Photo: Zee Krstic

This German grocer has quite the health foods section—here are our favorites.

Zee Krstic
January 08, 2019

If you aren't in an area where Lidl, the low-cost German import chain known for its worldly selection, has opened up shop yet, that may be about to change. The grocer announced plans earlier this year to continue steady expansion across the Eastern half of the United States. It recently opened up its first New York location in the heart of Staten Island, and just this month announced the opening of three new stores in the Atlanta-metropolitan area.

I made a trip out to Staten Island to tour Lidl's newly renovated stores, getting the lay of the land and learning why our friends at Food & Wine magazine named Lidl one of the top 3 supermarkets in the United States. I also had the chance to taste some of Lidl's best products, and they're worth the trip to the discount grocer alone.

Many people who know of Lidl confuse it with another German import grocery store: their competitor Aldi. But my visit helped me understand the differences between the two first hand.

Fortunately, both have disruptive qualities about them that make shopping there so much fun. That's because, like Aldi, Lidl focuses on providing high-quality private label products across their store—about 90 percent of the store's stock is private label, according to Eimear O'Sullivan, a senior public relations manager for Lidl US.

There's so much to say about Lidl—I'll follow up in a separate post soon—but the very first thing I did upon entering the store was roam among its six aisles (a signature feature, as each store features six rows only) in search for the healthiest and most exciting items. In addition to a full fresh section of seafood held to sustainability standards as well as a robust produce section, I explored Lidl's unofficial "health" section and collected a few items to try.

I asked Brierley Horton, Cooking Light's nutritional director, for her input on the best of the best—together, we're highlighting the 10 best healthy products you can score on your next trip to Lidl. If you're wondering if there's a Lidl in your area, use this handy store locator—and keep an eye out for more news as Lidl continues its expansion later this year.

Photo: Zee Krstic

1) Organic Kale Chips, $2.99

Photo: Zee Krstic

This is one of my all-time favorite snacks of 2019, and we're not even a month into the new year. The team at Lidl had the amazing idea of dredging kale in a mix of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and tahini, binding the mixture with fresh carrots and onions. The result is a unique snack, flavors of which I've never experienced with a bagged variety before—you'll forget all about deep-fried potato chips after trying this insanely delicious snack. The best part? Each bag contains two generous servings, each containing 160 calories, 260mg of sodium, and just 1.5g of saturated fat. Even if you ate the entire bag, your diet wouldn't be ruined for the day, which is much more than I can say for other chips on the market.

2) Bottled Cold Brew Concentrate, $7.99

Photo: Zee Krstic

Lidl's bottled cold brew is the priciest item on this list, but considering it's a full 32-ounce bottle, it's an amazing value. The mix is dark yet rich, and not overtly bitter either: but don't forget to water it down or add your choice of milk, as it's meant to provide more than 20 servings throughout the week for a full household. I added a splash of half and half, a bit of water, and three tablespoons over ice, and felt like I was sipping on a barista's concoction even though I hadn't left my living room.

3) Gluten-Free Ancient Grains Granola, $3.99

Photo: Zee Krstic

Upon first look, you'll notice one of the top ingredients in this gluten-free granola is actually coconut oil, but don't disregard it just yet. The granola mix is a rich, satisfying blend that is chock full of whole grains, making it a perfect start to your day. A splash of almond milk made this mix taste deliciously sweet, despite the fact that each serving contains 10g of sugar (none of which are added), 200 calories, and 4g of saturated fat. Dive into this mix of flax seeds, millet, coconut, chia seeds, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and puffed amaranth.

More of the best items at your favorite retailers:

4) Skyr Icelandic Yogurt, $0.99

Photo: Zee Krstic

The store I visited had Chobani yogurt in stock—but Lidl's private-label Skyr yogurt, which is a Icelandic variation on traditional yogurt, was mind-boggling delicious and much cheaper. I sampled the plain, non-flavored variety, and found it to be much less tart (I didn't even wince upon first taste!) than other leading brands. You'll have room to add your favorite toppings if you wish because each serving is just 90 calories with 0g(!) of fat, as well as a whopping 17g of protein.

5) Organic Frozen Blueberries, $2.89

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Lidl has an entire freezer section devoted to frozen fruit that makes adding last-minute additions to smoothies and other dishes so much easier. Their titular organic line offers a few different frozen varieties, including perennial favorites like strawberries, and do not contain any preservatives or additives.

6) Organic Kombucha, $2.19

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Let's face it—some kombucha lovers are intimidated by taking on the task of making kombucha from scratch, giving the beverage industry ample room to introduce their own bottled versions. Lidl's kombucha is as fine as any other you've tasted, but I loved that they offered more than just a few standard flavors. My favorite was the ginger lemon variety, which is as sweet as it is tart, but there are more than three you can choose from in Lidl's selection (including selections from national brands like GTS).

7) Organic Roasted Seaweed Snacks, $0.99

Photo: Zee Krstic

Another irresistible snack you can't miss: I tried two varieties, including sea salt and Korean BBQ, and each blew my socks off. The containers seem smaller than they actually are, as each .99 cent product contains more than 30 sheets of seaweed. The entire package adds up to 60 calories and 140mg of sodium, which is a very manageable snack, especially considering the Korean BBQ variety is addictingly delicious and tastes way more salty than it actually is.

8) Organic Almond Butter, $6.49

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A must have for any pantry, Lidl's almond butter is priced to sell, given that one pound is sold for under $7. I tried Lidl's almond butter on a banana and was seriously impressed: not only is this blend absolutely delicious, the ingredient list is just one item… almonds! Plus, there's no sodium added in Lidl's product, which is a boon for keeping sodium levels in control at breakfast or snack time.

9) Organic Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, $2.19

Photo: Zee Krstic

Lidl is truly stock full of addictive snacks that are big on flavor but low on calories, sodium, and fat! We've all enjoyed sweet potato fries at some point, but I've yet to enjoy a sweet potato tortilla chip—and this, served alongside Lidl's boxed guacamole ($3.29 for two servings!), is a sinfully tasty snack to share with guests. A single serving is pretty standard (10 chips) but the nutritionals are surprisingly low: 140 calories, 18g of carbs, and just 95mg of sodium.

10) Sparkling Water With Lemon, $2.49

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There are 12 cans in this pack, which makes each can just about .20 cents! Such a steal for what is very smooth and not overly sweet, unlike some of the La Croix flavors I've tasted. There's no long ingredient list on Lidl's sparkling water, and each can is free of calories and sodium. If lemon isn't your style, don't fret: there's an entire sparkling water section in Lidl's beverage aisle, and more than six flavors to choose from. (And, no, the grocer doesn't offer La Croix!)