My Clean Eating Grocery List for Spring and Summer
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Ok, so, every single time I go to the grocery store, I forget something. I don't know if it's mom brain or what, but, for the life of me, I can never get everything I need in one shopping trip! (Where was this clean eating grocery list when I needed it?! lol.)
It's an issue. I'm working on it.
But, eating clean is such a priority to me that I'll literally go back to the grocery store in the same day to make sure I'm stocked up on the nutrient-dense foods I need to thrive.
So, I'm sharing my clean eating grocery list with you.
But, this isn't just any grocery list. I want to share with you:
the premise of seasonal eating and why it's the best for your health;
why I buy the foods on my grocery list;
the biomolecular science behind different nutrients and how they support your body;
how I save money on my grocery shopping every week.
As always, this grocery list works for me personally. Everybody's genetics, sensitivities, and nutritional needs vary so widely that one specific grocery list can never be one-size-fits-all.
So, feel free to adopt some of these foods into your personal grocery shopping, but please, please, please make food decisions based on what works for your individual body.
That being said, let's get into the good stuff.
Seasonal Eating: Why Is a Seasonal Clean Eating Grocery List So Important?
Seasonal eating is a huge part of my clean eating routine. It's how our genetics have been programmed over time to function.
My girl Organic Olivia has an amazing wealth of knowledge on this topic as it relates to Traditional Chinese Medicine. She shares it in this post here.
The gist of it is this:
Food has energetic properties beyond its nutritional value.
Think about it: in the fall and winter time, you don't crave a raw, crunchy salad. You want a hot, nourishing sweet potato and ginger soup or some healing bone broth. Root veggies, warming herbs, and hot soups all possess warming energies that confer warmth to the body.
The earth mirrors this need by providing us with these foods during that season.
Conversely, summer and spring mean raw salads, frozen fruit smoothies, and juices. And wouldn't you know it, fruits, leafy greens, and other cooling fruits and vegetables are totally in season during the warmer months!
Besides promoting balance to the body, eating seasonally also saves money. Harvest yields are much higher during the season that fruits and vegetables are intended to be grown in, meaning that there's a better chance of in-season foods going on sale.
It also goes hand-in-hand with intuitive eating, which is a style of eating that involves truly listening to your body.
Of course, cravings can be deceiving, but, for the most part, listening to your body will direct you to what you need in that moment.
More likely than not, the season you're in will influence what your body signals you to eat.
My Seasonal Clean Eating Grocery List
With that said, let's get into my shopping list. Most of these foods will be tailored to the spring/summer season. Each product below will be grouped into supplements and each specific food group with some of its nutrient profiles & how it benefits the body.
P.S. I've also included some money-saving tips after this list. Even if you don't give one about the list, scroll past it to get to how I save money on groceries!
Below are some vegetables I buy on a consistent basis during the spring and summer season. I use these to make salads, as toast toppers, or in smoothies.
Cucumbers are actually a member of the melon family (although that's not really surprising). They have a high fiber and water content, so they're good for cleansing the digestive system. They're super cooling and hydrating and can replenish the body after sun exposure.
In a chemical profile analysis, cucumber was shown to contain flavonoids and tannins which have antioxidant potential in the body. (1) By scavenging free radicals, cucumbers can neutralize free radicals produced from sun exposure (which is critical for vitamin D production), environmental toxins (heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants, etc.), mitochondrial energy production, and inflammatory processes.
Spinach is a nutrient-dense green that provides a plant source of iron, B-vitamins, and chlorophyll, a potent antioxidant compound.
Spinach is definitely a vitality food. By providing iron, it oxygenates and energizes the body. Iron is also critical for the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes that are responsible for sex hormone synthesis, vitamin D production, and detoxification among other critical functions (2).
The other energy-producing properties of spinach are attributed to the abundance of B vitamins, which are absolutely critical in every stage of energy production (3).
I use organic spinach as a base for salads or in smoothies with high levels of vitamin C to boost iron absorption.
Kale is similar to spinach in that it's a leafy green that contains chlorophyll, but its nutrient profile is a little different.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that contains sulfur compounds called glucosinolates. These are potent inducers of a detoxification process in the liver known as Phase II detox (4). Upregulating this detox pathway is important for transforming toxins from fat-soluble to water-soluble, making it easier for the body to get rid of them through our excretory systems (sweat, pee, poop... P.S. it's not gross, it's detox!) (5).
Avocado (Isn't It a Fruit Though?)
I didn't quite know where to put this one. Technically, it's a fruit but, like, it tastes like a veggie. So, whatever. It's in the veggie section.
Besides that fact that avocado makes everything taste better, it's an amazing nutrient-dense food that peaks during the warmer months. It has high levels of folate and other B vitamins along with fiber, potassium, magnesium, and omega-9 fatty acids.
Unlike omega-6 fatty acids, omega-9s aren't pro-inflammatory and can provide sustained energy throughout the day.
With high levels of folate, it's a great food if you have a known or suspected mutation in your MTHFR gene.
In one meta-analysis, high folate consumption was shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, a cancer which some MTHFR polymorphisms predispose you to (6).
I save money by buying conventional avocados. According to the EWG who analyzes pesticides on produce, avocados are some of the cleanest with less than 1% containing pesticide residues.
Organic Red Bell Peppers
Did you know that red bell peppers have one of the highest levels of vitamin C compared to other fruits and veggies?
Red bell peppers are great to pair with plant sources of iron like spinach or beans to enhance absorption. They also contain carotenoids which can be converted into retinol in the body (note: mutations in genetics can impact the efficiency of the enzymes that convert carotenoids to retinol) which is essential for immune balance, skin health, and eye function. Pairing bell peppers with a healthy fat like olive oil, avocado, or fatty fish can boost absorption of carotenoids (7).
Bell peppers add a sweet crunch to a salad or a sandwich!
Most fruits are naturally in season during the spring and summer time. This not only means they are the most nutritious during this time, but they're also the most beneficial to the body energetically.
Below, I've listed some of the organic and conventional fruits that I eat almost daily during the spring and summer time.
Mango contains an unusual and powerful antioxidant known as magniferin. It's found in both the flesh and the skin of mangoes (BTW: did you know that mango skin is edible?) (8).
It's also a good source of hydrating potassium, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, B vitamins, and vitamin C.
I blend mango with some of the other fruits listed below to make an antioxidant-rich smoothie.
One of the most notable nutrients in pineapple is the abundance of the enzyme bromelain. This enzyme is a proteolytic enzyme which means it helps break down proteins. This can be helpful for boosting digestion and absorption of amino acids and other nutrients in protein-rich foods.
Research suggests that bromelain may also dissolve cholesterol plaques and reduce inflammation, which may make pineapple a cardiovascular-supportive food (9).
Unfortunately, canned and juiced pineapple is pasteurized which destroys bromelain. To maximize the health benefits of pineapple, buy it fresh or frozen.
I buy my fresh and frozen pineapple conventional because it's one of EWG's Clean Fifteen.
A Clean Eating Grocery List Staple: Organic Frozen Wild Blueberries
Wild blueberries are tiny, little antioxidant powerhouses -- even more powerful than their cultivated counterparts (these are the regular blueberries you get at the store).
You can tell the difference, too, the pigment is so potent that if you pick one of these up, your hand will be stained for the rest of the day. This intense pigment is just a testament to their potent antioxidant power.
Wild blueberries contain high levels of antioxidant flavonoids which bind to heavy metals in the body, forming what's called a chelate complex. These flavonoid-heavy metal chelate complexes actually have higher antioxidant activity than the flavonoid alone (10). So interesting!
Berries in general, though, have a sensitivity to pesticides. Their thin, porous skin makes them especially susceptible to residual pesticides. So, you should always purchase organic berries.
These are an absolute staple in my clean eating grocery list. If I only had to get one, I would get these!
Strawberries, like all berries, have high antioxidant activity. Evidence suggests that they also have the ability to repair DNA, one of the key factors in cancer formation (11).
Unlike my frozen wild blueberries, I get these fresh (and always organic). I use them as toppers for yogurt and smoothie bowls. I also add them to my smoothies.
Organic Valencia Oranges
Valencia Oranges are the breed of oranges that peak during the spring and summer season.
Oranges are a super hydrating fruit with high water content. They also contain high levels of potassium and a decent amount of magnesium (12).
Besides this, they are high in antioxidant compounds that neutralize harmful free radicals in the body.
PRO TIP: Don't throw out the peel! The peel contains many beneficial compounds like terpenes, the fatty molecules that give scent and flavor (think: essential oils). Limonene is the main terpene in citrus peels, which has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties (13, 14).
I like to peel my orange, avoiding the white pith (the pith is good for you, too, just isn't great for texture reasons in a smoothie) and throw it in to blend with my frozen fruit smoothies. It gives it a really nice and distinct orange flavor without adding any acidity.
Because of the acid content, oranges are a really great addition to smoothies with lots of alkaline-tasting ingredients (bananas, coconut water, mango, greens). It gives it a balanced flavor -- literal smoothie perfection!
Watermelons are my fave summer fruit. They're so hydrating and cleansing, and, surprisingly, full of fiber! I find that they really help soothe an irritated gut lining (personally) after some gluten indulgence.
My favorite way to enjoy watermelon is on an empty stomach after some lemon water. I feel like it sends hydration straight to my brain and helps me start my day well.
It also provides antioxidant compounds like lycopene along with a good concentration of hydrating minerals (15).
Bananas, although not the highest source of potassium, are a great source of trace minerals.
Slightly underripe bananas also provide resistant starch that feeds good gut bacteria (16). When these bacteria metabolize this resistant starch, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, butyrate has been shown to repair the gut lining by reinforcing the tight junction between cells (17). This is important, not only for gut health, but for preventing low-grade systemic inflammation that is associated with the progression of many diseases (18).
Bananas are great on top of some sprouted grain or gluten-free toast with organic peanut butter and honey. You can also freeze them and make smoothie bowls, nice cream, or regular smoothies.
Seasoning, aka herbs and spices, are your best friend when it comes to tasty cooking. These two herbs are my favorite for spring and summer because of their light, herby flavor and their nutrient density.
Cilantro is well-known in the alternative health space as a heavy metal detoxifier, but there's limited evidence to support the statement (19).
Nonetheless, it's a good source of chlorophyll and iron and is a staple of the herbs on my clean eating grocery list!
It's often used in Hispanic cooking as a garnish or blended in salsas. I love to add it on top of grass-fed beef organic corn tacos with lime and white onion (yum, I'm drooling). It's also a great addition to some Asian dishes!
Organic Dried Oregano
Dried oregano is a potent antioxidant herb with a high concentration of flavonoids. The essential oils present in the herb also have strong anti-bacterial properties (20), so much so that some even opt for oil of oregano in place of antibiotics (that's not medical advice!).
I love to throw a ton of oregano in beans, on top of gluten-free pizza, in gluten-free spaghetti sauces, and in Mexican dishes. It's a staple herb in almost every type of cuisine!
You can buy it in bulk to save money here!
Grains are especially controversial in the age of paleo. I'm not 100% against grains, but they're definitely not a huge staple in my diet. This is mostly because gluten is notoriously hard to digest and has been shown to increase intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, in both celiac and non-celiac individuals (21). But, when I do eat wheat, I opt for a specific type of bread that is digestible and nutrient-dense.
I also include some other gluten-free grains in my grocery shopping, along with some nutrient-dense nuts and seeds.
Ezekiel bread has been a staple in my family for years. It's based on a biblical recipe, hence the name. It's made from sprouted whole grains, not flour, which improves digestibility and reduces the glycemic index.
It provides high levels of vitamin E and fiber and boasts a full profile of amino acids, making it a complete vegan protein.
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
Coconut flakes make the best toppers for smoothie and yogurt bowls. Sometimes I'll even eat a handful on its own as a quick snack.
Coconut flakes are high in fiber and healthy fats like medium-chain triglycerides, which boost metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis or the rate at which your body makes mitochondria (22). This is important for longevity, energy, and even exercise performance.
My favorite is the Bob's Red Mill Unsulfured Coconut Flakes. They have such quality products and you can really see the difference by just looking at them.
Granola, depending on which brand you purchase, can be a good source of healthy fats, fiber and minerals.
My favorite right now, although not organic, is the Bear Naked Fruit & Nut Granola. It contains non-GMO ingredients like oats, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and dried fruits.
But, aren't nuts high in omega-6?
Yes, they are.
But, omega-6 isn't all that bad.
Here's the deal:
Linoleic acid, the omega-6 found in food, doesn't stay as linoleic acid. It goes through an enzyme cascade that looks like this:
You can see that there's multiple stages linoleic acid goes through.
Dihomo gamma-linoleic acid is a heart-healthy fatty acid that produces vasodilating prostaglandins (23). This means it can lower blood pressure.
The problematic one is arachidonic acid. It's a pro-inflammatory fatty acid that can cause excessive inflammation. But, it's essential for processes in the body like hair growth (24). So, it's important to have a healthy balance.
So, how can you maintain the levels of the healthy omega-6s without over-converting into arachidonic acid?
It seems like the answer is omega-3s.
In the researcher's words, "omega-6 linoleic acid has a very narrow therapeutic window which is widened by omega-3 nutrients." (25)
If there are more omega-3s available from the diet, it will prevent an over-conversion of omega-6s to arachidonic acid. But, if omega-6s are the predominant fatty acid present, it increases the propensity of omega-6 fatty acids to convert to pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid.
Put simply: omega-6s (like in my granola) are fine in small to moderate quantities as long as you are getting enough omega-3s in your diet. (More on this later.)
Organic Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are tiny but mighty.
Here's why they're a huge part of my diet, and should be in yours, too:
According to research, it's not only about consuming enough vitamin E, but where you get it from, too. Other constituents of the food sources can enhance bioavailability and activity.
Sesame seeds are a great example of this.
Sesame seeds contain a lignan (an antioxidant polyphenol) called sesamolin that isn't found in sesame oil (26). This enhances the activity of the vitamin E that you get from sesame.
The best way to buy sesame seeds is raw and organic. Unprocessed, raw sesame seeds retain all of their heat-sensitive vitamin E and polyphenol compounds. Buying in bulk saves money, too!
I'm not a huge fan of oils.
Oils isolate the fatty acids from all of their other plant constituents. In some cases, this can be problematic.
But, here's the caveat:
If you can eat the food whole, it's probably OK to have it as an oil. But, think of hard seeds that you can't normally eat in their seed form, should we really be including these oils as part of our diet?
I personally don't think we'd be genetically programmed to eat them.
With that said, here are the oils I do include on my clean eating grocery list.
Grass-Fed Organic Butter
Grass-fed organic butter contains high levels of butyrate, an anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acid, fat-buring conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and the full-spectrum of fat-soluble vitamins.
There are four fat soluble vitamins: vitamins A, D, E, and K. They're critical for immune balance, skin health, eye health, and preventing tooth decay. And it's not only important that you have enough of these, but the correct balance.
All four of these vitamins have plant-based precursors (called provitamins). So, why not eat plants, right?
In a lot of people, there are genetic predispositions that make it difficult to convert these provitamins into their active forms. Grass-fed butter contains all the active forms of these vitamins.
If you have these, unfortunately, excluding animal products like grass-fed butter from your diet might cause issues for you.
If you're intolerant to lactose, organic, grass-fed ghee might be a good alternative for you. All of the lactose-containing milk solids are removed during processing.
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the most potent sources of antioxidants.
A paper published in the Lancet suggests that olive oil should afford considerable protection against both cancer and heart disease (28).
One study also demonstrated that olive oil increases fat burning after a meal when compared to cream in obese women (29).
The antioxidants found in olive oil also protect it from oxidation, preventing harmful free radicals from accumulating in the oil.
The best olive oil is organic, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in a dark glass bottle.
This ensures the final product retains all the beneficial antioxidants without harmful pesticide residues or toxic plastic compounds being leached into the olive oil.
Sufficient protein consumption is a huge part of maintaining a healthy body composition.
Leucine, an amino acid, stimulates muscle protein synthesis. The more often you stimulate MPS, the more muscle you build. The more muscle you build, the more calories you burn at rest.
There is a higher concentration of amino acids in animal protein compared to plant protein. If I choose to opt for plant protein for one meal, I usually double my serving to get enough amino acids.
Here are the proteins on my clean eating grocery list!
Wild salmon kills three birds with one stone:
It provides anti-inflammatory omega-3s, protein, and the most powerful antioxidant we know of: astaxanthin.
Unlike plant-based omega-3s (which contain alpha-linolenic acid, ALA), salmon and other fatty fishes contain DHA and EPA. These are the fatty acids that exert neuroprotective, heart-healthy, fat-burning, and inflammation-lowering benefits.
ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA, but, again, this can be limited by genetics. Plant sources of ALA also usually come with a hefty dose of omega-6 fatty acids, which isn't ideal if you're trying to optimize your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio to lower inflammation.
You'll also need to consume a lot more of it. And to be honest, you won't see me chugging down half a packet of chia seeds. Sorry!
For convenience reasons, I like to buy wild-caught salmon pouches. These ones are mercury-tested. I throw them on top of a salad or some rice with some paleo teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. So good!
Organic Pasture-Raised Beef
Organic pasture-raised beef, like wild salmon, is another powerhouse.
It's one of the mostly highly concentrated amino acid proteins and has considerable levels of omega-3s, fat-burning CLA, and vitamin E.
This is because pasture-raised cows are fed nutrient-dense grass that contributes to the nutrient density of their meat.
When compared to conventional meat, pasture-raised meat has more CLA, omega-3s, and antioxidants (30).
Pre pasture-raised beef is grass-fed, grass-finished (even grass-fed beef can be finished on grain, which increases its omega-6 content) and 100% organic.
Organic Protein Shake (Vegan & Whey)
I can tolerate dairy well, so I choose to incorporate whey protein into my diet.
Whey protein has been shown to increase glutathione levels, the master antioxidant of the body (31). Glutathione protects cells from damage and dysfunction as well as detoxifying harmful toxins from the body.
While cruciferous and allium (onion, garlic, leeks, etc.) vegetables can provide some benefit when it comes to glutathione, whey protein seems to be the most efficient way.
This whey protein is from grass-fed cows and is non-GMO. It's also super cost-efficient and concentrated with amino acids (you don't even really need a full scoop - I do about 3/4) at less than $1 per serving. The chocolate flavor is, like, soooo good.
When I don't opt for whey protein, my go-to is the Amazing Grass Protein & Kale in the chocolate flavor (can you tell I love chocolate?). It has a full serving of greens in it. I use about two scoops in some coconut water & coconut milk.
I mostly drink water. But, there are two drinks that are staples in my clean eating grocery list.
I haven't drunk soda in probably over ten years. Kombucha satisfies that need for bubbles without all the sugar.
Since it's made from tea, it has all the beneficial antioxidants that tea has. But, it's like tea on steroids.
It has gut-healthy probiotics, anti-inflammatory acids, and even more benefits depending on what flavor you get.
My favorites are from GT's Synergy Gingerberry kombucha and Pink Lady Basil kombucha!
Coconut water is ultra-hydrating and mineral-rich. It can be used as a replacement for electrolyte drinks post-exercise (32).
I use it in my smoothies and protein shakes for extra hydration during the day.
Harmless Coconut Water is the cream of the crop when it comes to coconut waters. It's raw, organic, and unadulterated.
Unfortunately, unsustainable farming methods have depleted soils, resulting in lower nutrient concentrations in our foods.
Because of this, it's important to supplement with vitamins and minerals.
My favorite supplements are from a company called Nutrigold. They're super transparent, provide certificates of analysis for all of their products (so you know they're pure & potent), and only use clinically-researched ingredients.
Essentially, you're getting the most bang for your buck.
All of their vitamins are sourced from whole foods, not synthetically produced from a lab, so you're getting your vitamins how you were meant to: in nature.
For any of their products, you can use the code "CURVE10" for 10% off your order!
Disclaimer: I am a Nutrigold ambassador and receive free products in exchange for my honest opinion. If you use my code "CURVE10" you'll receive 10% off your order and I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Women’s Multi with Astaxanthin
My absolute go-to and favorite multivitamin: the Women's Multi Gold with Astaxanthin.
It contains all the essential vitamins and minerals plus in their most bioavailable and bioactive forms.
It also contains the number one most potent antioxidant: astaxanthin.
For me, this covers all the bases so my cells are receiving all the nutrients they need to operate at max capacity.
I took birth control for over five years and it depleted my gut severely.
I can tell a difference in thought clarity, energy levels, and inflammation when I take probiotic supplements.
The Nutrigold Probiotic Gold supplement contains a non-enteric coating, patented delivery system that protects the probiotics from stomach acid that can kill probiotics should it come in contact with them.
They use six clinically-backed strains of bacteria that have been shown to benefit the skin, mood, inflammation, and more.
Vitamin C is an amazing antioxidant compound that supports the immune system. In high doses, it has potent antiviral and antibacterial properties.
According to Dr. Levy, a vitamin C expert, vitamin C has demonstrated efficacy against almost any virus or pathogenic bacteria it comes in contact with.
In one video, he recalls the story of a New Zealand man on the verge of death after being infected with the flu. Right before doctors left him for dead, his family requested he receive intravenous vitamin C.
Because of vitamin C, they were able to completely reverse his pneumonia and literally resurrect him from death's door.
Nutrigold's Vitamin C Gold is a whole-food based vitamin C sourced from vitamin C-rich berries. I take 1-3 capsules daily depending on how I feel!
Magnesium is an absolute staple for me.
In this article I wrote for Nutrigold, I talked about how magnesium can impact mood, energy levels, and brain health.
Here's a super interesting excerpt:
"The highest concentrations of intracellular magnesium are found in the mitochondria, the cell organelles that produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of the body.
This isn’t surprising, as magnesium acts as a cofactor to the enzyme ATP synthase. This is the enzyme within mitochondria that uses adenosine diphosphate, magnesium, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen to produce ATP bound to magnesium.
The magnesium existing on both sides of the enzymatic reaction should be noted. Not only is magnesium needed for the synthesis of ATP, but it’s also bound to the final product to make ATP biologically active."
Nutrigold's Magnesium Gold is a full-spectrum amino acid chelate. This is super important for absorption and getting the most effectiveness out of your magnesium supplement.
How I Save Money on My Clean Eating Grocery List
Saving money on my organic grocery list is a priority for me.
Thankfully, eating seasonal saves me money from the get-go.
But, eating clean is still expensive. Especially when you opt for organic most of the time.
So, here's a few other ways I save money on my clean eating grocery list.
I love Ibotta. You can get cash back for shopping almost anywhere online. In store, there are select items that are available for cash back every month.
My favorite is when items are on sale AND they have a sale running at the store. Double cash back really gets me going.
If you sign up using this link, you'll get a $20 bonus just for using the app! (Love some free money.)
Store Reward Programs/Coupons
If you download your local grocery store app, chances are they have a great coupon section that will give you extra $$$ off some of your favorite foods.
Kroger always has really great grocery coupons, including regular grocery coupons for their Organic Simple Truth brand.
When you combine these with some Ibotta cash back items and sales, you can really cheap groceries.
Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen Groceries
The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen produce gives you the info you need that tells you which organic groceries you need to buy and which conventional groceries you can skimp on.
The clean fifteen and dirty dozen grocery list can be found here.
Printable Clean Eating Grocery List
Don't forget to download your printable grocery list!
Or, you can Pin It to your Pinterest account to use it later!
The Power of Eating Clean Starts with a Grocery List
Eating clean, organic food starts with your grocery list.
So many people are just beginning to wake up to the importance of removing toxic pesticides, heavy metals, and poisons from their diet.
But, there's still so many that are living their lives unaware of the consequences of toxic chemicals and processed, inflammatory foods.
Please consider sharing this exhaustive post with those who truly need this information for their health, wellbeing, and longevity.
xx Sophia Ruiz