Ok, that’s a bit of a dramatic title. I could live without these items, but who would want to? Seriously, these are staples in my house.

1. Heathy 8

This is my go-to. I actually love cooking; chopping vegetables is meditative for me. HOWEVER, I have two jobs and two kids in sports, so chopping veggies is a luxury that is mostly saved for the weekend. That’s why this Healthy 8  is so clutch during the week. I add it to everything: egg whites, ground turkey, brown rice or quinoa and stuffed into peppers. It’s low in calories and high in nutritional value.

2. Soycutash

This is another delicious, easy way to get veggies into everything. This one comes with the added benefit of 5g protein and 5g fiber in just half a cup, thanks to those soy beans. My favorite way to eat this is with a whole bunch of wilted baby spinach, sliced almonds and sautéed shrimp. Crumble some feta cheese on top and I’m in heaven.

3. Red Argentinian Shrimp

If you have never visited the frozen section at Trader Joe’s. Do it. Now. I’ll wait…  These are frozen. I run them under tap water in a colander to thaw them. Sauté them for 3-4 minutes (I use Trader Joe’s low sodium vegetable broth to sauté everything! I should have put it on the list!). These shrimp are sweet and plump and delicious. They are shelled, deveined and tail-free. They are an easy, simple, delicious weekday meal that feels special.

4. Frozen Quinoa

Ok. Before you get all over me about the horrors of single serving, microwavable food, let me reassure you: I GET IT.  Please spare me your comments. I know. I use a rice cooker and make rice in bulk. I make large batches of many different kinds of food. I’m in love with my slow cooker. But, for some reason I’m incapable of making a decent batch of quinoa. Can you say mushy? I sure can! Would you like to eat mushy? Nope! Me either. So here we are. Easy, nutritious, high in protein. It is officially a seed and part of a group of pseudocereals, making it neither a cereal nor a grain, and more closely related to spinach and beets than to cereals or grains. << That little tidbit was borrowed from https://ultimatepaleoguide.com, but I’m not paleo.

5. Organic Sprouted Tofu

Yum. End of story. Not mushy, not tough. Perfect. I hear often from people that they don’t like tofu. Um… what? how? why? It has no taste of its own. Do you also dislike air? Put it in whatever sauce you want. I usually make my own red curry sauce with coconut milk, red curry powder and honey (or agave if you’e vegan). Really satisfying. Throw in the soycutash or the Healthy 8 and serve over brown rice or quinoa.

6. Steamed Lentils

I have no problem soaking and cooking lentils from scratch. However, some weeks (or months) I’m legit over-scheduled. These are really good and they last in your fridge unopened for weeks. It’s like my security blanket. I’m Cuban so I grew up with a constant supply of black beans and rice. I still love it but lentils have all the benefits of black beans with less sodium. I eat them with brown rice and top with chopped raw onion, lemon juice and olive oil. My mouth is watering just typing this.

7. Organic Garbanzo Beans

Last, but definitely not least are these garbanzo beans. These probably don’t belong on this. I have no idea if Trader Joe’s organic garbanzo beans are necessarily better than anyone else’s. But, they are definitely a staple in my pantry because I’m always making my own hummus. It’s easy. I do usually use Trader Joe’s Tahini, but in a pinch I just add some of my own peanut/cashew butter. Lemon, lime, salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. I do not added olive oil into the vitamix, but I do drizzle a little on top when I eat it and crack some organic rock salt on top. Yum!