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8 Affordable Nutritious Foods That Taste Amazing

Add protein, fiber, and beneficial nutrients to you meals with the help of these nutritionist-recommended foods.
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

Yes, you can eat your way to weight loss and achieve your best body ever while eating delicious food. Derek Simnett, Certified Nutritional Practitioner and founder of Simnett Nutrition has built up an impressive social media following, sharing his tips and tricks on his YouTube Channel with a specialty in vegan weight loss. In a recent video, the health expert shared a list of foods he "just can't live without," maintaining that he eats them almost every day and always keeps them on hand because they "make healthy eating easy."  In the video, he notes that the foods on his list need to meet a few simple criteria: They need to be "nutritious," "versatile," "affordable," "easy to find in grocery stores," and last but not least, "they have to taste good." 

1

Bananas

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Bananas made Simnett's list "for many reasons," he says. "One of the main ones is because they are super cheap and they are available year round," he says, adding that they are "great for adding to smoothies," making banana ice cream with, slicing on some toast with peanut butter, and a great pre-workout snack because they are "probably some of the best fuel for athletes out there." The Cleveland Clinic adds that bananas, with 105 calories per fruit, are a great source of fiber (three grams) and potassium, improving digestion and immunity.

Related: Achieve Your Dream Body With This Proven Workout and Meal Plan

2

Tofu

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Simnett explains that tofu "is one of the highest protein plant foods" that you can eat, adding that "as tofu gets softer, the protein concentration goes down," meaning the firmest tofu offers the most protein. "Along with being a great source of protein, it's also fairly high in iron and calcium, and it's also a fairly low carbohydrate plant food, which might be a selling feature for some people," he says. Another bonus? Tofu is incredibly versatile. "It's just like a blank canvas sponge, ready to soak up some flavor," he explains. You can also crumble it and add it to a tofu scramble, cut it into chunks and make a stir fry with veggies, or throw it in the air fryer. The Cleveland Clinic calls tofu a "protein powerhouse" offering 10 grams per 100-calorie serving. 

13

Frozen Berries

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Frozen berries are another staple to have on hand, says Simnett, "and the reason why I say frozen berries and not fresh berries is because frozen berries are available year round." Not only are berries sweet and abundant with antioxidants, "nutritionally speaking, berries are actually quite low in calories and have some great nutrition for the amount of calories that they have," he says. And, keep in mind that berries are frozen at peak ripeness, meaning you get to take advantage of prime health benefits. 

4

Kale

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Simnett calls kale "the king of greens," choosing it over his other favorites like greens, lettuce, spinach, bok choy, and cilantro, "because it's available year round and it grows pretty well in most colder climates." It's also "affordable" and is "full of vitamin A, vitamin K," and also highly absorbable" calcium, "because kale does not have a ton of oxalates," he adds. Another bonus is its versatility. "You can eat kale raw, which isn't my favorite way to eat it. You can also cook it and you can massage it," a method that helps "break down some of those tough fibers so that it's easier for you to eat." While kale and spinach are both heart-healthy, the Cleveland Clinic maintains that the former offers more vitamins K and C, "plus it's also lower in calories and richer in heart-healthy flavonoids," they say. 

Related: I've Tried Nearly Every Diet and This is the #1 Best for Weight Loss For Me

5

Frozen Peas

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Simnett says that frozen peas are "one of the easiest ways to increase the flavor, color nutrition of a meal out there." He claims to eat frozen peas "almost at every single dinner," tossing them into stir fry, adding them to soup, or heating them up as a side. "A lot of people don't realize it, but green peas are actually a great source of protein. So they actually have 23% of their calories coming from protein, which is even higher (only slightly mind you) but higher than black beans." Contrary to popular belief, fresh vegetables aren't always better for you than frozen, according to Cleveland Clinic. Because they are picked and frozen within hours of being harvested, they often boast more nutrients than those that are picked and transported for hours or even days before being eaten. 

6

Protein Pasta

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Simnett is a fan of protein pasta. "Surprisingly enough, they're quite minimally processed," he says. "If you look, the ingredients in this are just yellow lentil flour, 90% and brown rice flour, 10%," he notes, adding that a single serving boasts 11 grams of fiber and 20 grams protein. There are lots of great options at the grocery store in terms of protein-packed pastas. Chickpea pasta is one of the more popular varieties. For example, Banza has 25G of protein and 40% fewer net carbs in every serving compared to traditional noodles. 

7

Lentils

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Coming in at number seven, lentils, "and not any lentil in particular," and he specifies, revealing that he eats red and also green, both of which "have got to be one of the best and cheapest sources of plant protein out there," with 27% calories coming from protein. According to the Cleveland Clinic one-half cup of cooked lentils contains 140 calories and 12 grams of protein.

Related: I Lost 20 Pounds With These 5 Hacks

8

Peanut Butter

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Simnet maintains that peanut butter is "the best nut butter out there," as it is a "super dense source of calories, which might be good for some people, might not be for others." He spreads PB on toast, which he has been eating for breakfast his "whole life," and also adds it to sauces. If you are allergic to peanuts, consider swapping it out with another nut butter or even a nut-free alternative.  Simnett's followers were thrilled with his list of plant-based, nutritionally dense whole foods. "It's official. As a new, aspiring vegan (about 95% plant-based currently), and fitness-oriented person, this is among my top favorite YouTube channels," one of them commented. "Your channel has helped so much with my plant based eating change, these videos are brilliant. Thank you so much for continuing the amazing content!" added another. For more of Derek Sinmett's diet and fitness tips, follow him on YouTube

💪🔥Body Booster: Contrary to popular belief, fresh produce is not always healthier than frozen. Frozen berries, peas and even greens often boast more nutrients than their fresh counterparts, as they are frozen immediately after being picked, instead of spending hours to days and even weeks before ending up in your belly. 

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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