We're right in the middle of National Nutrition Month—the perfect time for a pantry raid! We asked Allison Enke, R.D., a dietitian with Whole Foods Market, to help us examine our kitchen shelves and shopping lists to see if we're picking the proper fueling foods. Keep reading for her picks for the 10 essential items active women need in their pantries, refrigerators and freezers. "These foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients," says Enke.
1. Oatmeal. Soluble fiber from oatmeal, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Click here for 11 fun ways our readers jazz up a usual bowl of oats!
2. Berries. A handful of frozen berries adds antioxidants and fiber to your morning smoothie or oatmeal. Blueberries are only 80 calories per cup, Enke notes, and they pack a powerful nutrition punch by supporting brain, eye and heart health.
3. Fish. Fatty fish are one of the best foods sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids and also provide vitamin D, a critical nutrient that many women lack (it works with calcium to preserve bone strength). Enke keeps cans of ready-to-serve 365 Everyday Value Wild Alaskan Red Sockeye Salmon in her pantry to add to salads or to make salmon patties for a quick, healthy dinner.
4. Flaxseed. Not a seafood fan? Flaxseeds are also rich in omega-3 fats, and they're also filled with fiber. Mix a spoonful into oatmeal, Greek yogurt or smoothies to add flavor, texture and nutrition.
5. Quinoa. It contains all 9 essential amino acids as well as bone-boosting minerals like copper, phosphorous, iron and magnesium. Try it in one of these FITNESS fan-favorite meals. To see the other five foods you should always have on-hand for quick, nutritious meals and snacks, click below.
6. Greek yogurt. With twice as much protein as regular yogurt, the Greek version helps fight hunger. The beneficial probiotic bacteria in yogurt supports both digestive and immune health. "Plain, fat-free Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream in dips, dressings and sauces," Enke says.
7. Nuts. Stock single-serving bags of almonds in your desk, car or purse for protein, fiber and vitamin E (which is great for heart health) on-the-go. You can also create Enke's go-to DIY trail mix by combining almonds, dried unsweetened cranberries, dried unsweetened coconut flakes and sunflower seeds.
8. Legumes. The fiber and protein in legumes, like beans and lentils, help you feel full and add satisfying texture to recipes. Enke especially likes tossing black beans into a dish for a nice source of vegetarian protein (plus iron, folate, magnesium and zinc).
9. Dark, leafy greens. They are packed with calcium, fiber, folic acid and antioxidants, like vitamin C, which supports a healthy complexion. Bonus: the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are boost eye health. "Kale, which can be bought ready-to-cook and kept in the freezer, increases the nutrient density in soups and stir fries while adding little time and extra effort to meal prep," Enke says.
10. Eggs. The protein in eggs helps repair muscles that are damaged during tough workouts. Try a scramble with spinach to get two of the ten picks in one meal.