Fitness YouTuber and nutrition coach Joanna Soh shares with us a list of food items everyone needs at home to eat healthily.
If nutrition is something that you’ve always neglected, now’s the time to pay more attention to it. Learning how to eat healthily is important, especially with a global pandemic going on. The best way to do so is by cooking at home. Not only do you have control over the ingredients, but you also ensure that your family will enjoy healthy, nutritional meals.
If you don’t know where to start, we’ve engaged the help of Joanna Soh to share some tips on how to eat healthily at home — and it all begins with your grocery list. As a certified trainer and nutrition coach, Soh knows exactly what the body needs to be healthy. Her advice is simple, “Stock your kitchen with real, wholesome, and versatile foods.”
To get you started, here are her top 10 must-have foods in her kitchen to start eating healthily.
1. Fresh Vegetables
“We all know the importance of eating vegetables, so be sure to pack your fridge with lots of fresh greens,” she said. “I like to go for locally grown seasonal produce such as choy sum, kangkung, bok choy, cabbage, and bean sprouts.”
Buying vegetables grown in the country has its benefits — they’re fresh and you lower your carbon footprint as they’re not imported. Another plus point is that local veggies are more affordable than imported produce.
2. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are some of the most affordable sources of plant protein and fibre. If you’re trying to cut down on meat, beans, and legumes make great protein substitutes in your diet. “One cup of chickpeas contains a whopping 15g of protein and 12g of fibre,” Soh reiterated. Also, they’re extremely versatile in cooking. “You can use them in curries, salads, and as a healthy snack.”
For extra convenience, Soh recommends purchasing canned beans as they can be consumed immediately, shortening the cooking process. “However, be sure to choose the low-sodium option or rinse the beans in water before eating them.”
3. Herbs and Spices
“The easiest and best way to flavour your food without packing on extra calories and unhealthy fats is to use herbs and spices,” she said. “They’re extremely versatile and packed with antioxidants. Go for parsley, oregano, thyme, chilli flakes, turmeric, fennel seeds, and black pepper.” She recommends using them to make healthy curries or for baking chicken and fish. They also make stir-fried vegetables taste great.
4. Pure Peanut Butter
Now here’s a food item that most will welcome, peanut butter! It’s rich in protein, fibre and, healthy fats that are extremely good for you. They’re also versatile — spread them on bread, add it into a smoothie or mix it into your oatmeal. However, Soh warns to not overdo it as peanut butter is high in calories. One handy tip when it comes to picking your jar of peanut butter is to go for one that is made of 100% peanuts with no added sugar, oil, and additives.
5. Sweet Potato
“Sweet potatoes are delicious! I love the orange and purple varieties. They can be baked, boiled, roasted, or pan-fried. Their natural sweetness pairs well with a variety of seasonings,” said Soh. She personally enjoys having them baked, mashed, turned into sweet potato fries, and used to make healthy chocolate brownies.
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Eggs are probably a staple in your kitchen. They’re probably one of the easiest meals you can make without needing much. In fact, eggs are often Soh’s “go-to” quick meal. “They’re extremely nutritious, quick to cook, and fills you up,” she said. An egg holds 6g of protein at only 70 calories, and it contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s the perfect versatile ingredient for learning how to eat healthily at home.
The humble banana is a great fruit to have in your kitchen. Soh loves it too: “They’re economical, available all year round, and the perfect grab-and-go fruit.” Bananas are high in potassium, fibre, and aids digestion. “I always bring a banana out with me to snack on in case I get hungry. I also like to add them to my smoothie as a post-workout meal.”
8. Onion and Garlic
Name a better duo to make your cooking taste better, we’ll wait. “Onion and garlic are crucial for adding flavour to your dishes without the unhealthy fats or processed ingredients,” said Soh. The list of health properties for garlic is extensive, some of which includes reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of heart disease. Onions have plenty of health benefits too, they’re loaded with antioxidants, contains cancer-fighting compounds and helps control your blood sugar, to name a few.
9. Green Tea
Tired of drinking water all day? Switch it up with green tea. A big fan of the beverage, Soh drinks it daily. “Green tea is extremely high in antioxidants and increases fat burning,” she said. “It stimulates your metabolism while you rest, which in turn helps you lose and maintain a healthy weight.”
10. Greek Yoghurt
Forget your favourite strawberry-flavoured yoghurt and try Greek yoghurt instead. Don’t let its creaminess put you off — Greek yoghurt is 18g of protein goodness and only 100 calories per serving. “This is my favourite dessert to replace ice cream with, plus it makes for a healthy salad dressing,” said Soh.