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In my previous post, I discussed some of the fabulous reasons for meal planning and making a grocery list prior to heading out to shop.  Kuddos to you for planning the week’s meals, and making your list (checking it twice..ok, I wont go there..Sort of too excited about the holiday season upon us.) but what about when you actually arrive at the store? Sounds like a horribly easy question to answer, but you may be surprised at how lost someone can be.  The grocery store can be an intimidating place- why is it that so many people I talk to think I’m crazy for looking forward to shopping?  Because they apparently hate it.  : / 
First things first- Make the list.  Keep yourself in check with a well-planned shopping list–resist the seductive call of prepackaged, processed food. Its easy when you have a list that leaves out the high sodium, high fat junk–saving you and your family those unnecessary calories.
Satisfied Shopper.  Shop with a full tummy :)  I know you have run across this tip before, but it is legit.  Strolling through the grocery store with a growling belly talking your ear off can make it that much easier to steer away from your strategically planned list and off to the land of marshmallow cereal and potato chips..washing it down with a bottled mocha latte.  Sounds strange, but check back with me when you are hungry. 
(DON’T) Shop the Perimeter.  For the most part, the perimeter of your grocery store is the place where all the fresh foods reside. This was my motto up until recently when I began to realize that my store has started to place ‘junk’ in the middle of the produce/dairy/fresh meats section.  How about some honeybuns on the side of my fresh asparagus or marked down raspberry streudel from the bakery with my part skim mozzarella?  I also realized in a recent remodel, the chips/cookies/snacks are on the perimeter of my store now!!  Hmmm..no thanks.  But for the most part, it is true- the less you find yourself in the central aisles of the grocery store, the healthier your shopping trip CAN be. Be cautious as you work the perimeter for the majority of your groceries, but don’t forget the whole grain cereals, pasta, and canned goods (no added salt, please!).  These items are things found in the central aisles, but aren’t included in that ‘junk food’ category! 
Fresh (or Frozen) Healthiness.  Choose fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season.  This produce will typically come from a local vendor or somewhat close to home. Not to mention they often cost less and are bursting with flavor-a much tastier fruit or vegetable than say a watermelon in December.  Fresh is always wonderful, but if you are unable to find in season fruit or veg, no reason why you can’t choose frozen.  Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at the source, locking in nutrients at their peak of ripeness.  Stock your freezer full of a variety for ease of use without worrying of spoilage.
Lovin’ the Lean.  When it comes to choosing your meats, choose the freshest meat available.  Stear clear of the pre-packaged processed or cured meats like hot dogs, luncheon meats and even those in marinades.  Sodium, sodium, fat, and more sodium.    Make your own marinades at home, making them with a majority of seasonings and less ‘sauce’.  Also, choose meats that include words on the label like round, loin, strip, or, lean.  Look for ground meats to be at least 90/10- 90% lean and 10% fat.  Don’t be fooled by thinking turkey is the healier choice- make sure it is the breast of the bird or else you will be choosing a meat that is as high in fat as your ground chuck (80/20!!) 
Wholesome and Prepared. No need to lose sight of those prepared foods some of us rely on for dropping a quick dinner on the table.  My suggestion is to supplement.  Go the semi-homemade route.  Choose prepared foods with short ingredient lists. The shorter the ingredient list, the more wholesome the food

can be.  My favorite prepared convienence?  The Rotisserie Chicken (no skin!!!)

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Take for example this recipe-  I found it in a magazine and was sure it would be delicious- but seemed to have a lot of steps, and with the way my evenings have been lately, I was looking for easy peasy.  I used a rotisserie chicken, kicked up bottled BBQ sauce, and prepared pico de gallo, making for a super quick and still wholesomely delicious dinner meal. 

BBQ Chicken
over Pumpkin Polenta
INGREDIENTS:
2.5 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin removed

1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup hickory smoke-flavored barbecue sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups water
1 (14.5-oz) can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups corn grits
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Prepared fresh Pico de Gallo
DIRECTIONS:
In a large saucepan, bring water and remaining broth to a boil. Slowly stir in grits and one half of pumpkin. Reduce heat; cook and stir constantly for 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine barbecue sauce, honey, chili powder and cinnamon; heat until boiling.  Remove from heat and pour over shredded chicken, mixing well, and gently so to not break down the chicken. Divide polenta among six serving bowls; top each with 1/2 cup chicken mixture. Serve with fresh pico. 

Nutritional Information
Makes 6 servings
Calories: 393
Fat: 6 g
Carbohydrate: 50 g
Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 35 g

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