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
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!
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 Butter – or 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!
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!
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.
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!
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…
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?