On-the-Go Grocery Shopping Smarts

March 10, 2011
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

80402962My tips for healthy choices aisle by aisle.

Let’s go shopping! Food shopping, that is. Like many of you, “fast food” is often all my busy schedule allows these days—but I don’t mean the kind that involves a drive through window. Today, I’m sharing with you what ends up in my cart when I head to my local health food store in search of quick snacks and ingredients for simple meals that are packed with nutrition.

Since it’s never a good idea to shop when you’re hungry—all the harder to resist temptation—I would first whip up a Fat Flush Body Protein smoothie with 1 scoop of Body Protein, 1 cup mixed berries, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil, and 1 scoop of chia seeds. That will keep us from nibbling and noshing our way down the aisles for a good four hours.

Now, let the shopping begin!

Here’s the place to go nuts. Nuts and seeds are an awesome combination of protein, fiber, and the right kind of fats that will balance blood sugar to keep you from overeating between meals. I recommend that you choose snacks—like nuts and seeds—that are no more than 200 calories per serving. Believe it or not, that will still leave you with lots of healthy choices. For example, for 200 calories you can devour 2 tablespoons almond butter on a slice of celery and feel satisfied! There are even some great organic chips in this category, so you won’t feel deprived.

What’s in my cart:
Almonds, walnuts, macadamias, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, nut and seed butters (Arrowhead Mills, Maranatha, and Woodstock Farms), Arico Cassava Chips (Sea Salt Mist), and Garden of Eatin’ Corn Chips (Blue, Yellow, and Red).

Even healthy granola these days is loaded with sugar, even though it may appear on the label as evaporated cane juice. Always look for a whole grain to lead the ingredient pack or even some type of bran—be it rice, oat, corn, or wheat. Aim for around 5 grams of fiber and about 200 calories per serving.

What’s in my cart:
Arrowhead Mills Organic Oat Bran Flakes, Arrowhead Mills Breadshop Granolas (Strawberry and Cream, Raspberry and Cream, Triple Berry Crunch, and Crunchy Oat Bran with Almonds and Raisins), Barbara’s Original Shredded Oats, Barbara’s Multigrain Shredded Spoonfuls, and Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice.

Breads, Crackers, Tortillas, and Wraps
Look for whole grain or sprouted, flourless—with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.

What’s in my cart:
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Tortillas, Fat Flush Tortillas, Blue Diamond Natural Nut-Thins (Almond, Hazlenut, and Pecan), Bran-A-Crisp, and Kavli, Wasa, or Ryvita Multi-Grain All Natural Crispbread.

Go for the whole grain—always. The good news here is that there are many varieties of brown rice pasta that are just as tasty as the gluten-containing wheat ones. So, if you’re trying to cut down on wheat or have gluten-sensitive family members or guests, nobody will feel left out. There are also quinoa, kamut, corn, and spelt varieties now available.

What’s in my cart:
Tinkyáda Pasta Joy Ready Brown Rice Penne Pasta, Tinkyáda Pasta Joy Ready Brown Rice Pasta Spirals, and Tinkyáda Pasta Joy Brown Rice Vegetable Spiral Pasta.

Frozen Fruits
I always keep a stash of frozen fruits in my freezer. I find that many times the frozen fruits—especially berries—make a better smoothie than the fresh, and do not tend to get moldy.

What’s in my cart:
Cascadian Farms or Stahbush Island Farm (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, sliced peaches, cherries, mixed berries, blackberries, boysenberries, cranberries, and rhubarb).

I purchase my fresh produce—like organic cauliflower, celery, greens (like kale and collards), sprouts, and zucchini—at my local farmers market to support sustainable agriculture. When it comes to my frozen veggies, I keep a wide variety of colorful, organic varieties in my freezer. The higher the pigment, the higher they are in health enhancing phytonutrients. It’s especially important to look for organic when you’re buying peppers, potatoes, and spinach because—according to the Environmental Working Group—these veggies are sprayed more than most other vegetables.

What’s in my cart:
Cascadian Farms (garden peas, broccoli cuts, cut green beans, mixed vegetables, sweet corn, broccoli florets, peas and carrots, squash, and edamame) and Woodstock Farms (cut spinach and shitake mushrooms).

Tomato Sauce
I don’t have the time to make my own sauce anymore, so I’ve come to rely on one brand and one brand only—and that is Muir Glen Organic. I like this brand the best because per serving it generally contains only 350 milligrams of sodium and 4 grams or less of sugar.

What’s in my cart:
Cabernet Marinara, Chunky Tomato & Herb, Fire Roasted, Garden Vegetable, Garlic Roasted, Italian Herb, Portabello Mushroom, and Tomato Basil.

Fats and Oils
I just rely on olive oil and macadamia oil for dressings, sauces, stir-frying, and marinades. Toasted sesame oil adds a touch of flavor to a stir-fry, and coconut oil is great for baking.

What’s in my cart:
Spectrum Naturals Olive Oil (high virgin), Species Nutrition Macadamia Nut Oil, Spectrum Toasted Sesame Oil, and Nutiva Coconut Oil.

Oh, and one more thing for special occasions and holidays. Since we all love to entertain family and friends, keep Jennies’ Coconut Macaroons on hand, as well as Sunspire Unsweetened Carob Chips for a sweet treat that satisfies the healthy sweet tooth.

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Amy

    Look at local farmer’s markets for tomato sauce without sugar. Here in Chicago i found Tomato Mountain–both their sauce and soup are organic and sugarless. Three cases will keep me supplied with both until tomatoes are ripe again mid-summer.

  2. Mika

    Great tips! Itd be interesting to see something on freeganism too. 🙂

  3. mouchette

    Great lists thank you! I laughed cause I always have Jennies Coconut macaroons stashed. Ever since reading about the lining of cans leaking into tomatoes I buy organic strained tomatoes in jars. There are a few brands, some from Italy, and they have nothing added. Also usually make for a couple servings, when cooking for 2. 🙂

  4. Melissa

    I use coconut oil instead of olive oil for stir frying because of it’s higher smoking point. It also tastes great! I love it melted over veggies, too…. tastes better than butter. And it’s fantastic to fry eggs in.

  5. Administrator

    We love to use macadamia nut oil, too — and have just discovered naturally sun-dried tomatoes.


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