That's right. You heard me. I'm suggesting that the inside aisles of the grocery store have some very important ingredients for healthy, whole foods eating.
“Shop the perimeter of the grocery store” is one of those things that everyone already knows - like “Drink lots of water,” and “Fill half your plate with vegetables.” It’s a thing that you shouldn’t pay a Nutritionist to tell you.
(Never mind the fact that there are two entire departments on the perimeter of the store that I’d rather have you avoid: Dairy and Bakery. In fact, recent consumer insights have indicated that both of those grocery departments have been experiencing steady declines in business. A move in the right direction, if you ask me. You smart consumers, you…)
Anyway, I’m here to tell you that YES, you should venture into the centre aisles of the grocery store. There are a lot of really badass things down those aisles.
Middle Aisles: Flavour Town
When you embark on a real, honest-to-goodness whole foods diet, you’re going to try to tell me that you’re bored with eating the "same old bland (unprocessed) foods."
It's pretty darned important to me that you have an effortless relationship with food. I built an entire business around that idea. I don't deal in bland, flavourless, deprivation. I never prescribe "diet food."
You’ll miss things like dips, sauces and dressings. You’ll need spices, oils and condiments to recreate those.
Steamed veggies? Feh.
Steamed veggies tossed in olive oil and covered in a delicious dusting of ground pepper and coarse sea salt? Now you're talkin'.
>> Snack Central
The middle of the store is where a lot of great treats and snacks live. The things you’ll want to have in your cupboard if a snack attack strikes. I mean, what are you supposed to munch on when you feel like relaxing with a glass of wine at the end of a tough week - celery sticks? I wouldn't...
>> Fat Factory
And, of course, it’s where most of the good fats call home. Fats to cook with, fats for smoothies, fats for fat salad dressings, fats to toss your veggies in… Eating fat teaches your body how to use fat, so you can get lean and mean.
So, as much as I love wandering around the deli and the meat department to see what amazing goodies I can score; and as much as I love filling my cart full of every veggie I can get my hands on; I spend just as much time in the middle of the grocery store as I do out around the edges.
And I think you should too.
To help you know what great goodies exist in the store's middle, I've compiled a list of my favourite pantry staples. Not only is this list handy to bring with you to the store, but it's just good to have at home - and in mind - so you have an inventory of great whole foods snacks, spices, and add-ons geared toward making your meals awesome.
Click to download a PDF copy of the list. Don't say I never give ya nothin'!
[Unwritten rule: for anything packaged, follow the age-old rule of checking the ingredients list and finding the cleanest product with fewest weird ingredients. If you’re shopping at a specialty health food store, there should be abundant options. It can be a little trickier at big-box commercial grocers, but not impossible. ]