Eating healthy sounds nice in theory, but the reality is that we usually reach for whatever is closest—which usually happens to be something of the microwaveable or Seamless-deliverable variety. Cue the post-lunch bloat. To make things easier for you, we consulted nutritionist and wellness coach Jessica Sepel, and asked her to simplify our grocery list into only the healthiest essentials. Keep scrolling to see what she said!
When it comes to produce, Sepel says greens like kale, spinach, watercress, rocket lettuce, and cabbage are must-haves. “You can throw them in smoothies or use them for salads, and they’re packed with vitamins and nutrients to get you through the day,” she says. The vitamins and nutrients in question? Think fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and omega-3s.
You can’t sustain yourself on strictly salads and smoothies, which is where hearty veggies like carrots, eggplant, and Brussels sprouts come in. Sepel recommends stocking up and roasting them as healthy, delicious, and easy side dishes.
Think of lemons are your secret detox weapon. “I always have lemons on hand to squeeze into warm water in the morning,” Sepel says. “It helps alkalize and detoxify your system, plus it fires up your metabolism!” It’s also the perfect garnish for salads, poultry, and fish.
Got a sweet tooth? Make sure to buy some fresh berries on your next grocery trip. Sepel says to add blueberries and raspberries to smoothies and oats because they’re low in sugar and packed with antioxidants. Since fresh fruit can get pricey, Sepel says frozen works in a pinch, too.
We all know by now that quinoa is the superfood of grains—it’s gluten-free and an amazing source of protein, so it’ll fill you up instantly. Buy a pack (or two) and make a big batch of quinoa salad Sunday night for yummy lunches all week long. (Here are some other healthy lunch ideas, by the way.)
Sepel swears by gluten-free oats, which she says make for the perfect hearty breakfast. Or, you can grind them into a flour (for you Martha Stewart types) and use them for baking!
And finally, round out the grain section of your grocery list with a healthy pantry staple: brown rice. “It’s inexpensive, easy to prepare, and works with just about any main meal,” Sepel says. “It’s a great gluten-free option, too, which is always a priority for me.”
First up in the protein category? Eggs, obviously. Sepel says thye’re the “perfect package of everything we need to thrive” and the combination of protein and healthy fats makes them unbeatable.
When it comes to healthy sources of protein, fish is another great option. “Snapper, cod, and, of course, salmon are a few of my favorites,” says Sepel. “I also think tinned tuna and wild salmon are good option in a pinch—you just don’t want to overdo it because of the mercury.”
And, of course, we can’t forget our favorite source of lean protein. “I typically keep lean proteins like fish, chicken, and turkey in the house, but I do love a perfectly prepared steak!” Sepel says. “Keep that one on the list for special occasions.”
Lastly, add healthy pantry staples like raw almonds and seeds, nut butters (almond, cashew, and peanuts are Sepel’s favorites), and hummus. “It’s actually very easy to create your own snacks, like bliss balls and energy bars made with nudes, seeds, and dates,” she says. “I always encourage them over the pre-packaged snacks, and they’re so easy to make!” Making your own version will take out the excess sugar, chemicals, and preservatives, and satisfy your crunch (or sweet) craving. Click on over to Sepel’s website for her recipes!
What healthy foods are always on your grocery list? Sound off below!