It only took me 2 weeks, but I’m finally answering a reader question. This reader happens to be one of my best friends from back home and she has a beautiful baby girl. So Jenna asked, What are 10 food items you find essential to have on hand in your kitchen at all times?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. This question is sooo hard! But I’ve think I’ve narrowed it down. These are not necessarily my favorite foods, but the foods that are healthy and that I find I eat pretty daily.

  1. Oatmeal – Of course this is first – bloggers loooove their oats! But seriously, there is a reason – Oatmeal has loads of benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol, curbing inflammation, and stabilizing mood. Oats are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. Oats are also a good source of protein, soluble, and insoluble fiber. Oatmeal is also quick and easy to make, and can be hot or cold. Just make sure you stick with the old fashion kind. The instant flavored oatmeal is loaded with sugar. Final bonus, no need to buy organic – any canisters of oatmeal are 100% natural and the only ingredients are rolled oats.
  2. Eggs – an egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein that is easily absorbed by the body and all 9 essential amino acids. Eggs have gotten a bad rap for fat and cholesterol. However, science has shown that eggs do not significantly affect cholesterol levels in most individuals. Recent research even suggests that eating whole eggs may actually improve the cholesterol profile-even in persons whose cholesterol levels rise when eating cholesterol-rich foods.
  3. Yogurt – plain low fat or non-fat yogurt to be specific, and I prefer greek yogurt. I actually used to dislike yogurt as a kid. The texture – I would literally gag. Now, I eat it daily. One serving is a significant source of potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, and vitamin B5. Yogurt also contains B12, something usually an in animal proteins, vegetarians are commonly B12 deficient. Yogurt is also a high-protein food. As with oatmeal, try to stay away from sugar loaded flavored kinds. Add your own toppings like berries and nuts – Voila dessert!
  4. Spinach– 1 cup has only 40 calories and contains all of your daily requirements of vitamin K and vitamin A, as well as almost all the manganese and folate your body needs. Spinach is an excellent choice for nutrition without high calories. It is also a good source of antioxidants, calcium, fiber, magnesium, and protein. Spinach is at the base of all my salads.
  5. Carrots– I love carrots with their satisfying crunch with low calories and tons of vitamins/minerals. I buy a bag of baby carrots and regular carrots every time I’m at the grocery store. Everyone knows carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant. They are also good sources of fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, biotin, potassium and thiamine.
  6. Hummus – the base of hummus contains – chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. All these ingredients are nutritional powerhouses making hummus full of protein, healthy omega 3 fatty acids, and lower in calories despite the oil and tahini. Hummus is great as a spread on sandwiches, a dressing on salad, or dip for veggies. Spice it up my adding different vegetables/spices to the base for different flavors.
  7. Nuts/Nut Butter –  This is a give in. Nuts are another good source of protein. They contain good for you mono- and poly-unsaturated fats without containing any cholesterol. And nut butters taste ridiculously good!
  8. Tofu or Skinless Chicken Breast – Lean protein. Low in calories and fat. Can marinade either in so many different things.
  9. Apples – high level of flavonoids (more antioxidants!) thought to be responsible for prevent against a number of cancers and diseases. Also, the pectin found in apples aids with blood insulin levels. Apples, and other fruit, are complex carbs with a lot of fiber, that are slowly release sugar into your body curbing hunger. Phloridzin and boron also help with bone strength.
  10. Bananas – Banana benefits of consuming this fruit daily come from their high level of Vitamin B and C, potassium, and fiber. The potassium in bananas are good for warding off shin splints – an old cross country running secret. Bananas are great for quick energy and are more filling than other fruits.

These really are foods that I eat mostly every single day. They are staples in my diet because not only are they healthy, but extremely versatile. They can all be prepared in a different ways and topped with just about anything you want in order to keep from getting bored with your healthy meals. I could actually make a whole days worth of meals with just this list. Breakfast – oatmeal with banana. Lunch – Spinach salad with hummus, carrots, maybe even a scrambled egg. Snack – apple with nut butter (almond is my favorite). Dinner – Baked chicken or tofu. Even a post work out smoothie – with yogurt, spinach, and frozen banana.

What would you add to your Top 10?