Happy New Year! We’re expecting lots of great new products to appear in VG's Grocery stores in 2019, but we’re going to start the year with a fresh look at some of the most nutritious foods we have in our stores today.
Balancing the Food Groups: Fruits, Veggies, Meats, and Dairy
Since fruits and veggies should make up half our plates at each meal, the produce department is the perfect place to start shopping. When choosing fruits and veggies, variety is key.
The easiest way to get the best mix of nutrients is to select various different-colored fruits and veggies. If you have a green apple at breakfast, don’t go with a green pear at lunch. Instead, choose blueberries or strawberries. Each different color of fruits and vegetables gives our body different nutrients, so eating a variety of colors is an intuitive way to make sure we get all the nutrients we need.
Next, shop our meat department for an excellent selection of lean meats. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I recommend skinless poultry, beef sirloin and round, and pork tenderloin as well as trimmed pork chops. Depending on the store location, fresh salmon may be available, and this healthy fish is another satisfying and healthy meat option.
For dairy products, try and choose foods like plain yogurt that contain little to no added sugar. When it comes to milk, all types of dairy-based milk contain the same nutrients; the only difference between the various dairy milks is the amount of fat. If you choose to consume dairy foods that are higher in fat, then you should limit your consumption of high-fat meats like bacon.
If you enjoy cheese, then try and choose flavorful cheeses like sharp cheddar since you won’t need to eat as much for your palate to feel satisfied.
Only Shop the Perimeter? Things Aren’t So Simple
You might have heard advice in the past that says you should only shop the perimeter (the outer areas) of the grocery store since that’s where most of the fresh foods live. However, this advice is very misleading since the bakery is usually on the perimeter too, and you can take in lots of empty calories eating some types of baked goods.
Shopping the perimeter isn’t a bad way to start your shopping session, but you don’t have to avoid the aisles to fill your cart with a great mix of healthy options. The aisles contain plenty of nutritious and flavorful foods; you just have to know what to look for.
Here are my some of my favorite healthy foods you can find within the aisles of VG's Grocery stores:
- Peanut butter: An affordable and tasty source of protein.
- Nuts and seeds: A convenient source of protein that’s great for nutrition on the go. Pair nuts and seeds with plain oat cereal and dried fruit for a snack or a quick breakfast.
- Lentils and no-salt-added canned beans: Another affordable source of protein that’s great in casseroles, soups, and stews. The fiber in lentils and beans is heart-healthy and good for your gut.
- Canned tuna and salmon: We should aim to eat fish twice each week, and canned salmon and tuna are convenient options that help you hit this goal.
- Oatmeal: A source of healthy fiber that you can enjoy as a hot breakfast. You can also use oatmeal as an ingredient in place of breadcrumbs or flour. To substitute oatmeal for all-purpose flour, just use half the amount your recipe calls for.
- Whole grains such as farro, brown rice, and quinoa: Quinoa is a seed, but people often use it as they would grains, so we’re including it here. All these grains are great with proteins and in casseroles, soups, and stews. They also provide fiber, which makes them heart-healthy and good for the gut.
- Herbs and spices: A great way to flavor your meals and snacks without adding more salt. The Mrs. Dash line of seasoning blends are some of my favorites, and I also love garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, and allspice in many dishes.
- Dark chocolate: A small piece of dark chocolate with a little peanut butter can satisfy your sweet tooth without adding lots of empty calories.
Lastly, don't forget the frozen aisle. Frozen fruits and veggies are just as nutritious as fresh, and they often cost less. Our VG's Grocery stores also carry a variety of frozen seafood options which count as lean proteins and provide the foundation for a healthy and satisfying meal.
Visit Your Local VG's Grocery Store for Fresh, Nutritious Groceries
As you step into our VG's Grocery stores this year, you can use this guide to choose healthier foods and balance your plate. Be sure to check out our shopping list here and thank you for choosing VG's Grocery.
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.