They say that diet is responsible for 80% of our health. You can work out all the time but if you don’t modify your diet to eat the foods that supply your body with essential building blocks, your overall health, energy, and weight will never improve.
What follows is my energy-boosting, fat-burning grocery guide full of the foods that keep me feeling my best. Some of the fresh produce will change from season to season but I’ve included the basics.
Frozen foods are great because you don’t have to worry about them going bad.
Fruits and vegetables are always top on my grocery list as they supply needed nutrients and antioxidants to keep our immune system in tip-top shape. Organic is great if you can, but don’t stress too much about it. If I’m going to eat something like lettuce or unpeeled like an apple, I try to always buy organic. Sometimes I don’t though! It depends on what is available and how my grocery budget is for that week.
Here are my favorite go-to’s and how I use them:
- Apples (small ones – in smoothies or an on-the-go snack)
- Asparagus (roasted or grilled)
- Avocado (healthy fat – for guacamole, salads, smoothies)
- Bananas (1/2 a fresh or frozen one in smoothies or with nut butter)
- Bell peppers (adds color to salads)
- Berries (fresh or frozen for smoothies and yogurt)
- Bok choy (sautéed with sesame oil)
- Broccoli (roasted or steamed)
- Brussel sprouts (roasted, or shredded and sautéed)
- Cabbage (shredded and sautéed)
- Carrots (crunchy, on-the-go snack)
- Cauliflower (mashed or riced)
- Celery (for dips and nut butters)
- Collard greens (for making breakfast sauté)
- Cucumbers (for salads)
- Garlic (adds flavor to sautés)
- Kale (salads or breakfast sauté)
- Lemons (add to sparkling water, use for salad dressings)
- Lettuce (all varieties for salads and wraps)
- Melons (for something sweet at breakfast)
- Onions (chopped and sautéed as a base for most meals)
- Parsley (healthy garnish)
- Spinach (easy, sautéed side dish)
- Sprouts (in salads)
- Tomatoes (adds color to salads)
- Winter squash (“spiralize” or cubed and roasted)
- Zucchini (“spiralize” for lower carb “noodles”)
Protein supplies essential amino acids that our body needs to repair itself and stay well. Without enough protein, our body has a hard time staying at a healthy weight. It’s best to distribute our protein intake throughout the day. I aim for 20-25 grams of protein each at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That’s about 4 oz of protein at each meal. Your amount may be different. Listen to your body for what it needs.
- Beef (preferably grass-fed – grilled, crockpot, or hamburgers)
- Chicken (preferably pastured – roasted whole, crockpot, or grilled)
- Eggs (preferably pastured – scrambled, hardboiled, in baked goods)
- Garbanzo beans (roasted for snacks and salads)
- Pea protein powder (plant-based protein for smoothies)
- Salmon and other wild-caught fish (grilled or broiled)
- Shrimp (preferably wild-caught – sautéed with garlic)
- Tuna (canned, preferably sustainably-caught – on salads, in wraps)
- Turkey (preferably wild-caught – roasted)
Here is where the sky is the limit. There are many health benefits to using fresh herbs but dried herbs are just as useful. Don’t be afraid to try new flavors. Spice up your cooking and your tastebuds will thank you!
- Cinnamon (great in coffee, baked goods, smoothies)
- Garlic powder (adds flavor to savory dishes)
- Honey (for sweetening tea, baked goods)
- Onion powder (adds flavor to savory dishes)
- Salt (sea salt or Himalayan have many health properties)
- Stevia (adds natural sweetness to smoothies and non-dairy milks)
- Thyme (great on roasted poultry)
- Turmeric (antioxidant properties)
- Vanilla (for baked goods)
Water is best but there are plenty of other beverages that add variety and keep us hydrated. A few of my favorites:
- Broths (for making quick soups or warmed in a mug to drink)
- Cranberry juice (unsweet, add to sparkling water, boosts urinary tract health)
- Kefir (drinkable yogurt – high in sugar so limit serving size)
- Milk (preferably organic – either dairy or non dairy, unsweet – use stevia)
- Sparkling water (add lemon and stevia if switching from soda)
- Teas (hot or cold – green, herbals, black – so many to choose from)
These items are either needed for cooking, add a nutritional boost to what you’re baking, or make a great snack.
- Almond flour (lower glycemic flour for healthier baked goods)
- Cocoa powder (unsweet, to use in smoothies and baked goods)
- Coconut oil (great for sautéing)
- Coconut wraps (lower glycemic, for wraps)
- Coconut aminos (great “soy sauce” alternative)
- Garbanzo flour (lower glycemic flour for healthier baked goods)
- Ghee (cooking oil made from clarified butter – usually tolerable if suffer from dairy issues)
- Greens powders (add to smoothies for high antioxidant boost)
- Kind Bars (low sugar bars for on-the-go snacking)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin, walnut, sunflower, etc. – great roasted and as a snack)
- Olive oil (great for salad dressing and light sautéing)
- Olives (great for a snack)
- Mary’s Gone Crackers (crunched up, makes a great salad topper)
- Shirataki noodles (lower glycemic noodle option)
- SnapPea Crisps (makes a great snack and crunchy salad topper)
- Tomato sauce (for crockpot meals, spaghetti)
- Vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, red wine, etc. for salad dressings)
This list could be far longer but these are the foods that I use most often to keep myself and my family healthy. I hope this information provides you with some new ideas for cooking more at home to boost your energy and burn more fat.
I’m passionate about providing you with meaningful support so let me know what you think!
What About You?
How many of these do you already buy?
What sounds new or like something you’d want to try?
-Caitlin Russell MS, RDN, CLT