become a high-roller & make some healthier choices

I was thrilled last week when I saw this sign at my local Meijer:

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to read up on health tips on carrots n’ Cake. A few months ago, the author Tina shared about this system called NuVal which is short for nutritional value.  Basically the way it works is that each food/product is given a score from 1-100 for it’s nutritional value. The website explains it as:

“NuVal Scores summarize comprehensive nutritional information in one simple number between 1 and 100.  Each NuVal Score takes into account more than just the nutrition fact panel.  It considers 30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors – the good (protein, calcium, vitamins) and the not-so-good (sugar, sodium, cholesterol).  And then it boils it down into a simple, easy-to-use number; a number you can trust to make better decisions about nutrition in just a few seconds.”

Isn’t that cool? So many times when I’m shopping I wonder if the packaged food I’m buying is actually healthy. Sure, the label of the granola bars says that it’s full of whole grains and protein, but what about sugar? I don’t want to waste a ton of time either comparing labels.  With one glance you can see how your favorite cereal rates nutritionally & make a more healthy choice just as easily.

I took some shots in Meijer just to compare. I was fascinated!

Whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables typically score the highest. In this case the strawberries I bought scored a 100! Not a fan of whole fruit & sub in juice instead? How does it stack up?

Still not as great because you don’t get the fiber of the whole fruit, but for trying to get the nutrition on the go 81/100 isn’t too shabby.

Trying to be healthier by reducing fats in your diet? Sometimes it can be counter productive nutritionally. How about our old friend PB&J? Or PB on celery or a bagel for protein & carbs.

I buy Sunbutter because Dave is allergic to peanuts. It’s nice to have around to use for dipping apples for a quick snack. It gets a 41/100. The thing about NuVal is that there isn’t necessarily a “bad” score. We all know what we’re getting into when we buy that pack of twinkies or hot cheetos. But sometimes, with things like granola bars, jams or other processed foods, we think we’re making healthy choices but sometimes it isn’t as nutritious as we think it is.

Crazy that a simple choice like PB can be so nutritionally diverse! Granted, I am paying a boat-load more for sunbutter because of the allergy factor, but it’s been worth it to have an easy, lower fat protein to eat for a snack.

Here’s the last one- most of us think reduced fat is a good thing right? You may be better off just sticking with your chunky Jif instead:

This supposedly healthier choice only gets a 7/100. Why? Because when fat is taken out, other stuff needs to be put in to make it taste good- i.e. sugar, corn syrup and other stuff that I can’t pronounce.

This January I definitely have been trying to stay motivated with eating lots of fruits and veggies and getting regular exercise. Amazing how much better I feel mentally, phsically and spiritually when I take a 20 minute walk even if it is cold and gray outdoors. It helps me to reflect on life, how I’m caring for my body and to pray.

One of the things I made last week was an AWESOME recipe for macaroni & cheese with cauliflower from Real Simple.


Instead of white cauliflower I chose orange- it was so pretty and almost tricked me to think “wow, I’m going to eat that huge chunk of cheddar cheese in my bowl!” Plus, a comfort food like this is so nice in the winter- and it’s a one-dish meal with the veggies already in it! I feel like the easier it is to make healthy choices the better!

Have you noticed NuVal where you shop? What’s one thing you “traded-up” to make a healthier choice?


  • grace

    i just noticed this yesterday! but in true “Grace” fashion, didn’t understand it, said “what the heck is that?” & moved right along! 🙂 thanks for the explanation!

  • Shannon

    Jessica, this is SO COOL! I did not know that Meijer was doing this! I loved the peanut butter comparison! I will definitely check out these numbers when I’m shopping from now on. Especially on the things you mentioned… granola bars, ‘healthier chips’, lower fat yogurt, etc.

    Thanks for the great tip!

  • Shannon

    Hey, you should ask Meijer to put an ad on your site to go along with this info! Maybe ask them to pay you a small fee to link to a coupon which is good for any items that get a score of 80+???

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