Natural Health and Wellness for the Whole Family

Navigating the Grocery Store- Essentials in the Doctor’s cart

By Sarah Axtell, ND June 12, 2013

“About 80% of the food on shelves of supermarkets today didn’t exist 100 years ago.”- Larry McCleary

As a general rule of thumb, it is healthiest to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store, where you can find real, whole foods. where food is the freshest. Its beneficial to bypass the middle aisles, where boxed, processed food is located.

Here are essentials in my grocery cart:

Vegetables and Fruit (Organic when possible)

  • Kale
  • Bag of mixed greens for salads
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Rainbow chard
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Frozen blueberries for smoothies- deeply pigmented berries are some of the best source of antioxidants.
  • Frozen spinach (can be added to anything and everything)


  • Millet- cooks quick and delicious (nice substitute for couscous)
  • Amaranth- very high in protein
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice, wild rice, and my favorite- FORBIDDEN rice!
  • Teff flour- good baking flour
  • Gluten free oats- make oatmeal or throw some oats in a food processor to make a flour
  • Brown rice pasta
  • Brown rice bread- tasty when toasted!
  • Brown rice tortillas- great for wraps and mexican burritos.


  • Grapeseed oil- use this oil for high heat cooking
  • Olive oil- use this oil for salads and other cold items
  • Coconut oil- also use for high heat cooking
  • Organic Butter- yes, thats right, BUTTER…never margarine! Butter can be full of gut-loving butyric acid. Buying organic butter means there are no hormones or antibiotics.
  • Avocados


  • Dried and canned beans
  • Tempeh
  • Almond flour
  • Organic beef and organic chicken
  • Wild caught salmon
  • Eggs, free-range Organic
  • Nut Butters- almond butter and sunflower seed butter are my favorite
  • Tahini- a sesame seed spread added to hummus
  • Hummus
  • Nuts- walnuts are highest in omega 3 fatty acids!
  • Seeds- flax, chia, sunflower and pumpkin

Cow Dairy Substitutes

  • Plain goat yogurt
  • Unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Goat cheese


  • Protein bars- great for on the go and you need a little pick-me-up. I like Lara bars, especially the peanut butter cookie one.
  • Bar of dark chocolate (>70%)
  • Blue corn tortilla chips
  • Roasted seaweed snacks
  • Brown rice cakes


  • Salsa
  • Stevia as an alternative, natural sweetener
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Any and all herbal spices- I like thyme, oregano, dill, tarragon, turmeric, and curry
  • Hemp protein powder
  • Braags Liquid Aminos- a nice soy sauce (contains wheat) alternative
  • Miso- add to soups and stews for a savory taste
  • Kombucha- a delicious, tangy fermented tea drink


If shopping down the natural food section of your grocery store is foreign to you, Dr. Axtell can help! We offer Grocery Store Tours. Dr. Axtell can teach you the ins and outs of nutrition label reading and health claims so that you can feel confident that you are making wise nutrition choices at the market

Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

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