Ten foods our dietitian can’t live without
Accredited dietitian, Melissa Meier might know the ins and outs of what we should eat, but there are certain foods she can’t live without.
As a dietitian, I’m often asked about my personal eating habits. ‘What do you have for breakfast?’… ‘What’s your go to snack?’… ‘What do you cook for dinner?’…. And to most people’s surprise, my answers don’t consist of out-there health foods that are hard to find and cost a small fortune.
Instead, my diet is based on simple, humble wholefoods and includes my favourite treats (occasionally, of course). To give you a little healthy eating insight, here are ten foods that are almost always on my shopping list.
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Let’s start with the good stuff: cheese. Packed with calcium for strong bones and teeth as well as hunger-busting protein, I eat cheese almost every single day as one of my dairy serves. For mid-week fodder, I steer clear of the indulgent varieties you’d often find on a cheeseboard and instead, opt for reduced-fat ricotta with pasta, cheddar on toast or a sprinkle of feta in a salad.
My absolute favourite vegetable, pumpkin gets it’s bright n’ beautiful colour from the beta carotene it contains. This is a type of antioxidant that converts to Vitamin A in the body and plays a role in healthy eyes. It also provides a string of other micronutrients, including potassium for muscle function, vitamin C for immunity and folate for mums to be.
Extra virgin olive oil
My go-to, oh-so-good for you oil, EVOO brings vegetables, salads and proteins to life. Not only is it a wonderful way to include healthy fats in your diet, it’s also rich in disease-fighting antioxidants – far more than other common cooking oils like canola or vegetable.
Yes, tinned tomatoes. Instead of buying marinades, jarred sauces and meal bases, I prefer to make my own from scratch, and tinned tomatoes are almost always included. Chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognese, baked eggs… you name it, tinned tomatoes are probably in it. I buy the ones with no added salt.
A staple for breakfast in my household, yoghurt is another wonderful source of calcium for healthy bones and protein to keep hunger pangs at bay until at least mid-morning. I opt for a plain, reduced-fat variety and pair it with fresh fruit and muesli and voila – I’ve got a well-balanced brekkie on my hands in two minutes, flat.
Along with beans and lentils, chickpeas are part of the legume family. Scientific research has shown that legumes are incredibly good for us, helping to ward off diseases like diabetes and heart disease. A simple tin of no-added-salt chickpeas can be thrown into trays of baked veggies or salads for a plant-based protein boost.
I L-O-V-E passionfruit, so much so that my colleagues have told me they now think of me at the mere waft of the juicy, delicious fruit. It is brimming with gut-loving fibre, with around a fifth of you daily needs in just two fruits. It also provides small amounts of energising iron and zinc for wound healing.
My go-to protein, salmon is a wonderful source of heart healthy omega-3 fats and muscle-building protein – the perfect base for a satisfying dinner. For an easy mid-week one-pan meal, I’ll do a tray of baked veggies and in the last ten minutes of cooking, add a fillet of salmon. Delish.
The humble cauli provides over 100 per cent of your entire day’s needs of Vitamin C to support your immune system, along with small amounts of b-group vitamins. I love to cover it in EVOO and sumac and then bake it in the oven until crispy as a side with fish or chicken.
You didn’t see that one coming, did you?! No, it’s not particularly good for you and yes, it is jam-packed with added sugar – but it’s absolutely delicious and one of my favourite foods. So, instead of restricting myself and feeling bad about enjoying it (because there’s no room for restriction in a healthy diet), I try to buy individual portions when I *really* feel like it, rather than having whole blocks in my house on the reg. I’d encourage you to do the same with your favourite treats, too.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.