My refrigerator is powerful. In fact, it has a direct link to my overall well-being.
This week I'm opening my doors in order to give you an in-depth look at my plant-happy haul.
Disclaimer: My fridge isn't always this shiny and clean (I dolled it up for you). And it's not usually this packed (I wanted to show you my favorite goodies all at once), but I do stock it up with whole, plant-based, deliciousness each week.
Whether you're reaching for one of your favorite cookbooks or just winging it, do your best to keep a well-stocked arsenal of healthy ingredients at your disposal. At the very least, you'll always be ready to whip up a green juice or smoothie.
(Psst! Don't miss the Crazy Sexy Kale Salad recipe at the end of the blog. It's so good for you and sooo easy!)
Here are some of my beloved refrigerator staples:
Smoothies and green juices: My husband and I share the juice and smoothie making responsibilities at Chez Carr-Fassett. We make enough to have two 12-ounce servings of green drink per day, whether it's two juices or two smoothies. Our recipes are often guided by what's available in the fridge. When I need some added inspiration, I just choose a recipe from my digital e-guide. Tip: Keep your smoothies low-glycemic by always using a 3-to-1 ratio: three veggies for every one piece of fruit.
Ezekiel flax bread: Ezekiel is one of the least processed breads out there. They offer a wide range of choices, including gluten-free, sodium-free and yeast-free varieties. I love that they use sprouted grains and whole food ingredients -- no artificial junk! You'll find their bread products (everything from wraps to English muffins to rolls) in the frozen section. One of my favorite ways to eat Ezekiel bread is toasted with mashed avocado, freshly ground pepper, sea salt and a squirt of lime. Perfect for breakfast or a midday snack.
Earth Balance vegan butter: I'm a fan of the bad-better-best approach to eating. Earth Balance falls into the "better" category for me. Yes, it's processed, but it's also a great plant-based alternative to dairy butter; plus it's non-GMO, casein-free and trans-fat-free. You can also choose their soy-free butter if you're sensitive to soy. I also love their coconut spread on my toasted hemp or flax waffles in the morning.
Bonus mystery leftovers! I'm a leftover junkie. As I mentioned in my meal planning blog, I'm a double batch kind o' cook because it saves me time and money. There are lots of ways to dress up your leftovers -- wrap 'em up, pair them with a salad, drizzle a fresh dressing or sauce on top or just heat them up and enjoy their second-day goodness. Leftovers are a lifesaver, period.
Raw sauerkrauts: Gut health is the key to overall health. Remember, 60-70 percent of your immune system lives there, so it's great to keep some probiotic buddies in your fridge. Raw sauerkraut is packed with good bacteria that populate your gut and help keep bad, pathogenic bacteria at bay. Make sure you avoid vinegar-based and/or pasteurized varieties, since good bacteria is killed when sauerkraut is made with these guys. Hawthorne Valley Farm is one of my favorite brands, but there are many more out there. I often add a scoop of sauerkraut as a side at dinner or on my famous tempeh reuben sandwiches.
Field Roast Apple Sage vegan sausages: Holy protein! Just one link of these delicious grain sausages delivers 26 grams of plant-based protein. They're also great in pasta sauces, casseroles and as a hearty salad topper. If you're transitioning to a plant-based diet, these sausages will make your life much easier and tastier.
Capers:These little flavor bombs are pickled buds from the caper bush. I like to keep them on hand for my quick and easy Penne a la Vodka recipe or when I need to add a little salty kick to any Mediterranean dish.
Avocado:What can't you do with an avocado? Salads, desserts, smoothies, spreads, wraps and the list goes on. Yes, avocados are high in fat, but it's the good, heart-healthy kind -- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Avocados are rich in B-vitamins, which also support your cardiovascular health. If you don't use the whole avocado, wrap up the leftover half (don't remove the pit) and eat the rest within 24 hours. The green flesh may brown a little, but just scrape off the top and you're good to go!
Lemon: I use it in some way, every day. Lemons are alkalizing and help balance the body's pH. They also support your detox-happy liver, and are high in vitamin C (immune booster!). I probably go through at least 10 lemons a week (green juice, salad dressing, a spritz in my water, etc.). Pucker your way to good health by adding more lemons to your diet.
Kale: Kale is queen in our home. We always have a couple bunches in our crisper. This dark leafy is especially good in smoothies, salads and sautes. Kale is also a great source of vitamin K, helping you maintain strong bones. Whip up your own tasty creation with the Crazy Sexy Kale Salad recipe at the end of this blog post. Bon appétit!
Flax oil: Flax oil (made from flaxseeds) is high in omega-3s, which promote healthy brain function. It's also an anti-inflammatory food. Make sure you buy cold-pressed, organic flax oil in a dark bottle and store it in the fridge, since light and heat may turn the oil rancid. I like Barlean's brand, but there are many other quality flax oils available. Since flax oil is sensitive to heat, I use it mostly in salad dressings and smoothies.
Parsley: Using fresh herbs makes a world of difference in your meals -- hello, flavor! Parsley is a frequent visitor in my fridge. You'll love the zing it adds to Crazy Sexy Kitchen's Chickpea Crepes. Check out its guest appearance in the Crazy Sexy Kale Salad recipe below.
Organic Nectars cacao powder: Sometimes I need a pick-me-up in the afternoon, so instead of reaching for the coffee pot, I add a scoop of raw cacao to a green smoothie. Cacao is also perfect for creating delicious plant-based desserts. Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream, anyone?
There you have it, friends. An inside look at my fridge. I hope it gives you a clear understanding of a few of the foods I choose to support my health and tease my taste buds. Recognize any of your favorites in there?
Let me know about your must-have fridge foods in the comments!
P.S.: Here is the recipe I promised.
Crazy Sexy Kale Salad from Crazy Sexy Kitchen
Serves 2 to 3
1 bunch kale, any variety, shredded by hand
1 cup diced bell peppers, red, yellow, or orange
1⁄4 cup chopped parsley
1 1⁄2 avocados, pit removed and chopped
2 tablespoons flax oil
1 1⁄2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt, to taste
Pinch of cayenne, to taste
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Massage and mix with your hands to "wilt" the kale and cream the avocado (this should only take a minute or two), and serve.
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