Since we’re prepping for the final frontier – grocery shopping – this question felt pretty appropriate to me:
Q: What are five must have superfoods on your grocery list?
Now, anyone who knows me knows how I feel about “superfoods” – and y’all know me well enough – but as far as things I cannot live without in regards to clean eating? We can definitely talk about that.
I don’t want to give a specific list, because the things I love might be something you could be allergic to, might irritate your system, whatever… I’d rather give “categories” – so there’s enough flexibility for everyone to find something to fit that slot, and be okay.
1) Good leafy greens – and no, I really don’t mean iceberg lettuce. A good, rich, dark leafy green lettuce can work wonders on your salads. The flavors are much more rich, and because the taste doesn’t mesh well with thick and creamy dressings, you’re more likely to skip those altogether and just get a good vinaigrette to go with it. The darker the leaf, the more nutritious (but I must admit, I don’t really care for “nutritionism,” especially when I know if I’m eating what comes from the ground, I’m getting what I need) the dish. Think kale, spinach, green and red leaf lettuces, too.
2) Quality citrus fruit – I can do anything with citrus fruit. I can squeeze lemon juice over a stir fry. I can blend some ugli fruit into a BBQ sauce. I can squeeze grapefruit into vinegar and oil for a quick salad dressing. I can bake my salmon with a few lime slices on top, sprinkled with cilantro. I can take orange juice, honey, vinegar and tarragon and make a quick marinade. After I squeeze ’em, I can eat the insides. And yes, when I’m in the mood for something bitter, I will eat the inside of a lime. Even when you think you’ve squeezed the last little bit of life out of a citrus fruit, you can toss the halves in with whatever you’re baking (or boiling… or steaming… or whatever) and get more out of it. I even take the rinds to a cheese grater and use the shavings in bread dough or cake frosting or vinaigrettes or goodness knows whatever else. It’s probably the most versatile type of fruit I own.
3) Good baking flour – Flour, really is just a ground up version of specific grains, seeds or anything else you can get your paws on. I’ve used black bean flour, almond flour, regular whole wheat flour… they all have different tastes and serve different purposes for me. Because I bake regularly and often with yeast, my whole wheat flour gets a lot of use. I don’t use “all-purpose flour” or “baking mixes” or “enriched flour” because “enriched” is the same problem I’ve been talking about with processed foods – it means they’ve taken all the naturally occurring stuff out, and put other stuff in. No bueno.
A good, quality flour is going to add texture and flavor to your baking, as well as nourish and fill you up. You shouldn’t use it too often, but if you’re going to get baking, have something good nearby.
4) High quality pasta – I got schooled by Thembi in the comments a while back… I’m just gonna quote what she said, here:
I love the stuff and used to have it every day almost ritualistically. I lost a whole lot of weight while eating pasta every single day just by making it a priority, but have to cut it out of my diet completely every once in a while just to get back to normal. And no, whole wheat pasta will not cut it, so I always thought I was doomed to a life of puff n’ stuff fake processed bland noodles that would ultimately be the death of me.
But then I moved to Europe. You see, there they have laws about what’s allowed to be called champagne, a baguette, and of course pasta. In Italy, by law, pasta can only be made with 100% semolina durum wheat and water – that’s it (unless its otherwise flavored or colored). Semolina aka couscous aka cream of wheat is a whole grain, and when unprocessed is just fine. Think about it – Italians eat this stuff EVERY day and don’t have any national health or obesity problems while we stuff down fake crap labeled “semolina, durum wheat, refined wheat…” then some chemicals. Not only that, but the bleaching agents used in the US are illegal in Europe (and Japan for that matter) and I have to believe they’re one of the major culprits here.
All of this is to say that choosing a “whole” pasta doesn’t have to mean choosing a “whole wheat flour” pasta that has no business even existing. The latter is that cardboardy tasting stuff that the corporations have been trying to make to catch us being healthy, the former uses the same parts of the grain for a higher fiber and nutritional content than your average every day white. While there are a few whole durum wheat pastas made in the US that are promoted as “whole grain” pastas (I think Barilla makes one), if I have pasta I go all out – it’s worth $4-$6 per pound for me to eat imported pasta from a fancy cheese shop or better yet find some gourmet pasta in the food section at TJ Maxx or Marshalls.
I found a local pasta shop that makes their pasta by hand exactly as she mentioned above, and I buy a couple of servings at a time. It’s pricey – as opposed to $1.50/box, it’s $1.50 per serving – but since I’m only eating it once per week (if even that much), I don’t feel it too much. I didn’t even know these kinds of places existed, so don’t be surprised if you don’t have one nearby. There are tons of recommendations on the old Q&A Wednesday post, “Does Enjoyable Whole Wheat Pasta Exist?”
5) Flavorful oils – it is very.. and I do mean very… rare that I fry. Having said that, I definitely use oil almost every day! Literally.. every day. I’m not talking vegetable or soybean oil, here… I don’t even own any of that. I’m talking sunflower oil, avocado oil, olive oil, organic canola oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, sesame oil… each has it’s own distinct flavor and its own individual purpose. I use avocado oil on Mexican-inspired food. Olive oil, I use for anything Mediterranean or Italian. Peanut and sesame oil? Stir fry and wonton-type stuff. Sunflower oil has this buttery kind of quality that I prefer to blend with herbs and spices, and toss on seafood or veggies. Gotta get creative. Keep a variety, and they last longer.
That’s what I consider a must have in my kitchen. What’s in yours?