Grocery Shopping Survival List
Here at ValMar Health, we love to discover new recipes and ingredients. I’m always looking for new ideas.
With that being said, there are some staple grocery items to keep in your kitchen. These are some of my top recommendations, based on nutritional value, versatility/usefulness and flavor.
Olive oil – made up mainly of monounsaturated fatty acids (the good fat), olive oil has antioxidants and vitamin E, making it a healthy alternative to condiments and other cooking oils.
It is great for dressing salads, drizzling on vegetables or marinating acidic or strong tasting foods like tomatoes, artichokes and olives.
It is best stored in sealable mental tin or in a tinted glass container to protect it from heat and light, which compromise the quality of the olive oil. Quality olive oils are best used with fresh ingredients, whereas lesser quality oils can be used for cooking.
Avocados – not only to they make a great addition to many dishes, avocados are hailed as a superfood for their exceptional health properties. The average avocado is 160 calories with 15 grams of healthy fats and 9 grams of carbs, 7 of which are fiber, making it a low carb friendly food with 2 net carbs. They contain no sodium or cholesterol.
Avocados are also incredibly diverse. You can season them (try paprika, cayenne pepper, basaltic vinegar or lemon juice), stuff them, spread them on toast, make guacamole, use them in soups and salads, grill them or blend them into smoothies. You can also use them to make dressings, hummus, pasta sauces, deserts and even things like ice cream and pancakes, since they make a great binding agent.
Garlic – not only is it a popular ingredient for cooking, known for its strong smell and robust flavor, it has been more often used throughout history for its medicinal properties. It has been known to combat sickness, including common cold, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, promote bone health and may even help detoxify heavy metals in the body.
You can sprinkle minced garlic in soups, salads, in homemade guacamole or salsa, or in dishes like pasta and mashed potatoes. You can also add it to things like salad dressings, pasta sauces and hot sauce!
Onions – an accumulation of research has shown onions to be linked to an overall decreased risk in mortality, including risks associated with diabetes, heart disease and various types of cancer. Additionally they are known to promote a healthier complexion, increased energy, enhanced quality of sleep and mood, as well as weight loss.
Yellow onions have a mild flavor and can be caramelized or sautéed with almost anything. Red onions have a peppery, spicy flavor that tastes great in fresh salads and sandwiches, and pairs well with greens equal in flavor such as kale and arugula. White onions are often used in potato or macaroni salads as well as in a large variety of Mexican dishes, such as tacos, ceviche, salsa and enchiladas. Scallions also have a variety of applications, both cooked and raw. You can use them in stir frys, soups, stews, braised dishes and savory entree’s.
Lemons – not only do they make everything, including water, taste better, but they make everything you add them to healthier. Lemons strengthen your immune system, cleanse your digestive tract and are even considered a blood purifier. They are used to treat a long list of ailments including indigestion, high blood pressure and diabetes. You can squeeze lemon on just about anything savory, add them to teas and even use them to make homemade remedies.
Lentils – because of their high protein content, legumes are important part of the vegan diet. 100 grams of lentils contains 116 calories, 9 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, 127% of the daily recommended intake for Vitamin B6 and 70% that of manganese. Rich in folate, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, zinc and copper, plant based foods like lentils are associated with decreased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality.
You can make a flavorful lentil soup by dicing vegetables such as carrots, onion, celery, zucchini, garlic, spices such as thyme, cumin, parsley, bay leaves, mix them with a couple of scoops of lentils, broth, salt and pepper. You can make a hearty stew by slow roasting them with some spices and herbs, along with eggplant, cabbage, rice or potatoes. You can also mix them into salads, use them as a bean dip, meat substitute or bake them into a casserole or stuff them into peppers with vegetables and spices.
Dates – my kids don’t eat processed sugar, so I limit their sweets to natural fruits, one of them being dates. Dates can be used in baking a variety of treats and can be added to sweeten many dishes, while being high in potassium, fiber, antioxidants and are known to promote brain health.
Chickpeas – here is another legume we can’t live without! High in protein and fiber, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are commonly used in Mediterranean dishes. I love to use them in Greek salads and combine them with onion, cucumber and klamata olives. We always have some version of this in the refrigerator to use as a refreshing lunch side.
Fresh fruit – My kids love having fresh fruit for breakfast. I always try to stick up on berries and melons and either serve them with breakfast waffles or use them in parfaits or smoothies.
Leafy greens – we always have salad with our meals. It’s a great way to fill up on nutritious goodness before diving into the main course. I incorporate a variety of greens, including kale, broccoli, Romaine, arugula, Bok Choy, spinach, and mix in fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes and mixed vegetables. My kids love salad!
When it comes to having flavorful ingredients on hand, I have my list of go-to brands. Here are some of my kitchen staples:
Earth Balance Butter Alternative
Earth Balance Peanut Butter
Almond Breeze unsweetened almond milk
Follow Your Heart Veganaise (try Grapeseed oil!)
Tofutti Milk Free Cream Cheese
Tofutti Milk Free Sour Cream
Beyond Meat Beyond Beef Crumbles
Miyokos Creamery Fresh VeganMoz
Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Bread
The Vegetarian Express Seasonings (try Saucy Ranch!)