6 Unexpected Foods an RD Always Keeps in Her Kitchen
But no matter which kind of person you are, navigating the store aisles looking for healthy staple foods that you'll actually want to eat—not looking at you, wilted lettuce—can make you wish you had a personal RD following you around. (And if you fall into the latter camp, it would make the shopping process a lot more satisfying, too.)
Which is why we asked Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, head of nutrition and wellness at WW (formerly Weight Watchers) for the low-down on her grocery-haul habits.
No surprise, she starts with the basics: "My shopping cart reflects my personal food philosophy: more vegetables, more fruit, more often," London says. "Having nutritious ingredients on-hand is honestly one of the simplest, yet significant, steps to establishing an overall healthier pattern of eating."
To make spotting those healthy staples easier, WW uses SmartPoints®—which boil down nutrition labels into one, simple value. Through a personal assessment, the myWW program then matches you with a customized plan (Green, Blue, or Purple) tailored to your goals, how you eat, and your behaviors.
But what about the unexpected things that make it into London's basket? (Spoiler alert: there's plenty of room for creativity and flexibility in WW's personalized plans.) Take a page out of her grocery list.
Keep scrolling for the 6 surprising healthy staple foods London always has on hand.
At-home viewing party, anyone? "Air-popped popcorn is nutritious, fiber-filled, and even contains some antioxidants (don’t forget, corn is a vegetable, too)," London says. "I love popcorn because it’s an easy, high-volume snack that I can add flavor to from seasoning and spices—basically a blank snacking canvas." Better yet, four cups of air-popped popcorn is zero SmartPoints on WW’s Purple plan and three Points on Green and Blue.
2. Milk Chocolate
Real talk: Dark chocolate is usually the nutrition world's darling, but London is (refreshingly) all about the milkier version. (Stats-wise, a 30-piece serving of milk chocolate baking chips is worth four SmartPoints on each of WW's plans.)
"I’m especially keen on milk chocolate because, as someone who eats some form of produce at just about every meal or snack, I’m not eating chocolate for the purported antioxidant benefit—I’m eating it for dessert," London says. (Yes, RDs eat dessert, too.)
While they're high in (healthy) fats, avocados are blissfully a key part of London's daily menu, with half an avocado counting as five SmartPoints on each of WW's plans.
"I’m obsessed with avocados more than ever," she says. "I love using them with toast (of course), or my more recent go-to: Making a lunch 'board' I can snack on at my desk, which includes guac with veggies and whole-grain crackers (both for dipping), plus some cheese or chopped egg."
London always keeps chickpea and whole-grain pastas in her pantry for when she wants to make a quick noodle dish with sautéed veggies and marinara (you can throw in seafood or meat, but thanks to the protein from the chickpeas, it doesn't need it).
One cup of cooked chickpea pasta is worth zero Points on Purple, and four Points on Green and Blue. WW is all about flexibility, not elimination, unlike fad diets. And another one of London's pro tips? Add some fresh or sun-dried tomatoes to your pasta. "The tomato addition is a simple, delicious way to add veggies and extend the life of your marinara jar so you get the most bang for your buck," she explains.
London has a glass of wine (four Points on all three plans) just about every day. Red wine in moderation is thought to be good for heart health, and the bottle comes with a built-in perk in a pinch: "They can also double as dumbbells, if you want it badly enough," says London.
Potatoes (and not just sweet potatoes) are definitely healthy staple foods for London. And—maybe even more surprisingly—potatoes are zero Points on Purple and five Points on Green and Blue. She likes to serve baked potatoes with black beans, salsa, hot sauce, pico de gallo, guac, cheese, and plain Greek yogurt, and let people choose their own toppings.
"I’m a big fan of using potatoes and sweet potatoes as another 'blank canvas' for meals and snacks," London says. "I mean, what’s better than a baked potato bar, right?!" Answer: Not much.
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Photo: Morsa Images/Getty Images
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