Elaine Magee: What's In My Fridge?

'The Recipe Doctor' gives you a guided tour

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

What's in the Recipe Doctor's refrigerator? Well, I'll warn you right now, there will be a few items that might surprise you -- even a few that might horrify you!

For example, you'll probably find only one quart of low-fat milk (maybe a half-gallon if you're lucky) in my refrigerator. Strangely enough, no one in my family foursome likes milk as a beverage. My husband and I both must have missed the "got milk" gene, and we passed this to our two daughters. The quart of milk, used for cereal, cooking and smoothies, lasts about a week for our family. I know that's hard to imagine if you have milk-drinking family members!

You will find a quart of low-fat buttermilk in my fridge, though -- I use it for waffles and pancakes and assorted other baking and cooking purposes. And, in our calcium defense, you will find the selections of part-skim cheeses and low-fat yogurts are plentiful.

On a more predictable note for a dietitian, the fruit and vegetable crisper in my refrigerator is always chock-full. I keep the fixings for a 5-minute salad on hand. I buy those pre-washed bags o' salad, like the baby spinach bags, and the Romaine lettuce blends that also boast "double carrots" or exotic greens like arugula.

There are apples, grapes, strawberries and cut melon, too. Why cut melon? Because I've learned if I just suck it up, and seed and cube the melon as soon as I get it home from the market, everyone wins! My family has ready-to-eat melon that we can pull out of the fridge in a hurry over the next couple of days. The melon gets gobbled up before it can even threaten to go bad.

I have baby carrots in my crisper, which I serve almost every day as a cold, crunchy snack or a pre-dinner munchie. Along these same lines, you'll notice that I have four different types of light salad dressing. We eat salad so often I like to have plenty of dressing options on hand.

I also have a jar of light mayonnaise, which I blend with fat-free sour cream as a mayo substitute. Working your way up the shelves of my refrigerator, you'll find the deli drawer contains reduced-fat cheese, some turkey breast slices, and Parmesan cheese.

I have been buying the higher omega-3 eggs for a couple of years now, and that white carton sits proudly on one of the shelves alongside the carton of Egg Beaters. Then there's that tub of Fat Free Cool Whip that I bought the other day because it was on sale and the market was out of Light Cool Whip (it tastes better than I thought).

For hectic weeknights, I always have a container of cheese tortellini and my favorite commercial pesto sauce (Armanino) on standby. Yes, I make my own pesto, but this one is for those nights when homemade just isn't going to happen.

In the refrigerator door there is an assortment of mineral water flavors (our beverage du jour), along with orange juice (not from concentrate), and 2-liter bottles of diet grapefruit soda and diet Pepsi (caffeine-free). We like to mix the orange juice with the diet grapefruit soda for a nice change.

Nestled with the soda is a sea of 12-ounce bottles of water. I'm constantly grabbing them when we're flying out the door to the dance studio (both of my daughters are on a competitive dance team).

There are other refrigerator-door staples I should mention, like the no-trans-fat margarine (like Take Control) and whipped butter. That's right folks; there is butter in the Magee house. I mostly use canola or olive oil in my cooking, and sometimes turn to less-fat margarine if need be. But there are those times when butter must be used to pull off a recipe. In those cases, I use whipped butter, which has less fat per tablespoon, and I use less of it, too. I love a slice of whole-wheat toast with a little less-sugar jam, so you can find at least two flavors in my fridge.

Before we venture off to the Northern territory, also known as my freezer, you might be asking, "where's the beef?" The Magees eat chicken every week (skinless, of course), and pork occasionally (only the lean cuts like pork tenderloin), and beef once or twice a week (only extra-lean cuts and ground sirloin need apply). But I'm picky about my meat, and I tend to go to a nearby butcher on the day that I will be cooking it. So on this particular day, there is a bag of freshly caught halibut literally staring at me (thanks to my husband's fishing buddy) ready to be grilled or smoked by my BBQ-savvy hubby.

As you open the freezer door, you'll see a bag of ground flax (high in plant omega-3 fatty acids), bags and bags of frozen fruit, a bag of shelled edamame, and a carton of light vanilla ice cream. The frozen fruit and ice cream are there for one reason and one reason only -- the Magee family loves smoothies! Two frozen patty products are permanent residents in my freezer, too: Hash Brown Patties (with 0 grams of fat) and Gardenburgers (vegetarian gourmet whole-grain burgers). The hash browns are used on Saturday or Sunday mornings and the Gardenburgers are a makeshift lunch for one on weekdays when I'm working at home.

Well, that completes the Elaine Magee refrigerator tour. Thanks for joining me today, and please come again!

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