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Designed by Sydney Hass
You know those articles about which albums you'd take to a deserted island? Well, olive oil is my desert island food. If the stuff wasn't so incredibly healthy, my over-the-top love of olive oil might be considered a hazard. Lucky for me, olive oil contains monounsaturated fat that is good for your heart, and potent antioxidants known as polyphenols that can protect against inflammation (extra virgin oil has the most). Of course, it also tastes amazing and is ridiculously versatile. It probably actually could save your life on a deserted island, but I mostly use it for cooking, in baking, and in dressings. Definitely a pantry must-have.
Though pasta has gotten a bad rap in recent years, there is no need to fear the noodle. Carbs are a vital macronutrient that we all need for fuel. I always have whole wheat or whole grain pasta in my pantry. Pasta is easy to make, always comforting, good hot and cold, and plays nicely with almost any other ingredient. (There are great gluten-free options, too. Pasta for all!) The key with pasta is balance. To make sure I'm not overdoing it with my pasta intake, I always load up my plate with lots of vegetables, like broccoli, spinach, or roasted cauliflower.
I used to hide broccoli in my napkin as a kid, but now I love it. I put it in salads and pasta, I sauté it with garlic and red pepper flakes, steam it and eat it with cheese...the possibilities are endless. Packed with 17 essential nutrients, it is also considered a superfood. Like if there was a food Justice League, broccoli would be in it. If I am having a busy week, I purchase frozen broccoli, which is easy to cook, just as good from a nutritional standpoint, and can be stored in the freezer for eight to 10 months. In fact, if broccoli is out of season, the frozen stuff can be more nutritious if it was picked and frozen at the peak of its season.
Avocado is like the butter of the veggie world — it’s rich, thick, and creamy. But, unlike butter, avocado contains nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. It's a versatile food, which makes it a great kitchen staple. It can be used as a quick spread for toast, mashed up for a sauce or dressing, added to a smoothie to thicken it up, layered into sandwiches or wraps or burritos, or just enjoyed plain with a pinch of salt.
Alternative Idea: Eggs
Avocados can be expensive or hard to come by at certain times of year, so as an alternative, go for eggs. These little powerhouses of protein are easy to cook, hugely versatile, and contain choline (a nutrient that helps maintain the structure of brains cells and contributes to fetal brain development), as well as smaller amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help to prevent macular degeneration (that's your eyeballs!). Need a refresher on how to make your eggs? Well, here you go.
Cheese will always pack in protein and calcium, so it’s a good healthy choice when used in moderation. Feta is my cheese of choice, because it's so flavorful, I can use less and still get the same potent punch. Feta stars in delicious salads, sandwiches, pasta, egg dishes, and as a soup topping. Plus, it's got a delightful creamy-yet-crumbly texture.