Five Foods You Should Have in Your Kitchen

Healthy cuisine that will never go out of style.

Posted: 03/22/2011 04:57 PM EDT

(Photo:  iStockphoto.com)

It’s hard to keep up with what’s a healthy staple or a silly fad. Here's some healthy cuisine that will never go out of style.

Quinoa: While not a household name yet, this plant-based protein-rich seed is on the come up. Pronounced "keen-wa", quinoa has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a slightly nutty flavor when cooked. It's high in fiber, protein and iron. It can take the place of white rice (and can be cooked just like it), has endless recipe possibilities from salads, soups and stir-fry, and is inexpensive.

FYI: Make sure you wash the quinoa thoroughly before cooking. (Go here for quinoa recipes.)

Greek Yogurt: Not only is Greek yogurt thicker, creamier and loaded with protein, it also has 50 percent less sodium than traditional yogurt. (Did I mention it comes in a range of delicious flavors such as blueberry açai berry, strawberry and honey?) Also, recent studies have found that it can promote vaginal health, builds stronger bones, lowers blood pressure and can help you lose weight.

FYI: Opt for 2 percent or 0 percent versions of Greek yogurt to watch the calories and fat.

Avocados: These vitamin E rich fruits may be in high in fat, but they're high in the "good" fats that lower blood cholesterol levels. Avocados are also high in potassium, promote heart health and can help burn fat—especially around the midsection. Even better: they do more than just guacamole—they can be added to salads, made into smoothies, topped on tacos or served as a side all by themselves. 

FYI: Pitting an avocado isn't too hard. First cut it with a large knife in half lengthwise. Then, pull the two halves in the opposite direction. You should now see the pit. Remove the pit with a spoon, then take the avocado halves and slice them lengthwise into four pieces. Then just peel off the skin.

Ground flaxseed: These nutty-flavored seeds are low in carbohydrates (which is great for diabetics), contain omega fatty acids (which is great for heart health) and are high in fiber to keep you fuller longer.

FYI: To give my oatmeal an extra kick in the morning, I add two tablespoons of grounded flaxseed to my instant oatmeal and top with apple bits and dried cranberries. You can also add it to pancake batter, cornbread and muffins or even sprinkle it on a salad. But start slow, introducing a lot of fiber into your diet too quickly can cause cramping or work like a laxative. So be easy.

Almonds: I know it will be hard, but try replacing your midway potato chip snack with these yummy nuts. Almonds are high in fiber, calcium, iron and "good" fats (like the avocado). Almonds can help lower cholesterol levels, lower your risk of heart disease and help you lose weight.

FYI: Watch the portion size—almonds are high in calories. Most times, about 20 almonds is the average serving size and all you need is one serving per day. Sprinkle them in cereal and oatmeal, or slice them and sauté them with your veggies or stir-fry. Not into raw nuts? Opt for almond milk to replace whatever you use milk in.

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