Essential healthy foods you should always have on hand

Quinoa stores well and is easy to cook with.
General by YogaEarth

Trying to eat better? Keep some essential healthy foods on hand.

When it comes to food I don’t usually suggest routine – variety is the spice of life after all! Eating the same thing for breakfast each morning is not going to inspire you to get out of bed and it’s not going to inspire your body with energy from the variety of nutrients it needs. If it were up to me, we would all have plenty of time, resources and energy to spend on cooking up delicious new dishes each meal and each day. But, as I sit and look at the bowl of soaking black beans on my counter, I know that is not the case. I had black beans just two nights ago, soaked and then cooked into a vegetarian chili topped with avocados and fresh cilantro. Tonight I am making a creamy coconut milk and black bean soup spiced with a bit of turmeric to encourage circulation during the colder days this month brings.

Staple foods like black beans are where I am willing to make an exception to my rule against routines. Getting into the routine of having a few super-healthy staple foods on hand can actually help keep you inspired to cook creative homemade meals to make new use of the ingredients you have on hand. It’s much easier to order Thai food when you don’t have something waiting for you in the refrigerator. So, make a point of getting in the routine of preparing a few staples ahead of time and then challenge yourself to see how many different meals you can make from them.

Below are my four favorite staples to have on hand because of their wonderful array of flavors, complimentary nature and remarkable nutritional profile. Unlike foods like celery, which I would be concerned about relying on as nutritional staple, these four foods are packed with an immense array of nutrients, including phytochemicals, antioxidants, protein and fiber, that will provide a well rounded source of nourishment for your body. Combine them all in one big pot of beautiful, warming soup, or get creative with each one individually to mix up your week.

1. Quinoa: With all nine essential amino acids, quinoa is one of nature’s best sources of plant-based protein. Quinoa also contains Vitamin B2 and magnesium, nutrients that aid in muscle function, as well as B6, E, iron and zinc. It is naturally gluten-free, easy to digest and a great immune booster (something we can all benefit from this time of year).

  • Store cooked quinoa in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Use it in salads, soups and stir frys, or stuff peppers or portabella mushrooms with a mixture of quinoa, herbs, spices and cheese (if desired). Use it as a breakfast grain by adding dried or fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, honey or milk to it. Quinoa is also great in baked goods and can be added to your favorite breads and muffins. For a totally different take on this unique seed, toss the raw seeds with a tablespoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey and toast on a cookie sheet for a few minutes until crispy. Cool and enjoy as a crunchy cereal, add to trail mix or baked goods or sprinkle atop yogurt or ice cream for dessert! 

2. Black Beans: An inexpensive, but nutrient-rich treat, dried balck beans should be a staple of all kitchens. High in B vitamins, folate, fiber and protein, black beans are a great source of energy for the body and may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Lignans (plant based estrogens or phytoestrogens) in black beans have also been linked to the reduction of certain cancers, including prostate, colon and pancreatic cancer.

  • Store cooked black beans in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  • Use them in hummus, soup, salads, salsa, breakfast scrambles, chili, rice bowls and anything else you can dream up!

Read about more essential healthy foods to keep on hand here



About the Author



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