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More and more of us are discovering how grocery delivery services can make life easier and healthier. Amazon Fresh is expanding to more areas of the country, and FreshDirect delivers to parts of Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. And with an increase in the popularity of plant-based eating, both services are offering more and more plant-centric options.
And as the popularity of the services grow, so does the quality and abundance of the foods on the virtual shelves. “The people who work at FreshDirect are knowledgeable and passionate about all things food,” says Maggie Moon, MS, RD, author of "The MIND Diet" and a former corporate nutritionist for FreshDirect. “We watched seasonality like some people watch celebrity gossip. We were obsessed with the ramps and artichokes in the spring, and the gorgeous local corn in the summer.”
To get a head start on your grocery list, we’ve peeked in on nutritionists to find out what they frequently add to their Amazon Fresh and FreshDirect carts. Read on for delicious inspiration!
Editor's note: While both Amazon Fresh and FreshDirect are expanding their operations, availability and pricing might change based on where you're shopping from — we've done our best to recommend as widely available options as possible.
I work from home most days — and as a plant-forward registered dietitian nutritionist, I’m all about healthy, quick lunch options. When I don’t have time to cook a meal from scratch, this plant-based pick is great for tossing in the microwave. Each bowl supplies 11 grams of satiating protein and is an excellent source of fiber. You also get an excellent amount of both eye-helping vitamin A and immunity-helping vitamin C.
I’ve recently gotten very into drinking mineral water. Why? It supplies an impressive amount of — you guessed it — minerals! This pick comes from Germany is one of the highest-calcium waters I’ve seen available in the United States. Per each 25.3-ounce bottle, you get an extra dose of calcium and magnesium — minerals important for bone health.
FreshDirect may not be available to folks on the West coast, but Amazon Fresh sure is. And you can always find tofu in the fridge of Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, author of the forthcoming “California Vegan”. “You will find it in my kitchen to make recipes like tofu tacos,” she says. “Packed with protein, it’s so versatile. I also enjoy chopping it up and stirring it into casseroles, pasta dishes and curry dishes.”
One of the best things about FreshDirect is the grocery-delivery service offers ready-to-eat sides and meals that are restaurant quality, yet reasonable in calories. “This salad has a huge variety of fiber and plant-based protein sources — including lentils, quinoa and chickpeas,” says Abbie Gellman, RD, a chef and dietitian in New York City. “You also get a delicious curry-style dressing, which makes the salad a winner.”
Frozen fruit may just be the ingredient to keep on hand in your freezer. “I start most days with a smoothie,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD, a nutrition expert based in New York City with a virtual counseling practice. “While I’ve bought frozen fruit from other grocery stores, I find the quality of this organic frozen fruit to be the best in class. I keep a variety on hand, including mango chunks, dark sweet cherries, raspberries, blueberries and pineapple chunks. The range of fruits supplies an assortment of health-promoting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.” Cassetty also uses warmed-up frozen fruit as a pancake and toast topper — try it in a protein French toast.
These oats are a staple for many nutritionists — and Sheri Berger, RDN, a dietitian at The Cardiac & Pulmonary Wellness Center of El Camino Health in Mountain View, CA, is no exception. While she says she enjoys their nutty and chewy texture, she also appreciates their nutritional offerings. “Steel-cut oats have 5 grams of fiber per quarter cup dry oats,” she says. “That is more fiber than you get in rolled oats — and the higher fiber makes them more filling and beneficial for health.” In addition to being satiating, research shows that fiber may help lower blood cholesterol levels. Berger enjoys her oats with unsweetened almond milk, berries, walnuts and cinnamon.
Eat these carrots raw or quick-pickled to keep the colors at their brightest, suggests Moon. “I love the beautiful colors, which signal a variety of antioxidants to dampen cellular damage and aging,” she says. “There’s a lot to love nutritionally, but these really stand out for their vitamin A content — 110 percent of the daily value per carrot — which is critical for immune function.” If you opt for the greens-on variety, Moon suggests removing the tops before storing (which makes the carrots last longer) and using them to whip up a batch of carrot top pesto!
Did you know dried fruit can help energize your workouts? “As a runner, I like to keep snacks around that provide quick-acting fuel without a ton of added sugar,” says Natalie Rizzo, RD, a dietitian in New York City. “Raisins are naturally sweet and contain absolutely no added sugar. Eat a handful 30 to 60 minutes before a workout for an energy boost. Your body breaks down the natural sugar in raisins quickly to deliver energy to the working muscles.”
Yes, coffee can be good for you! “In my book, it’s a healthy pick,” notes Cassetty. “It’s a top source of antioxidants in our diet, and the caffeine can boost alertness.” It even boasts energizing B vitamins. “When it comes to coffee’s healthfulness, there are a few things to keep in mind,” she says. “It’s a gastrointestinal stimulant and irritant, so some people — such as ones with IBS and GERD — should limit their intake. Other people find that too much caffeine gives them the jitters and therefore, they need to modify their intake accordingly.” Cassetty chooses this medium-roast coffee for its reasonably priced and bold taste.
When it comes to plant-based milks, there are lots of options on Amazon Fresh. “I prefer oat milk to the other plant-based milk alternatives because it’s allergen friendly,” says Sarah Marjoram, RDN, a dietitian in Atlanta. “This makes it a nice option for people with nut, soy or milk allergies. Planet Oat makes a great product that has no added sugar, which is something I recommend keeping an eye on when choosing dairy alternatives. I love that it offers 2 grams of fiber with every serving, too.”
“It’s hard to find a soy-free veggie burger that packs in plant protein,” says Cassetty. “But one of these patties supply 25 grams of protein, mainly from pea protein. They’re hard to find, so I was delighted to see them on FreshDirect. And they taste far better than other veggie burgers I’ve tried.” Lucky for you, FreshDirect sells burger fixings, too.
Just like tofu, tempeh is a complete protein — meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that your body is unable to produce. “Tempeh is one of my go-to plant-based [products] because it boasts protein,” says Rizzo. “It’s made with fermented soybeans, so it contains gut-healthy probiotics. I like that you can use tempeh in block form in a grain bowl. You can also crumble it and add it to a stir-fry. It’s such an easy ingredient for a healthy and quick weeknight dinner.”
There is no shame at all in purchasing pre-cut produce! Often, on busy weeknights, it means the difference between a healthy home-cooked meal and a takeout order. “I’m perfectly capable of peeling and cutting up a butternut squash,” says Moon. “But I don’t mind admitting I love this pre-cut option. Because let’s be honest, cutting into a big squash is a process and takes a little muscle and coordination.” These squash chunks make it that much easier to whip up a butternut squash side dish. The pre-cut pieces are also super convenient for roasts, soups and baking, notes Moon. “They’re a stellar source of vitamin A and fiber — and a surprising source of plant-based omega-3 fats,” she adds
“As a mom of three girls living a mostly plant-based lifestyle, I tend to buy a whole lot of beans,” says Malina Malkani, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Rye, NY. “In general, all beans and legumes are an amazing source of plant-based protein, fiber, iron and tons of other vitamins and minerals. I keep dry beans on hand for when I have time to prepare them. But in my weekly FreshDirect grocery delivery, you’ll almost always find boxed or canned beans, which offer an unbeatable combination of nutrients, affordability and convenience.” And beans aren't just for adults! Malkani notes that she uses chickpeas and black beans in homemade baby food.
While FreshDirect offers dozens of loaves, this one is a favorite of Jackie Topol, RD, a culinary nutritionist in New York City. “With 5 grams each of protein and fiber per slice, it's sure to keep you feeling full and energized.” Of course, you can make a sandwich with the high-fiber bread — but it’s also a mean base for apple French toast.
If you’re trying to eat low carb or simply want to load up on extra veggies, cauliflower rice in a jiffy is a great plant-based meal addition. “I have this on standby for those busy weeknights with no time for meal prep,” says Marjoram. “Quickly steam it in the microwave and add veggies and marinara — and you’ve got a delicious plant-based meal ready in minutes.” Top the meal with a plant protein, such as white beans or edamame, to stay fuller for longer.
More plant-based eating tips
- The best vegetarian and vegan meals at fast food chains
- 6 quick and easy meatless recipes even carnivores will love
- Trying to eat more plants? Follow a flexitarian diet
- 7 healthy meals you can make with a can of beans
- How to make plant-based eating delicious, according to a Southern chef