Today I’m continuing my “things I always have” series and moving into the refrigerator. Honestly, I didn’t struggle as much with picking five items from the fridge as I did from the pantry. I think the majority of my food stores (and I have a ton of food in my house for someone who lives alone – actually I think I have a ton of food in my house even if there were four other people living there) are in my pantry and my freezer. Especially my freezer. But we’ll get to that later.
My fridge is relatively clean and organized. There’s usually a variety of condiments (the usual suspects), a few bottles of wine for cooking and drinking (as I’m an avid wine lover), a water pitcher, leftovers, and the five “must haves” I’m going to discuss below. So, here they are, my five must-have items for clean eating that you’ll find in my fridge.
1. Greek yogurt.
Ever since I discovered Greek yogurt (about two years ago) I’ve eaten it almost every day and never looked back. I always have a large tub of organic Greek yogurt (plain, 0% fat) in the fridge and I go through that tub pretty much every week. I use Greek yogurt as a stand-in for sour cream (because I legitimately cannot taste the difference) as well as a snack, in my smoothies, in baking, and in sauces like tzatziki. Greek yogurt is also one of the four ingredients in one of my favorite dinners – tandoori chicken. Greek yogurt is extraordinarily high in protein – averaging 15 to 20 grams in a 6 ounce serving. Protein is key to filling you up and keeping hunger pangs at bay. Not to mention it’s a versatile ingredient – in one day you can eat it with local honey, nuts and fruit as a breakfast or a snack and then use it as “sour cream” on top of a taco salad. I think Greek yogurt is my #1 must-have for the fridge.
2. Organic eggs.
Eggs are another wonderful source of protein. And contrary to what we believed for many years, eggs do not raise your cholesterol. Although I enjoy a green smoothie every day for breakfast during the week, eggs are usually my go-to breakfast on the weekends. I love eggs in all forms – hard-boiled, scrambled, over-easy, omelets (although I usually order these when I got out as I have no talent in making omelets on my own), and soft-boiled. I’ve also discovered in recent months that eggs make a delicious dinner too. A cheese pizza with a small salad (preferably arugula or frisee) on top and topped with a fried egg is absolutely delicious. Eggs are also delicious as a topper on polenta or oatmeal – or soft-boiled in homemade Ramon. Not to mention the great leftover-use up that is the frittata! They are another truly versatile ingredient. And I hope to be writing about all of the mentioned recipes soon! 🙂
3. A variety of organic greens.
There are always at least two types of organic greens in my fridge – kale and romaine. Although come spring time the kale will probably be replaced by spinach as it comes into season and kale goes out of season. As I mentioned before, I drink a green smoothie every morning for breakfast which has 1-2 cups of kale in it. Romaine is my favorite salad green but is occasionally replaced by red or green leaf lettuce. And now that spring is here (almost! The DC weather is just not cooperating yet) I’m sure I’ll be adding some arugula and micro-greens to my fridge. Usually my bunch of kale gets used up in a week in smoothies but kale is also stellar in salads, soups, and stir-fries. In addition, I try to eat a salad a day, either as a side dish with other foods (see my post on salad dressing here) or as a meal all on its own (see my post on building a hearty salad here). I’m going to invest in a salad spinner soon because the time I spend cleaning, drying and storing greens every week is a little ridiculous. Anyone have one that they recommend?
Besides the usual (and delicious) application of salsa for chips and dip – it has many other uses. I like to use it to top salads as well as to make Tex-Mex style rice (when cooking rice, add about 1 cup of salsa to the raw rice and cooking liquid). Salsa packs a lot of vegetables into every spoonful, just be careful about unnecessary added ingredients, and salt levels. This summer, when tomatoes come back in season, I plan on making my own salsa – post to come! 🙂
5. Shredded and block cheeses.
I am a big fan of cheese. Because I am such a big fan, it’s something I try to consciously monitor because I know I can overdo it. I love Pecorino Romano on pasta, to the point that there’s more cheese than sauce sometimes. One of my favorite guilty pleasure snacks is a few cubes of smoked gouda cheese with crackers, and the occasional slice of salami. And there’s always the shredded mozzarella for pizzas, and shredded Colby-jack and cheddar for tacos, salads, eggs, and pretty much anything else. And the salty goodness of feta. I could go on and on and on. Cheeses are higher in fat than other foods, but they also have lots of calcium and protein. And full-fat cheese has a combination of fat and protein that will help to fill you up. It’s still an ingredient to be used sparingly, but it’s so delicious when you do!
Once again, I hope you enjoyed this list of my “must-have” foods. What are some of the foods in your fridge that you just can’t live without?