‘Clean eating’ is a simple concept: consume food in its purest state, or as close as possible to the way nature delivered it. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t a ‘diet’ at all, but instead a lifestyle choice. It may vary from person to person, but for me it is one that contains unprocessed, whole, mostly plant-based foods which are void of chemicals and refined or processed ingredients. As a mother of two, it’s a top priority to provide my children with homemade meals as often as possible. Including healthy pantry items on my weekly grocery list makes it easy for me to prepare wholesome recipes, instead of resorting to take-out or other unhealthy options.
With these 18 clean eating grocery staples you can rest assured that natural, wholesome products will always be at your fingertips, and healthy, homemade meals can easily be integrated into your diet:
1. Fresh produce
One of the easiest ways to eat healthily to incorporate fresh fruits and veggies on a daily basis. Buy fresh and local whenever possible and choose frozen produce when out of season. Set aside time during the weekend to chop veggies (or fruits) to reduce prep time for weeknight meals.
2. Dried/canned beans and lentils
They are a good source of vegetarian protein and are great for last-minute meals. Add pulses to soups and stews, mix in a rice bowl, make dips, or use them in veggie burgers. Be sure to choose the no-salt variety to avoid extra hidden sodium in your meals.
3. Whole grains
Quinoa, millet, brown rice, and other unrefined grains are high in fiber and have a nutty, rich flavour. Most can be cooked ahead of time and tossed into soups, salads, and more.
4. Nut-based flours
They’re excellent gluten-free options for baked goods and other low-carb treats. Nut flours, such as almond or walnut have a rich, buttery flavour and are packed with plant protein.
5. Lean proteins
White fish, organic chicken and turkey are low-fat sources of protein and contain less saturated fats than red meats.
6. Raw nuts
Consumed in their most natural state, raw nuts are void of added salt and unnatural flavourings. They are a good source of protein and healthy fats and can be enjoyed as a quick snack or used in gluten-free breading or baked goods.
7. Superfood seeds
Chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp hearts may be tiny, but they pack a nutritional punch. They are loaded with fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Add them to smoothies, salads, baked goods, or raw desserts.
8. Nut and seed butters
Varieties of nut butters, such as almond and cashew are rich in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Seed butters lalso pack a punch of healthy fats plus they are perfect for those with nut allergies.
8. Extra virgin olive oil
A good quality extra virgin olive oil adds a ton of flavour to recipes, and not to mention a healthy dose of omega 3-fatty acids. When purchasing olive oil be sure to choose carefully – the darker the colour, the better the quality of the oil – and the richer the flavour.
9. Coconut oil
This rich and creamy oil works well in both savoury and sweet recipes. Use regular coconut oil for savoury meals and extra virgin coconut oil for sweets and baked goods to add a richer, sweeter flavour.
10. Natural sweeteners
Skip the refined sugars and opt for healthier substitutes, such as raw honey, pure maple syrup, or brown rice syrup. These natural sweeteners have lower glycemic indexes and therefore do not spike blood levels as sugar does. Most natural sweeteners can be used in recipes with a 1:1 ratio.
11. Plant-based milk
Non-dairy milks, such as cashew, almond, hemp, rice, soy, and coconut support an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. They are great dairy alternatives, especially for vegans and vegetarians, and those who suffer from lactose intolerance.
This gluten-free superfood grain has a chewy texture and a rich, nutty flavour and can be substituted in any grain-based recipe. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids which makes it an excellent source of plant-based protein.
13. Organic eggs
Eggs contain heart-healthy omega 3’s and are loaded with high-quality protein. They’re rich in iron, phosphorous, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5, among others. Choose organic for optimal flavour and freshness.
14. Dried spices and herbs
Reduce the need for salt in recipes by adding flavourful herbs and spices for additional flavour. Dried herbs and spices are less pungent than fresh one and they can be stored for a longer period of time. Be adventurous when choosing herbs and spices however, you might want to stock up on those that are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon.
15. Fresh herbs
Most herbs are best purchased fresh to ensure optimal flavour. They add a burst of flavour and freshness to any dish. To prolong their shelf life rinse them and pat dry then wrap with a paper towel and store in the crisper in the fridge.
This probiotic beverage made by fermenting tea with a culture of bacteria and yeast is high in antioxidants and polyphenols, helps maintain overall gut health, and has numerous other healing properties.
17. Fatty Fish
Certain varieties of oily cold-water fish are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies. They are known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, are low in mercury, and they are a good source of vitamin D, protein, sand other vitamins and minerals.
18. Sea salt
When you cook your own food you are able to control the amount of salt added to recipes. Sea salt is more flavourful than table salt and contains less sodium.