Tanya's Kitchen: The Staples

By Tanya

Now that I have established the basics found in my kitchen, I thought I would give you some insight as to what I typically eat each day.

Life is busy and complicated so I like to keep things in my kitchen as simple as possible. I am the type of person who will do a ton of research, finding millions of recipes and trying them as time permits, but really only stick to the few tried and true meals my family loves. These include the same ten or so recipes that I rotate around or modify a bit to create something a little different. When I find that I am tired of these I'll try a new recipe which may or may not make it onto our general rotation.

For the most part our meals are healthy, quick, and easy. If any recipe takes longer than forty-five minutes to generate, I usually will only prepare it for special occasions. The exception to this rule is when I cook large batches for canning or freezing, which you can't really count because a lot of work on one day to pretty much eliminate the work on another is a huge benefit. I am also a huge fan of leftovers for lunch so I try to make bigger batches at dinner to have for lunch the next day.

Because we like to eat as fresh as possible, I find that most of my time in the kitchen is generally spent cutting up vegetables. This also means that I have a lot less food in my refrigerator and cupboards than I used to so I have to go to the store more often to keep up the supply of fresh foods. At first establishing this eating style took a lot of time and effort. It still takes time, but I now have a pretty good routine and know what and where most of my cooking staples can be found. I typically go to the grocery store about three times per week. This is reduced in the summer when I am able to get vegetables from my home garden. This could also be further reduced by going to the farmers market (which is way more fun), or getting a CSA (community supported agriculture) box delivered to your house from a local farm or by an organization like the one Carissa gets from Organics To You.

With all that said, here is a list of the staples you'd typically find in my kitchen:
(Check at the end of this post to find recipes for the items marked with an *)

As stated in my last post, my family loves to eat homemade granola* with plain greek yogurt and berries.  It is pretty hard to find a healthy and good tasting box cereal, especially one that lives up to my less than 12 grams of sugar per serving rule (because let's be realistic no one eats just 3/4 cup of cereal). However, my boys and I still love to have cereal some mornings, so we do keep stock of a few kinds like Grapenuts, Kashi Autumn Wheat, and Puffins.  My husband's favorite is a breakfast scramble with eggs, chopped veggies and feta.  And we ALWAYS have coffee and water.  On the weekends we treat ourselves to steal cut oats, baked oatmeal, or pancakes and sausage.

Mid morning snack
This is the time I typically make a green juice smoothie.*  If I am still hungry from a workout I'll also have some bread with nut butter or a granola bar with some protein like a Kashi chewy trail mix bar or Cliff MoJo trail mix bar.

At lunch I like to have leftovers if possible. I make sure that I get some type of veggie with my lunch which is typically a green salad or just cut up veggies.  I try to keep pre-cut vegetables on hand in my fridge.  I also try to make sure to get some protein in my lunch.  This is often in the form of a bean, sometimes in a burrito bowl or hummus. I also add nuts and seeds to my salads.  I get carbs from flat bread, a tortilla, a slice of bread with soup, or half a sandwich.  I am a huge fan of flavored (but no sugar) soda water and I usually have some with my lunch.

Mid afternoon snack
My mid-afternoon snack is usually on-the-go as I am picking up my oldest son from school and shuttling him to various after-school activities.  I frequently have some fresh fruit at this time like an apple, grapes, or a pear. Depending on my mood I'll grab something salty like smokey roasted almonds or Trader Joes Everything flavored Pretzel Slims. If I want something sweet I'll eat a little piece of dark chocolate or one of my favorite homemade cookies (the recipe for those will be coming in later post).  At this time I like to have one of my favorite homemade drinks, which I refer to as a "Hot Toddie,"* but don't confuse it with the alcoholic version of the same name.  This drink has multiple health benefits such as fighting off colds and other viruses.

I will typically make three to four large meals per week and have left-overs or simple meals like garden burgers on the other days. Most weeks we go out to eat one night, generally on the weekends when we meet with family or friends or when my husband and I go out for a date.  Dinner is where I make sure I load my family up on cooked veggies.  Two good veggie-loaded options are soups and veggie stir frys. Our protein comes from beans, tofu, or chicken. Our carbs usually come from rice, quinoa, or bread.  One staple that I have fallen in love with is a great blend of roasted veggies*. I make one big batch of these roasted veggies can use them to create multiple dishes for the week. I throw them into burritos, soups, curries, or spaghetti sauce. They also go well with eggs for breakfast in the morning and I have even used them to make some delicious veggie burgers!  How's that for versatility?

Evening snack
My family is one of the crazy few who actually eats dinner at 5:30 in the evening. So by the time 7:30 rolls around we are usually hungry again and don't want to go to bed on an empty stomach.  Our evening snacks generally include some type of fruit, almonds, and maybe a little cheese. I like to have some tea at night or depending on the next day's schedule, I may have a glass of wine and some chocolate.

Breakfast Granola (this is a very simple and non-clustering granola)
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other vegetable oil)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup mild honey
2 cups raw wheat germ
2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
7 cups old fashioned oats
3 cups mixed raw nuts and seeds
Cook on baking sheet on middle rack in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes
Stir and then continue to bake, stirring every 5 minutes until golden brown.
Watch the edges as they tend to cook faster and can burn quickly.

Green Juice Smoothie
I don't have exact measurements on these items, I just eyeball it as I throw it in the blender and adjust if needed for desired thickness.
Blend together:
Trader Joes Green Plant Juice
Trader Joes Beet and Purple Carrot Juice
One ripe banana
About one half cup of frozen mangoes
One large handful of spinach
1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain greek yogurt

Tanya's Hot Toddie
4oz Trader Joes Lemon Ginger Echinacea juice warmed up mixed with 4oz of hot water.
Add a tablespoon (use less initially until you get a taste for it) of Apple Cider Vinegar, and a dash of Cayenne pepper (also use less initially until you find the heat you prefer).
This drink may sound weird to you and may take a while to get used to but it really is wonderful and really great for you!

Roasted Veggies
One medium onion largely diced
4 cloves of garlic a little larger than minced
2 large sweet potatoes diced
2 bell peppers diced any color ( I would only use one green if at all)
3 cups brussle sprouts cut in halves or quarters
Once cut mix all in a large bowl with 1/4 cup of olive oil and sprinkle with more than you'd think of your favorite seasonings (I use Trader Joes Everyday Seasoning, garlic powder, pepper, and sea salt).
Bake on cookie sheets at 400 degrees, turning every 10 minutes until well roasted.

As you can tell I am a huge fan of Trader Joes grocery store. I use many of their products and juice blends. If you do not have a Trader Joes where you live, similar items can often be found at other "natural" or "whole food" stores.

There you have it, a typcial day in Tanya's kitchen. I am always on the look out for other great simple healthy recipes, so if you have one that you love please feel free share and reply with a link. Happy healthy cooking everyone!


  1. Tanya, I really admire your commitment to healthy eating.
    I want to try the hot toddy! Sounds like a fun adventure :)Your hubby and i enjoy the same kind of breakfast.

    The part about eating dinner at 5:30 and eating again made me laugh. I am pretty sure most of us were designed to eat 4 or 5 meals a day. I know i am!

  2. Thanks Raina! I have found that eating 5 times per day including 3 smaller portioned meals has helped my metabolism. It also keeps my energy level more stable during the day. Good luck on the Hot Toddie! Remember it may take some time to get used to but it is great helper for giving your immune system a boost now that we are entering into the cold season.

  3. Our diets are very similar (minus grains and add red meat ;) so I'm looking forward to your Hot Toddie! Thanks Tanya, Cheers!