12 Convenient grocery store foods that are actually good for you
There is one thing that I often hear from my clients when it comes to preparing meals and snacking, and that is that they want convenience. For me, I am also big on taste and flavor as well as looking for products that use wholesome, real ingredients, are devoid of artificial colors or sweeteners and just downright taste good!
As a consumer, we ask, "Why is that good for me?" or "Will my family like this?" As a nutritionist, I am constantly searching for new products not only for my household but to share with readers and clients alike. I didn't really have to look any further than my fridge/freezer or pantry! Here are 12 healthy grocery store food finds that will add variety and flavor to your current eating lifestyle. Enjoy!
Be your own barista!
Image: Califia Farms
Before I even sit down at my computer to check emails I have to have my coffee! Since I don't leave the house till after eight to get my son to school, stopping at the coffee shop is not happening first thing in the morning as I am up at about 5:30 a.m. I love the Concentrated Cold Brew Coffee from Califia Farms; not only does it contain perceivably less acid than than hot brewed coffee, but cold brew coffee also keeps flavor and caffeine to a maximum. This coffee is also made from Rainforest Alliance Certified beans that are also GMO free. Depending on my mood (and the weather!), sometimes I like icing it, which makes for something more refreshing. I have also recommended that clients add it to their chocolate-flavored breakfast smoothies; they love it!
Gourmet frozen meals
Image: Saffron Road
When dinnertime rolls around, most of us are looking for something warm to enjoy. I grew up eating home-cooked meals infused with spices, vegetables and tons of flavor. For those of us who ate out more often, we probably wished we could enjoy these delicious restaurant meals... at home! That's where the gourmet frozen meals from Saffron Road come in. From Mexican, to Korean, to Indian and Thai cuisine, there are over 20 different flavors to choose from. I love the Lamb Saag and the Lemongrass Basil Chicken entrees. I recommend that clients add a side of vegetables to their meals to bump up the fiber and for an added antioxidant boost. All Saffron Road products are made with the highest quality ingredients, many are certified gluten free, some are Non-GMO Project Verified and all are certified halal.
Image: Ruby Rocket's
As a mom, I know that getting my son to eat a variety of vegetables is a challenge. However, he does love ice pops, so when I came across Ruby Rocket's Veggie & Fruit Pops, I knew that we had a winner. One key component that is really appealing to me is that these frozen pops contain probiotics and they also have the lowest amount of naturally occurring sugar (4 grams) of any pop on the market. The Green Galaxy flavor is one of our favorites, which contains a blend of organic and natural kiwifruit, green apple, avocado, banana and spinach. They also happen to be dairy free, gluten free and GMO free, always a bonus for our kiddos and great for the whole family!
Let them eat chocolate!
My clients know that chocolate can fit into a healthy lifestyle, and my general recommendation is the darker the better! I always recommend pairing chocolate up with a healthy fat like seeds or nuts and a protein like 1/2 cup of milk or yogurt. The trick is to eat it earlier on in the day so that you are satisfied and satiated, which reduces the likelihood of overindulging later. One of my favorites is barkTHINS snacking chocolate! Thin slivers of snackable dark chocolate packed with amazingly simple and real ingredients like pumpkin seeds. Not only is it fair trade dark chocolate and non-GMO, the benefits of pumpkin seeds can provide an additional bit of protein to keep you fuller longer. They also come in controllable portions, so it's easy to have a piece and save the rest for later. My favorite is the Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt flavor! #Yummy
Leftovers no more!
Image: Sweet Earth Natural Foods
If you can't leave your desk for lunch or find that leftovers just aren't cutting it any more, check out the burritos from Sweet Earth Natural Foods. I love the Peruvian flavor. Made with superfood ingredients that pack in nutrients and flavor, each burrito boasts 16 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. It's the perfect combination of vegetarian protein combined with a blend of sweet potato, quinoa, black beans, spirulina, roasted corn and gourmet goat cheese. All of their burritos can be heated in just three minutes and we all know how valuable convenience is for our on-the-go lifestyles!
Baked and booty-full!
Image: Pirate's Booty
I can't tell you how popular Pirate's Booty Aged White Cheddar snacks are at my son's school. Not only are they gluten, peanut and tree nut free, they also have half the fat and fewer calories than regular fried potato chips. This baked snack is made from puffed rice and corn blended with real aged white cheddar cheese. Another bonus, they are made without artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Bread that packs a punch
Image: Dave's Killer Bread
The general recommendation for whole wheat bread is a good start, but once you read the ingredients list you may find yourself disappointed by the lack of nutrients in each slice. If you are a sandwich lover like myself, check out the 21 Whole Grains and Seeds organic bread from Dave's Killer Bread. With 22 whole grains, 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and 260 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, this bread does your body good!
Meet me at the bar
Image: CLIF Bar
My clients are always looking for healthy convenient snacks they can keep at work, in their gym bag or in the car that are not only nutritious, but also taste good. That's where the CLIF Organic Trail Mix bars come into play. When it comes to trail mix, it really is hard to stop at 1/4 cup which is the recommended serving size, so when you have a packaged snack with all of the yummies like fruit, whole nuts and chunks of dark chocolate you can't go wrong. To boot, they are also gluten free, offer 3-4 grams of fiber per serving and each bar is 200 calories or less. I love the Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Raspberry flavor for that added boost of antioxidants!
Image: CORE Natural
When we think electrolytes, the first thing that comes to mind is usually sugar-laden or artificially sweetened sports beverages. Whether we are hydrating or rehydrating, water is my recommendation. The reason why: no calories. However, when we are on the go, we inevitably travel with bottled water. Buyer beware, not all bottled waters are created alike! The body's natural pH is 7.4 and so is the pH of CORE HYDRATION water, so it works in harmony with your body. One thing I like about CORE is that it has a clean and crisp taste, and I love the packaging; the bottle is contoured to fit into your hand so it is perfect for when you are active or on the go! Also, the blue top can act like a cup that my son can drink out of when we are at the park or out and about.
Ancient grains, modern world
Image: Ancient Harvest
Not only is quinoa considered a super-grain because it contains almost as much fiber as most other grains, but it is also a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, folate and vitamin B2. Combine this gluten-free powerhouse with nutritious legumes and that's what you will find in the Black Bean & Quinoa Elbows from Ancient Harvest. From the look, taste and texture, your family will be surprised that they are gluten free and chock full of protein and fiber! I love this Thai Peanut Macaroni salad recipe as well; simple, tasty and healthy!
Image: Salt for Life
In the kitchen, one thing I really focus on is limiting added sodium when cooking, marinating or seasoning dishes. But I do love the taste of salt! So when I came across Salt for Life, I was thrilled. It looks and tastes like salt because it is salt. The difference is that common table salt is sodium based, whereas Salt for Life is a blend of naturally sourced potassium salt and sea salt, resulting in 75 percent less sodium. For me, this translates to less bloating as well as disease prevention. Potassium is an overlooked and under-consumed mineral in our diet, which actually has a wide variety of surprising health benefits which includes helping to balance out the harmful effects of too much sodium, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and brain function, decreasing muscle cramping, stabilizing blood sugar levels as well as playing an important role in improving and extending our bone health.
PB with a twist
Image: KIND Snacks
Once I started to make and take my lunches for school, PB&J was my go-to sandwich. As I have gotten older, I'm finding that for me that flavor combo really hits the spot when I am snacking. That's why I love the Peanut Butter Berry bar from KIND. This Healthy Grains bar contains a foundation of five super grains (gluten free oats, millet, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat) and has at least 18 grams of whole grains per bar. The best part is that it tastes almost identical to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; even your kids will love them!