With all the different brands on the market these days, grocery shopping for a healthy food is not always an easy task. Be aware that manufacturer's can trick you on into thinking a food is healthy, by using words like "all natural" or "high in fiber or protein". Always check the ingredient list first to find out what you are really buying! Stay away from brands that have lots of additives and preservatives (aka unrecognizable words). Here are some of my suggestions to make your shopping experience a little easier! When in doubt, use this list to guide you on ingredients to avoid.
You won't believe the chemicals hidden in yogurt! Most yogurts advertise as healthy, but at closer look contain artificial sweeteners, bad sugars, GMO's, and a slew of other processed ingredients. You might as well be eating a junk food since most yogurts can have more added sugar than a candy bar! The first thing to look for is an organic brand to avoid GMO’s, growth hormones, and herbicides and pesticides. Most sweeteners in yogurt come from GMO's. The best choice will always be plain organic yogurt (Greek or regular), which you can sweeten yourself with fresh fruit, raw honey, pure stevia (see below), or maple syrup. Stick with minimally processed organic brands that are either sometimes grass-fed or 100% grass-fed such as Traders Point Creamery, Maple Hill Creamery, Nancy’s, Organic Valley, Kalona, Wallaby Organic, and Clover Stornetta, Stonyfield, and regional brands such as Butterworks Farm, Seven Stars, Straus, Hawthorne Valley Farm, and Cedar Summit.
Bread is a very hot topic, as it is becoming more and more unhealthy and overly processed .
Wheat in itself is being genetically modified in the fields (to increase yield), and even just the smallest changes in wheat protein structure can cause a devastating immune response to our bodies (hence the rise in wheat intolerances). To make matters worse, almost all bread contains dough conditioners, GMO’s, and toxic chemicals. Read ingredient lists to know for sure!
A healthy choice= Sprouted Grains Ezekiel bread (also come in tortillas and English muffins), which is made from sprouted grains, and best if kept frozen because of its lack of preservatives.
Aim for “100% whole grain” bread or wraps (the higher in fiber the better), but check ingredients for additives and preservatives sticking with a few simple ingredients.
Here is a great list of the best vs. worst breads and why!
A good cereal is low in sugar and high in fiber with a clean, natural ingredient list. A good goal= <6g sugar per serving. Keep in mind that just because a cereal is labeled non-GMO or organic, it may not be made with nutritious ingredients. You still need to read ingredient lists! Look for cereals that are minimally processed and made with real food: oats, seeds, nuts, and fruit without a ton of added sugar. Since wheat is highly processed these days, a wheat free cereal is a healthy choice, but not always! Don’t fall for the “natural” label as those can still contain GMOs, loads of additives and synthetic pesticide residues.
A new favorite of mine that you can buy online is Catalina Crunch. It has zero artificial ingredients, made with a healthy plant based fiber/protein. https://us.catalinacrunch.com/
Bottom line… It is not easy these days to find a “healthy” cereal! A better bet… go for oatmeal or healthy granola!
A good granola has a clean ingredient label, is made from real oats, low in sugar, and contains healthy fats.
Granola can be high in calories, so watch servings!
Try: Purely Elizabeth Granola (my favorite!)
Udi's (Gluten Free) Simple Au Naturel Granola
Ola! (100% Natural Hand-baked)
Simply Granola Flax and Fruit (made with gluten free oats)
For a great homemade granola that is allergen friendly try: Chrissy's Crumble No-Grain-Ola
(Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Vegetarian based, with three vegan options) http://chrissyscrumble.com
Avoid crackers with “hydrogenated” (bad fats) in the ingredient list.
Go for high fiber and clean ingredients. Wheat free is usually the
healthiest, they use more nutritious ingredients such as healthy fats and
whole grain brown rice/quinoa. Read ingredient lists!
Try: Mary’s Gone Crackers (my favorite), Ak Mak, Simple Mills Crackers,
Rice cakes-Lundberg thin stackers (great for adding peanut butter,
hummus, or avocado!)
It is always best is to make your own ( Oil & vinegar, lemon/lime, spices etc.)! The majority of store bought dressings are loaded with chemicals, bad fats and lots of sugar. (Low fat usually means more sugar has been added to make up for the taste!)
If you must get store bought, go for simple clean ingredients, with healthy oils, vinegar, and spices.
Try: Tessemae's, Primal Kitchen, Simply Dressed, Brianna’s, Annie’s (still need to read labels for clean ingredients since some brands vary in what ingredients they add with certain varieties)
Avoid pre-packaged oatmeal. Choose any Steel cut or All Natural Quaker 100% Rolled Oats. The ingredient list should say “100% all natural rolled oats”. Stay away from the packets which are usually loaded with sugar.
Always go for 100% whole grain, and watch portions. Best are the higher protein varieties. Ezekiel Sprouted Grains pasta is less processed and will pack more protein in a serving. http://www.foodforlife.com/product/pasta/ezekiel-49-sprouted-whole-grain-penne-pasta
Since pasta is made from “wheat”, pasta substitutes are healthier alternatives- see below.
Quinoa, Chick Pea, Brown Rice, or Black Bean Pasta (any brand), are all great options. Or try a vegetable substitute such as Spaghetti Squash. Lots of grocery stores have pre-packed vegetable pastas such as squash, zucchini, or sweet potato noodles. Try making your own using a Veggetti or noodle spiralizer.
Bars are a great convenience food to get a healthy meal/snack on the go, but it is important to do your homework with all the false advertising out there. A lot of bars can be full of chemicals, additives, hidden sugars and sweeteners that cause lots of GI distress. Avoid bars with lots of artificial ingredients & high sugar content. A good bar contains real ingredients, is low in sugar, and contains a natural source of protein, healthy fat, and/or fiber. There are lots of healthy bars coming out on the market that follow these guidelines, so its always best to learn how to read an ingredient list so you can judge yourself! Here is an example of a bar that is made with a variety of real food ingredients without all of the sugar alcohols, GMO's, and dairy protein) called Rewind Superbar www.rewindtoday.com. For 10% off your first order, use code janaelle10.
For store bought brands, my favorite are Rx and Lara, since they are made with real ingredients. Meat bars are also a great option as long as you are going with a brand that uses all natural ingredients, grass fed beef and no bad sugars or additives. Some examples of healthy meat bars: Epic, and Chomps, DNX bars.
I personally prefer plant based protein powders since they provide such a nutritious source of protein that don't cause GI distress, but only if you are choosing the right one! Some protein powders have lots of additives or artificial sweeteners, so you need to do your research. If protein powder is part of your daily regimen, I recommend giving a plant based one a try since some whey/casein based powders can be highly processed (and can cause inflammation). Here is a great reference for what to stay away from in a protein powder. https://foodbabe.com/the-horrible-stuff-in-protein-powder-is-it-in-yours/.
For a "complete" shake (besides protein and fiber, they provide 12-14 servings of fruits and vegetables for a "complete" meal). Juice Plus Complete Shakes are my go to. It is like juicing but without all the added work! I LOVE the taste (light, refreshing and extremely satisfying) and they have an amazing nutrition profile. I find most shakes have a funny aftertaste and these do NOT! These plant based shakes are also dairy free, gluten free, with no processed sugar or additives. Even great for kids! To order: www.janaellehumberd.juiceplus.com
Keep in mind a soy based protein powder or shake is only healthy as long as the soy is non-GMO. Soy has gotten a bad rep, when it's really the "GMO soy" that you want to stay away from. The big kicker is that only 7% of soy is non-gmo, so it is hard to come by these days!
I like to use protein powder for baking, in my oatmeal, or to change up my smoothie flavors. Here are a couple that I use myself and recommend because of the clean ingredients. There are a lot of healthy ones to choose from, just be sure to read your labels!
Truvani: organic plant based www.truvani.com/plant/protein
Your Super: organic plant based https://yoursuper.com/collections/your-superfoods/products/vegan-protein-powder
KOS: organic plant based www.kos.com/products/kos-organic-vegan-plant-based-protein-powder
Aloha organic plant based www.aloha.com
Always go for “all natural” brands.
Best way to tell…check ingredients to avoid added sugar and hydrogenated oils!
Example: All Natural Teddy Bear Peanut Butter (Ingredients = peanuts)
When in need of something sweet try making your own desserts with cocoa and other healthy ingredients to get that sweet fix without all of the added sugar: check out www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com (healthy dessert blog) for some ideas with lots of options for substitutions.
Check out my favorite clean homemade treats http://www.janaellehumberdnutrition.com/sweet-tooth
ON THE GO BITES
I love pre-packaged bites to satisfy a sweet craving or provide a healthy snack until my next meal. Here are my favs:
HAIL MERRY: These bites/desserts are made with shredded coconut, virgin coconut oil and good fats from raw nuts. Available in the cold section at Whole Foods
CLEAN ENERGY BITES: These are home-made bite sized holes, with balanced macros for a great on the go snack. Loaded with healthy ingredients that typically include dried fruit, oats, nuts, seeds, cocoa, protein powder...aka FUEL with a satisfying punch of sweet! The beauty and appeal of these bite-sized snacks is they are chock-full of vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and complex carbs—hence the “energy”.
ABBY'S BETTER NUT BUTTER BITES: Quick on the go bite-sized snack balls- gluten free, peanut free, paleo, plant based with only 6 clean ingredients. VERY TASTY!
PROTEIN POWER BALL: Another on the go bite-sized ball with loads of flavor. Packed with plant based protein, dairy free, gluten free, vegan, soy free, non-gmo. My son loves these!
SUGAR SUBSTITUTES /LOW CALORIE SWEETENER
This is a very confusing topic as there are so many sugar replacements on the market these days. Best is always a natural source such as honey, pure maple syrup, or one of my favorites is coconut palm sugar, since it is low glycemic (making it more diabetic friendly) and one of the most natural unprocessed forms of sugar available. It is naturally high in amino acids, and has 10,000 times more potassium, 20 times more magnesium and 20 times more iron than conventional sugar. Great for baking!
For a low calorie sweetener, I recommend Stevia, as long as you are buying the right brand and version. Stevia leaf extract is not the same as the whole stevia leaf that you can grow in your backyard. The extract is highly processed using a patentable chemical-laden process that includes about 40 steps to process the extract from the leaf, (relying on chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol). YUK! Most stevia formulations on the market also contain natural flavors and either erythritol or dextrose (which are on the list of no-no's). Look for “Whole Leaf Stevia” or an extract that contains no additional additives instead. Sweet Leaf & Trader Joes are my top recommendations. Stay away from Truvia, Pure Via, Stevia in the Raw, which are very processed and contain additives you don’t want to be consuming on a daily basis!