Pretty much anyone with an internet connection has seen the benefits of kale praised by every nutritionist, health coach, and self-styled spiritual guru alive. But since leafy greens get boring after a while, it’s a good idea to mix up your go-to healthy foods.
These dietitians know you can't survive on greens alone, and they don't hold themselves to that standard either. Here are the (healthy) foods they keep on hand at all times.
Sharon Palmer, RDN and author of Plant-Powered for Life, says steel-cut oats are the way to go. Even though you may think oats are totally boring (or meant for babies and old people), they're not. She notes that they're totally customizable -- think fruit, nuts, seeds, and spices -- and they're full of good stuff like a kick-ass type of fiber called beta-glucan, which has a nice cholesterol-lowering effect as a bonus.
Sure, they’re uber trendy, but according to Lara Felton, RDN and head of the dietary team at ShopWell, there's a good reason for that. She says, "Just two tablespoons of chia seeds are a great source of fiber, omega-3 fats (the heart-healthy fats), protein, and calcium." So dump some in your smoothie, on your cereal, or over a baked sweet potato and be the healthy hipster you know you are.
Yes! Chocolate! Yay! Edwina Clark, MS, RD, APD (Aus), CSSD and head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly, says that she totally keeps chocolate on hand. Your everyday milk chocolate doesn't count, though -- go for the dark stuff. She says it does all sorts of nice things for your heart, such as improve blood pressure, insulin resistance, blood vessel function, and blood clotting.
Pre-prepped fresh fruit
Lisa Dierks, nutritionist at The Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, realizes that shoving five servings of fruits and vegetables into your piehole can be challenging on a daily basis. That's why she preps on the weekends. To be like Lisa, wash grapes, slice berries, and make celery sticks that you can grab and go. Also, whole fruits can be plopped on your countertop as well, so stock up on fruits like apples, pears, bananas, and citrus fruits.
"When I'm looking for an afternoon pick-me-up with not too much caffeine, I always go for a kombucha," says Abigail Kinnear, RDN. She says it's slightly sweet, slightly acidic, and many are chock-full of probiotics, which help regulate your gut. And you definitely want a happy gut, because an unhappy one, well... let your imagination run wild.
Melissa Burchill, RD, CDN, nutritionist for ZoneManhattan.com, likes to keep the wild stuff on hand -- canned salmon, that is. She says it's one of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and as a bonus, it won't give you the dose of mercury many larger fish can contain. She suggests mixing in some grapeseed oil Vegenaise, cucumbers, celery, onions, or radishes and serving over mixed greens for a dish of complete deliciousness.
Convenience is key, right? That's why Rebecca Lewis, in-house RD at HelloFresh, keeps plenty of nut butter on her at all times. "I’ll always have some sort of nut butter (peanut, almond, or cashew) with me, as they come in those convenient squeeze packets now," she says. No, you don't need to just stand around squeezing them into your mouth (although, hey, if that's what you're into, go for it), so she recommends pairing them with bananas, blueberries, or blackberries. Nuts are nice because they are stuffed with monounsaturated fats, fiber, and protein -- all of which can help fill you up.
Oh, that incredible, edible egg. Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist, and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook, adores organic eggs. Not only are they a malleable ingredient that can be cooked in myriad ways on their own, they're good for you, too... regardless of their former reputation as cholesterol-delivering harbingers of heart doom.
Which is why you shouldn't go for those lame egg-white omelets! "The egg yolk, specifically, is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin," she explains. "Lutein is the prime carotenoid in the human brain and is associated with increased mental sharpness and decision-making in adults. Plus, lutein plays a key role in the prevention of age-related macular degeneration." In other words, eggs help keep your brain and eyes in tip-top shape.