Just tell me what to eat!
Nutrition professionals frequently get overly-enthused about communicating everything about everything with it comes to food and nutrition. You’re worried about blood glucose? Here’s a primer on how insulin works in response to digestion. You’re wondering about digestive health? Here’s a primer on how gut microbes and their metabolites interact with the intestinal lining. Thinking about an omega-3 fat supplement? Here’s all the info on the many fatty acid metabolic pathways linked to inflammation. Plus the added bonus of a lecture about inflammation.
When all the person wanted to know was “What should I eat.” It can really be that simple. I have to admit it’s easy for me and my colleagues to get caught up in the details, so I frequently have to remind myself to Keep It Simple…Sister (I’m changing the wording of that well-known phrase).
I’ve written about what’s not in my pantry/frig/kitchen, but it’s also important to be positive. So here’s a general list of things you are likely to find in my house, that I eat daily or at least weekly. It works for me. You might have other preferences, but I do suggest that most of your food is derived from plant sources, whether grains, vegetables, fruit, beans (legumes) or nuts. It’s all about plant-based eating, sometimes referred to as the Mediterranean style diet, but which really can be any variation you create. You aren’t obliged to eat foods specific to the Mediterranean region. You can have a plant-based diet that’s Korean or Indian or Mexican.
So here’s the list of foods you are likely to find in my home:
- fresh leafy greens (whether lettuce, spinach, kale or chard)
- salad vegetables: cucumbers, peppers, carrots, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, onions, celery, tomatoes (in season only), zucchini (same)
- fresh cooking vegetables: onions, garlic, carrots, celery, peppers, chilis, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, bok choy, squash, sweet potatoes, eggplant, corn on the cob (seasonal), green beans (same), snap peas (same)
- frozen vegetables: peas, string beans, corn, chopped spinach
- fresh seasonal fruit.
- frozen fruit: berries and sliced peaches are especially good options for frozen
- dried fruit (good on cereal): raisins, cranberries
- canned: tomatoes, beans (black, kidney, pinto, garbanzo…), chilis, refries
- grains: rice, Arborio rice (risotto), faro (my new favorite), bulgur wheat, buckwheat, black rice, barley
- dried lentils: brown, French, black, green, red
- pasta: various types, including Soba and rice noodles
- cheese: various kinds. I love Manchego and feta.
- canned tuna
- bread, tortillas
- peanut butter
- various nuts: walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Mostly for cooking, not just snacking
- oils: olive, canola, sesame, corn
- coffee and half & half
- meat and poultry sometimes, usually fresh, not cured/processed.
Of course, I’ve got the usual stuff for baking and cooking: herbs, salt, flour, sugar, milk, condiments and so forth. You’ll notice I don’t list common convenience products like commercial salad dressing, frozen pizza, canned sauces or frozen meals. I just don’t use them. Canned soup? Sometimes. There are many good choices these days, but I frequently just make my own soups heavy on vegetables and beans.
The main point: this list reflects foods that make up a mostly plant-based diet. I can easily put together meals that focus on plant-sourced foods, and the meals don’t have to be complicated. I could make an Indian meal of lentils, a rice dish and a yogurt sauce. Or I can make a small omelet and a big tossed salad or risotto with peas or spinach and grated cheese.