By Nicole Cerillo, RD, LDN
Integrative Medicine Nutritionist
Many of my patients share with me that grocery shopping is often too time consuming and a chore for them. As I shared with the group at Dean’s Natural Market last week, my hope was that the tour would spark a new passion and joy for grocery shopping and that it would become something you will eventually look forward to. Once we nourish our body with healthy and nutrient-dense foods—your excitement for shopping for those foods will flourish!
For those of you who were there last week (or for those of you who missed it) I went through the store and identified over 40 different foods that I would definitely put in my cart while I grocery shop. Here are just a few of these items and my top 10 items I would highly recommend you try and add to your own grocery cart the next time you shop at Dean’s.
1. Dean’s Organic Non-GMO Produce
This is definitely the most important area to load up on. During our tour I discussed conventional vs. organic produce. Dean’s produce is all organic and non- GMO, which means that there are no chemicals, hormones, and genetic engineering involved. Aim for 6 servings of colorful vegetables per day for micronutrients and 2-3 servings of colorful fruits per day to increase antioxidants. Try to eat seasonal as much as possible when on a budget and don’t be afraid to experiment with vegetables! You can add cauliflower to your smoothie or as a base for a pizza crust. You can try to spiralize zucchini or sweet potatoes into noodles or make homemade kale chips to snack on. Vary your cooking methods and alternate between eating vegetables raw and lightly cooked or steamed to vary nutrient quality in different fruits and vegetables.
2. Nut Milk
Nut milks provide a great way to experiment with a dairy-free plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk. Many people need to avoid dairy due to food intolerance/sensitivities, as part of an autoimmune dietary protocol, or to reduce inflammation in the body. Many of these nut milks actually include the same (or sometimes even more) amount of calcium as regular cow’s milk. Try varying nut milk and look for brands with the least amount of added gums and preservatives. Plenty of options are available such as coconut, almond, macadamia, cashew, hemp, and flax milk. My personal favorite is unsweetened vanilla cashew milk due to its creamy and light consistency.
3. Redhill Farms Goat Milk Yogurt
Most milk, cheese, and yogurt contains A1 casein, which is the protein that is difficult for many people to digest and breakdown. This is also the component to dairy that makes it inflammatory for many individuals. The unique properties of goat milk make it an amazing swap for cow’s milk dairy products because it is lactose free and also contains a unique anti-inflammatory casein that is in the A2 form. This means that those who cannot tolerate dairy can tolerate goat milk products very well and it is also extremely beneficial for gut health as it repopulates and balances healthy gut microbiome and flora. Many goat milk products exist such as cheeses, milk, yogurt, and kefir. If you are new to goat milk I would suggest starting with goat milk yogurt first and experimenting with the flavor and consistency by adding your own fruit, nuts, and a small amount of honey or maple syrup to sweeten.
4. Organic Valley Ghee Butter
Ghee has been used for centuries and as a healing and functional food remedy in India as part of Ayurveda medicine. Ghee is clarified butter from a cow where all milk solids are removed and strained after heating. Ghee is shelf-stable, lactose and casein-free, and can be used as a high-heat cooking method that will not degrade and turn rancid in the body from the heat. Being high in medium chain triglycerides, it can improve metabolism and mental clarity, increase energy, and can act as an anti-inflammatory in the body.
5. Farmhouse Culture Sauerkraut
The gut is considered the brain and nucleus of our body. If our gut is healthy and balanced, our bodies are also balanced and working at its best. Sauerkraut is great for the gut because it balances gut flora and contains natural fermented probiotics that improves immunity, eliminates toxins from the GI tract, reduces inflammation, and helps in the absorption of other foods. I suggest adding it to your egg scramble, on an organic turkey burger, or just plain right out of the bag.
6. Dean’s Guacamole with Sprouted Mary’s Gone Crackers
If you haven’t gotten around to trying Dean’s guacamole, I highly suggest you run (not walk) to your nearest location to give this a try! The fresh avocados are high in folate and healthy fats the body needs to function at its best. I love pairing the guacamole with baby carrots, a coconut or avocado oil chip with minimal ingredients, or with Mary’s Gone Crackers. They are gluten-free and nutrient dense with a great combination of sprouted seeds and whole grains.
7. Rebbl Elixir Drinks
These premade non-dairy bottled drinks are not only delicious, but they are made with concentrated superfoods and adaptogens that are healing and energizing for the body. Some varieties include Matcha which is great for healthy energy and metabolism, Reishi which is a mushroom that promotes healing and boosts the immune system, Ashwaganda which is an adaptogen herb that helps our body cope with stress and strengthens the adrenal glands, Maca blend which combines high antioxidants and promotes hormone balance, and my personal favorite is the “Golden Milk” blend which is made with activated turmeric combined with black pepper which is one of nature’s strongest anti-inflammatory remedies.
8. Simple Mills Baking Mixes
If you are looking for a paleo, Whole 30, clean, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free baking mix look no further! Simple Mills keeps it as simple as possible with their ingredients and are so easy to make into delicious cakes or cupcakes, almond flour cookies, coconut flour pizza crusts, and banana/pumpkin muffins or loafs. This brand is great when you want to indulge in a little treat but still stay away from processed foods and refined sugar.
9. Dark Chocolate
Yes, you heard correctly—dark chocolate is in my cart! Studies prove that 1oz of dark chocolate per day is extremely beneficial. It can reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure, promotes healthy weight management and even supports weight loss, increases antioxidants and improves cardiovascular health, improves cognitive function and boosts mood, is high in minerals, and the list can go on and on. The key is to first make sure you do not have a chocolate sensitivity or intolerance and then always choose a dark chocolate that is around 80-85% cocoa content with the rest of the ingredients being very pure and minimal. Dean’s has a great selection of many of these brands and options available.
10. Local or Raw Manuka Honey
Honey is nature’s best (and oldest) sweetener. The healing properties of honey are tremendous and local honey can even help you improve your seasonal allergies if you start taking a few teaspoons each day starting in the winter. This will build your immune system with the allergens that are in your local area and you should be able to manage your seasonal allergies much easier in the spring and summer when allergen season ramps up.
Missed this event or interested in doing a tour? Dean’s will be hosting another night full of grocery shopping and food facts on Wednesday April 5th at 6:00 p.m in Ocean. This event is free but registration is required. Please call 1800-DOCTORS® to register. We look forward to shopping with you!