Store-Bought Snacks with Simple Ingredients

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Trying to clean up your snacks but struggling to decipher which store-bought options are truly clean and nutritious? We scoured the stores and web and came up with this list of travel-friendly, no refrigeration required snack discoveries (tasted tested and approved!) as well as a few recommendations to help you discover your own clean snack foods.

What to Look for on a Label

When choosing store-bought commercial snacks, pay close attention the nutrition facts label and ingredients list.  Packaging can be very misleading, with seemingly “healthy” foods being nothing more than glorified candy bars in reality.  When looking at packages, try to avoid or limit:

  • Added Sugar: Basically anything except for milk and fruit such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave, etc. If a product has added sugar, try to opt for small amounts of pure honey or maple syrup which are less processed.  Bonus- the new food label contains grams of added sugar per serving so glance at that for a quick reference!
  • Artificial Sweeteners: These synthetic sugar substitutes include acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), neotame, saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), sucralose (Splenda). Read more on this controversial topic.
  • Trans Fat: If you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils on the ingredient list, find a different item. The “0g trans fat” label on many products can be misleading since manufacturers can list 0g if there is less than 0.5g per serving, so always read the ingredient list to be sure!
  • Processed Carbohydrates: Check for white flour, instant oats, white rice flour, maltodextrin, etc. on the ingredients list. These ingredients will cause a spike and crash in glucose and energy- which you don’t want!
  • Inulin or Chicory Root: This is a type of prebiotic that helps boost the fiber content of products but many people are very sensitive to it and have adverse GI side effects from it. Be cautious with total amount consumed and see how your body responds.
  • Chemical Sounding Ingredients: Keep it simple! Choose items with short ingredient lists with ingredients you would have in your kitchen and that you recognize. Minimally processed ingredients as close to nature as possible will provide you with the most nutrition. If your grandparents/great grandparents don’t know what it is, should we be eating it!?
#cleaneating made easy with these nutritionist approved store-bought snack suggestions. #saslife Click To Tweet

Create Anchored Snacks- No Naked Carbs!

For a satisfying snack, pay close attention to the carbohydrate, protein, fat and calorie content, aiming for a good balance of nutrient dense carbohydrates and protein/fat.  No naked carbs! (i.e. always anchor your carbohydrates with protein and/or fat). Use this plate as a visual reminder for creating anchored snacks.

Some items are mainly carbohydrates, others mostly protein and/or fat and some are the perfect balance of all three (the perfect anchored snack!).  If something is low in protein, be mindful to pair it with something higher in protein and/or healthy fat.  For example, an all-fruit bar has no protein so pair it with cheese, a meat stick or nuts to give you longer lasting energy.

What to Buy!

This list is by no means exhaustive and is meant to help guide you on your journey to clean eating.  These products can be purchased in stores like Earth Fare, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Publix, Target, Harris Teeter and/or Costco as well as online through sites like Amazon and Thrive Market.

Bars

  • Rise Bars
    • Pea protein (vegan) and whey protein based options, several flavors available in each type.
    • Use as a meal replacement or cut in half for an anchored snack option- no need to add anything else to this one!
  • Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Superfood Bars
    • Several flavors available, an anchored snack option.
  • RXBars
    • Several flavors available- an anchored snack option.
    • Available in full size (meal replacement or larger snack) and kids size (perfect for a snack).
  • Lara Bars
    • Certain flavors- check ingredients for added sugars!- an anchored snack option.
  • Epic Performance Bars
    • Several flavors available- an anchored snack option.
  • That’s It Fruit Bars
    • All fruit bars, several flavors available.
    • No protein/fat so be sure to anchor this one!

Meat Sticks, Bars and Jerky

  • Paleo Valley (grass-fed, pastured-raised)
    • Several flavors available, beef and turkey based options.
    • Mostly protein/fat so add a nutrient dense carbohydrate, if desired, or enjoy as is.
  • Epic Bites or Bars (grass-fed, wild-caught, non-GMO raised poultry)
    • Several flavors available, bison, pork, beef, chicken, beef liver, salmon, turkey and venison options.
    • Mostly protein/fat so add a nutrient dense carbohydrate, if desired, or enjoy as is.
  • Wild Zora Meat and Veggie Bars (grass-fed, free-range)
    • Several flavors available, beef, turkey, pork and lamb based options (allergen and AIP friendly!).
    • An anchored snack option.
  • Mighty Bar (organic, grass-fed beef)
    • Several flavors available.
    • Mostly protein/fat so add a nutrient dense carbohydrate, if desired, or enjoy as is.
  • Epic Trail Mix (grass-fed, non-GMO raised poultry)
    • Carefully crafted combinations of beef jerky or uncured bacon bites with quality nuts, dried fruit, coconut, herbs and spices- designed to conveniently feed our inner “hunter and gatherer” with whole foods.
    • An anchored snack option.

“Chips”

  • Bare Fruit and Beet Chips
    • Real ingredients, nothing artificial.
    • No protein/fat so be sure to anchor this one!
  • Bare Coconut Chips
    • Real ingredients, nothing artificial- an anchored snack option.

Other

  • Moon Cheese
    • All the goodness of cheese, but with a crunch. No refrigeration required, and the ingredients are just cheese!
    • Mostly protein/fat so add a nutrient dense carbohydrate, if desired, or enjoy as is.
  • The Good Bean Roasted Chickpeas
    • Several flavors available, but be mindful of ingredients of more seasoned varieties.
    • An anchored snack option.

Homemade Snacks

Whenever time permits, make your own versions of these products at home to completely control the quality and quantity of ingredients (and save a few bucks!).  Check out these recipes that can be whipped up in minutes with a few simple ingredients most people regularly have in their pantry:

 

We hope you enjoy trying and discovering new products!

What are your favorite clean snack food discoveries?

 

 

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About Author

Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN

Nutritionist

Ashley is a Nutritionist at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Biofeedback Instructor, and has a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys spending as much time as possible at the beach, running, cooking and crafting. Follow @abaileyRD on Twitter.

2 Comments

    • Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN
      Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN on

      They have a few more ingredients compared to Moon Cheese, but they're adding herbs and spices and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice) so these would be another good option. Thanks for sharing!

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