Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Less Junky Junk Food

Okay, so I know one of the primary goals of The Whole Life Challenge is to focus on eating fresh, clean, wholesome and minimally processed foods—and I’ve definitely been striving for that, I swear. But as anyone who’s been doing this for the past five-plus weeks (and/or for more than one Challenge) knows, there are times when you just want to reach into a bag or open up a container of something for a quick food fix.

Oh sure, you could roll with something non-compliant and lose a point, but guess what? In addition to the old, tried-and-true nuts and dried fruit (and LaraBars, which I don't really like since I started making my own), I’ve discovered a few packaged foods that will satisfy a craving (and/or need for speed) while being one hundred percent compliant. (Incidentally, as I'm sure you've noticed, most allegedly "healthy" packaged snack foods on grocery store shelves are loaded with non-compliant ingredients, from artificial sweeteners to all kinds of other garbage.) So, I figured I’d compile a list of a few of my favorites—all A-OK at the Advanced Level. If you have a favorite to add to the list, please do so in the comments. (Just make sure to note if it’s compliant at the advanced, intermediate or beginner level.) Here you go:

These healthy hot dogs have only 8 grams of fat compared to the average 15 grams in most brands, and because they’re made from grass fed beef, they’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids (the good fat). I like to split one open and heat it up in a skillet, then serve it with some mustard (make sure it’s compliant) and round it out with some raw vegetables. My husband has also sliced up a couple and tossed them into his scrambled eggs, which is surprisingly tasty!

Yes, it would be better to bake up a batch yourself with a healthier oil (these are made with canola and/or safflower and/or sunflower, which The Whole Life Challenge says are allowed but not ideal since they’re industrial seed oils). But in a pinch, when pressed for time, these are my go-to sweet potato chips. (Warning: They’re addictive so watch your portions!) BTW, the ones made by Food Should Taste Good are equally tasty and compliant (Trader Joe's has them, too!), and some of the other Terra chips (like the sweet potato and carrot) are compliant as well (just make sure to read the ingredients lists).

Once again, these are made with less-than-ideal sunflower oil—but that’s the only ingredient, along with plantains and salt. Also like the sweet potato chips, these are dangerously addictive so I suggest portioning them out rather than eating them straight from the bag. Um, yeah, good luck with that!

Sure, eating a piece of fresh fruit is a more filling and fiber-rich option, but occasionally I like to have a crunchier fruit-eating experience. (So does my son, and I’d much rather send these portable snacks to school with him over greasy, processed and/or artificially flavored stuff.) So far we’ve only tried the apples and the bananas and they’re both awesome. (We also love Trader Joe’s freeze-dried strawberries.)

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