Let’s look at the 10 things the good doctor suggests for your shopping cart.
Also known as the “stinking rose,” garlic has been grown for thousands of years. Silverstein Fadlon buys small trays of frozen pre-portioned garlic. “It makes cooking flavorful dishes fast and easy,” she says. “If you can’t find frozen garlic in your store, you can mince your own fresh garlic when you have time and freeze it. You can try frozen ginger or cilantro, too.”
Grains should take up about a quarter of your plate. That includes whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat bread. “One of the challenges to using brown rice, rather than white, is the cooking time, but bags of frozen brown rice make cooking brown rice quick and easy,” Silverstein Fadlon says. More than a grain of truth here.
Another classic, olive oil production dates back thousands of years. Spain produces the most these days, a quick fact to have in your pocket for your next trivia contest. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and polyphenols. “I tell patients I don’t focus on low fat or low carb. I focus on the quality of each. Olive oil is a healthy fat,” Silverstein Fadlon says.
These legumes, aka garbanzo beans, are an excellent source of fiber and are one of – if not the most – versatile plant-based protein options. “I’m not a vegetarian, but I make an effort to use plant-based protein often,” Silverstein Fadlon says. “I love to sauté chickpeas with onions and greens, but you can add them to salads, grain bowls, soups and pasta dishes.” Her husband grew up on the Mediterranean coast, so their family uses dried chickpeas. “If you have a pressure cooker, using dry chickpeas can be fast and easy, but canned are a good option, too. Look for no-salt-added canned chickpeas if you can, so you can more easily control salt content.”
Farro is another ancient grain, said to have been found in the tombs of Egyptian royalty. Does that make it Pharoah’s farro? It’s a great whole grain option beyond whole wheat bread and brown rice. “Farro is one of my favorites,” Silverstein Fadlon says. “It cooks like rice, and I think the flavor is more interesting, with a nutty quality. I will make farro grain bowls.”
Fruits and vegetables should be about half of your plate. A relative of cabbage, kale and cauliflower, broccoli is easy to cook and works in diverse dishes. “I steam the broccoli first in a microwave steamer container, then stir-fry or roast it to speed up the cooking time so I still get the flavor of stir-fry or roasting.” Broccoli may not win many vegetable popularity contests, but include it nonetheless.
A nutrition professor once told Fadlon that you’re not hungry enough to choose an apple, you’re probably not that hungry. “I try to use that lesson daily and always have healthy, high-fiber, low calorie snack options like apples easily on hand,” she says. The U.S. grows more than 100 apple varieties, says the U.S. Apple Association. What’s your favorite?
Avocados are another healthy fat source, and of course the main ingredient in “guac,” or guacamole, an increasingly popular dish. “Avocados are high in omega-3 fatty acids and potassium. They are also the richest known fruit source of phytosterols, which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. My kids love making fresh guacamole,” Silverstein Fadlon says. Per capita avocado consumption in the United States is more than nine pounds. Holy guacamole!
No fish tale here. Salmon is easy to cook and healthy and it’s the second-most popular seafood in the country. “I will make a miso glaze and coat the salmon in a thin layer. Miso is high in salt, so I balance that out with other low- or no-salt food on the plate,” Silverstein Fadlon says. “If you are on a low-salt diet, try a coating of chopped fresh herbs. Plain roasted salmon is also delicious.”
Tofu dishes are on a weekly rotation in Silverstein Fadlon household. “My kids actually love tofu,” she says. “Stir-fry tofu with broccoli is one dish that always gets them asking for seconds (or even thirds). Plus, I can cook tofu stir-fry quickly on a weeknight after a long day at work. It’s a win all around. What is tofu made from, you ask? It’s processed soybean curd and comes in a variety of consistencies.
“With some easy adjustments to your shopping list, you can easily make your family’s meals more heart healthy.” - Cheri Silverstein Fadlon, MD
But there’s more
No trip to the grocery store is complete without a few bonus buys. You don’t need to show your bonus card for these. If the previous 10 don’t thrill your palate, here are a few extras.
Silverstein Fadlon buys the plain variety and adds her own toppings to control sugar content. “American breakfasts are often super high in refined carbohydrates, but fresh fruit with Greek yogurt and maybe some nuts for crunch are a great high-protein breakfast option,” she says.
With almonds, we’re talking healthy fats, protein and fiber. “Almonds are a great healthy snack option or add-in to meals,” Silverstein Fadlon says. Almonds aren’t true nuts. They’re technically seeds. Crunch on, folks.
Chicken thighs are higher in fat and cholesterol than chicken breasts, but they are easy to cook and make flavorful without adding other fats or salt. We’re guessing that goes for chicken on either side of the road. “As busy working parents, we love sheet pan cooking and sheet pan (ideally skinless) chicken thighs with some paprika, tomatoes and vegetables. It’s another almost weekly dish in our house,” Silverstein Fadlon says.