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12 Must Have Middle Eastern Grocery Items for Healthy Meals

These Middle Eastern grocery items are great to have on hand and are so helpful in a transition to a healthier diet. In fact, they’re needed for many of our recipes. Not to mention, are super convenient as part of many quick and easy meals.

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There are endless food options and this is in no way an exhaustive list. I know I could spend hours looking through all of the aisles.

You will find plenty of tasty and useful grocery items beyond this at your local Middle Eastern grocery store, but these are some of our favorites and what we use again and again in our recipes.

They go together well, and make for interesting, easy snacks and meals that can be whipped up in no time. In this post, I share the items we purchase most regularly and how we incorporate them into our daily recipes.

Middle Eastern Grocery Items to Stock for Healthy Meals

Olive Oil

I love to splurge on a good quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from Lebanon. Look for one with a darker color. 

olive oil 1

This comes in handy several times a day as it is used in so many dishes.

It’s a main ingredient in salad dressings (dressing recipes as simple as olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper as in our quinoa parsley taboulleh).

And I just love to drizzle it over our favorite appetizers like green goddess hummus, baked spinach artichoke dip, labneh dip, fava bean hummus dip and many others.

A drizzle of olive oil is fabulous on top of Margherita pita pizza, Artichoke pita pizza, Clam pita pizza with kale, and many others you can find in our PITA PIZZA section. Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil elevates the flavors to make these simple pizzas taste extraordinary.

Our local store also carries this Greek kalamata olive oil. It is full of flavor and is great to try on top of pizzas.

kalamata oil 2

I try to use it whenever possible, given the known health benefits of olive oil.


You will likely find a large selection of olives, possibly a whole aisle dedicated to olives. There are many varieties but my favorite are the large, whole green olives or large green pitted and stuffed. I also like to buy whole Greek kalamata olives if they have them. You might find some varieties of stuffed olives with jalapeno, piri piri, etc. that you can try. Make it fun and try a new one each time you go.

olives spicy 1

Olives are so easy to take out and have alongside green goddess hummus, fava bean hummus dip or labneh dip. We love to serve them as a side dish with our pita pizzas. Or with baked feta, served with pita bread wedges.

Kalamata olives are a great addition to salads, especially Greek salad. For an extra special savory topping, add pitted and sliced kalamata olives to your pita pizzas.


Similar to Greek yogurt, it’s a smooth and creamy, thick yogurt, that’s tangy and tastes like a luscious, velvety cream cheese.

labneh dip is a simple go-to snack that’s topped with a drizzle of olive oil, oregano and served with olives, vegetables and pita bread.  It’s the easiest recipe – if you have labneh, you have labneh dip. You can dress it up with endless combination of toppings, but you will also love it in it’s natural form.

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It can also be substituted for cream cheese and sour cream in recipes. 

I use it in my spinach artichoke dip.  I love to spread labneh on sandwiches instead of mayo, or use it in a sandwich mix like tuna salad or salmon salad sandwich. Once you start, you will find so many ways to incorporate labneh in your daily meals.

It is super satisfying and we eat it daily at our house. It seems as though you can never have too much of it.

Pita Bread

Lebanese style pita bread is our absolute favorite bread. It is lower in carbs than some breads and it is so versatile.  We use it daily in almost all of our meals.

pita bread 1

You can quickly prep pita pizzas, like margherita, artichoke, clam and kale, date arugula pita pizzas.

Cut it in wedges to have as a snack with easy labneh dip and olives.  You can bring some to work with a container of green goddess hummus or fava bean hummus.

Or fill it up for a pita sandwich. Pita sandwiches make excellent lunches to take along to work.

One of my favorite pita sandwiches is made with any combination of the following ingredients:

Meat or falafel, quinoa tabouli, green goddess hummus or labneh, and pickles or pickled turnips.  You can also add tomato slices, lettuce, onions or other vegetables if you like.

Just choose the toppings based on your preferences and you are good to go!

This pita sandwich comes together so quick, is so fresh and healthy, and just makes you feel great.

Pickles and Pickled Turnips

These are the pickles and pink turnips (colored by pickled beets), that are often complimentary at Lebanese restaurants. 

pickled turnips 1

They are perfect in sandwiches as mentioned above, and can also be added to an appetizer plate. We like to have ours with hummus and Instant Pot baba ganouj. Just place a few in a small side dish next to your appetizers.

Pomegranate Molasses

I like to add a drizzle of pomegranate molasses when I’m craving a little sweetness and tartness at the same time.

pomegranate molasses 1

I’ve added a bit to my breakfast granola with yogurt. It can also be used in the place of syrup in many recipes if you don’t mind a stronger flavor. 

You can be creative to find uses for it. In a pinch, I’ve used it as a quick dip sauce for chicken nuggets (flavor might be too strong for kids, I only use a little for my own).

I sometimes use it in place of chutney if I don’t have any, to eat with pakora or masala dosas for example.

We drizzle pomegranate molasses on our Date Arugula Pita Pizzas for a tangy finish. It also adds flavor to our Instant Pot Eggplant Chickpea Stew (Maghmour).

Date Syrup

I love this date syrup that is 100% dates with no added sugar.  It is very sweet and can be substituted for sugar in recipes. 

date syrup 1

In the fall and winter, I use it in festive beverages such as mulled spiced wine (glogg) and eggnog, instead of refined sugar. 

I love date syrup as a quick hack for a super satisfying chutney or as a quick dip for dosas, pakoras, etc. You can stir in a bit of hot sauce like Frank’s red hot to give it a little kick. So easy, and without the preservatives in the store bought chutneys.

You can use it to sweeten your chia pudding.  Also goes well in homemade chocolates and chocolate based recipes. 

I find a little goes a long way and try to use it in the place of sugar whenever possible. I like that date syrup is super sweet, has antioxidants and no refined sugar.

Fava Beans

Fava beans, canned or dry, are excellent to have on hand.

fava beans dried and canned

I like to make fava bean hummus dip or ful medames, a typical breakfast food.  It’s a dip, similar to hummus, super filling, and a great start to the day.  If you need a few bites of a snack between meals, this is quick, incredibly satisfying and healthy.


A tart berry, sumac provides a tartness similar to lemon in salads, that gives fattoush its signature flavor.

sumac 1

We also use it in our Quinoa Parsley Salad (Taboulleh).

You can be creative and add to other salads to achieve a similar tart flavor.


Sesame seed paste or butter, can be used in a similar way as peanut butter, in recipes with chocolate, for instance, and in baking.

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We use it in our vegetable curry.

It is one of the main ingredients in dips like hummus, green goddess hummus, baba ganouj and fava bean hummus dip.

in power shakes, or simple snacks like apple slices or banana with tahini instead of peanut butter.


We use halloumi in some recipes as a substitute for shredded cheese if we don’t have it.

But the ultimate snack and sometimes late night snack is to simply slice halloumi and place on the griddle pan.


Let it heat up for a few minutes and you have got yourself a satisfying salty cheese snack that’s hard to beat!

haloumi on grille
Halloumi on the Grill
haloumi presentation

We probably have this more often than we should but it is so tempting and easy to make that it’s almost impossible to resist.

These Middle Eastern grocery store items are convenient, healthy and taste great. There are so many foods to try, but these favorites are used so often in our recipes we just had to share.

Which grocery items are your favorites?

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