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Simple Cooking 101: Healthy Shopping Tips

Simple Cooking 101: Healthy Shopping Tips

As a busy doctor, I can understand how eating healthy might feel like a Herculean demand and become short shift among the numerous demands in your life. While eating healthy  does require a little planning, it’s easier than you might imagine. I find when I invest that time, it pays off because I eat well and stay healthy.

Following are my favorite strategies for making grocery shopping as easy as possible. Just like healthy cooking, healthy shopping doesn’t have to be a chore if you are armed with the right information and the right lists!

FRESH SHOPPING

  • Buy as much organic as you can. If price or availability is an issue, use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists for guidance. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website and be sure to download their Smartphone app to make shopping easier.
  • Shop seasonally for the best prices and availability.
  • Shop at farmers’ markets
  • Watch for sales and use coupons
  • Most produce will last the better part of a week in your refrigerator when stored properly; here are some tips:
    1. Onions, shallots, and garlic do well in a cool pantry and are easy to keep on hand.
    2. Buy fresh herbs or try growing your own to save money and have instant availability.
    3. Packaged greens save time. When buying packaged greens, be sure to read labels for expiration dates and choose wisely.  You can also save a bit of money by buying heads of greens; washing, drying and chopping into bite-sized pieces; and storing in resealable bags in your fridge.
    4. I love avocados for their healthy fat, creamy flavor and buttery texture. You can purchase hard ones and let them ripen on the countertop for a few days, or slightly soft ones that will yield to gentle pressure and be ready to eat. Stay away from overripe avocados that are super springy to the touch, as these are not as fresh and will tend to go bad faster.

PANTRY SHOPPING

With these healthy staples in your pantry, you’ll be amazed at the delicious and nutritious dishes you can create.

  • Oils and fats: Extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and extra-virgin coconut oil will be your mainstays. Grass-fed clarified butter or ghee can also be used.
  • Nuts: Raw almonds, cashews, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, macadamias (but avoid peanuts).
  • Seeds: Hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flaxseeds.
  • Nut and seed butters: Pure cashew, almond, sunflower and coconut butter.
  • Flours: Blanched almond flour and coconut flour.
  • Milks: Almond, coconut (unsweetened and no additives). Or make your own milks, which is the best option. For canned coconut milk, my favorite brand is Native Forest.
  • Broths: Low- or no-sodium frozen or boxed vegetable, beef and chicken broth (homemade is best, but if you buy, be sure to read labels for additives).
  • Dried herbs and spices:
    1. Sea salt, ground black pepper and garlic. White pepper is nice,
    too, when you don’t want black specks, although the flavor is a bit different from that of black pepper.
    2. Dried herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, Italian blends and herbes de Provence.
    3. Spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice, ancho chili powder, chipotle, paprika, smoked paprika, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, ginger (fresh, dried, and organic jarred puree; refrigerate fresh and jarred puree after opening), saffron.
  • Condiments:
    1. Dijon mustard (look for pure mustard without sugar or chemicals)
    2. Capers
    3. Low-sodium tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
    4. Pitted Greek olives
    5. Nutritional yeast (while it sounds strange, it is very good for you and has a delicious, cheesy taste)
    6. Vinegar: balsamic, unseasoned rice, red wine, white wine, sherry and champagne

FREEZER ITEMS

  • Frozen berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, unsweetened acai berry puree
  • Frozen organic vegetables (if fresh are out of season or unavailable locally)
  • Frozen shrimp and other seafood – see the Natural Resources Defense Council website or low-mercury fish, and the CleanFish website for sustainably raised or harvested fish sources.
  • Frozen grass-fed meats (beef, bison, lamb), organic chicken, turkey and clean fish.
  • Preparation is the key to success and in the end, it makes life easier. With these tips, your kitchen will become a place that sets you up for success in no time!

Here are some simple recipes that are easy to prepare with limited time:

Red Cabbage Salad

Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes Over Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Salad

Mark Hyman MD is the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.