1. Green vegetables
Hey, if it’s good enough for Popeye… Green veggies are chockers with vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting chemicals and of course fibre. They help digestion and keep you full for longer (bonus if you are trying to lose weight). “Green vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet,” explains nutritionist and Melrose ambassador Steph Lowe. “Buy at least three different green vegetables every shop, such as broccoli, zucchini and asparagus.”
Green veg not your thing? Try mixing up your recipes, suggests celebrity chef and Melrose ambassador Dani Venn. “I add spinach to everything for a greens boost - omelettes, smoothies and salads! I eat it both raw and sautéed with a dollop of ghee.”
“Shop the supermarket perimeter!” recommends Melrose Resident Nutritionist Steph Lowe. “The majority of the food in the centre aisles of the supermarket is highly processed, refined and artificial. The perimeter contains fruit, vegetables and meat products — the foundations of your nutritional pyramid. The biggest change you can make to improve your health is to significantly reduce your packaged food consumption. A more affordable way is to shop at your local fruit and vegetables shops and you’ll be supporting small business at the same time.
2. Coloured vegetables
If the thought of green veggies taking the number one spot in your trolley makes your stomach churn, relax – because item number 2 is coloured vegetables! “At least three different coloured vegetables, such as pumpkin, cauliflower and red capsicum, are a must,” advises Steph. “Eating the rainbow is essential for optimal vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols.”
How one small green ball packs in so much punch is quite incredible, but that, my friend, is exactly what the avocado does. “Avocados are packed full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids,” explains Steph. They’re also a weight-watchers best friend. “They are an excellent source of fat that keeps you full for longer and you can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!” adds Dani.
4. Free range eggs
Pack your diet full of healthy proteins for sustained energy release throughout the day and to feel full for longer. “Free range eggs for quality protein, satiety and optimal exercise recovery,” explains Steph. Oh, and PS: If your wallet allows you to buy free range or organic, do it. The less chemicals (pesticides, hormones and growth additives, meat-by-product animal food pellets - choose grass-fed hormone-free beef, for example) in your food the better.
“Don’t be fooled by the label,” warns Melrose Resident Wholefoods Cook Dani Venn. “Things that are labelled ‘organic’ ‘keto’ or ‘fat-free’ are not necessarily good for you and may be trying to mislead you. If you can get to a local market or farm gate once in a while, it makes you appreciate your food even more.”
5. Fresh berries
“A must-have for your shopping list, fresh berries are great not only for their natural sweetness but for their high antioxidant value,” explains Steph. Dani agrees, but favours the frozen variety. “A good handful of frozen berries is a low sugar, antioxidant boost,” explains Dani, “Try to buy chemical-free if you can. Add to smoothies or allow to thaw in the fridge overnight and add to buckwheat pancakes, whiz into a nice cream with frozen banana, or if you are like my one-year-old son, eat frozen from the packet for an icy treat!”
Now, just on that whole frozen versus fresh debate… Steph says fresh is by far the best BUT fruit and vegetables are often frozen immediately, which does capture the majority of the nutrients. “Frozen is of course better than none,” says Steph. “But sometimes it’s best not to sweat the small stuff when there are more important food substitutions and improvements we could be making.” Here, here.
6. A good quality organic cooking oil
A great multi-functional organic oil is a must-have in any pantry, but choosing one packed with healthy nutrients and benefits is even smarter. “Melrose Organic Flaxseed Oil is for the perfect salad dressing or healthy fats to add to a smoothie or chia pudding,” explains Steph.
Melrose Organic Flaxseed Oil is cold-pressed (cold pressing retains the nutrients and antioxidants) from organically grown flaxseeds. Flaxseed oil has one of the highest concentrations of plant-based essential fatty acid omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and is an excellent vegan alternative to fish oil. And this multi-talented oil can be taken straight, used in salad dressings, added to smoothies, drizzled over vegetables or your favourite breakfast. Clever, hey?!
Dani agrees that a good quality oil can be used for just about anything. “I like to mix up the oils that I use in my cooking and always have a range on hand to dress salads with like avocado, macadamia or even something different like sacha inchi oil that is loaded with omega-3s.”
Dani even adds oil to her morning coffee!
“I use Melrose MCT Oil every day without fail! I add it to my morning espresso coffee or smoothie, you can even add it to your salad dressing! It gives me a boost of energy as well as mental clarity to make the most of every day.”
Of course there’s also the ever popular (smell of the tropics) coconut oils, too. “I use a Melrose Coconut Oil and Ghee blend, which has been a huge revelation in my cooking,” reveals Dani. “It lends the most delicious flavour to the most simple dishes, such as scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms or stir-fried veg.”
7. Natural yoghurt
Even the emptiest of fridges usually contains a tub of yoghurt! It’s the go-to ingredient that can be used for brekkie, lunch or dinner. But make sure your yoghurt choice is the healthiest variety, advises Dani, or you could be loading up on sugar.
“Plain natural yoghurt, like a Greek or coconut yoghurt are best,” suggests Dani. “Make sure there are some good probiotics in there. Yoghurt can easily be added to so many things - breakfast smoothies, drizzled over the top of a warm lamb wrap, mixed into a quick dip or eaten straight from the tub after the gym for a protein boost.”
Good news for cheese fans! Dani says it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to our high fat dairy friend. “I have been doing keto/LCHF this year and so always splash out and buy a good quality cheese to mix into my everyday cooking,” reveals Dani. “Whether it’s feta, halloumi or an aged hard cheese, they often replace the need for meat in a dish and keep you full for longer. There are even heaps of vegan cheeses available now which are worth trying out.”