For the pantry:
Good vanilla paste or essence - the paste does come in a sugar suspension, but you use such a little and in my recipes it's always combined with a protein, so it has very little impact. Great essence really adds a sweetness and warmth to smoothies, my overnight oats (birchers), pancakes and so much more.
Cinnamon - wonderful in so many recipes from apple and cinnamon porridge to my baked protein nuts. It stabilises blood sugar levels and again, adds a festive spiciness.
Stevia - you either love it or hate it, but the natural sweetener has zero impact on sugar levels as contains no calories at all. It's super sweet and so you really do need just a pinch. As you adjust to a sugar-free lifestyle (most of the time), you'll find you crave less sweetness - but it's great in the interim. I love it in my sugar free compotes which are delicious over yoghurt, porridge or pancakes.
Chilli sauces - I'm a total addict. My favourites are Tobasco (classic and Jalepeno) and the Mexican smoked chilli paste called Lucita. The fridge is always stocked with plenty of fresh chilli's too.
Ready prepared beans and legumes. I can't be faffed to soak and prepare and like to have ready cooked lentils and pulses good to go - again, fab for throwing into a salad or soup as your protein source.
In the fridge:
Greek Yoghurt - fabulously thick and super high in protein and calcium. I use it as a foundation for so many recipes. Dairy has such a bad rap, but the right kinds are fabulously versatile and great if you're intending on losing weight - unless you have a lactose intolerance of course or don't eat it for ethical reasons. Beware the hidden sugars in many dairy alternatives such as coconut yoghurt and rice milk - be sure to read the label.
Lactose free milk - I've no intolerance, but it's become a favourite as tastes like the real thing, with the only difference being the lactose is removed. And anything with an 'ose' on the end - apart from nose - is generally a sugar. So it's an easy win to cut some sugar from your diet without noticing, with all the abundant nutrition of milk.
Cheese - great to keep stocked up as they last well, and you've always an added ingredient to make a warm winter salad or meal or a frittata a little more flavoursome - it's all about adding flavour! My firm favourties are Parmesan or Peccorino, goats cheese and good Greek feta.
In the freezer:
Frozen summer berries - simply couldn't live without them. The combination of blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants which are frozen on picking are just bursting with antioxidants. So you're going to get a whopping boost of Vitamin C in your smoothies or swirled through your breakfast at any time of year. The tart flavour is divine with a little stevia to sweeten it and I am always stocked up.
Edamame beans - I always have shelled and podded. The shelled ones are a fabulous source of meat free protein to throw over salads, into stir fry's or soups when the fridge is running low. In pods, I simply pour boiling water over them to defrost them, drain and dry, sprinkle with Malden Sea Salt (another must) and it makes a great snack at any time of day.
Mixed frozen veggies - again, not to be scoffed at. I use fresh for all my day to day cooking, but always have broccoli, cauliflour, and a good veggie mix in the freezer, so you've always ingredients to blend into a wholesome soup. All you need is olive oil, onions, good stock and some frozen veggies and you are good to go.
Lean for Life is out now.