The bulk section can be intimidating. I’m an avid cook, and sometimes even my head starts spinning when I head down the bulk aisle! There are so many choices, so many different varieties of grains, legumes, flours, etc. For cooks who are comfortable with food, it can be a treasure trove, but for the average person, it can be a challenge, and just knowing where to begin is quite overwhelming.

But don’t give up! If there are two aisles of the grocery store you should be frequenting, it’s the bulk aisle and the produce aisle. What I love about the bulk aisle is that it is bustling with nutrients! There isn’t any fancy packaging vying for your attention and your dollars – it’s food in its purest form (granted, there can be a few sugar-coated exceptions in the bulk aisles you should avoid).

And looking beyond nutrition, the bulk aisle is a great place for the budget conscious. You don’t need to buy in bulk, you can simply buy what you need.

Here in Seattle, we’re lucky to have PCC Markets, the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the United States with eleven stores throughout the greater Seattle area. When you want great bulk-aisle selections, there’s no better place to go. Think Whole Foods on steroids!

how to shop at PCCI recently toured a local PCC with their resident nutritionist, Marilyn Walls, and asked her to weigh in on the top 10 foods to bulk up on in the bulk aisle. This list is sort of a “bulk foods starter kit” and was designed with your body and mind in mind.

Research shows there is a powerful connection between our gut health and our emotional well-being. By nourishing the gut with real, whole foods, vegetables, fruits and lean proteins, you can positively impact your mind and your body. Therefore, we’ve chosen a variety of bulk foods, from spices and grains, teas, seeds and legumes, all of which are nutrient-dense and rich in fiber, properties that can help with pesky menopause problems like bloating, digestion, and even memory loss.

Most grocery stores have a bulk aisle, so I encourage you to make a beeline for the bulk section on your next visit to the store and try some or all of the suggestions on this list. And remember, the beauty of bulking up on these whole foods is that they won’t weigh you down, but rather, will amp you up with all-natural goodness.

Cheers to your health!

Michelle

  Item Benefits Uses
1 Turmeric Contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties Add 1 teaspoon into tea, sprinkle onto eggs, into salads, onto rice, sauté with tofu.
2 Loose green tea High in anti-oxidants. Promotes heart health, brain health and helps with digestion. Substitute green tea for soda/coffee.
3 Forbidden black rice Rich in antioxidants (evidenced by its color). Also filled with flavonoid phytonutrients, a good source of fiber, minerals and plant based protein. Gluten free. Serve as a side dish. Toss into a salad.
4 Lentils High in fiber, protein, folate, other minerals. As a salad or in salads, soups and in healthy dips. Click here for my recipe for lentil salad.
5 Adzuki beans Good source of magnesium, potassium, iron and other vitamins/minerals. Easy to digest. Use in soups, as a side dish. Popular mashed and sweetened and eaten as a treat in Japan.
6 Freshly ground almond butter (unsalted, no sugar added, freshly ground on site with only almonds) Great source of healthy fat, rich in protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium. Spread on apples, celery, whole grain toast/crackers. Use as a base for an Asian dressing. Limit serving size to 2 tablespoons.
7 Almonds (unsalted, unroasted are recommended. Sprouted and organic varieties have the most benefits. Packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals. Eat as a snack, toss onto salads or rice dishes, use in a healthy pesto.
8 Quinoa Rich in protein, a good source of riboflavin, gluten free and has a low glycemic index. Use in a bowl tossed with veggies, sprinkle onto salads, layer into a wrap sandwich.
9 Flax seeds (golden or brown) Full of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Add to smoothies, toss onto oatmeal, add to homemade healthy baked goods. Toast them and toss into a salad for an extra crunch.
10 Rolled or steel-cut oats High in fiber, good for the heart in that it curbs LDL (bad cholesterol) Cook oats in a little water or your choice of milk, top with healthy ingredients.

Many thanks to PCC for lending us Marilyn Walls and letting us tour one of their markets!

About Marilyn Walls, PCC Nutrition Educator: Marilyn has a Masters in Nutrition from Bastyr University, and she has taught nutrition and herbs there for three years. During her ten years at PCC, she’s taught classes to customers, staff and lots of kids. She also writes articles for the PCC Sound Consumer newspaper. Having counseled many (sometimes crying) women, she believes menopausal symptoms may be alleviated through improved diet and herbal choices.


Michelle Cartmel

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