After my second child was born, I had some health concerns and with the guidance of a naturopath, I was able to make some substantial lifestyle changes, including diet. These changes were so effective in improving my overall health that I decided to return to school and study holistic nutrition so that I could help others.
I loved learning about holistic health principles, expanding my repertoire of favorite recipes and learning the ABCs of vitamins and minerals from A-Z. While I learned about a lot of various foods, including trendy superfoods, there are some key ingredients that I refuse to do without. Here’s a little peek at what’s in my fridge at home on any given day…
Flax oil is one of the best vegetable sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a precursor to Omega 3 essential fatty acid. Flax oil works to increase immunity, improve cardiovascular health, improve cognitive function and reduce inflammation. NEVER cook with flax oil. Rather, add it to steamed vegetables as a butter substitute, to salad dressings or to smoothies. The best way to store flax oil is in an opaque container, in the refrigerator.
Ground flax is a great source of lignans. Lignans are phytoestrrogens which help balance hormone levels and reduce risk for hormone-sensitive cancer. Ground flax is high in soluble and insoluble fibre and can be easily added to soups, stews, salads and baking for increased nutritional value. Like flax oil, ground flax is best stored in the fridge in an opaque container; however, it is safe to cook with.
I try to start every morning with a cup of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. It puts acid into the stomach, alkalizes the blood and kick starts the morning constitution. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, calcium and potassium and I often use fresh lemon juice as an acid in my salads.
Apple Cider Vinegar
I like to consume apple cider vinegar as an acid in my salad dressings. I’ve also taken it raw from the spoon, or mixed with water to help improve digestion. If you suspect you have poor protein digestion (low stomach acid), try drinking one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with a cup of water 15 minutes before your meal.
Dark Leafy Greens!
Much to my husband’s dismay, there are at least a couple varieties of leafy greens (not including lettuce) in our fridge, at all times. I rotate between chard, kale and spinach because they are easy to prepare and all sources of great nutrition, including essential fatty acids, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. I like to add my greens to soups/stews and lightly sauté them in garlic-infused olive oil as a side or main with brown rice.
Berries, Apple, Pear
These fruits are high in antioxidants, fibre and taste. They are low on the glycemic index (meaning they won’t spike blood sugar) and my kids love all three! Apples and pear are portable and make great snacks on the go, whereas berries are considered a weekday dessert.
Seeds and Nuts
Did you know that raw seeds and nuts should be stored in the refrigerator to prolong shelf life? Our favorite seeds include pumpkin, chia (powerhouse of protein and fibre), sunflower and hemp. My children and husband adore cashews and I always have a stash of almonds or walnuts on hand. Raw seeds and nuts are best, and their digestibility can be improved by soaking them in water overnight.
Organic Meat and Dairy
If I had to prioritize what foods I buy organic, meat and dairy top the list. Pesticides/herbicides are a fat by design (they are petroleum based) and therefore, fat soluble. This means meat and dairy will have a higher concentration of toxins than water soluble foods, such as most fruits and vegetables.
Our home is not gluten-free, but I incorporate alternatives into our diets, including brown and basmati rice, homemade GF pancakes, brown rice pasta, spelt bread and oatmeal. I personally love quinoa and kasha, but I’m still struggling to get my children (and husband) on board with their nuttier, chewier taste and texture.
Avocados are high in good fats and nutrition! They help reduce inflammation, increase our absorption of cartenoids when consumed with other vegetables, and are known to reduce our risk for heart disease. Avocados are low in sugar and high in fibre and therefore help regulate blood sugar. For breakfast, I love spreading fresh on gluten-free toast with sliced tomato!