By now, you’re familiar with the staples your store cupboard should be stocked with (Store-cupboard staples to keep you healthy, 10th March) to help you make healthy choices when hunger strikes. But a wholesome and healthy diet cannot rely on dry ingredients alone. Make sure you’re stocked up on fresh ingredients to complement what’s in the cupboard.
To help make sure you’re fully prepared to whip up delicious, low-GL meals and snacks, here’s a guide to the basics you should have in your fridge:
- Milk. Skimmed or dairy-free alternatives such as soya, almond or hazelnut all contain protein which lowers its GL properties. Rice milk is a no-no as it is very high in carbohydrates and has a high GL score.
- Cheese. On the Holford diet, you don’t have to kiss cheese or butter goodbye but you do need to make sure you’re choosing the right kind. Low-fat cottage cheese and cream cheese, feta, halloumi and soft mild goat’s cheeses are all handy to have in the fridge not only to flavour a green salad or as a snack but for toppings on baked dishes and as a twist on the usual sides.
- Yoghurt. The live, natural kind, full of probiotics to maintain the health of your gut. Live sheep’s or goat’s yoghurt is more easily digested than cow’s, and some people allergic to cow’s can happily eat them.
- Tofu. Soya bean curd, which comes smoked, plain or marinated and ranges from very soft or ‘silken’ to very firm; or Tempeh which is fermented soya bean curd. Soya has gained in popularity as the focus on healthy eating has heightened and is now available in most supermarkets.
- Small fish. Like Anchovies and sardines. Not for everyone admittedly and you can buy these tinned but there is a marked difference in the taste of the fresh ones, soaked in olive oil, usually found in the deli section. Small, oily fish like anchovies and sardines accumulate less pollution and fewer heavy metals than big carnivorous fish like tuna or swordfish, making them a safer source of omega-3 fish oils.
- Chicken. Opt for fresh, free-range and organic chicken as a versatile ingredient to use in a variety of dishes – hot or cold. Low in fat and high in protein, the humble chicken will never steer you wrong on the healthy eating path.
- Nuts and seeds. Useful for snacking and cooking. Not usually stored in the fridge but the cooler temperatures help lock in the nutrients of these bite-size diet heroes. Try sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and flaxseeds or linseeds, and any kind of nuts.
- Pumpkin seed butter. To protect the high concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in this underrated staple, pumpkin seed butter needs to be refrigerated. Similar to peanut butter but richer in essential fats and zinc, it makes for a very good alternative for most people with nut allergies.
- Fresh vegetables. An obvious staple for a healthy, balanced diet yes, but stick to organic leafy greens for optimum goodness where possible and make sure to refrigerate as soon as you can to keep as much of the goodness locked in for as long as possible. Vegetables lose their nutrients over time, even in the fridge, so make sure you’re using your supply quickly and cooking them as little or as lightly as possible. With a supply of lettuce, rocket, watercress, spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, alfalfa sprouts, cress, courgettes, onions, shallots, mushrooms, broccoli (tenderstem, purple sprouting or the normal kind), cabbage, aubergine and peppers, you are never far away from a healthy snack or delicious and nutritious salad.
- Fresh fruit. Choose low-GL fruit such as apples, pears, plums and apricots. Not strictly for the fridge but on a hot day, biting into a crisp, cold fruit is so much more satisfying than one that has been wilting in the fruit bowl for a week.
- Frozen berries. A great source of sweetness when you’re craving a treat; berries have a very low GL and are full of vitamins and minerals. Either buy those that are already frozen or freeze your own freshly bought punnet so you can enjoy them and benefit from the antioxidants. They store all year-round.
Now, your grocery cupboard and fridge are fully stocked with wholesome ingredients – but what can you do with your tasty supplies? Join us next week as we unpack the healthiest and easiest cooking techniques to make sure you are getting the most out of your staples.