Peek Inside the Fridge of a Fitness Expert

By , SparkPeople Blogger
While I blog about exercise and fitness most of the time, I still know a thing or two about food. I really enjoy cooking, growing fruits and vegetables in my backyard, and eating healthy foods. After all, food is fuel. It gets me through my workouts (and my long workdays), helping me stay focused and energetic. I thought that some of you might be interested to see what I like to eat, so I took some photos of my refrigerator to share!

In the photos and lists here, you'll probably notice how most of the foods I eat are minimally processed, natural and organic. I feel like I'm investing in my health and my future when I spend money on fresh, high-quality foods, and I believe in the health and environmental benefits of organics. You won't find many mainstream food products with long ingredients lists in my kitchen. But you will find foods that are naturally healthy and delicious!

Inside My Refrigerator
(Yes, it's always this organized!)

Drinks: Soymilk (for baking and cereal), whole milk from a local dairy (notice the returnable glass jars), and a Brita water filter (my beverage of choice). It may seem crazy to some people, but I do not drink juice, soda, tea or any other beverages simply because I don't like them. Just plain water for me!

Butter/Margarine: I use both! I like real butter for baking. I like Earth Balance (a trans-fat-free margarine) for toast, homemade popcorn, etc.

Breads and grains: Sprouted grain bread is my favorite (I buy Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9). I also use whole grain pita and tortillas from Trader Joe's (for quick wraps and burritos), and ready-made pizza dough from Trader Joe's (I make a veggie-loaded homemade pizza once a week).

Dairy and protein: Extra firm tofu (for main dishes, smoothies and even baked goods), mozzarella (for pizza), cheddar (for sandwiches and burritos), and goat cheese (I could have a love affair with goat cheese. It is THAT good on salads.), eggs (an excellent protein source, I'll eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner!), cooked beans (I buy canned black, garbanzo and refried beans and use them throughout the week in salads, wraps, pastas, homemade veggie burgers and more), and natural peanut butter (for toast, paired with apples, and baked goods). I keep large tubs of yogurt on hand from time to time, but to be honest, I'm not a yogurt person. I buy the full-fat variety (it tastes so much better!) and mostly use it in smoothies or baked goods. I also store nuts like raw almonds, pine nuts, and walnuts (for cereal, granola, salads and more) in the fridge--exposing their oils to light and air can make the go rancid, but keeping them in the fridge will extend their shelf life.

Fruits and vegetables: The selection in my refrigerator varies with the season. Right now, I've got pears, apples (I will only eat Pink Ladies) and oranges, which I eat as snacks during the day. I always have bagged/washed spinach and salad greens on hand for quick lunches and additions to soups, wraps, pizzas, and more. I also prepare things like red onions, cucumbers, carrots, celery and other fresh veggies by chopping and storing them in the fridge for quicker meal preparation during the week.

Dressings, condiments and extras: I always keep fresh salsa (Pico de Gallo) in the fridge because it is one of my ultimate favorite foods. I add it to salads, burritos, breakfast wraps, frittatas—everything! It adds a lot of flavor and saves me time. Salad dressings are another staple—anything by Seeds for Change is good in my book. I also use blackstrap molasses (an iron-rich sweetener for baked goods), lemon juice (instead of juicing lemons), vegetable broth (to cook soups and grains), and Trader Joe's dark chocolate syrup (so good!) on a regular basis. Like nuts, I store extra olive oil in the fridge to keep the oil away from light, heat and air.

What's Inside My Freezer
I know I should eat more fresh produce, but in truth, I rely on frozen most of the time. It's just easier and it saves me a lot of prep time. Here are my staples, along with what I use them for.

Veggies: I always stock up on broccoli (my favorite vegetable), corn, peas, green beans, edamame (shelled and in the pod), artichokes (also a favorite, I add it to pizza and pasta), and occasionally, spinach (for soups). I also make pumpkin and butternut squash puree from scratch and freeze it so that I can make yummy pies, waffles and muffins year-round.

Fruit: Frozen fruit is great for smoothies and baked goods. I always keep wild blueberries, strawberries, pineapple chunks, and raspberries in my freezer.

Grains: I love Trader Joe's frozen brown rice. It is a major time saver (ready in 3 minutes!) and it's relatively inexpensive. I also stock up extra bread, whole grain pie crusts (I love pie!), and Trader Joe's frozen naan (to pair with my Indian dinners at home).

Convenience foods: I don't buy many frozen convenience foods, but when I do, I choose Amy's or Trader Joe's single-serving burritos and lasagnas for quick lunches at work. I'll usually add a quick salad or additional frozen veggies to meals like this to boost their nutrition (and filling power). If I took this photo a week earlier, you would have seen some ice cream in here, too…but that's long gone!

This list may seem boring, but all of these foods come together to create delicious meals all week long, from vegetable-filled frittatas and homemade sweet potato pie to spicy veggie-tofu skewers in peanut sauce and the most delicious breakfast burritos ever. I never deprive myself of what I really want to eat, but I do find that when I keep healthy foods around, I eat more of them. When you stock your kitchen with healthy choices, you have to learn how to prepare them—otherwise there'd be no dinner!

Consider the fact that every cell in your body is made from the food you eat; that every bodily process—from exercising to thinking—is counting on the foods you eat for fuel. I'd rather be made out of oranges, fresh eggs and beans than burgers, chips and processed pudding any day. Wouldn't you?

Do you think it's helpful to see how the "experts" really eat and exercise? Would you like to see more stories like this one (if so, share your ideas below), or am I just flattering myself?

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Love this article! Thank you Coach Nicole! Yes, it definitely helps to have feedback from the coaches of what they eat and how they prepare the foods and how they exercise. I learned a lot from this article, and has given me a lot of ideas. You are awesome! Report
This was such an inspiring article to me! Believe I will wash the inside of my fridge today and start reorganizing. It's not bad but there is room for improvement! Thank you Nicole! Report
Nice! I would only imagine that your pantry is the same - minimally processed and healthy. Thanks for sharing. Report
If the inside of my frig looked like yours. I'd be running to the grocery store thinking there's nothing to eat! Wish I could get mine that organized. It's packed to the gills both frig side and freezer side and the freezer side of the basement frig is paacked too. I gotta do better. thanks for sharing and being such an inspiration to so many of us (me included)! Report
I loved seeing what was inside your fridge and freezer. I would love to see more articles like this as it gave me ideas of what to buy. A suggestion: Maybe some quick ideas on how to make some of the foods, not a full out recipe but maybe what you put together in a salad or how you prep certain veggies. As a non-cook, I'd love to learn so I can depend solely on home made meals and stop eating processed foods. Report
It made me feel unorganized! I have to own the feeling, not your fault that I am not and you are! I am certainly glad there are people like you that stay organized and keep the world running smoothly. I would like to know if you ever happen to have a bout with depression. (sorry off topic) What do you do with that emotion that keeps you going? Thank you for sharing. You are brave! Report
Excellent and inspirational article! Report
Great info and thanks for sharing!!! Report
This was AWESOME! Thank you sooo much for sharing. And yes it does help--I see that I gravitate towards similar foods and also see some wonderful additions I can make. :-) Report
Great ideas! I too really like frozen vegetables. I buy some fresh, but if I buy too many they go bad! Report
I like this article - it gives me some ideas! I love Pico de Gallo, too - I could eat it out of the tub! Do you make your own? If so, how do you make it - I'm always looking for new recipes :) Thank you! Report
Thank you for sharing. It's interesting (not boring) to see what types of food you eat. I have some new ideas now, but I am also enjoying some of the same items in your fridge. I'm on the right track!! Report
thanks for sharing! My husband and I eat pretty clean but it's always nice to get fresh ideas. We are trying to make substitutions (apple/almond butter instead of peanut butter, brown rice/quinoa instead of white rice, etc) I love eating healthy and how it makes me feel. your food looks yummy! Report
I think you are a great example however, I do have one concern and that is that a lot of what you have contains soy. I wonder if it is organic as over 90% of soy in US is GMO. Also, soy products that are not fermented are not healthy for our bodies. Unfortunately the soy industry has marketed this as healthy for their economic benefit. Hopefully thanks to people like Dr Mercola the truth will continue to come out and we will all be healthier. Soy is bad if you have thyroid issues or breast cancer family history. Report
If this pic didn't show a side-by-side fridge, I'd swear by the description that it was MY fridge. Rock on Coach Nichol! I love that you garden and freeze stuff for later. I want pie. Report
Thank you for sharing photos of your awesome fridge and freezer; it's nice to see a SparkPeople Coach living the healthy lifestyle. You are truly an inspiration Coach Nicole! Report
I wish I could keep my fridge this organized. Wow! Report
I wish my refrig was this neat! Report
Coach Nicole has ALWAYS inspired me, maybe because at first, 4 years ago, I recognized we had the same name! Haha but that is not the reason I am inspired by her.

She was the main face I saw throughout SparkPeople when I first started when looking through exercises, especially the videos. I had done her Jump Rope video countless amount of times and other videos.

Her blogs, I just love because I feel even though she is a Fitness Expert, she is still going through what some of us are going through, for example, her accomplishment of her 5k and half marathon and recognizing that she is now a runner and how she never considered herself a runner.

I now I have learned how similar food choices we both have as well. I was thrilled to find out who she strives for natural and organics, which is what I am currently incorporated into my life, coincidentally.

Thank you Coach Nicole for inspiring me through my 4 years on SparkPeople. Glad you could share everything you have with us!

Great article. I'm saving it to my favorites. I didn't see meat. You may be a vegetarian. I have looked at menus sparkpeople creates and they use meat. I try to keep it very lean beef, lean pork loins and poultry. Report
Thanks for sharing... Report
I wish my fridge looked like that! So clean and organized. Mine usually looks like a food delivery truck tipped over in it. Report
this was gr8! thanks for being open with us and much success to your own personal goals & aspirations! Report
Thanks for this article. I loved seeing what you keep in your fridge. It will help me focus on keeping healthier items in my own. Report
I found it very helpful to take a peek in your frig. I saved this in my favorites so I can refer to it again for ideas. Thanks. Report
Very helpful -gave me some good ideas! Report
That was fun to see/ fridge is NEVER that organized, but luckily I have some of those items as well :) Report
Who says you should eat fresh produce? You should eat frozen whenever possible b/c the nutrients are still there. "Fresh" loses its nutrients in hours. And don't get me started on how apples are gassed in warehouses so they survive up to 18 months. Those you should buy from a local farm stand. Report
Proof that you're not just talking the talk!! :) Report
What about chicken, fish, beef? Are you a vegetarian? I have to say that I lose respect for people that discount so many foods that are healthy just because they are animal based. Report
I have the same fridge, but it looks no where close this organized!! I don't see any leftovers. You really don't have any?
And yes, it is very helpful to see and hear about the health and nutrition of the SP experts. We learn from you! Report
thanks for sharing! we have similar things in our fridge! i am going to try those frozen burritos though. Report
this is amazing . great refrigertor . I would love to have you come and help me do mine from top to bottom and the freezer also . looks just great . Report
This is awesome. I love to peek into the fridge of a healthy person -- it gives me tips on my journey. I'm just learning whole, healthy eating, so it's like having a mentor. Thanks for sharing! Report
You have some great ideas and I would like to see more. Thanks for sharing your frig! Report

you have such a great oranized plan for your meals. i am jealous..i cannot wait to take your ideas and make some of my own. plus it is not expensive..

thanks so much for sharing.. Report
Thanks for sharing. This was a great article, and it shows such an assortment of food. Very interesting. Report
Thank you for sharing! I am having a hard time with my food. (always been good with the working out) so it is really great to see what people who have both fitness and nutrition under control eat!!!! Report
Thanks for sharing, really interesting. I also love real butter, especially Organic Valley Omega 3. I have cut back on the butter since I'm trying to lose weight. I would like to see some of your meal plans and recipes also. I think making my food boring helps me to focus more on activities than eating. I like boring as long as it's healthy. I'm afraid to eat the soy, because I've heard it causes thyroid problems. Thanks for your blog - would love to see more. Report
Thanks for sharing what's in your refrigerator!! It looks pretty darn good! Report
Enough with the fridge and freezer contents - I want your recipes! :) Thanks for this peek into your life - it lets me know that I'm not too far off the mark in what I am eating and gives me ideas that I can add in. Report
I loved this! Looks similar to mine but gave me some great tips and new ideas! I agree with it sounding "boring", but it is amazing what you can do with "boring" food! So many more possibilities than over processed, fat filled convenience foods! Report
Liked peeking into your fridge, makes me feel pretty good about the contents of mine! You didn't mention preserves or jams, I have those. I try to keep them to a minimum but just love a bit everyday! Report
Thanks for the peek! I picked up how to make my kitchen more healthy and add variety! Report
I enjoyed the article. I found it very informative and I don't think you're flattering yourself at all. You are helping us see how to put all this info we get in to practice in real life. Thanks! Report
I enjoyed reading your blog. I must admit to some envy that you are able to eat the refried beans and whole milk. You are young and very active and must burn off all of those extra calories. I for one would just carry them around somewhere on my body. I avoid as much as possible anything from a box. My exception is Ryvita crispbread, only Rye, salt and water and that is a great ingredient list.I really did enjoy the blog it was very interesting but I had to tell you it was hard to read how the young, athletes can eat. Congratulations to you. Great Job sharing.Pat in Maine. Report
It's really, REALLY helpful to see how the experts eat and keep fit!! It's like living proof that one can still be fit and beautiful, yet also eat well and have fun doing it. :) It gives me hope! Report
this was very interesting.. I had lunch with a friend today who hails from India . We had a very interesting conversation regarding red meats - Americans simply eat to much red meat . My friend has meat only 2xs per week and its the minium . Everything else is whole grains, fresh veggies , beans etc. No mention of meats in your Fridge or Freezer.. Very interesting ,keep these coming ! Report
Thanks for sharing. It's showing me how my fridge should look. Report
It's always better to see how the experts do it. It gives a healthy dose of perspective. You are Coach Nicole, so everyone knows how hard you work out, but you show here the other side of the equation, living proof that busting your butt at the gym (or in your living room!) is not enough, a balanced, varied diet is critical. Report