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Store Cupboard Essentials for Healthy Eating

Store Cupboard Essentials for All Diets - shelf with spices and tinned food

Store Cupboard Essentials – Protein

Protein is an essential part of any diet, regardless of whether you eat meat or are vegan.

We find protein in many different foods not just animal products, but nuts and seeds, beans and pulses, legumes and soya products such as tofu. As one of the macro nutrients, protein is important for cellular repair and growth. On average, a woman needs 45g and a man 55g per day depending on body weight. This is not the same as 45g or 55g of meat fish or tofu as those foods also contains different nutrients as well. Protein is broken down in the stomach which takes time, and therefore keeps us feeling satiated for longer.

Protein is an important part of your diet when trying to lose weight or keep blood sugars balanced. Adding protein at breakfast and lunch can be a game changer for many people. Having a stocked store cupboard can help with meal planning and also saving money.

As we age, getting enough protein in our diet is important to maintain muscle mass, which in turn helps to support our core strength and stability. In your cupboard, stock up on beans and pulses, adding these to your meals and creating healthy recipes has numerous benefits.

In a vegetarian diet, we recommend the following protein sources which can be fresh or store cupboard essentials; nuts and seeds including sesame, flaxseed, cashews and almonds to name a few. Tofu and soya are protein dense, however as these can be genetically modified, therefore if possible, opt for organic. Tempeh is an ideal protein source as it is fermented, which helps to promote a healthy gut biome. Keeping canned chickpeas or kidney beans, as an example, in the pantry is helpful when you need extra protein in your meal plan and improving recipes at home.

Dairy is a good source of protein. For example, stronger cheeses such as feta or goat’s cheese.

For meat-eaters, provenance is important. Fresh meat, fish and game are rich in protein; however, it is strongly recommended that these foods are wild, organic or grass-fed this ensures that the meat or fish contains a rich micronutrient profile while minimising contaminants such as antibiotics and microplastics. 

With a higher protein content on your plate, there is less need to fill up on carbohydrates such as pasta and rice.

Store Cupboard Essentials – Natural fats

Fat has been given a bad reputation over the last 30 years or so, with the belief that consuming fat makes you fat, whereas it has been noted that following a low-fat diet makes it harder to encourage weight loss due to the exchange of fat for sugar.

Whilst it is true, per gram, that fat is more calorific, it’s not that simple.

Essential fatty acids (EFA), as the name suggests, are essential to our health as we cannot synthesise them in our body.

Every single cell in our body has a layer of fat or lipid which keeps them healthy and pliable. They help to satiate us and keep us feeling full and satisfied.

Natural fats reduce the glycemic impact of a meal, meaning you don’t get the spike in blood glucose and the corresponding crash thereafter.

Lean meats and poultry, ideally free-range organic grass fed or wild caught are great sources of healthy fats. Dairy in moderation is a source of natural fat, but again how the animal is raised is key.

For those on a vegetarian or plant rich diet, the most beneficial fats are found in Extra Virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, coconut oil and ghee, which is a clarified organic butter. These are great store cupboard staples to aid healthy eating. The best oils for cooking include avocado oil and coconut oil as these can withstand higher heat.

Avoid Trans-fat or Hydrogenated fat which can be found in margarine, cheap baked goods, biscuits, Palm oil and vegetable oils. Also, be mindful that low fat products often have more sugar in them as a lot of flavour is carried in fat.

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