as food can be in this day and age.
Along with vegetables, it should make up the majority of your diet – 10 servings per day (four fruit, six veg) is a good target. Fruit is amazing as a salad, it can be blended into smoothies, it can be eaten from your hand as an instant snack, and it makes a fantastic dessert. If you are someone who craves sugar, eat a banana (or whatever fruit you favour) and tell me it doesn’t take care of the craving.
3. Long-life proteins
Protein is important for all sorts of reasons. For everything from muscle synthesis to blood health, we need to eat enough protein to be healthy.
The problem with many protein-rich foods is that they take a lot of preparation time before you can eat them, and for busy people that’s a problem. There are, however, four sources of proteinthat are easy to prepare and have a long shelf-life – making them the perfect snack foods.
- Nuts – A handful of mixed nuts contains good levels of protein and fats and will keep you feeling full for a long time. I like to have these on hand in my office and even in the car in order to grab a snack on the run.
- Protein powder – This is good as a meal or a snack and contains a very high percentage protein per gram and is low in calories. Plus, if you get a good one, there are some great flavours out there.
- Biltong – Yes, biltong is expensive. I don’t buy it all the time, but if a store has a special, I buy in bulk and freeze it in portion sized quantities. It’s tasty, nutritious and tough to eat, so you’ll feel satisfied.
- Eggs – An egg contains around seven grams of protein and they last a long time on the shelf. Boiled eggs are a good choice for snacking as you can carry them easily, but they are easy to prepare no matter how you like them. Omelette, scrambled, fried in coconut oil or butter, poached – whatever. As an added benefit they contain a good amount of healthy fat.
4. Spice up your life
One of the major complaints of people who make excuses as to why they struggle to eat healthily is that ‘bad’ food tastes better than ‘good’ food.
The reason for this is that most ‘bad’ food is so loaded with salt and sugar that it doesn’t really need to have a taste because it activates pleasure centres in your brain and tells you that you like it. This is a BIG problem, because many people – maybe even you – are addicted to salt and sugar and you don’t even know it.
Quick test: imagine drinking water instead of any other beverage for ONE DAY. If your first reaction is ‘that’s impossible’ you probably have a sugar addiction.
So how does one combat this issue of foods overloaded with sugar and salt ‘tasting better’ than healthier foods?
Spices are natural, healthy alternatives to things like table salt and sugar and can open up a whole world of culinary experiences. The best part? They actually contribute nutrients to your diet too.
Get a couple of specifically designed spice-mixes like a meat spice, a chicken spice and a fish spice (make sure they are all natural) and a pepper grinder. Once you get an idea of what you like and don’t like you can begin buying individual spices. Otherwise try to get into the spices of particular cuisines you enjoy. Spend some time learning about the various spices used in your favourite meals.
The best part?
The people you cook for will think you’ve been to cooking school. Your cooking will transform into something special AND you’ll be eating healthier.
5. The best milk
Here’s the thing … I’m not sure you should be drinking milk at all … In my experience more than half of the people I coach feel WAY better when they take dairy out of their diet.
If you struggle with sinus, phlegm, fatigue, upset stomach or a regularly blocked nose you are a great candidate for a dairy-free life.
Many people LOVE milk. And they thrive on it.
So the questions: “What’s the best milk? Is 2% healthier than full-cream? Is long-life milk bad?
Well, my nutritional philosophy says that we would be best served eating or drinking anything in its closest-to-natural form. The best milk comes straight from the cow. Unfortunately we are not allowed to drink it that way anymore. So now we’re taking ‘the best of what’s around’.
The fat in milk is MEANT TO BE THERE.
Taking it out can’t possibly be good right? Plus, taking stuff out means that other stuff has to be put in … usually chemicals. So full-cream wins that one.
Milk is meant to go sour reasonably quickly, so any milk that doesn’t seems suspicious. So fresh milk wins there.
In a perfect world I’d be buying fresh milk from a farmer. But the best compromise is full-cream fresh milk. Just remember that because it’s the ‘best’ option doesn’t make it an ‘all-you-can-eat’ option. It’s still calorie-dense and too much will have you putting on weight quickly.
6. The best starch
“Run! Run away! The CARBS are coming to get us!” This is the latest cry of fad dieters everywhere.
Anything that even LOOKS like it may contain carbohydrate or some sort of sugar is demon food. Apples and bananas are put in the same category as muffins and pies. Eating some rice? Heaven help you! You’re going to get diabetes!
THE TRUTH is that carbohydrates are, and will always be an essential macronutrient.
We NEED them in order to thrive. Now, we may need FEWER carbs than what most people eat and we may need to stop deep frying our carbs or eating ultra-refined breads, but we still need carbohydrates in our diet.
One of the best ways to get some carbs is to eat a potato.
Potato is one of very few foods that is almost nutritionally PERFECT [Tweet this] – you could live on potatoes alone and be a fairly healthy human being. Does this sound like a food to avoid?
Potatoes are part of the perfect pantry because they have a decent shelf-life, are versatile, AND they are really healthy! Just control your portions and don’t deep fry them in chemical-laden oils.
So if you want some starch with dinner, have some. It should cover 10-15% of your plate. Any more and you’re probably overdoing it.