Eating well can be pretty overwhelming. Nikki Ostrower knows this firsthand, having herself spent years fighting an eating disorder and before turning to the study of nutrition to help others lead a healthy, happy life as well. Her own quest for healthy living led her to found NAO Wellness, a comfortable, unpretentious wellness retreat in Manhattan’s West Village that offers a variety of services, including infrared saunas, reiki healing, chiropractic care, pelvic floor therapy, and food intolerance testing.
Nikki has gathered an arsenal of healthy foods on her journey to wellness. We picked her brain (and her fridge) for her go-to groceries – and we filled our shopping carts along the way.
What would you say your philosophy around nutrition is?
Our philosophy around nutrition is to really understand what is right for your specific body type and lifestyle. There’s no one-size-fits-all program. However, we do preach quality. Quality foods, quality food sources, making sure that your meals are nutrient-rich and dense, and eating mindfully.
What are some important things that you feel like you always need to have in your fridge?
A few veggies you like to keep on hand?
Some fresh spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts.
Anything in season!
How about condiments?
How do you feel about fermented foods?
As long as it’s naturally fermented, fermented foods are a huge superfood that should be included with almost every meal, because they have important enzymes and vitamins and nutrients. They also help with digestion, they increase our stomach acid (which also aids in digestion as well), there’s fiber, probiotics.
What’s your favorite go-to dinner recipe for a busy weeknight?
A stir-fry is super easy. Just break out the wok, some coconut oil, you can get pre-chopped up cauliflower rice they sell them everywhere. Coconut aminos is a great condiment as well. So what I’ll do is I’ll stir-fry the vegetables, I’ll take leftover rotisserie chicken – of course from an organic and pasture-raised place (I love the butcher Hudson & Charles in New York City) – and then I throw the leftover chicken on top.
I also love Vital Choice seafood, which is all wild-raised, whole-caught, flash-frozen fish that anyone in the United States can get a delivery [from]. They come individually pre-packaged and wrapped so it takes two seconds to defrost it, and about two minutes to cook. Their fish is so fresh that you can eat it sushi-style. I’ve actually just taken a slice of wild salmon and put it over my cauliflower rice and it is unbelievable.
What’s something that you have in your fridge now that people would be surprised to find in a nutritionist’s fridge?
I have liver defrosting! It’s from pasture-raised chicken.
Are there nutritional benefits to that?
Yeah, actually liver is a superfood, but it has to come from a pasture-raised source. There’s a ton of iron and a lot of us are iron-deficient, it has vitamin A, it’s one of the best sources of B vitamins, and B12 especially. Folate, so it’s actually a pregnancy superfood as well. It’s a beautiful source of protein, and believe it or not it helps with detoxification and supports the liver. And CoQ10 which is great for the brain.
How do you usually prepare that?
Sautée onions, caramelize them, and then I’ll just add the liver. I’ll make my Bubbe’s chopped liver, which is passed down from generation to generation, and I’ll have it on a Simple Mills cracker. That’s my favorite, I love it. My daughter who’s three grew up on it and it’s a major, major superfood for kids.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I would say ice cream, but now they make ice cream that’s all coconut and cashew-based. My favorite brand is Organic Nectars… so I’ll usually do a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of strawberry, and I’ll have some dark chocolate on top of it. I love ice cream on a hot summer day.
What’s your biggest pro tip when it comes to grocery shopping?
Have a plan. Have a shopping list of the food that you’ll need so you can make the meals that you’ve planned. Cause just bumming around the grocery store is very overwhelming.
Do you organize your fridge in any specific way?
We keep all the beverages on top, the vegetables in the bin, the eggs are on the door, and we make sure that there’s no food spoiling. We label our leftovers in Tupperware, that is our method to our madness.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.