Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Maximising your grocery shopping

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Hominy porridge - a Jamaican treat. - File Photo

Heather Little-White, Gleaner Writer

Whenever you make it to the grocery store, you ought to have made purchases which would enhance your health and well-being.Your groceries should foster wise eating to prevent lifestyle diseases by controlling body weight, dietary fat, cholesterol, sugars and alcohol.

According to the American Heart Association Grocery Guide, there are seven dietary guidelines for healthy daily eating.

  • Eating a wide variety of foods.
  • Maintain ideal weight.
  • Limiting saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fibre.
  • Limiting sugar intake.
  • Limiting sodium.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation.

Selecting beverages

This category includes fruit and vegetable juices, and low-fat skim milk. Water is essential and is easier to drink with a slice of lemon, lime or orange.

  • Fruit and vegetable juices.
  • Milk.
  • Vegetable juices.
  • Fruit drinks, mixes and syrups.
  • Beverages prepared with milk, such as hot cocoa mix.

Selecting carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are recommended and it is best to avoid breads and other baked products with a higher proportion of saturated fat. Products to watch include biscuits, croissants, crescent rolls, Danish pastries, cheese breads, fruit breads and muffins. Acceptable choices include:

  • Ground provisions
  • Bananas
  • Plantains
  • Wholewheat pita bread
  • French bread
  • Multi-grain bread
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Croutons
  • Pasta - noodles, macaroni, spaghetti
  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice

Selecting cereals

Cereals are easy to eat and most varieties are low in fat and high in fibre. The sugar content of cereals varies, and if sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients, you can be sure that it is loaded with sugar. Avoid sugar-coated cereals. Acceptable variants include:

  • Porridges - cornmeal, plantain, green banana, rice, hominy corn
  • Oats
  • Wheatgerm
  • Grits

Hominy corn porridge


1 cup hominy corn

2 cups coconut milkor

skim milk

3-5 cups water

3 tbsps flour

6 tbsps water

1/2 tsp salt

brown sugar to taste

1 tsp nutmeg to taste

vanilla (optional)


1. Put the hominy corn in a slow cooker and fill with 3-5 cups water and leave for 5-6 hours (or overnight). Be sure the hominy corn is completely submerged and there is enough water to leave it overnight. Add salt to taste (optional). If you do not have a slow cooker, you can leave hominy corn to soak in water overnight.

2. Pour coconut milk in a pot and boil on a medium/high burner.

3. Drain the water from the corn.

4. Pour the hominy corn in the pot with the coconut milk.

5. Mix the 3 tbsps of flour and 6 tbsps of water together to make a paste.

6. Pour the flour and water paste into the pot and mix.

7. Sweeten with sugar to taste.

8. Add vanilla to taste (optional).

9. Stirring constantly to prevent lumping.

10. Sprinkle nutmeg to taste.

11. Continue cooking and let it simmer over low heat.

12. Cook for about 10-15 minutes then serve.


Selecting dairy products

If you can tolerate picdairy products, remember to select those low in fats. Cheeses are usually high in fat but there are some with acceptable amounts of fats.

  • Cottage cheese
  • Low-fat yoghurt
  • Mozzarella, part skim
  • Parmesan in small amounts
  • Low-butterfat cheeses

Selecting coffee and related products

Most commercial coffee creamers are high in saturated fat and should be avoided. However, if you must have coffee, your selection of coffee accompaniments include:

  • Skim milk
  • 1 per cent milk (with 1 per cent fat)
  • Evaporated skim milk
  • Coffee creamers made with oil
  • 100 per cent ground coffee

Selecting desserts and sweets

Despite the delight you get from desserts and sweets, remember that desserts have significant amounts of fat, sugar, sodium and calories. Commercial cake mixes and cookies are made with animal and/or hydrogenated vegetable fat. Read labels to ensure fat content per serving. Acceptable products include:

  • Angel food cakes and mixes.
  • Home-made cakes with acceptable ingredients.
  • Gingerbread cake
  • Candies like fruit rolls, marshmallows
  • Hard mints
  • Candied and glazed fruits
  • Graham crackers
  • Fruit ice
  • Sherbet
  • Popsicles
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fruit toppings
  • Jams and jellies

Selecting fats and oils

Generally, most packaging includes labels with fat content. Margarines are lightly salted but unsalted varieties are now available. Oils contain no sodium and are great substitutes for salted margarine.

  • Safflower
  • Olive
  • Peanut
  • Corn soybean, unhydrogenated
  • Sesame seed

Selecting fish, poultry and processed meats

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need large amounts of meats to supply daily protein. Meat, poultry and some fish are major sources of saturated fat and cholesterol. Limit the use of organ meats such as liver, heart and kidney as they are high in cholesterol. Good choices of fish include:

  • Cod
  • Red snapper
  • Sole
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Shellfish - fresh, canned in water, dried.
  • Poultry - chicken, Cornish hen, duck, turkey, guinea hen.
  • Steaks - flank, round cuts, sirloin, roasts, lean stews.
  • Lamb chops - lean
  • Pork chops - lean
  • Canadian bacon
  • Ham - lean slices
  • Processed meats

Meat substitutes

There are several products to use in meatless or meat-extended meals.The following helps to provide high-quality protein:

  • Legumes (peas, beans and lentils)
  • Grains
  • Nuts - walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecan, cashew
  • Seeds - pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, soybean
  • Tofu
  • Veggie mince

Selecting sauces, dressings and gravies

Commercial sauces, dressings and gravies are low in saturated fat.

  • Mustard, prepared
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tartar sauce
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Wine for cooking
  • Home-made, low-fat, low-sodium dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressings, Caesar, coleslaw, French, Italian, bleu cheese

Selecting seasonings

The taste of any dish relies heavily on the seasoning. To keep the dish healthy, select from the following:

  • Flavouring extracts - almond, fruit flavours, mint, vanilla.
  • Spices - allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry, cloves.
  • Herbs - rosemary, dill, garlic, ginger, parsley, sage, tarragon.
  • Horseradish, dry
  • Lime/lemon juice


Nutrition labelling can help you make wise choices to reduce consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Ingredients are listed in descending order on the label. The main ingredient should be listed first and the other ingredients follow as used.

Reference:Grocery Guide: American Heart Association

Heather Little-White, PhD, is a nutrition and lifestyle consultant in Kingston. Send comments to


In selecting foods for your daily eating pattern, the appropriate amounts are essential to provide nutrients for daily living.

  • • Carbohydrates, including grains, pasta and pastas4 or more servings
  • Peas, beans, lentils,
  • seeds and nutsas often as possible
  •  Fruits and vegetables
  • 5 or more servings
  •  Dairy products
  • 2 or more servings
  •  Fish, poultry, lean meats
  • and cheese6 ounces or less
  •  Eggs
  • 3 or 4 eggs per week
  •  Low-fat margarines, oils
  • and salad dressings2-4 tablespoons•
  • Desserts and snacks
  • enough for weight control