Real Food…The Healthy Convenient Options

I commonly refer to “whole food” goodness in my recipe posts and tweets. The definition of what whole food is far from concrete with thousands of different interpretations based on individual preference and ideals. To me whole food is…

“Food that has been minimally processed, maintains it’s inherent nutritional goodness, free from artificial ingredients.”

The obvious ones are fruits and veggies…canned, fresh, frozen, once they’re not coated in sauce, oil or heavily seasoned! Think 100% organic apple puree, nothing added or taken away Vs. canned fruit in syrup or with artificial sweetener.

I eat as much whole, natural food as possible. Food which doesn’t require a label or ingredient list, with a best before as opposed to a use by date…but there are some exceptions that I have to make for convenience sake. If I had all the time in the world I’d make a whole lot more from scratch!

Some of the convenience foods I partake in…

Non Dairy Milk, Soy & Coconut Yoghurt, 100% all natural nut butters, 100% Fruit Jams, Snack Bars, occasionally soup and bread…but there is massive variation in terms of the ingredient lists when it comes to pre-packaged foods.

Here’s a few comparisons as examples…

Non Dairy Milks

Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk

Almond Breeze Sweetened Chocolate Milk

I’d avoid this one due to the added sugar and also the carrageenan  – this document is worth reviewing to make an informed decision about opting in or out of it as a food ingredient!

Nut Butters

Here is where some exceptions are made. When it comes to nut butters I 100% all natural varieties on a daily basis without hesitation…in oats, on fruit, pancakes, by the spoonful…

Meridian All Natural Peanut Butteror homemade super drippy coconut peanut butter!

And what I would consider an exception/treat/dessert nut butter…The ingredient is still relatively small…it’s the added sugar and oil that key to watch out for. In terms of nut butters it’s far from the worst offender. As noted, there’s no hydrogenated oil or HFCS; two ingredients to watch out for on all packaging!

Cereals

I’m not really a packaged cereal eater if I’m honest. I love a bowl of puffed amaranth every now and then but oats are generally my go to if I fancy breakfast in a bowl.

If I was to recommend anything other than oats…(aside from other plain and simple straight up grains from quinoa to millet, amaranth to short grain brown rice…great ways to switch up your morning meal!)

Shredded Wheat would get the number one spot!

One single ingredient…nothing added or taken away!

And those that profess to be “healthy” tend not to get my backing!

Special K

Aside from the long ingredients list, the added sugar is one to watch out for as well as anything artificial. If it needs to have vitamins and minerals added to make it healthy then as a rule of thumb I avoid it. It means it’s been stripped of its nutrients and they need to be return in order to meet food standard regulations.

Snack Bars

Larabars & Nakd Bars are both great options! 100% all natural ingredients!

The picture of ingredients says it all! Thumbs up all round! The Nakd bars contain a similar mix!

The first ingredient, glucose syrup, one of the many names for pure sugar…never a good start to the day!

Bread

Biona Rye Bread (not gluten free but I find I can tolerate it in small amounts!)

Of course opting out of the not so healthy options 100% of the time is by no means what I’m saying. Live by the 80/20 rule if possible (hydrogenated fat/trans fat and HFCS being the exceptions!)

And then we have the gluten free option. People (generalisation I know) see “gluten free” and instantly think it’s got to be healthier than their standard loaf…

BFree Brown Seeded Loaf

When in doubt check and think…

  • Minimum ingredients
  • Check for added sugar
  • Are there any ingredients listed as numbers, as being artificial or that you don’t recognise as food?
  • Could I possibly make this myself?

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Katie,
    If you are looking for a good GF bread try out the Canyon Bakehouse company. They have a very short and natural ingreedient list. Also, have you ever heard of Food for life products, such as Ezikiel bread? If so what is your take on those?

  2. Love your post. I have the same mindset as you and really enjoy finding foods that are better for me, even if they are in a package. I wish I had all the time in the world to make homemade bread and homemade yogurt but that does not always happen! Have a great weekend!

  3. I hate how people believe that cereals like Special K are healthy, they are just full of absolute crap, they way they are marketed is really disgusting. Also a lot of people assume that just because something is Gluten Free or Vegan it’s healthy, which as you’ve pointed out above, is definitely not the case!

  4. I am all about minimal ingredient lists and avoiding processed foods as often as possible. My most favorite peanut butters are from Peanut Butter & Co.! I have a serious stock supply of Crunch Time and Mighty Maple…I thought of you yesterday and today as I craved and ate eggs for lunch. lol

    1. Ha thanks Meredith! I do like Peanut butter and Co it’s just the added oil and sugar I try and keep to a minimum. Love my 100% nut butters! You should try make you’re own, you’ll fall in love!

  5. Thanks so much for these informative posts. I sometimes get lost when looking at ingredients and remembering which ingredients are good, bad, and the worst. I like posts like these, because it’s simple to understand.

  6. LOVE this. Your recipes are incredible, but you have so much nutritional knowledge too! Thanks for the heads up about Almond Breeze especially–I remember not drinking it on the whole 30 because of the carageenan but didn’t really look into it. This was so informative!

  7. I can tell you now that everything you listed here is in my cupboard or fridge – Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk, tick; Meridian All Natural Peanut Butter, tick; Shredded Wheat, tick; Nakd Bars, tick; rye bread, tick. I try to make as much as I can from scratch but I do work full time, plus overtime, so sometimes I have to cut corners, which is why I make sure I have healthy products in the house, such as the ones you’ve listed, that will save me time.