I hope you enjoyed part one of tips to navigating the supermarket! My goal is to make the supermarket as enjoyable for you as it is for me! Keep reading for more tips on navigating the supermarket and how to choose the best products for you.
Steps to navigating the supermarket (Part 2)
- Cereals: When choosing a cereal to try the first thing I recommend doing is checking the ingredients list. Don’t let front label claims fool you. It is important to always read the ingredients list and the nutrition facts. Not only do we want to look for a short and easy to understand ingredients list, but look for whole grains as the first ingredient. This could be anything from whole wheat, oats, or brown rice. Look for cereals with at least 3g of fiber, and less than 10g of sugar per cup (with that being said its important to check what the serving size listed on the label is).
- Frozen foods: Frozen fruits and vegetables are great to keep in your freezer. They are convenient when you are making a meal and realize you don’t have vegetables to go with it! I find myself adding frozen broccoli and spinach to omelets and soups, and frozen bananas and berries to yogurt. I also enjoy frozen fruit on its own as a snack. There is something about frozen fruit that has an extra sweetness to it! Just make sure that there are no added sauces or ingredients on the label! Other great frozen foods include whole grain frozen waffles and vegetable burgers. One of my weekday go to lunches is a vegetable burger on whole grain toast with ¼ – ½ of an avocado and hummus. Similar to cereal, check labels for short ingredient lists and ingredients you recognize! Frozen foods are often processed and high in salt so it is important to read the ingredient list and avoid these products! Remember the 5/20 rule from steps to navigating the supermarket (part 1) ?
- Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes: Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes are all pretty much nutrition powerhouses and something I always like to keep on hand. I recommend purchasing unsalted and raw nuts and seeds. Experiment with all nut and seed varieties and add them to your yogurt, oatmeal, cereal and salad. When it comes to beans and legumes, it is ok to buy them in the can if you don’t have the time to buy them dried. Canned beans and legumes are higher in sodium than dried, so I recommend purchasing the no salt added varieties, and rinsing them prior to use to help decrease the sodium. Beans can make an easy addition to pastas, salads and soups.
- Oils: It is easy to get overwhelmed in the oil aisle. Oils are a good source of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. While some may use the same oils for everything, different oils have different smoke points and different flavors. It is important to consider the oils flavor and smoke point when deciding which to use. The smoke point is the point at which the oil will begin to smoke and breakdown. If the oil starts to smoke and breakdown while cooking it could impact the taste of your meal. Oils with medium to high smoke points can be used for stir frying, sautéing and frying. Some of these include avocado oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil and vegetable oil. My favorites to use include sesame oil when I am making Asian themed dishes, and coconut oil when I want to add some extra flavor. Coconut oil is a solid at room temperature, and therefore is a good cooking medium for vegetarians and vegans to cook with in place of butter and shortening. I will often sauté and roast with extra virgin olive oil as long as I am not using too high of heat. Oils with low smoke points include flaxseed and walnut oils, which are better for salad dressings and cold marinades.
- Sugars: While sugar is sugar, I do recommend avoiding all artificial sweeteners and choosing more natural varieties. Regardless of how natural a sugar is, it is still sugar and I recommend using any added sugars sparingly. When purchasing sugars in the supermarket, try honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and regular plain old white sugar. While I am an advocate of using fruit purees in place of sugar for baking and to sweeten both my oatmeal and yogurt I understand that some may like things sweeter. If you are looking to sweeten your oatmeal, yogurt or salad dressing, I recommend trying maple syrup or honey (with maple syrup the only ingredient on the label should be maple syrup). Coconut palm sugar is another options to try. It is made from the sap of the coconut palm, and tastes similar to brown sugar. Structurally coconut palm sugar is the same as white sugar and can be used as a 1:1 substitute to white sugar in baking. Some research has shown that it is lower on the glycemic index than white sugar. Some may be surprised to hear that I recommend white sugar. However, I am a big advocate of the less processed the better. Too much added sugar not only adds calories, but also contributes to increased triglycerides and cholesterol, which is why it is always important to use sugar in moderation.
Happy food shopping!