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food food everywhere and not a bite to eat!

June 16, 2010

Grocery Shopping: one of my favorite activities… especially as a young adult with a desire to shop and very little money to spend on non-essentials.  Grocery shopping is one of those rare opportunities for me to justify spending some of my humble income on things I love!  Yesterday Sam and I went to the new Berkeley Bowl and we were like kids in a (wholesome) candy store.  Many grocery stores, however, are much more limited in their selection for people concerned with healthy living.

Grocery shopping is not just an outlet for my urge to buy things and my love of food.  Getting through the grocery store successfully can be challenging too; it has become like a treasure hunt, the treasure being food that I can actually eat! This means food items that meet the following criteria:

*Healthy (which, for me, means natural, low fat/calorie, high in fiber and/or protein and/or nutrients)


*Easy to Make


The tricky thing is that none of these are very negotiable.

Healthy is obviously important, which means that almost all food items with white flour, corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils are automatically slashed from my list of options, and many other things as well.  I don’t like eating pesticides or ingredients I can’t pronounce.  I don’t want naturally high-fat/calorie food… and yet I’m not big on the “healthy” substitutes, though I do have a weakness for Skinny Cow products (even though they do contain corn syrup — eek!)

Cheap items are necessary.  I simply don’t have a lot to work with.  Sometimes I will make an exception to this if an item is awesome in every other category.

Easy to make doesn’t have to mean microwavable.  In fact, I try to eat mostly fresh food.  But the kitchen in my apartment is TINY, so nothing too complex is realistic for now.

Deliciousness is crucial too!  I can eat yucky healthy food every now and then, but the name of the game is sustainability, and I know that eating things I don’t like won’t be a sustainable way to stay healthy. The good news is that I LOVE vegetables and… well… food, so this criteria is the easiest to meet 🙂

When you go by the above criteria, suddenly a typical American grocery store starts looking like it is chalk full of inedible things! It’s really a shocking paradigm-shift the first time you realize this.

It is not impossible, though, and the treasure-hunt can be a fun challenge.  Here is a list of some of the wonderful, magical, life-saving food items that meet all 4 of my criteria:

*artichokes (steamed; dipped in plain nonfat yogurt)



*veggies & hummus

*veggie stir-fry

*oatmeal (plain, not those flavored instant packs)

*cream of wheat

*quinoa (a totally magical grain; you can find it for cheap at Trader Joe’s)

*veggie dogs and morningstar farms fake meat stuff (which is kinda pricey but cheaper at Costco)

*Dr. Praegers California veggie burgers (Trader Joe’s)

*fish (fish is expensive; frozen can be cheaper)

*chicken (frozen is cheaper)

*ground turkey (not super cheap but filling and versatile… can even mix it with an egg and some peppers/spices to make turkey meatballs or turkey burger patties)

*trail mix (be careful not to get the kind coated in oil; Trader Joe’s has some good kinds; makes great small snack)

*cottage cheese (nonfat –> goes great with fruit or tomatoes or on salads)

*nonfat or lowfat ricotta cheese

*laughing cow lowfat cheese wedges (I like cheese)



*beans!  especially black beans, italian white beans, and garbanzo beans… mmmm

*lentils are amazing and versatile

*instead of eating processed cereal, try puffed millet or puffed wheat with milk and banana!  might sound weird and nasty but it’s actually delightful fluffy goodness

*egg whites (can be expensive, at least compared to regular eggs, but they are cheaper at Trader Joe’s)

*salsa (can make your own = cheaper)

*spinach… I put spinach in everything!  (OK not everything… but lots of things)

*spices!  fresh basil!  lemon & lime juice!  garlic!  These are my favorite inexpensive ways to make food taste more interesting without adding salts & fats 🙂

Feel free to comment with your favorite healthy foods!

❤ Diana Banana

image courtesy of

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Katrinca permalink
    June 16, 2010 10:40 pm

    Beets. Roast whole beets in the oven (350 for about 30-40 min). They store well in the fridge for several days. I slice them up and add to salads or just eat by themselves. They are so sweet. Like eating candy, but good for you.

  2. Jody Savage permalink
    June 19, 2010 10:50 pm

    How do you cook quinoa?????

    • June 20, 2010 1:15 pm

      It’s really easy — you basically just cook it like you cook rice: one cup Quinoa, two cups water, bring to boil and then simmer for about 15 mins. It’s really good when cooked with chicken broth instead of water and with some carrots/celery/onions thrown in 🙂

  3. June 24, 2010 10:32 pm

    your list makes me hungry, i ❤ berk bowl and tjs, cause they have a lot more healthy options, like cereals sweetened with fruit juice and many tofu and cheese choices, i love cheese! also i like dried friut and the bowl has premade cornmeal pizza crusts! yum yum. yay healthy eating! xoxo your blog makes me jump for joy!

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