Eat more packaged food!
Wait, what? Did a dietitian (to be) – someone focused on healthy eating just say that? Yes, yes I did.
Packaged foods have a bad reputation, but there are more to this group of foods than meets the eye.
There are actually some benefits to eating (certain) processed foods.
- Storage – many can be kept without refrigeration making them perfect for the emergency snack at the office!
- Convenience – fresh foods are wonderful, but have a short shelf life. Processed foods are well, processed, and therefore can last a lot longer before spoiling.
- Health – a variety of delicious and nutritious processed foods are now available!
So what processed foods exactly would a dietitian recommend that fit the bill for both health and taste? Here’s my personal top ten list!
- Englightened Broad Bean Crisps: These are my new JAM. They come in both sweet and savory flavors and in a 100-calorie pack, have 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 10% of your daily iron needs! They’re crunchy and delicious – trust me!
- Applesauce cups: bring back the childhood favorite! But be sure to get unsweetened. Liven it up with a sprinkling of cinnamon!
- Babybell cheese (light version): with 15% of your daily calcium needs in only 50 calories, what’s not to love? Add a fresh piece of fruit or some whole grain crackers and BAM! Instant balanced snack.
- Wild Garden single serve hummus: hummus is full of healthy fats, fiber and protein but can easily be overeaten. These single serve packs are perfect to keep at work (right beside a bag of baby carrots to pair them with).
- Trail mix singles: just like hummus, trail mix can easily be overdone. Find one that focuses on nuts and dried fruit instead of candy pieces.
- Tuna salad packs: perfect for a quick lunch, these packs pack-a-punch nutritionally! Pro Tip: check the label to be sure there is not a crazy amount of sodium.
- Seeds of Change microwave rice packets: they come in a variety of combinations and flavors – everything from ‘7 whole grains’ to ‘Brown and Red Rice with Chia and Kale.’ They make mealtime a snap! Just add some frozen vegetables and a can of beans and you have a meal the whole family with love in less than 10 minutes.
- Frozen waffles: walking out the door without breakfast? You could stop at a drive-through… or you could pop a frozen waffle into the toaster! The later saves you money and empty calories. Buy options that have more grams of protein than grams of sugar (extra points if they have that many grams of fiber as well).
- Canned soup: reading labels is KEY here. Lots of soup options are very high in sodium, but that does not mean there aren’t diamonds in the rough.
- Ice cream: You read correctly. There are great frozen treat products (ice cream, frozen yogurt, fruit popsicles) available that really hit the spot! “Halo Top” brand is one of my favorite healthy ice cream varieties for both taste and nutrition! And recently I tried ProYo which is also DELICIOUS and full of protein (10g in ½ cup!)
Dole chocolate covered bananas, Healthy Choice premium fudge bars and Yoplait Greek frozen yogurt bars are other great options!
What are your favorite healthy picks for processed fare?