Sometimes while working in my kitchen, I like to imagine I have become the Food Network’s latest home cook, featured for my innovative and creative approaches for creating meals that are healthy, tasty, gluten-free and family friendly.
These dreams usually come after I have watched the Barefoot Contessa, Giada De Laurentiis or Cupcake Wars, figuring out how I could recreate my own gluten-free versions. Yes, I probably watch too much Food Network, but a girl can dream, right?
What if the Food Network aired Family Food Survivor: Stock Your Fridge and Pantry edition? Your mission: pick three foods that are a. healthy, b. convenient and c. your family never tires of eating (that’s where the real challenge lies). What three foods would be on your list?
If I was stranded on an island and only allowed three foods, it would have to be these three. I’m convinced that they pack so much bang for the buck (in price, convenience, nutrition, adaptability and likeability), that I would win the competition (it’s my dream right?). I’m pretty sure that I (and my family) could not live without them.
For all you banana haters out there… really? I’m convinced there is something wrong with you (unless you are allergic, I won’t judge). I mean, they have got to be the world’s most perfect food. Fast, convenient (no washing or packaging required) and tasty! They also pack a strong nutritional punch; for around 100 calories, they have less than half a gram of fat, 3 grams of fiber and more than 400mg of potassium.
My day doesn’t start without a banana, and I am known to stock varying degrees of ripeness to get me through the week. If they get over-ripe, no worries! Slice and freeze for smoothies and ice-cream alternatives, or make banana bread – a definite favorite at our house. Peanut Butter Banana Bread (made with Greek yogurt) is our favorite way to use over-ripe bananas.
I really love yogurt. Through years of battling food allergies, it has always been there for me; love those probiotics! Aside from bananas, it is the one thing I can always eat. Pre-swim food is banana, and post swim is yogurt (typically with granola stirred in, Peanut Butter Granola is the bomb!).
Traditional, Greek, or a frozen treat, my family consumes a lot of yogurt. Also fast and convenient, it is good fuel for your body: Most pre-packaged containers are around 100 calories, contain 5-13 grams of protein and anywhere from 10-20% of your daily calcium requirements. In addition to eating it straight out of the cup or with granola, we frequently use it to make smoothies (my youngest daughter’s favorite breakfast) or bake with it. It keeps baked goods moist without adding fat.
I know nut butters are all the rage right now, but alas, tree nuts do not like me. Which I’m okay with, because I do love peanut butter, and thankfully I am not allergic to it!For those of you who cannot have tree or peanuts, Sunbutter (made with sunflower seeds) is a great alternative. I have found it works well as a spread or for baking.
High in protein and low in saturated fat, peanut butter is a quick meal or snack for all ages. Spread on a rice cake (or bread equivalent), on fruit, in smoothies, it’s all good to me. And really, is there a better pairing than bananas and peanut butter? (This is where I give my friends Ben & Jerry a shameless plug for their Peanut Butter Banana Greek Yogurt, truly the perfect trifecta of deliciousness.)
I have recently discovered powdered peanut butter (PB2), it has 85% less calories and fat per serving than regular peanut butter, and I have found that it is so quick and easy to add to smoothies, which is great because I can’t have most protein powders out there. Did I mention they have a chocolate variety? Yeah, you can thank me later.
This is my list. All winners in their own right, but combined they are truly champions. While my family has other favorites (sorry baby carrots and hummus, this was a top three, not a top five), bananas, yogurt and peanut butter are always available. On the go, at home, or used to make other delectable creations, these three are tops.
A Colorado native and mom of two girls, Mary from Fruita lives a gluten-free lifestyle and also blogs about her active life every Tuesday on Fruita Moms.