The Athlete’s Kitchen

By Lisa Rhea

There’s the old line “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail,” and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to eating healthy. If you aren’t keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy food, chances are you aren’t going to be eating healthy.
Here are some staples that should be in your grocery cart each week and in your kitchen. With these foods on hand, you’ll always be able to whip up a healthy meal.

Chicken Breast – Frozen or fresh, this lean protein source should be a standard in every athlete’s kitchen. The options are endless – from grilled chicken breasts to chicken taco bowls to homemade boneless chicken wings (see recipe) to chicken salad, and the list goes on.

Fish Fillets – Again, frozen or fresh, fish is an excellent protein source that is low in fat and incredibly versatile. The best part about frozen fish is that it takes such a short time to thaw out, and makes for a quick last-minute dinner option.

Eggs – Oh the incredible, edible egg – it’s true, eggs are an awesome food to have on hand. They last a long time in the fridge and are quick to make and can be dressed up or down, depending on your mood and the dish.

Oatmeal – Forget sugary cereals and granola bars, your best bet is good, old fashioned oatmeal. And I’m not talking about the sugar-laden Quaker variety, but the tubs of old fashioned oats. Not only can you eat it as cereal, it can be blended up to take the place of flour in many dishes.

Sweet Potatoes – Or regular potatoes, dependent on your dietary preferences – are great to have on hand. There are so many dishes you can make – from oven baked fries to popping them in the microwave for quick baked potatoes. Carbs are key for good workouts, and potatoes – sweet or otherwise, area great source.

Green vegetables – Brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, green beans, zucchini, and the list goes on and on. You can never go wrong adding green veggies to a meal. Fresh or frozen or both – your kitchen should always have some green on hand.

Avocado – Not only delicious, avocados are a great source of healthy fat and have so many roles from tasty guacamole to an excellent addition to a smoothie.

Fruits/Berries – Bananas, apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, etc. are all wonderful carbohydrate sources and great snacks. Don’t leave the grocery store without some form of fresh fruit.

Almond Milk – Or low-fat dairy milk if you prefer – are a staple in the kitchen. Add them to a shake or drink them alone, they offer a lot of nutrients and pack a protein punch.

Greek Yogurt – If you’re including dairy in your diet, you’d be remiss to leave out this protein source. Be sure to look for non-fat, low sugar varieties. Plain greek yogurt can take the place of oils in almost any recipe and is an excellent base for dips and parfaits and a huge multitude of snack and meal options.

Low-fat Cottage Cheese – Much like greek yogurt, this dairy product is a great source of protein and an excellent snack option. Top it with berries or fruit, or just some pepper, depending on your palate, and you can’t go wrong.

Coconut Oil – A great source of fat, this oil has a wonderful flavor and can be used to cook sweet or savory dishes. It’s always good to have in the cupboard.

Nuts/All Natural Nut Butters – High in protein and low in sugar, nuts and nut butters are a good snack option and meal addition, especially for when you’re on the go.

Protein Powder (optional) – If you’re a high level athlete in need of additional protein or simply lack a refrigerator for a snack and want to be sure to get protein in, protein powders can be an excellent option. They can also be used for baking and other recipes, but should never be one’s main source of protein.

There are many more items I could include, but these should get you started. What healthy foods do you always keep in your kitchen?

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