These Are the 10 Foods That You Should ALWAYS Have in Your Kitchen

These Are the 10 Foods That You Should ALWAYS Have in Your Kitchen

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not going to tell you to get more kale, quinoa, or flaxseed. These foods are the Bucket Brigade, Rope Climb, and Spear Throw of your kitchen; they are classics that shouldn’t ever go away. But just as there’s a lot more to a Spartan race than those three obstacles, there’s a lot more to good nutrition than the cliché basic “superfoods.”

Without further ado, here are 10 foods that you should have in your kitchen at all times.

10 Foods to Constantly Stock in Your Kitchen

1. Hemp Hearts

Why? At the heart of every hemp seed is the hemp heart, a nutritional powerhouse that provides you with 110% daily manganese, 45% magnesium, 45% phosphorus, 20% iron and zinc, and more with every three-tablespoon serving. Not convinced? This same serving also offers 11.5 grams of heart-healthy fats, 10 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber. With a mild, nutty flavor and a simple crunch, what’s not to love?

How? You can basically put hemp hearts anywhere that you already sprinkle ground flaxseed. I like it mixed in my morning oatmeal, in smoothies, and on top of yogurt. But it can also be mixed in homemade granola bars, homemade soups, or meatloaf.

Nutrition summary: 3-tablespoon serving provides 170 calories, 11.5 grams of healthy fats, 10 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbs.

2. Sorghum

Why? You may have heard the words “Ancient Grains” going around. Sorghum is a source of such grains. I came across sorghum while at a recent dietitian event. Sorghum has zero fat and sodium and provides an excellent source of clean and complex carbs that is perfect as your carb of choice to fuel your weekly runs. Sorghum assists with reducing blood pressure due to its levels of potassium, assists in lowering cholesterol as a whole grain, and provides health promoting phytochemicals like phenolic acids, sterols, policosanols, and anthocyanins.

Related: Why Eating Whole Grains Can Make You Feel Better Mentally and Physically

How? Use as you would any rice or quinoa. Sorghum can be served warm, or cold on a salad.

Nutrition summary: ¼ cup uncooked provides 160 calories, 0 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 36 grams of carbs.

3. Tart Cherry Juice

Why? One word: Anthocyanins. Amazing anthocyanins help reduce blood pressure, have anti-inflammatory properties, inhibit mutations caused during the cooking process, and suppress cancer cells. They also reduce free-radicals and may play a role in reducing the risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Used as a post-race recovery aid, tart cherry juice may improve recovery time and have you back on the trails sooner.

How? Just 4 ounces a day can help decrease inflammation. It is always recommended to limit juice intake due to its high natural sugar content. Drink it straight up or use in your smoothie.

Nutrition summary: 4 ounces provides 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of protein, and 17 grams of carbs.

4. Wheat Germ

Why? Sprinkling just a couple tablespoons of wheat germ on your breakfast or in your smoothie provides phosphorus, zinc, thiamin (aka vitamin B1), vitamin E, and magnesium. Phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, and thiamin help with energy production to fuel the Beast in you. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, keeps workout recovery time to a minimum.

How? See Hemp Hearts “How.” Wheat germ can also be used as part of a breading on fish and chicken.

Nutrition summary: Serving size of 2 tablespoons provides 45 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of protein, and 5 grams of carbs.

5. Kimchi

Why? As a probiotic, Kimchi (as well as other foods such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and tempeh) promotes a healthy gut. As the saying goes: Healthy gut, healthy life. Probiotics help to synthesize B vitamins (our energy metabolism vitamins), as well as boost immune health (which can be compromised by a demanding training and race schedule). Additional benefits include anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-obesity, and anti-oxidative benefits. (Disclaimer: no, we’re not saying that food can treat or cure a disease.)

Related: Why Endurance Athletes Should Care About Probiotics

And just as we need to eat, so do probiotics. Probiotics are fed by prebiotics, which are often misunderstood and forgotten in the pursuit of gut health. Kimchi is special in that its complementary ingredients (commonly garlic, onion, and honey) contain prebiotics. Two birds, one stone, as they say.

How? Avoid the mystery and make your own at home. It's actually surprisingly easy: here’s how to make kimchi.

Nutrition summary: One serving of the recipe in this link provides 64 calories, 1.2 grams of fat, 4.7 grams of protein, and 12 grams of carbs.

6. Chia Seeds

Why? Chia seeds provide an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3s, antioxidants, are a source of protein to build those sore muscles, and are a source of complex carbohydrates rich with fiber, Iron, Calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

How? Top yogurt or mix in smoothies.

Nutrition summary: 3 tablespoons provide 160 calories, 9 grams of heart-healthy fats, 5 grams of protein, and 14 grams of carbs (12 of which come from fiber).

7. Pea Protein

Why? An alternative to whey protein powder, this dairy-free protein has great antioxidant capabilities and may also digest slower, leading to longer feelings of satiety when compared to whey protein powder.

How? There are many plant-based proteins now available on the market. Look for ones that utilize pea protein in combination with other rich plant-based protein sources such as ground flax seed, ground chia seeds, dried spinach, hemp protein powder, dried kale, organic sprouted legumes, beet powder, garbanzo beans, and quinoa. All together, these combination powders have the capability to provide a Spartan-size dose of plant-powered protein, probiotics, and even BCAAs. 

Related: 6 Things Every Plant-Based Athlete Should Know About Pea Protein

Nutrition summary: 3 tablespoons provide 160 calories, 9 grams of heart-healthy fats, 5 grams of protein, and 14 grams of carbs (12 of which come from fiber).

8. Legumes

Why? Plant-based, protein-rich, low cost. What’s not to love? For the athlete looking to optimize blood volume and blast muscles with oxygen, legumes (pinto, navy, kidney, blank) offer excellent nutritional value, including magnesium, potassium, folate, calcium, and iron.

How? Legumes are a great way to incorporate plant-based protein into your weekly menu.

TRY IT: 7 Simple Kidney Bean Recipes to Power Up Your Training

Nutrition summary: Beans vary, but ½ cup of black beans provides 114 calories, 0 grams of fat, 7.5 grams of protein, and 20 grams of carbs.

9. Black Bean Spaghetti

Why? We all love spaghetti, but we don’t always need the excess carbs. It also doesn’t hurt to have an extra source of protein. This is where black bean spaghetti comes in to save the day. Compared to an equivalent serving of regular pasta, black bean spaghetti has 18 fewer grams of carbohydrates and 18 more grams of protein. Plus, the bean power gives us 1267 milligrams of blood pressure-lowering potassium.

How? Not only does black bean spaghetti provide excellent nutrition, it also cooks super fast. Bring the water to a boil, throw in the spaghetti, and boil for six to eight minutes. In other words: toss it in, run your best mile, and you’re back just in time. (Alternatively, do 100 burpees.) Top with pasta sauce, or — my favorite — pesto sauce.

Nutrition summary: 2 ounces dry provides 215 calories, 2 grams of heart-healthy fat, 25 grams of protein, and 23 grams of carbs (12 grams from fiber).

10. Pumpkin Seeds (Or Pumpkin Anything, Really)

Why? I don’t mean a pumpkin latte, donut, or muffin. But I do mean pumpkin seeds and any way that you can use canned pumpkin purée. Pumpkin is an excellent source of potassium, iron, and magnesium. If these are starting to sound repetitive as vitamins and minerals you should be eating frequently, good. I’ve done my job.

How? The next time that you carve a pumpkin, don’t toss the seeds. Instead, make some delicious treats. My favorite treat for fall is pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I use 72% dark chocolate to reduce excess fat, and I usually cut the honey or maple syrup in half in this delicious recipe.

Nutrition summary: A 1-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds provides 163 calories, 10 grams of heart-healthy fats, 8.5 grams of protein, and 4 grams of carbs.

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