Fewer Ingredients, Please! (Shopping For Cleaner Foods)

Since finishing the Conscious Cleanse a couple of weeks ago, I’ve tried to determine the best way to adjust my diet going forward to make sure I keep feeling good (I felt GREAT during the cleanse) without being quite so restrictive. One thing Kevin and I have started doing is eating out less, which is kind of a no brainer but we’ve been much more intentional about that lately. Our schedules get hectic, but instead of grabbing Qdoba or Thai as often, we try to plan meals in advance and have easy-to-prep things at home that we can make quickly.

Knowing that sugar is most definitely my downfall, I’ve cut down on my intake immensely, as well as successfully eliminated Splenda from my diet (now THAT was tough!). 🙂

We’ve also started paying attention to food packaging in a different way, focusing on the number of ingredients in a product in addition to its nutritional content. We’ve begun to buy things with as few ingredients as possible. (I was especially stuck by this when I went to buy raw almond butter at Harris Teeter a few weeks ago. The Harris Teeter private label almond butter has just two ingredients — raw almonds and oil — but the Jif version had triple the ingredients, including sugar and hydrogenated oils. I think I’ll stick with the two-ingredient option!)

reading labels

I think those are the most offensive foods, too — the ones that parade as healthy options when they’re really not that good for you at all. I mean, everyone’s always giving Oreos and potato chips a hard time, but if you’re choosing to eat cookies or chips chances are you know you’re not making a healthy snack choice. Foods like frozen yogurt, energy bars, and veggie patties all sound like healthy choices, when in reality they can often be quite unhealthy foods with alarmingly high sugar and calorie content or hidden fillers. (Of course, just because a packaged food has a mere handful ingredients doesn’t inherently make it healthy, but it can often be a helpful gauge.)

A small selection of packaged foods I’ve discovered using the “find the option with the fewest ingredients” rule:

Lärabars: These. Are. Amazing. How did it take me so long to discover these? I especially recommend the Cashew Cookie bar, with a whopping TWO ingredients (cashews and dates). Pretty cool, huh?

cashew cookie larabar

Snyder’s of Hanover tortilla chips: The perfect pair for some homemade guacamole, these chips contain just enriched yellow corn, canola oil, and salt. Nice and simple — and delicious!

snyder's of hanover tortilla chips

Trader Joe’s chicken sausages (in a variety of flavors): These have become a staple at the Keller house. They’re so quick and easy to prepare, and consist of chicken meat, water, seasoning, and fruit or peppers, depending on the variety. We love to serve these with a side of kale (lightly sauteed in a bit of olive oil or coconut oil and red pepper flakes). Yum!

trader joe's chicken sausage

Simple Squares: Another delicious treat, these bars are wheat, gluten, dairy, and soy free and are packed full of healthful ingredients including organic unsweetened coconut, organic cashews, organic almonds, and organic honey. Yum!

simple squares coconut bars

 

Marge Granola: I haven’t actually given this stuff a try, but it sounds incredible! I follow the blog The Kitchn, and it turns out the blog’s author, Megan Gordon, is also the owner of Seattle-based Marge Granola. After reading about this tasty and nutritious granola on her website, I can’t wait to sample it myself! I think I’d like to try the Hazelnut Cacao Nib first.

hazelnut

For those of you who are also trying to be conscious of the number of ingredients your foods contain, what other recommendations can you send my way?

3 Comments

  1. gwynnem

    I know what you mean about preferring fewer ingredient food items. When Cameron and I buy packaged food, we are label readers, too. My recipes on the blog may not be “few ingredients,” but we work hard at cooking meals from whole ingredients. Now when I do eat packaged food that’s packed with excess preservatives, etc., my body lets me know immediately.

    The only time I’ve gone “off the wagon” has been with Field Roast vegan sausages. All of the ingredients are whole, but combined, they’re heavenly. 🙂

  2. Olga Gifford

    Eric and I have been doing the same thing! Its amazing how horrible some of those “healthy” items are for you. I spend double the time at the grocery store now just checking the labels of items. Its really disappointing to know that stores are even selling food that isn’t actually food. P.S. I LOVE your blog, first friend!

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