Welcome to our series #CartedByT30, where experts, influencers, and anyone who just really knows how to nail down a grocery list show us exactly what goes in their carts each week. Tune in to our Instagram Story on Sundays to walk down the aisles with them, and then shop out the products here. This week, certified pharmacist Mona Vand shares her favorite vegan items.
Mona Vand here! I worked as a pharmacist for eight years and have since transitioned to digital media as a health and wellness blogger. I cover everything from beauty and skincare to overall health, fitness and wellness with a modern twist in pharmaceutical science. I’ve been vegan for six years now, and even though living in L.A. makes it really easy to eat a plant-based diet whenever you want, I like getting my own groceries and making my own food as much as possible! My go-to grocery stores in L.A. are Erewhon and Whole Foods, but I actually love buying some of my must-haves from Thrive Market (which is accessible to everyone in the U.S), so definitely check that out if you’re not an LA-native. Keep reading for the items that always make my grocery list.
Organic Fresh Berries
I grew up eating fresh fruit every day, and my taste for it has lived with me since! I have some combination of organic blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries every single morning, so fresh berries are an absolute must for me. Not only are they filled with antioxidants and so good for your skin, but they’re also low glycemic, they support mental health, and they're packed with fiber.
Malk is one of the only almond milk brands I trust because it doesn't use any gums, fillers or additives. Its ingredients are so clean—just almonds, water, and sea salt! I use it in my coffee, tea, smoothies, and oatmeal.
Avocados are a kitchen staple for me. They’re such an easy way to bulk up a meal in the healthiest way possible. A simple salad, a bowl of quinoa, or a slice of toast is automatically made more nutritious and filling by adding some avocado. I sometimes just slice in half and eat with a spoon and a little sea salt. Bonus: They’re great to promote plump skin and healthy hair.
Quinoa is something I usually buy in bulk from Thrive Market because it can easily be added to any meal. I love making a quinoa veggie bowl or even a stew with quinoa—it’s so filling and is one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids. Opt for pre-sprouted because it allows for easier digestion and absorption of nutrients (and it saves you the time of having to sprout yourself).
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite sources of healthy carbs and they contain so many nutritional benefits. They’re most known for being packed with beta-carotene, which helps reduce inflammation, brighten skin, and promotes a healthy gut.
Almond butter is such a great healthy fat and protein that will keep you satiated and energized throughout your day. I typically grab Maranatha Organic Raw Almond Butter because it has one ingredient: raw almonds. I prefer raw so that all the nutrients are intact (and it tastes the exact same as roasted).
I absolutely love bananas—they’re a great source of potassium, contain anti-aging properties, and help fight free radicals. I usually use them in my smoothies, topped on almond butter toast, or in banana "nice" cream. Always buy these organic if you can; they’re usually only 10-20 cents more.
I love buying fresh gluten-free bread at Erewhon or even the farmer’s market. I use it as a vehicle for a lot of the other things I’ve listed, like avocados and almond butter. Look for bread with minimal ingredients (even if it’s higher in calories or carbs)—the cleaner, the better!
Organic Baby Spinach
Spinach is just one of those dark leafy greens that everyone should add to their diet (especially vegans or vegetarians because it’s packed with iron). It’s the perfect staple because it’s so simple to add into a smoothie—I recommend adding spinach into every single smoothie, you won’t even taste it—as the base of a salad, and steamed or sauteed. Versatile foods that are also packed with vitamins and minerals, like spinach, are a kitchen must.
My go-to snack is raw almonds or walnuts. Obviously they’re incredibly easy to grab when you’re on the go, but they’re also so healthy, and a little goes a long way. Just a handful of walnuts is full of omegas, healthy fat, and protein to keep you energized and keep your skin plump and soft!
In the Persian culture, it's typical to eat a slice of a lemon whole (and I, admittedly, love the taste of it!), but I also use lemons in apple cider vinegar tea, smoothies, as a salad dressing replacement, or as an oil alternative. My secret trick is to take any of my favorite (not so healthy) salad dressings and dilute them with lemon juice before adding to my salad. This way you’re still getting the taste of the dressing you like, but with half the fat and calories.
Vegan Dark Chocolate
I’m a sucker for chocolate; my usual go-to is Lily’s Vegan Dark Chocolate Chips because of how clean yet satisfying they are! I keep them in the freezer and munch on a couple after dinner.
Organic Persian Cucumbers
Cucumbers are mostly water so they’re super hydrating, low calorie, and contain important vitamins and minerals. I'm someone who eats cucumbers whole (it’s the Persian in me), so whenever I’m hungry or bored I literally go to the fridge, wash a cucumber off, and eat it without peeling or cutting it. Just bite right in!
Mung beans are so underrated—they can be used in anything (like a salad, soup, stew) and are high in protein, fiber, manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, zinc, and the essential B vitamins. They’re also incredibly easy to digest, so they’re a good satiating food that won’t bloat you. If you haven’t tried them, definitely do!
I love having tomatoes around the house because they’re super versatile. You can throw them into a salad, make tomato sauce with it, or use it as an oil replacer and stir fry it in a pan with other vegetables (when you add some chopped fresh tomatoes to a pan you can use the natural juices instead of oil). Tomatoes naturally contain lycopene, which is an antioxidant that’s known to decrease the risk of chronic diseases, but researchers have also found that cooking tomatoes increases the levels of phytochemicals that they contain.