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20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List

Ditch the takeout menus and say goodbye to unhealthy impulse buys! We all know a healthy diet is key to feeling our best, but navigating the grocery aisles with countless options can be overwhelming. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 must-have healthy foods that should be on every shopping list. This essential selection provides a foundation for creating delicious and balanced meals, week after week. From vibrant fruits and veggies to protein-packed superstars, these ingredients will keep your pantry and fridge stocked with the good stuff you need to power your day. So, grab your reusable bags and get ready to stock up on wholesome goodness!

Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet can often feel challenging, but with the right ingredients in your pantry, it becomes much more manageable. From versatile baking staples to nutrient-packed vegetables and protein-rich options, these essential items can help you create delicious and healthy meals effortlessly.

1. Almond Flour

Almond flour is a versatile low-carb baking ingredient that fits perfectly into diets like keto and paleo. It’s gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for those with gluten intolerances.

Packed with healthy fats and protein, almond flour keeps you satiated longer. Its subtly sweet, nutty flavor enhances both sweet and savory dishes. Use it in:

  • Baking cookies, bread, and muffins
  • Coating meat or fish for a crispy crust

When selecting almond flour, opt for the blanched variety. It has a finer texture and lighter color, which integrates seamlessly into your recipes. Brands like Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour offer high-quality options.

Storage tip: Keep almond flour in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Storing it in the fridge or freezer extends its shelf life and ensures freshness.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - almond flour

2. Avocados

Rich in healthy fats and fiber, avocados are a staple in any health-forward kitchen. This creamy, versatile fruit is a fantastic addition to any diet emphasizing whole, nutrient-dense foods.

Avocados are a powerhouse of monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy and known to reduce bad cholesterol levels1. Their high fiber content helps keep your digestive system running smoothly and keeps you feeling full longer.

Versatile Uses:

  • Whip up guacamole
  • Create a base for toast
  • Blend into smoothies for added creaminess
  • Slice and top with sea salt and olive oil
  • Mash with lime juice for a simple dip

Shopping tip: Look for avocados that yield slightly under gentle pressure. If they’re too firm, they need a few days to ripen at room temperature.

Storage hack: To keep a cut avocado from browning, store it with a squeeze of lemon juice and keep it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - avocados

3. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are packed with essential nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, and various antioxidants, bringing many health benefits to the table2.

Roasting Recipe:

  1. Trim the ends and remove any yellowing leaves
  2. Cut them in half
  3. Toss in high-quality plant-based oil
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  5. Roast at 425°F for about 20-25 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown

Creative uses: Add shredded Brussels sprouts to salads for extra crunch, or sauté them with garlic and shallots for an aromatic dish.

Flavor twist: Try tossing roasted Brussels sprouts in a glaze made from balsamic vinegar and a touch of honey or maple syrup.

Brands like Ocean Mist Farms offer pre-trimmed and washed Brussels sprouts for added convenience. Look for firm and bright green sprouts when shopping—these are the freshest and offer the best flavor.

Storage tip: Store them in a breathable bag in your fridge’s crisper drawer to maintain freshness for up to a week.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - brussels sprouts

4. Cauliflower Crust and Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower is a versatile, low-carb alternative that can revamp your favorite dishes without compromising on flavor or texture. Whether you’re looking to maintain a keto diet or simply want to cut down on carbs, cauliflower crust and cauliflower rice are excellent options.

Homemade Cauliflower Crust Recipe:

  1. Pulse raw cauliflower in a food processor until rice-like consistency
  2. Steam lightly and squeeze out excess water
  3. Mix with cheese, egg, and your favorite seasonings
  4. Spread into a thin crust on a baking sheet
  5. Bake until golden
  6. Add toppings and bake again until bubbly

Cauliflower Rice Uses:

  • Base for stir-fries
  • Foundation for burrito bowls
  • Stuffing for peppers
  • Creamy cauliflower risotto

Convenience tip: Brands like Caulipower and Green Giant offer pre-made cauliflower crusts and riced cauliflower. Keep a bag of pre-riced cauliflower in your freezer for quick and nutritious meals.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - cauliflower

5. Cheese

Cheese is a nutrient-dense snack that fits seamlessly into various healthy eating plans, including keto and low-carb diets. The key with cheese is moderation and selecting high-quality options to reap its full benefits.

Packed with calcium, protein, and essential fatty acids, cheese can be a quick snack or a delicious addition to your meals. It’s incredibly versatile—think about topping off a fresh salad with crumbled feta, adding a slice of sharp cheddar to your apple slices, or melting some mozzarella over roasted veggies.

Top Cheese Choices:

Cheese TypePairing Suggestions
CheddarNuts, apples, whole grain crackers
ParmesanGrated over dishes for a nutty, savory punch
Goat CheeseSalads, spread on whole-grain toast
Cottage CheesePaired with fruits
Blue CheeseCrumbled over salads, topping for steak

Storage tip: Store cheese in a dedicated cheese drawer in your fridge, wrapped in wax paper and then placed in a partially open plastic bag to allow it to breathe.

Lactose sensitivity? Many aged cheeses have lower lactose content. Also, consider cheese made from sheep or goat milk, as they often have a different protein structure than cow’s milk cheese3.

“Cheese can be a star ingredient in dishes like a creamy cauliflower cheese bake, a keto-friendly mini pizza using cheese as the base, or even a fondue for dipping fun.”

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - cheese

6. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is an adaptable ingredient that’s high in protein and low in calories, making it an excellent addition to a variety of healthy eating plans. Rich in essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, and phosphorus, it supports bone health and energy production4.

Creative Uses for Cottage Cheese:

  • Sweet treat: Mix with fresh berries, a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of chia seeds
  • Savory dip: Blend with chopped herbs like dill, chives, and parsley, then add a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Smoothie booster: Add to smoothies for extra creaminess and protein
  • Pancake enhancer: Mix into pancake batter for fluffier pancakes
  • Casserole ingredient: Use in casseroles and stuffed peppers
  • Lasagna layer: Substitute for ricotta in a lighter version of the classic dish

Selection tip: Consider organic or low-fat versions if you’re watching your calorie intake. Brands like Good Culture and Organic Valley offer high-quality options.

Storage advice: Store cottage cheese well-sealed in its original container in the coldest part of your refrigerator. It’s best consumed within a week of opening to ensure optimal flavor and texture.

“Whether you’re looking to boost your protein intake, add versatility to your meal prep, or simply enjoy a tasty, nutritious snack, cottage cheese is a great option to keep on hand.”

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - cottage cheese

7. Cream and Half-and-Half

Cream and half-and-half are versatile dairy products that add richness to various dishes and beverages. They fit well into many eating plans, including keto diets, due to their high fat and low carbohydrate content.

Cream is perfect for both sweet and savory recipes. It can elevate desserts, create velvety pasta sauces, and form the base for creamy soups. Heavy cream, in particular, is ideal for making homemade keto-friendly ice cream.

Half-and-half, a blend of milk and cream, offers a lighter option for those seeking a touch of creaminess without the heaviness of full cream. It’s excellent in coffee and can enhance dishes like casseroles, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes.

Selecting and Storing:

  • Consider organic, grass-fed varieties for a better nutrient profile
  • Brands like Organic Valley and Horizon Organic are widely available options
  • Keep refrigerated and use by the expiration date
  • Once opened, consume within a week for the best taste and quality

Pro Tip: Freeze half-and-half in ice cube trays to cool and enrich iced coffee without diluting it.

Both cream and half-and-half can elevate a wide array of dishes, from salad dressings to sauces, proving that healthy eating can be both satisfying and flavorful.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - cream

8. Eggs

Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and a versatile staple in any kitchen. Rich in high-quality protein, essential fats, vitamins A, D, E, and B12, as well as choline and selenium, they support brain function and immune health1.

Versatile Uses:

  • Scrambled, poached, boiled, or fried
  • Poached eggs with avocado and whole-grain toast
  • Creamy omelet filled with vegetables and lean meats
  • Shakshuka: Middle Eastern dish with poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce
  • Hard-boiled eggs for an easy grab-and-go breakfast or snack

Shopping Tip: Opt for organic and pasture-raised eggs if possible. Brands like Vital Farms and Happy Egg Co. offer high-quality options that ensure humane farming practices.

Storage and Freshness:

  1. Store eggs in their original carton in the coldest part of your refrigerator
  2. Use the water test to determine freshness:
    • Fresh eggs sink and lay flat in water
    • Older eggs stand upright

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast. Try a savory quiche or frittata for lunch or dinner, incorporating leftover meats and vegetables for a delicious and satisfying meal.

“With their nutritional benefits and culinary versatility, eggs deserve a permanent place on your grocery list.”

Experiment with different recipes to find new favorite ways to incorporate this nutrient-dense food into your daily routine.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - eggs

9. Fish

Fish is a nutritional powerhouse, offering high-quality protein, essential nutrients, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Regular consumption can support brain function, skin health, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases2.

Types of Fish and Their Benefits:

TypeExamplesBenefitsCooking Methods
Fatty fishSalmon, mackerel, sardinesRich in omega-3sGrilling, baking, pan-searing
White fishCod, haddock, tilapiaLighter in flavorBaking, steaming
ShellfishShrimp, crab, scallopsUnique nutrientsVarious

Shopping Tip: Opt for wild-caught varieties when possible. Brands like Vital Choice and Wild Planet offer high-quality, sustainably sourced options. Frozen fish can be a convenient alternative.

Storage:

  • Fresh fish: Store on ice or in the coldest part of your fridge, cook within a couple of days
  • Frozen fish: Keep well-sealed and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking

Delicious Ways to Incorporate Fish:

  1. Simple grilled fillet with lemon
  2. Fish curry
  3. Shrimp scampi
  4. Crab salad
  5. Seared scallops with garlic butter

By making fish a regular part of your diet, you’re treating yourself to a delicious, nutrient-packed addition that supports overall health and well-being.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - fish

10. Frozen Green Vegetables

Frozen green vegetables are a convenient and nutritious addition to any meal. They retain their nutritional value well, as they’re typically flash-frozen at peak ripeness, locking in essential vitamins and minerals3.

Popular Options:

  • Spinach: Great for smoothies, soups, or scrambled eggs
  • Broccoli and kale: Perfect for stir-fries, casseroles, or pasta dishes
  • Peas: Versatile for salads, rice dishes, or purees

The long shelf life of frozen vegetables ensures you always have nutritious options on hand. Store them in their original packaging or transfer to airtight containers once opened to prevent freezer burn.

Simple Cooking Methods:

  1. Steam directly from frozen
  2. Sauté in a skillet with olive oil and garlic
  3. Microwave for a quick side dish

Brands like Green Giant and Birds Eye offer high-quality, pre-washed, and prepped options. Look for steamable versions for added convenience.

Frozen vegetables are great for meal prep. Pre-cooked stir-fry mixes can make weekday dinners a breeze. Add a protein and sauce for a quick, balanced meal.

“By keeping frozen green vegetables in your freezer, you ensure constant access to nutritious greens without worrying about spoilage or frequent grocery runs.”

This flexible strategy helps maintain a balanced, nutrient-dense diet with ease.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - green vegetables

11. Grass-Fed Beef

Grass-fed beef offers nutritional benefits compared to conventionally raised beef and supports more sustainable farming practices. It contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), vitamins A and E, and antioxidants1. The taste is often more robust and varied due to the diverse diet of the cattle.

Environmentally, grass-fed beef farming promotes healthy soil through natural grazing cycles and typically has a smaller carbon footprint. Look for certifications like the American Grassfed Association (AGA) or USDA Organic to ensure quality standards.

Cooking Tips:

  • Remember, it’s leaner and can cook more quickly.
  • Use a meat thermometer to achieve the desired doneness.
  • Medium-rare to medium is often ideal for flavor and tenderness

Store properly in the coldest part of your refrigerator or freezer, using within three to six months if frozen.

Incorporating grass-fed beef into your meals can add nutritional benefits and deeper flavors to your dishes, from burgers to steaks and stews.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - grass-fed beef

12. Herbal Tea

Herbal teas are caffeine-free infusions made from fruits, flowers, spices, and herbs. They offer a variety of flavors and potential health benefits. Here are some popular options:

TeaBenefits
Ginger teaIt may help with digestion and congestion
Chamomile teaCalming effects, often consumed before bedtime
Peppermint teaMay help with digestion and congestion
Turmeric teaContains curcumin, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties
Hibiscus teaRich in antioxidants and vitamin C, may support heart health

Brands like Traditional Medicinals, Yogi, and Tazo offer a wide selection of herbal teas. Store your teas in airtight containers away from light, moisture, and strong odors to preserve their potency and flavor.

Adding herbal teas to your routine can be a pleasant way to enjoy the natural benefits of plants while staying hydrated2.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - herbal tea

13. Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices can transform simple ingredients into flavorful meals while providing various health benefits. Here’s a guide to some popular options:

Fresh Herbs:

  • Basil: Great in salads, sauces, and pesto
  • Cilantro: Adds brightness to salsas and stir-fries
  • Thyme: Enhances roasted vegetables and stews

Dried Herbs:

  • Oregano: Essential in Mediterranean dishes and pasta sauces
  • Rosemary: Pairs well with meats and potatoes
  • Sage: Complements stuffing and roasted poultry

Spices:

  • Turmeric: Known for anti-inflammatory properties, used in curries and lattes
  • Cumin: Common in Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisine
  • Cinnamon: Versatile in both sweet and savory dishes

Experiment with blending herbs and spices to create your own combinations. Start with small amounts and adjust to taste.

“Herbs and spices make the meal. They are key in making plant-based meals delicious and satisfying.” – Dr. Michael Greger

Storage Tips:

  • Store fresh herbs in the refrigerator, either in a glass of water or wrapped in a damp paper towel
  • Keep dried herbs and spices in sealed containers away from heat and light

Consider growing fresh herbs at home for a constant supply of ingredients. Brands like Penzeys Spices and McCormick offer quality options for dried herbs and spices.

Incorporating a variety of herbs and spices can make your meals more exciting and nutritious, offering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits alongside enhanced flavor3.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - Herbs and Spices

14. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and other vibrant greens are essential in any health-conscious kitchen. These nutrient-dense vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, playing a vital role in maintaining overall health and vitality.

Kale

Kale is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, along with powerful antioxidants that help fight inflammation and support immune function. Enjoy it raw in salads or smoothies, or sauté it with garlic and olive oil for a quick side dish. For extra crunch, try making kale chips:

  1. Tear kale leaves into bite-sized pieces
  2. Toss with olive oil and your favorite seasoning
  3. Bake until crispy

Cabbage

Cabbage is affordable, versatile, and nutritious. High in fiber, vitamin C, and folate, it supports digestive health and can help reduce inflammation. Add cabbage to your meals by:

  • Making coleslaw
  • Including it in soups and stews
  • Fermenting it to make sauerkraut or kimchi
  • Trying stuffed cabbage rolls filled with lean meats, grains, and spices

Broccoli

Broccoli, rich in vitamins K and C, folate, and fiber, supports bone health and boosts the immune system. Steam or roast broccoli florets as a side dish, or blend them into creamy soups. For a quick option, try this simple recipe:

Quick Roasted Broccoli: Toss broccoli florets with olive oil, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Roast at 425°F until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Other Leafy Greens

Other leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens are also nutritional powerhouses:

  • Spinach: High in iron and calcium, excellent for smoothies, salads, and cooked dishes
  • Swiss chard: Delicious sautéed with olive oil and lemon juice
  • Collard greens: Best when simmered slowly with garlic, onions, and apple cider vinegar

Adding various leafy greens to your diet is simple. They can be incorporated into nearly any meal, from breakfast omelets to refreshing salads. Try mixing different greens for a colorful, nutrient-rich salad with diverse flavors and textures. Add chopped greens to soups, stews, and casseroles for an easy nutritional boost.

Shopping and Storage Tips

  • Look for vibrant, crisp leaves without signs of wilting or yellowing
  • Choose organic options to reduce pesticide exposure
  • Consider brands like Earthbound Farm and Organic Girl for pre-washed, ready-to-use greens
  • Store in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer, wrapped loosely in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag
  • For pre-washed greens, store in original packaging, ensuring the bag is sealed tightly

Including a variety of leafy greens in your diet enhances the nutritional quality of your meals and adds vibrant colors and flavors to your plate. These greens demonstrate that eating healthy can be both delicious and visually appealing, supporting your well-being with every nutrient-rich bite.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - Leafy green

15. Lean Meats

Lean meats, such as chicken and turkey breast, are essential in any health-conscious kitchen. These protein-rich options offer the nutritional benefits of meat without high levels of saturated fats found in other cuts. Lean meats provide quality protein that supports muscle growth, repair, and overall bodily function.

Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is versatile and mild-flavored, making it ideal for numerous meals. It’s low in fat and calories but high in protein, making it an excellent choice for those aiming to lose weight or build muscle. Try these preparation methods:

  • Grill with herbs and spices
  • Bake with a marinade
  • Sauté for quick meals

Pro tip: Marinate chicken breast beforehand for added flavor. Consider garlic lemon, honey mustard, or spicy jerk marinades.

Turkey Breast

Turkey breast is equally nutritious and versatile. Like chicken, it’s low in fat and high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps boost serotonin levels and improve mood.1 Try these cooking methods:

  • Roast with rosemary and thyme for a comforting dinner
  • Grill and slice thinly for homemade deli meat
  • Use in sandwiches and salads for a protein boost

Meal Prep with Lean Meats

Lean meats are flexible for meal prep. They can be cooked in bulk and used throughout the week in various dishes:

MeatPreparationUse in
Chicken BreastBakedSalads, wraps, stir-fries, grain bowls
Turkey BreastRoastedCasseroles, tacos, vegetable soup

Cooking Tips

  • Avoid overcooking to prevent dryness
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure proper internal temperature (165°F for poultry)
  • Brine or marinate to keep meat moist and flavorful
  • Experiment with cooking techniques like sous-vide, roasting, and broiling

Dietary Considerations

Lean meats are excellent for various dietary plans:

  • Keto: High protein, low carb
  • Paleo: Aligns with ancestral eating patterns
  • Low-carb: Provides essential nutrients without added carbs

Choosing Quality Lean Meats

Look for organic, free-range chicken and pasture-raised turkey. These tend to be higher in nutrients and free from added hormones or antibiotics. Brands like Bell & Evans and Mary’s Free-Range Chicken offer reputable options that ensure humane and sustainable farming practices.

Storage Tips

  • Store raw chicken and turkey in the coldest part of your refrigerator
  • Consume within 2-3 days of purchase or freeze for longer storage
  • When freezing, label with the date and use within six months for best quality

With the right preparation and seasoning, chicken and turkey breast can be transformed into delectable dishes that cater to a variety of tastes and preferences. Incorporate these lean protein sources into your weekly meal plans to enjoy versatile, satisfying, and health-boosting meals that keep you on track with your wellness goals.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - Lean meats

16. Low-Carb Snack Bars

Low-carb snack bars are valuable for anyone committed to a keto or low-carb lifestyle, especially when hunger strikes and you need a quick, on-the-go option. These convenient snacks help you stay on track, providing a balance of protein, healthy fats, and minimal carbs to keep your energy levels stable and maintain ketosis.2

Advantages of Low-Carb Snack Bars

  • Portability: Easy to store in purse, gym bag, desk drawer, or car
  • Convenience: Perfect for busy professionals, students, or anyone with a hectic schedule
  • Nutritional Balance: Bridge the gap between meals without compromising dietary goals

Selecting the Right Bar

When choosing a low-carb snack bar, pay attention to these factors:

  • High in protein and healthy fats
  • Low in net carbs
  • Sweetened with sugar alcohols like erythritol or stevia
  • High fiber content for digestive health

Popular brands: Quest, KIND, Bulletproof

Flavor Varieties

Low-carb snack bars come in a range of flavors to suit different preferences:

Sweet OptionsSavory Options
Chocolate chip cookie doughMediterranean herb
Peanut butterRoasted nut
Vanilla almondSea salt and vinegar

Storage and Handling

  • Store in a cool, dry place
  • Keep individually wrapped for freshness
  • Use an insulated lunch bag for longer outings or travel

Incorporating into Your Diet

Low-carb snack bars can be more than just a standalone snack:

  • Pair with fruit or raw veggies for a balanced snack
  • Crumble over yogurt or smoothie bowls for added crunch
  • Use as pre- or post-workout fuel

Dietary Considerations

Many low-carb snack bars cater to specific dietary needs:

  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Vegan

Allergen-friendly brands: No Cow, RXBAR

“By keeping low-carb snack bars handy, you’re setting yourself up for success in maintaining your keto lifestyle. Stock up on your favorite varieties and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with always having a delicious, nutritious snack within reach.”

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - snack bars

17. Nuts

Nuts are a nutritious snack packed with healthy fats and nutrients, making them ideal for keto or low-carb diets. Almonds, pecans, and other varieties offer a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you satisfied.

Almonds are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. They’re versatile and can be enjoyed raw, roasted, or slivered. Use them as toppings for salads, yogurt, or smoothies. Almond flour is great for low-carb baking.

Pecans are high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. They’re delicious roasted with sea salt, added to stir-fries, or used in low-carb desserts like keto pecan pie.

Walnuts contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Try them in oatmeal or crushed over salads.

Macadamia nuts are prized in keto diets for their high fat and low carb content. They make a great snack and can be used to create nut butter or in desserts.

Storage and Selection Tips:

  • Store nuts in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer to keep them fresh.
  • Choose raw or dry-roasted varieties without added oils, sugars, or salt.

Nuts are versatile – use nut flours for baking, add nut butters to smoothies, or create toppings for various dishes. They’re a convenient and tasty way to boost your nutrition while adhering to a health-conscious diet.1

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - nuts

18. Nut Butter

Almond butter and no-sugar-added peanut butter are nutritious, low-carb options packed with healthy fats and protein. They’re versatile additions to a balanced diet.

Almond Butter:

  • Rich in vitamin E, magnesium, and monounsaturated fats
  • Enjoy spread on celery sticks, swirled into oatmeal, or on apple slices with cinnamon

No-sugar-added Peanut Butter:

  • Offers protein, niacin, and folate
  • Spread on whole grain toast, mix into Greek yogurt, or blend with cocoa powder and vanilla for a healthy dessert

These nut butters can elevate your cooking. Use them in sauces, smoothies, or as a fat source in baking recipes. Choose high-quality, no-sugar-added options to avoid unnecessary carbs and additives. Brands like Justin’s, MaraNatha, Smucker’s Natural, and Teddie offer excellent choices.

“Nut butters are a delicious way to incorporate healthy fats and proteins into your diet, supporting heart health and providing sustained energy.”2

Storage tip: Store nut butters in a cool, dark place and refrigerate after opening to maintain freshness. Stir well before use to combine oils and solids.

Incorporating these nut butters into your diet is an easy way to enjoy nutritious, low-carb snacking while adding flavor and versatility to your meals.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - nut butters

19. Peppers

Peppers are colorful, flavorful additions to meals that are rich in vitamins and perfect for low-carb diets. They come in various colors, flavors, and heat levels, adding visual appeal and nutrients to dishes.

Types of Peppers:

Pepper TypeCharacteristicsUses
Bell PeppersMild, sweet, high in vitamins C and ARaw in salads, stuffed, roasted
JalapeñosMedium heat, contains capsaicinSalsas, tacos
PoblanosMild to medium heatChile rellenos, stews
HabanerosVery hotSpicy sauces (use sparingly)

Bell peppers (red, green, yellow, and orange) are mild and sweet, high in vitamins C and A, and antioxidants. They support immune function, skin health, and iron absorption.3

Chili peppers like jalapeños, poblanos, and habaneros add heat and contain capsaicin, known for pain-relief and metabolism-boosting properties.

Cooking Ideas:

  • Sauté peppers as a base for soups
  • Grill them as a side dish
  • Char them for smoky salsa
  • Pickle peppers for tangy sandwich toppings
  • Stuff mini sweet peppers with cheese or hummus for snacking

Shopping and storage tip: Choose firm, brightly colored peppers without blemishes. Store in the refrigerator crisper drawer for up to two weeks, or chop and freeze for longer storage.

Growing your own peppers can be rewarding, allowing you to pick them at peak ripeness for the best flavor and nutrition.

Incorporating peppers into your meals adds color, crunch, and numerous health benefits. From sweet bell peppers to spicy chilis, there’s a pepper for every taste, making healthy eating both delicious and exciting.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - peppers

Photo by jannerboy62 on Unsplash

20. Plant-Based Oils

Plant-based oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are valuable in the kitchen, serving as both flavor enhancers and sources of healthy fats. These versatile oils fit well into low-carb and keto diets while providing numerous health benefits.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also packed with antioxidants like polyphenols, contributing to heart health and reducing oxidative stress.1 Its peppery, fruity flavor can enhance everything from salads to roasted vegetables.

Use EVOO to:

  • Drizzle over salads
  • Create flavorful vinaigrettes
  • Light sautéing

When selecting EVOO, opt for cold-pressed options with a deep green color and a robust aroma. Brands like California Olive Ranch and Colavita offer high-quality options.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Its mild flavor and high smoke point make it versatile, suitable for high-heat cooking and delicate dressings. Use it for searing, roasting, or making homemade mayonnaise.

Brands like Primal Kitchen and Chosen Foods provide quality avocado oil options.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are quickly metabolized by the body for energy. This makes it popular in the keto community.2 Its subtle coconut flavor can add an interesting twist to dishes.

Uses for coconut oil:

  • Baking
  • Sautéing vegetables
  • Adding to smoothies
  • Enhancing morning coffee

When purchasing coconut oil, choose unrefined, cold-pressed options like those from Nutiva or Dr. Bronner’s to ensure you’re getting the purest form.

Pro Tip: Store all plant-based oils in a cool, dark place to preserve their quality. For oils that solidify at lower temperatures, like coconut oil, a gentle warm water bath will quickly return them to their liquid state.

Incorporating these plant-based oils into your diet can enhance both the flavor and nutritional profile of your meals. Whether you’re dressing a salad, searing fish, or making a sauce, these oils can help transform your culinary creations while supporting a healthy lifestyle.

20 Must-Have Healthy Foods for Every Shopping List - pant-based oils

In conclusion, this list of 20 must-have healthy foods equips you to build a strong foundation for nutritious and flavorful meals. By incorporating these staples into your grocery trips, you’ll be well on your way to fueling your body with the good stuff! Remember, this is just a starting point – feel free to get creative and explore new healthy options to keep your diet exciting. Happy shopping and happy eating!

Sources:

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