Shopping in the middle

Going to the grocery store can be overwhelming. You’ve heard the tips from “the experts” who say to stay on the outside of the grocery store, not allowing yourself to be tempted by the middle aisles, which carry foods responsible for our expanding middles. I agree with those experts, but also spend hours at the store, and at home researching food products located in those middle aisles. These products are ones I trust and enjoy, both because of the way the food tastes and makes me feel, but also because I believe the brands are worthy.

First off is Theo Chocolate.  I look forward to indulging in it each day. Theo is the first organic chocolate to be made in the U.S. and as far as I can tell, it is one of the only brands of chocolate not made with soy lecithin, which is used mainly as an emulsifier but it is debatable whether this is an ingredient we should be consuming, so I try my best to avoid it.

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Theo’s products are all organic, non-GMO, Fair Trade certified and made in Seattle. It’s pricey, but worth it and whenever I see it on-sale, I stock up! My favorite is the Dark Salted Almond. Delicious, good for you (in moderation, of course), and available in a center aisle near you, I hope! I get mine at Whole Foods.

Screen shot 2014-05-18 at 2.12.01 PMIf you follow my blog, you know about my sweet tooth. I’m also a fan of another dessert product available in a center aisle: Wonderfully Raw’s CocoRoons. These are raw, organic treats that will satisfy your sweet tooth in an instant. I recently special ordered six from my local Whole Foods to get a 10% discount and ensure my favorite flavors (brownie and vanilla maple) would be available. The founder started learning about the raw lifestyle after being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

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I’m a big advocate of finding small, independent producers that focus on quality of ingredients and are transparent in how their product is produced. When I lived in Arizona, I discovered Myrna’s Skinny Crisps. Unfortunately, Whole Foods does not carry them in every store, but Myrna’s crisps can be ordered online.  They are made in Boulder and are made from mostly almond and chickpea flour. I love the Cinnamon flavor!

You can tell most of these items are snack or dessert food. I really don’t eat a lot of those sorts of things, but when I do, I want to find the best. If you have a product you like, let me know! I’m always looking.

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As I’m writing this, I’m drinking one of my daily green smoothies (recipe below). Most of the ingredients are from the fresh produce section, but I buy fruit for smoothies in the frozen food aisle, again toward the middle. Make sure to check the 2014 Environmental Working Group’s guide to know which foods to buy organic. Hint: never splurge on organic avocados!

Maca Mango Green Smoothie

  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon organic Maca powder
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 inch knob fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup homemade nut milk (I’m currently obsessed with cashew milk)
  • ½ to 1 cup water (depending on consistency)
  • 2 handfuls organic spinach
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 2 strawberries, frozen
  • 2 slices of peach, frozen
  • 3-5 mango chunks, frozen
  • 3-5 cubes of ice

Add all ingredients in order listed to a high-speed blender (I like Vitamix) and blend, starting on low speed and working your way up. You may need to add more water to reach the consistency you want. Serve immediately!


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