My Daily Food Staples

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I just finished an intense three months of school, and my diet has been a little off over the last few weeks - nothing major, I just haven't been consuming as many of my daily staples as I'd like. In order to get back on track and feeling more like my normal self, I started making a mental list of all the foods I regularly consume, and I ended up deciding to write a blog post about them!

I often get questions about my nutrition - I don't label myself as anything in particular (i.e. paleo, vegan, etc.), but my goal is always to minimize inflammation, and eat as much real food as possible. With that being said, there are definitely foods I avoid, and those that I eat in abundance!

It's important to remember that everyone is different - factors such as genetics, ethnicity, childhood eating habits, gender, and lifestyle (to name a few) can have a huge impact on what foods will serve you best. Personally, I do well on a gluten and dairy free diet that is low in sugar, and full of fresh produce, healthy fats, and quality sources of protein. But that doesn't mean you should eat exactly as I do! I always encourage everyone to explore different avenues in order to find what works best for their body, health goals, and overall lifestyle.

In my opinion, food should make you feel good, and provide you with the nutrients to live your best life. Energized, balanced, and healthy are three things that I strive to feel every day - and I'm happy to say that, for the most part, I do! It's taken years of trial and error, but I've finally found a good balance, and know what fuels me best. 

See below for a list of my daily food staples (while I do mention my favourite brands, please note that this post is not sponsored in any way - I just like supporting companies and products that I believe in, and use). I practice cycle syncing, so I do switch these up throughout the month, but I do consume all of these items regularly:

1. Gluten free rolled oats
Are you surprised?! Probably not - my Instagram feed is filled with pictures of oatmeal bowls. If you can believe it, I used to eat those Quaker instant oatmeal packs that were LOADED with sugar, and would leave me hungry within an hour. Now, I use Bob's Red Mill gluten free rolled oats, and make the most delicious, satisfying, hormone balancing oatmeal bowls. Oats are a great source of fibre, and also provide calcium, iron and potassium - I eat them almost every day!

2. Avocados
A lot of people are obsessed with avocados, and for good reason! They're a very nutrient dense fruit - not only are they an excellent source of healthy fat, but a great source of potassium, and full of antioxidants (all of these benefits are great for cardiovascular health). They're also extremely versatile! You can spread some on toast, toss some in a smoothie, or even make a creamy chocolate mousse.

3. Leafy greens (i.e. spinach, kale, arugula, baby bok choy, etc.)
I used to make the most boring salads - dry lettuce, a handful of chopped carrots and cucumber, all drenched in Kraft low calorie balsamic dressing. No wonder I hated eating them! Now, I get my greens in by making smoothies, colourful macro bowls, and adding them to plates of roasted veggies and wild caught salmon. Yum! I try to have leafy greens as often as I can - you can enjoy them in so many ways, and they're an excellent source of antioxidants, fibre, and various vitamins and minerals to optimize health and increase energy levels. My favourite brand to buy is Organic Girl - they have so many different blends to choose from!

4. Zucchini
Ah, another vegetable that I used to think was disgusting. The only time I had eaten zucchini growing up was from a buffet - it was soggy, bland, and something I didn't touch again until my mid twenties. Now, I add zucchini to anything and everything I can! I grate it and add it to oatmeal bowls and pancakes, roast it in the oven with avocado oil and herbs, and add frozen chunks of it to smoothies. It's so versatile, very mild in taste, and a great source of folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and potassium.

5. Berries (i.e. strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
I can't get enough of these! Berries are naturally lower in sugar, and are a great source of antioxidants and fibre. I consume them in so many different ways - as oatmeal toppers, in smoothies and salads, or paired with a few pieces of dark chocolate. (A side note about strawberries - I always try to buy them organic, as they're heavily sprayed with pesticides; they've topped the "dirty dozen" list for years).

6. Nut butters
Ah, nut butters...one of my main sources of joy in life. I grew up eating "traditional" Kraft peanut butter (if you're from Canada, you know the one - green lid, two adorable bears on the jar). Little did I know, lots of nut butters have hidden ingredients such as sugar, hydrogenated oils, and corn syrup! It wasn't until 2013 that I made the switch to "natural" nut butters, which only contain nuts (how revolutionary, right?!). It took me about a week to get used to the taste, but my tastebuds quickly adapted, and I've never looked back! Nut butters are so versatile, and these days, there are endless options to choose from (i.e. almond, cashew, pecan, cinnamon raisin peanut, chocolate almond...I wish I could buy them all). I love that you can use them in both cooking and baking, and that they're a great source of healthy fats. So yeah, nut butters are pretty great!

7. Dark chocolate (Lindt 85% or 90% cacao - dairy free and very low in sugar)
I used to think that dark chocolate was SO GROSS (this was at the height of my sugar addiction, when I would eat only milk and white chocolate). However, once I detoxed from sugar and allowed my tastebuds to retrain themselves, I was able to appreciate the subtle flavours of dark chocolate - I now have a piece or two almost every single day! The kind that I like is Lindt 85% or 90% cacao, as it contains no dairy, and a very minimal amount of sugar. 

8. Cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts)
My 16 year old self is cringing at this one! But seriously, I cannot get enough of these veggies. They're high in fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K, and have a whole host of other benefits. Cauliflower is incredibly versatile - I use it to make cauliflower rice, add it to smoothies to make them extra creamy, or roast it along with some broccoli. I love making a big kale salad with garlic tahini dressing, or kale chips (LIFE CHANGING), and when it comes to Brussels sprouts, I'm a cast iron pan kind of girl - I add garlic, salt and pepper, lots of balsamic, and let them get nice and crispy. Cruciferous vegetables can be so tasty if you cook and season them to your liking!

9. Coconut (coconut butter/manna/oil, shredded coconut, coconut milk...you get the picture!)
I am OBSESSED with all things coconut. From my experience, you either love it or hate it, and I'm definitely in the love it camp! I use coconut butter in my matcha lattes, coconut oil for cooking and baking, shredded coconut on my pancakes, coconut milk in my smoothies...the list goes on and on. As I've mentioned, I love healthy fats, and despite the claims that coconut oil is bad for you, there are so many studies which demonstrate its benefits in regards to hormone health, weight management, immunity and cognitive function.

10. Eggs/egg whites
Another type of food that I love! I enjoy adding egg whites to my oatmeal to give it a protein boost and extra fluffiness (it sounds bizarre, but it's SO good - I promise it doesn't have a weird taste), or having egg white omelettes with spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, kale, and cashew cream cheese. I also consume free range whole eggs pretty often - usually on top of avocado toast with some fresh cracked black pepper and micro greens, or in pancakes and baked goods. Egg whites are a great source of protein, and whole eggs are high in choline (a precursor to acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that is involved in mood, memory, alertness, concentration, and focus).

11. Cinnamon
I think cinnamon might be my favourite spice! It's a natural sweetener, is high in antioxidants, and has amazing anti-inflammatory and blood sugar balancing properties, to name a few benefits. I add cinnamon to everything that I can - oatmeal, yam fries, yogurt bowls, smoothies, matcha lattes, etc. Cinnamon is another food item that I buy organic, as it is the most heavily sprayed herb/medicinal spice.

12. Collagen
Collagen has been a GAME CHANGER for me. For those of you that don't know, collagen is a highly abundant protein in our bodies - however, after age 25 or so, we don't produce as much of it. I started taking collagen in 2017 to see if it would help with my chronic pain issues, and I've been hooked ever since. My favourite brand is Organika - it's affordable, non-GMO, organic, and sustainably produced. This white, tasteless powder is so versatile - I also add this to so many different things, such as matcha lattes, yogurt, post workout smoothies, energy balls, muffins, tea, and coffee. Taking collagen regularly has had such a positive impact on my digestive health, as well as my skin, hair, and nails.

13. Ashwaganda
Ashwaganda is an adaptogen, which is a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress, and maintain balance and homeostasis. There are lots of different adaptogens out there, all with different properties and benefits. In order to see the benefits of ashwaganda, you have to take it for a few weeks. I've been taking it for over a year now, and it's helped me heal my adrenal fatigue, improve my immunity (I get sick every December, without fail - didn't happen last year!!), and decrease my overall stress levels. It has a bit of an "earthy" taste, but I only use 1/2 a tsp each day, so it's pretty easy to add it to my lattes or oatmeal bowls. You can take it in pill or powder form - I use the Organic Traditions organic powdered ashwaganda. Note: if you're considering taking adaptogens, definitely do your research, and consult with a nutritionist, naturopath, or other health care professional first.

14. Coconut yogurt
In case you haven't noticed, I love versatile foods! Coconut yogurt definitely falls into that category. My favourite brand is Yoso - I use their unsweetened premium creamy cultured coconut yogurt , which has no added sugar, is non-GMO, dairy free, and tastes amazing! I especially love taking some yogurt mixed with cinnamon, collagen, berries, cacao nibs and nut butter as a snack for when I'm working a night shift at the hospital, as it's a lighter snack that keeps me full for hours, and is full of wholesome ingredients. I also like adding coconut yogurt to pancakes, using it as a dairy free substitute in cooking, and blending it up in smoothies to get a creamier texture.

15. Vegan protein powder
I've been using protein powder since 2013, which is when I started to get really into the whole fitness/gym scene. I still use it almost everyday, but I made the switch to a vegan protein powder last year, as I was having skin issues (lots of redness and out of control dryness around my nose and forehead) that I figured out were caused by the dairy in traditional protein powers. I've struggled for a while to find a vegan protein powder that didn't taste like chalk, but now I use Kaizen Naturals vanilla and chocolate vegan powders - they're SO delicious, completely plant based, and sugar free. I love adding Kaizen's powders to my oatmeal, smoothies, and baked goods - it's a great and convenient way to ensure I'm consuming enough protein on a daily basis.

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If you made it to the end, I hope you found this post useful! I know there's a lot of conflicting information out there about nutrition, but from my experience, you don't need to take 10 different powders a day or buy expensive jars of chocolate unicorn rainbow butter to be "healthy". Our bodies are extremely intelligent - if you focus on eating real foods, paying attention to sensitivities, and developing a healthy relationship with food, the rest will sort itself out eventually!

Thanks for reading! xo

Zakiya