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As a Sports Dietitian I’ve lost track of the number of times someone has asked me what I eat or peered curiously into my shopping trolley. I can assure you, I love food, but there won’t be too many fancy things listed here – some of the best foods are the most simple in my opinion.  So here’s a sneak peek inside our pantry.

1. Nuts and Seeds​

Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower and chia seeds are my favourites. Nuts got a bad rap there for a while, but they are really nutritious and full of protein and good fats. Perfect for adding crunch to porridge or muesli, delicious added to salads and ideal for bumping up the protein content of homemade biscuits and muffins. 

2. Oats

Oats are such a humble food but are a fantastic a quality carbohydrate rich in vitamins and minerals, chock full of fibre and with a good hit of protein. They’re ideal for making homemade muesli - just mix with some cinnamon, dried fruit, nuts and seeds; delicious soaked overnight in a bircher, or warm up on a chilly morning with a bowl of hot porridge.

3. Assorted vinegars

Balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic glaze…they’re all staples in our panty. Why? Because vinegars make salad fun! Dress a simple rocket and tomato salad with your choice of vinegar, some olive oil, salt and pepper – salads really don’t have to be complicated, and a simple dressing can make them so much tastier.

4. Chilli, onion, garlic

Ok, busted, I know that’s technically three foods – but they really do come as a trio! Chilli, onion and garlic are the essential base to most of my meals. Flavour, aroma & delicious!

5. Canned legumes

Canned chickpeas and lentils are always in our cupboard. Yes, you can buy them dry and soak them yourself, but the canned versions are just as nutritious, easy to use and so versatile. Add chickpeas to salads; make lentils into veggie burgers or blitz cannellini beans with some garlic, olive oil and lemon juice for a fast and tasty dip.

6. Olive oil

Liquid gold! There is not a day that goes by where we don’t use olive oil. Olive oil adds so much flavour to food and it’s rich in good fats too. Perfect for dressing salads, dipping fresh bread, cooking dinner and drizzling onto pasta.

7. Lindt Mint Intense dark chocolate

I’d love to say it's for the antioxidants but really it's because we love it! And you should always eat foods you love.

8. Maple syrup

Can you believe maple syrup comes from a tree!! Possibly the best thing to ever come out of Canada (sorry Michael Buble!!) Again, I’d love to sing its nutritional praises but, for me, maple syrup is just good for the soul - is there anything better to warm you up on a winter’s morning than porridge with walnuts, banana and maple syrup – I think not!

- Contributed by Ali Patterson, Australian Sports Dietitian -