10 Favorite HealthMarket Products and How I Use Them

By Rachel Tiemeyer

A list of 10 favorite health food products that repeatedly make my grocery list, why I think they are a worthy investment, and some ways I use them in my kitchen and around the house.

Sponsored by Hy-Vee Columbia

I’ve been shopping Hy-Vee’s HealthMarket ever since the first one opened in my hometown many years ago. They stock a vast variety of the healthiest foods and products in town at competitive prices.

A bonus is that the store dietitian is always on hand to answer any questions I may have. (She’s giving me a free store tour in the pic below.)

But, like you, I’m on a limited grocery budget. I want my money to be used on ingredients and products that give me the most bang for my buck and for my health.

So, I’ve put together a list of my 10 favorite Hy-Vee HealthMarket products that repeatedly make my grocery list because of their versatility. I’ll explain why I think they are a worthy investment and some ways I use them in my kitchen and around the house.

Disclaimer: I have to say this, right? I am not a doctor or medical professional. So, although I link to many sources below to make my points, my product recommendations are my personal and non-professional opinion. Please do good research before using a new health food product to decide if it’s a good fit for your own dietary needs.

1. Avocado Oil

What is it?

Avocado oil is extracted from the flesh of the avocado and offers a variety of purported nutritional and medicinal benefits, some of which have been confirmed through scientific research.

What are the health benefits?

If you want to try avocado oil, make sure to buy a cold-pressed version to reap the full health benefits listed below. According to this Live Strong article and this Healthline article, here are just a few of the health benefits of avocado oil:

  • Boosts nutrient absorption in our food
  • Almost 70% of avocado oil consists of heart-healthy oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid
  • A few studies in animals show that avocado oil may benefit heart health, including reduced blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
  • Good source of lutein. This nutrient improves eye health and may lower the risk of age-related eye diseases.
  • In rats, avocado oil is able to enter cell mitochondria and decrease the production of harmful free radicals.

Why and how do I use it?

I use unrefined avocado oil in homemade salad dressings and baked goods that call for vegetable oil.

If you use the refined avocado oil, it has a very high smoking point (500°F) and can be used for sautéing foods.

2. Coconut Sugar

What is it?

Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm flower. It’s got a light sweet flavor similar to brown sugar.

What are the health benefits?

It’s a low-glycemic, unrefined alternative to processed sugar.

Why and how do I use it?

I’ve become a big fan of coconut sugar because of it’s taste and modest health benefits. Of course, I still love to use real food sweeteners like honey or real maple syrup in recipes, too. But, I often use coconut sugar to replace white and brown sugar in many of our baked goods recipes and Baked Oatmeal recipes. I also use it in our Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets. My husband stirs it into his morning coffee.

3. Almond Flour

What is it?

Almond flour and almond meal are gaining huge popularity in the Paleo diet realm. Both almond flour and meal are made with finely ground almonds, but blanched almond flour is much finer and made with skinless almonds. Almond meal is a bit grainer and has the skins in tact, so you’ll see some brown pieces ground in as well. I highly suggest only using blanched almond flour in baked goods, since they will come out much lighter than if you used almond meal.

What are the health benefits?

Perhaps most convincing to me that almond flour is a worthy purchase is to look at all the health benefits. Raw almonds are a good source of:

  • Monounsaturated Fats: These are the GOOD fats associated with lowering your risk of heart disease.
  • Protein: This helps satisfy hunger and may aide in weight loss.
  • Magnesium: 1/4 cup of raw almonds contains almost 25 percent of the daily recommended amount of magnesium, which improves the flow of blood, nutrients and oxygen through the body.
  • Antioxidants: 1/4 cup of raw almonds contains 45 percent of the daily recommended intake of the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps protect your skin from harmful free radicals.
  • B vitamins: These include riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, B-6 and folates, which support the body’s process of cellular metabolism. (source)

Why and how do I use it?

I always have a bag of almond meal or almond flour in my fridge, because it’s a simple way to add in protein and nutrition to things like:

4. Ground Flaxseed

flax 2

What is it?

The seeds come from flax (also known as linseed) come from one of the oldest fiber crops in the world. It was known to have been cultivated in ancient Egypt and China. History lesson of the day: King Charlemagne of the 8th century believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he demanded his loyal subjects eat the seeds and passed laws to make sure of it. (source)

What are the health benefits?

Most nutritionists recommend using ground flaxseed instead of whole (source). It is easier to digest this way and, honestly, it’s a lot easier to include in every day recipes when it’s ground up. Here are a few of the health benefits:

  • Flaxseed is rich in beneficial fiber
  • Flaxseed is high in Omega 3’s (which is good to add to your diet if you don’t eat much fish!)
  • It is used to improve digestive health
  • It can help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes
  • Flaxseed is an excellent source of two fatty acids that are essential for human health–linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid
  • It helps reduce inflammation (which can be a significant factor in conditions such as migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.)
  • It fends off dry eyes
  • Protects bone health

How do I use it?

Like almond flour, I always have an airtight bag of ground flax in my fridge (the best way to store it). Here are some ways I use it:

5. Coconut Flour

Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffins (GF)

What is it?

Coconut flour is made from finely ground dried coconut meat. Perhaps I should warn you. When you first go to buy coconut flour in the HealthMarket, you’ll have a little sticker shock. But, the price isn’t as bad as it seems at first glance. That’s because you only need a 1/2 cup of coconut flour to produce 12 muffins. A typical wheat muffin recipe would require at least 1 and 1/2 cups.

What are the health benefits?

It’s high in fiber, high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and gluten-free.

Why and how do I use it?

While I’m a big fan of whole wheat flour, I really strive to provide variety in our family’s diet. And, it’s easy to see that we get plenty of wheat, like most Americans. So, the last few years, I’ve been trying to branch out with the kinds of flours I bake with.

I was skeptical that coconut flour would bake up nicely, but it worked wonderfully in this Coconut Flour Pumpkin Muffin recipe I devised. Although slightly denser than a regular muffin, it still had a nice texture and great flavor. My husband declared that they were just as good as my regular ole yummy Pumpkin Banana Muffins.

6. Quinoa

What is it?

“Second only to maybe kale, quinoa is the health food star of our time,” says this Huff Post article. The part of the quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) plant that we eat is the seed. It grows from a plant in the goosefoot family, which also produces edibles such as chard and spinach. So although we prepare it like a grain, it is not in fact a grain. There are hundreds of varieties of this seed, but the red, black, and white are the ones you’ll see on store shelves.

What are the health benefits?

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, high in fiber, and high in protein (it’s one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids). It is also high in magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. (source)

How do I use it?

I usually serve quinoa as a side dish when we have a main dish like Grilled Balsamic Herb ChickenHerb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, or Mediterranean Grilled Shrimp. It’s most flavorful when cooked in a good chicken stock (instead of water) and tossed with a little butter before serving. My kids really go for this superfood side dish, which makes this momma happy.

7. Real Salt or Sea Salt

What is it?

Sea salt is an unrefined version of salt that retains many of the essential trace minerals (more below), unlike table salt. A high-quality, fine-ground, minimally processed salt, like Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt, can make a difference in terms of taste and outcome when cooking and baking.

What are the health benefits?

Chris Kresser states in this article, “Regular table salt is heavily processed, generally devoid of trace minerals, and commonly contains undesirable additives such as anti-caking agents like sodium silicoaluminate or sodium ferrocyanide. Therefore, generally avoiding table salt is a good idea, though care must be taken to ensure adequate iodine intake from other sources once iodized table salt has been removed from the diet.”

On the other hand, Kresser, points out that products like Real Salt (taken from beds in Utah) and other sea salts have been shown to contain a higher trace mineral content than refined table salt, retaining small amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, and iron. Another interesting health benefit is that you don’t need to use as much sea salt to achieve the same level of flavor intensity compared to table salt–so you’re consuming less sodium.

How do I use it?

We use Real Salt as our table seasoning, rather than table salt. When replacing table (or iodonized) salt in a recipe, however, do be sure to use less than the recipe calls for. Remember, sea salt is more powerful and requires less than table salt. So, I usually cut back to about half of what a recipe calls for.

8. Chia Seeds

What is it?

Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. They are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. (source)

What are the health benefits?

  • Loaded with fiber
  • High in phosphorus and magnesium—two minerals that can help keep our bones healthy.
  • A complete protein, which makes them a good option for vegans and vegetarians.
  • A source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that may offer a “modest protection” against cardiovascular disease. (source)

Why and how do I use it?

9. Liquid Stevia

What is it?

Stevia rebaudiana is a South American plant of the Asteraceae family and has traditionally been used to sweeten beverages and make tea. It is about 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.

What are the health benefits?

It is a natural sweetener, containing no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients.

Note: Stevia has been approved for use in the US and does not appear to pose any health risks when used in moderation. I personally think it’s the safest alternative sweetener on the market from what I’ve read. I’m just leary of using it in high doses and try to use it in moderation.

Why and how do I use it?

I use liquid Stevia versus the powered form because it typically has fewer additives. It’s a very potent sweetener and does have a very specific taste that some people don’t care for. Our family likes it in small doses, so I usually use it to cut back sugar in things like this Banana Pumpkin Bread, Brownie Baked Oatmeal, or 5 Minute Oatmeal. We also add it to coffee and tea sometimes. 

10. Annie’s Organic Shells and Cheese

What is it?

Now granted, this slightly healthier boxed mac isn’t a very versatile product like the others I mentioned. But I had to include it in my list, because it’s a packaged product that I’ve bought in the HealthMarket from time to time for years.

Why? Simply because it takes about 10 minutes to make, my sitter can make it for dinner, and my kids love it. Plus, it’s a lot better for them than the other alternatives on the shelves (although you know I’d always prefer homemade, whole grain mac like this one).

What are the health benefits?

I don’t claim that this is the healthiest dinner out there for my family, but these convenient varieties of Annie’s Mac at least have these benefits:

  • Organic pasta
  • No food dye, preservatives, or artificial flavors
  • 10g protein
  • Less sugar and sodium than the alternatives

How do I use it?

Babysitter nights! I have her serve this with frozen peas (cooked in microwave) and apple slices. It’s the easiest somewhat nutritious meal I can pull off on those nights that will please everyone.

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