Today’s topic was inspired by a Food Network Healthy Eats email I received last week: Food Network Kitchens’ Top 15 Ingredients for a Healthy Kitchen. I was making out my grocery list when the email popped up, which I considered to be quite the coincidence. Or perhaps, proof that I am being watched. (Note to self: buy curtains for office windows–stat!)
Anyway, this article lists the common 15 ingredients Food Network experts keep on hand to ensure, if need be, their ability to quickly toss to together a healthy and flavorful meal. You know, food you would want to eat.
Here are the 15 food “experts” ingredients:
2. Parmesan cheese
3. Low-fat plain Greek yogurt
4. Real maple syrup
8. Hot sauces
9. Canned beans
10. Whole nutmeg
11. Roasted sunflower seeds
13. Salad Greens
14. Pre-cut vegetables
15. Frozen brown rice
Nice list! And I had 2/3 of them in my pantry or fridge, or on my grocery list, right then proving once again, that I, too, could be a Food network expert!
Anyway, the list is not really that surprising. Everyone–even the mostly non-cook types like me–can see how combinations of those foods could be shaped into healthy, tasty meals, whether combined with other pantry staples or even on their own. Omelets, salad with vinaigrette, black beans and rice with a little lime juice and zest–and those are just the recipes I know. Real Food Network experts probably know hundreds of ways to prepare these foods in healthy ways!
But not everyone could see that, as it turns out. Commenter Ashlee had an opinion:
Numbers 1,2,3,4 and 9 are NOT healthy!
Wha? Eggs, parmesan cheese, low-fat Greek yogurt, real maple syrup, and canned beans are “NOT healthy!”? I am so screwed. I eat one or more of those every single day.
Fortunately, commenter Martin replied, so I didn’t have to:
Yes they are. Unless you want to be anorexic…
Besides being quite the snarkmeister, Martin is correct, in my opinion, and I’m glad he said so. Not so many years ago, I was an Almost-Ashlee and simply hadn’t learned what constituted “healthy food”. I knew “diet food” like the back of my hand, though.
But I’m older, wiser, and maintaining a significant weight loss now. I know better. For the Ashlees or Almost-Ashlees out there, here’s MY take on why the foods to which she objected fall into the healthy foods range:
Eggs are tasty, versatile and quick to prepare. They’re also nutritious. One egg contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B12 and E, phosphorous, selenium, zinc, and lutein, plus 6 grams of good protein. And yes, cholesterol, but even folks with high cholesterol levels are generally advised to simply limit their egg consumption to four per week.
#2 Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese is not exactly a nutritional powerhouse, but a tablespoon of it here and there isn’t likely to shave (haha–cheese pun!) years off your life either. It’s a flavor enhancer, and you can take my word for it that a teaspoon (or so) of Parmesan sprinkled over plain green beans is like a tiny little miracle on the plate. (Or the ramekin, in my case, because I can’t have green bean juice touching my bbq chicken.)
#3 Low-fat Greek Yogurt
For the life of me, I can’t figure out how Ashlee determined that low-fat Greek yogurt is “NOT healthy!” Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium and is lower in sugar and fat than regular yogurt. It’s also quite versatile, delicious on its own with some fresh fruit and/or nuts (and/or a sprinkle of mini-chocolate chips), or used as a substitute for sour cream, mayo, eggs, or oil in cooking.
#4 Real maple syrup
I can understand how Ashlee might mistakenly think real maple syrup is “NOT healthy!”, because it IS very high in sugar. That being said, a teaspoon of syrup (the amount I use) is only about 20 calories, if I’m remembering correctly, and it packs a lot of flavor into those 20 calories. A drizzle of real maple syrup over oatmeal or a baked sweet potato transforms a plain dish to something almost magical. A drop or two off the end of my (clean) finger ain’t bad either!
#9 Canned beans
There’s not a lot you can say about canned beans to make them sound glamorous. They’re a good source of fiber and a decent non-meat source of protein. Canned beans are also convenient (try making a quick meal using dry beans or lentils) and are delicious added to soups, stews, casseroles, or my Mexican chicken. They’re also shelf stable, which makes it easier to have a couple of cans (or 10, if you find them on the clearance rack at Kroger for $0.39) on hand for those times when you’re throwing together a meal. [Note: It does bear mentioning that lower-sodium varieties are more desirable.)
That’s my $0.05 worth. Your mileage, of course, may vary. But I hope it doesn’t vary as much as Ashlee’s, because that would make me sad.
If my thoughts are worth a nickel, yours are worth at least twice as much. Possibly more.
Are these foods you have in your kitchen? Do you have any others to add to the list? (I would add oatmeal and pecans, of course, but then, I’d add those to almost any list. LOL)