So I received an overwhelming number of emails about my previous post on making a lifestyle change and forging a civil relationship with my body for the better... so much that I decided to get a little creative today and meander off the path of my usual posts. A lot of people asked what foods I incorporate into my daily diet and what I love to throw in my cart at the grocery store. So today, in honor of my FAVORITE activity, grocery shopping (Trader Joe's, Trader Joe's, Trader Joe's!) I am showcasing the must-have items in my pantry. And just to debunk any assumptions before I get started, people often ask if the organic life style is a more expensive one. My answer: Absolutely not! I find myself saving 20 to 30 dollars with every grocery trip by going to Trader Joe's or a Farmer's Market. Trader Joe's deals directly with their vendors in order to supply the consumer products with a reasonable price attached. My rhyme and reason for a product making the cut in my book is quite simple: I pay close attention to the food and nutrition labels and I go by the rule of if I cannot pronounce the ingredients then I don't make the purchase.

So grab your reusable shopping bags because we are moving down the aisles!

Whey Protein: People are often stunned when I say protein is such a huge part of my diet. I think a stigma comes attached that protein is only for hardcore body builders. But I absolutely recommend the extra grams if you are working hard to see results at the gym. I am a-d-d-i-c-t-e-d to protein smoothies (one every day). A scoop of protein, a cup of skim milk, some berries or a two table spoons of almond butter and a pinch of cinnamon... This makes for a delicious post-workout or morning treat. P.S. I buy my protein off of Amazon for much cheaper than GNC or other health stores. When in doubt of what kind to get go for the natural stuff.

Quinoa: So I recently stumbled upon this rice and I cannot get enough of it. It is actually one of the healthiest grains that you can eat, and if you are wondering what to pair it with... well anything! It is no different than adding brown rice to a meal. Quinoa is high in fiber and complex carbs (the good carbs) and is excellent to top off a salad.

Snapea Crisps: Two words: guilty pleasure. Crunchy like potato chips, this snack leaves me satisfied every single time. These little buggers are high in protein and fiber. And o.k., so they are not real vegetables, but they sure are a good sub in for my french fry and Cheetos cravings.

Almond Butter: I wish I could spread it on everything..and trust me, I try. Almond butter is a great way to boost the metabolism and enjoy the sweet and salty taste. I highly recommend almond butter in place of peanut butter, and if you are looking for a sweet breakfast treat just spread some AB on a pita with a banana. Beautiful.

POM Juice:It is always tough to distinguish what juice to get at the grocery store. Although OJ is always a good choice I tend to get nervous over the extra sugar often sneaked into the bottle. I don't worry about that when I pick up POM Wonderful. These little bottles are tougher than they look. They are all natural and carry health benefits that exceed that glass of wine recommended daily.

Kashi Honey Sunshine: I have to be careful with this one: leave me unsupervised and the whole box will be gone in 10 seconds. I am addicted, maybe that is not even strong enough of a word, to this cereal! But this cereal is natural and absolutely delicious.

LARA Bars: These LARA bars are a new favorite in my pantry. Great for my 6:30am work outs, these bars are packed with unsweetened nuts and spices. Might I recommend the Apple Pie and the Cinnamon Roll? Typically I grab these bars for a quick "on the go" snack to curb my hunger before dinner.

Morningstar Tomato Basil Burgers: These products are meatless but  I seriously question how I ever lived without these things. I love popping one of these burgs in the microwave for a quick dinner on the run.

Tazo Tea: I cant say enough good stuff about this tea. Packed with antioxidants and tons of flavors to pick and choose from, Tazo steals my heart on a regular basis. The great thing about this company is that they work to have one-on-one relationships with the tea gardeners that they get their resources from. Not only is it good tea, but that's great karma.

So that is just a basic look at some of the products that I cannot live without. Overall my diet consists of a lot of fruits, veggies, whole grains and nuts. I am a lover of spinach, egg whites, salmon and tuna as well. How about you? What makes your pantry complete?

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