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What’s in our Dietitian’s Pantry?

Blog, Food

By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES

A healthy eating plan begins with making sure you’ve got good options to choose from at home. Don’t be fooled that all your choices have to be fresh – I rely on lots of frozen and canned foods. To avoid wasting food, plan your meals ahead and try to keep everything visible so you know what you’ve got. Down below, I’ve listed a few brand names in italics, but they are intended to serve as an example.

Fruits and Veggies- Choose wisely and plan ahead! These foods, while very nutritious, are most likely to be wasted if they sit in the fridge for too long. Don’t be afraid of keeping some fruit in the freezer for a cold snack (I love frozen grapes!), or toss into oatmeal or smoothies. Cut up veggies soon after you purchase them, and keep in easy to see-and-grab containers.

· Fresh and frozen – all varieties!

· Bags of snack size carrots

· Oranges, clementines

· Lettuce for wraps (Boston Bibb, butter lettuce, romaine)

· Leafy greens (for salads and sautéing): spinach, kale, arugula

· Packaged salad kits (a lifesaver for a quick meal)

· Bags of frozen fruit (I like blueberries, mango chunks)

· Avocados  (a source of healthy fats)

· Lemons and limes  (for adding flavor to seltzer and salads)

· Fresh herbs for flavor (such as basil, thyme, and mint)

· Canned diced tomatoes

Meats and Seafood-

Take advantage of sales and buy in bulk when you can. Then divide up the meat or fish in 4-6 oz servings and freeze. Trim fat before cooking.

· Chicken breast and chicken tenders

· Oven roast sliced turkey

· Canned or vacuum-packed tuna / salmon (water packed)

· Fresh or frozen Salmon, Tilapia, Cod (or your favorites)

· Frozen shrimp (easy to pull out just enough for a quick meal)

Whole Grains

I make overnight oats often for a filling, quick breakfast (using oats, chia seeds, frozen fruit, & yogurt). I’ve tried to omit most white & refined grains, but when I do make pasta, it is with lots of veggies and some protein (meat or beans). Try whole wheat pasta, or pasta made from brown rice or lentils. Made-from-scratch popcorn is my favorite snack.


· Oatmeal

· Whole grain cereal (I buy bite size wheat squares, and they also serve as a snack)

· Thin sliced whole grain bread (Dave’s Killer Bread)

· Variety of grains: Brown rice, quinoa, bulger, farro·

Whole grain crackers  (Mary’s Gone Crackers)

· Whole wheat pasta· Popcorn kernels (the old fashioned way)

Beans/ Legumes/ Nuts / SeedsAdd beans to a veggie stir fry, salads, and soups for a meatless meal. Having a few nuts, or some nut butter on apple slices, celery, or a whole grain cracker will help you stay full longer.

· Dried and canned beans: white, black, kidney, garbanzo, lima

· Lentils (red lentils cook up really fast!)

· Tahini (sesame paste; can use for making hummus)

· Peanut butter

· Walnuts, slivered almonds, chia seeds

DairyRead yogurt labels carefully. Many have lots of added sugars and calories.  I tend to buy plain, and flavor it myself with fruit or a small amount of honey.  Snack cheese sticks are portable and an easy to carry snack with a piece of fruit.

· Greek yogurt – plain

· Low-fat milk

· Eggs

· Snack cheese sticks (low-fat)

· Cheese (but only occasionally – I’ll eat too much of it!)

Fats and oilsSmall amounts of healthy fats are important in helping you feel full longer! Don’t make the mistake of avoiding all fats!

· Extra virgin olive oil

· Corn or canola oil (flavorless)

· Tub spread – Smart Balance Light

Treat foods!It’s all about balance. Here are some of my favorite treats.

· Bamboo Lane Crunchy Rice Rollers

· Nonni’s Thin Addictive Cookies

· Guittard Chocolate baking wafers

· Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bars

· Outshine Frozen Fruit and Veggie Bars

Seasonings, beverages and otherFrequent meals of fish and chicken can get tiring unless you spice them up with different seasonings, sauces and toppings.  In an effort to not use too much salt when cooking, I season with lots of garlic, herbs and spices.  I have a variety of herbal teas (hot or cold) and meal replacement shakes are handy when I don’t have to prepare something.

· Flavored vinegars (balsamic, red wine, rice….)

· Meal replacement shakes

· Spicy sauces and toppings (pesto, sriracha, zhoug)

· Dijon mustard

· Lots of herbs, spices and seasonings (including frozen varieties such as Dorot Gardens     frozen herb cubes)

· Herbal teas

5 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

· Spiralizer – to cut veggies into spaghetti-like spirals (try zucchini)

· Soda spritzer – to make your own seltzer (add flavor with lime wedges or fruit slices)

· Microplane zester – lemon and lime zest adds a flavor punch; good for grating hard cheeses

· Oil mister – instead of buying cans of oil spray, make your own

· Immersion blender – great for soups and sauces.

To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.

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