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 May 3, 2005
Your Best Defense: Tips and Strategies to Keep a �Survivors� Kitchen
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Heather Greenbaum, R.D., nu-train

I have found that coming home to a bare kitchen is somewhat unsettling and, as one of my clients described, �uncivilized�. Sometimes eating out is not an option, and take-out is too nutritionally �risky�. Most of my clients, given the right ingredients, can create a balanced meal. The key is to have those items on hand. This survival installment lays out the items that I feel everyone should keep handy. Whether to spruce up a simple salad that you�ve picked up, to throw together a last-minute meal before a movie, or to avoid the temptation of your kids� pizza night, most of these items should be kept available. I have chosen these staples based on nutrition quality, usefulness, shelf-life, and cost.

In addition to keeping your kitchen stocked remember these �Survivors� kitchen suggestions:

  • As soon as you arrive home from a long day, avoid the kitchen for at least five minutes. Take the time to check your mail while you THINK through your dinner PLAN for the evening.

  • If you have decided to fit in an evening workout or you�ve worked especially late, don�t sabotage the day with mindless snacking on the way home instead of a �proper dinner� at home. Often times a simple home-made late meal is less caloric (and certainly more nutritious) than a dinner made up of all your favorite snacks.

  • Surviving the kitchen also means avoiding it when you are bored, tired, and home all day.

  • If you have children, you may need to mentally divide �your� part of the kitchen from theirs. Store your children�s tempting snacks in an easily avoidable cabinet. That way, when you are hungry and looking for the balsamic vinegar for your salad, you won�t be confronted by Doritos.

  • You will be surprised how quickly you can whip together a nu-train meal from the basics in your kitchen. Try to keep an ongoing mental inventory of your �supplies�

The Condiment Corner

  • Balsamic vinegar: for salads and marinades
  • Dijon mustard: for salad dressings, marinades, and deli meats
  • Dried herbs: to add flavor to meat, fish, poultry and salads
  • Ketchup: for scrambled eggs, low-fat chicken nuggets; �baked� sweet potato fries
  • Low-fat mayonnaise: for a tuna salads and sandwiches
  • Olive oil: to cook ANYTHING
  • Soy sauce, low-sodium: for stir-frys and take-out sushi
  • Splenda: to sweeten anything

In the Freezer

  • Lean meats and fish: the foundation of any balanced meal
  • Vegetables: balances the meal (spinach, stir-fry mix, edamame, any green vegetables)
  • Pre-made items: for quick meals (low-fat chicken tenders, Boca burgers and similar vegetarian items)
  • Kashi Go-Lean Waffles: top with cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast
  • La Tortillas: wraps just about anything- low-fat tuna salad, deli meat, peanut butter, scrambled egg whites

Refrigerated Section

  • Low-fat cottage cheese: any breakfast will benefit
  • Eggs: need no explanation, an egg-white omelet is the ultimate �go-to�
  • Low-fat cheese: add to omelets and sandwiches for extra calcium, protein, and flavor
  • Low-fat milk: for cereal, coffee and tea, use to bread chicken
  • Parmesan cheese: sometimes it is all your meal needs, combine with unprocessed bran when breading chicken
  • Yogurt: another perfect breakfast basic (Total Greek 0%)
  • Water: you CAN NOT be without

Dry and Canned Goods

  • Cereals: high fiber options for a satisfying breakfast (Kashi GoLean, All-Bran, Oatmeal)
  • Fiber-Rich Crackers: when you think you need a snack
  • Peanut Butter: only if you are able to keep it in your kitchen without temptation
  • Soups, low-sodium: cold nights, light meal
  • Sweet potatoes: add low-fat cheese after baking or slice and bake for the perfect side dish
  • Coffee: to help start your day
  • Tea: to help end your day
  • Red Wine: sometimes the perfect solution to a long day
  • Muir tomato sauce: tops just about any meat
  • Tuna, canned: quick protein addition to a salad
  • Unprocessed Bran: for breading chicken and fish

Cooking and Storing

  • George Forman Grill: nothing is easier or faster
  • Non stick pan: essential
  • Parchment paper: for preparing fish
  • Wok: for 10 minute stir-frys
  • Zip lock bags: for storing extra food before you eat the other portions

Provided by Healther Greenbaum, a Registered Dietician (RD) specializing in the interrelation between eating habits, metabolism, and lifestyle. Visit nu-train for more tips and tricks and sign up for her monthly newsletter.

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