My trip to the grocery store this evening prompted me to write about the nearly impossible task of finding a healthy snack in the chips aisle. WHAT A BUNCH OF GARBAGE THERE! So now I have to rephrase that…my goal was really more like finding something not-too-terrible in the chips and salty snacks aisle.
(Here's a whole list of healthy snack ideas.)
Why was I there in the first place you ask?
Yes, I know that aisle at the grocery store (and most aisles in the middle section) are full of processed foods with nothing but empty calories. However, we were invited to go to a couple different friend's places over the upcoming holiday weekend, and when I asked what I could bring, one of the things they asked for in both cases was a bag of chips. (I'm also taking hot dogs for tomorrow – the Coleman all natural kind from Cosco or also see these healthy hotdogs, and a pasta salad made with rice pasta for Sunday…in case you were wondering.)
Are you reading ingredient labels yet?
If you are, then I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. Most bags had trans fats or high fructose corn syrup, and some, are you sitting down?, had BOTH, like the pretzels of all things! Here's another one to remember – anything that has a cheesy flavor on it (or any flavoring similar to the stuff on Doritos), always has MSG. (Unless it's organic that is – I've had some good ones, but shhhh, don't tell anyone, it's still a processed food, organic or not.)
I loved the title on this picture I found at Flicker: “Friends do not let friends eat Doritos.” (Photo by Chaparral)
So what did I do? And what do I suggest you do in this situation?
I came home and made 10 batches of my popcorn.
It's much healthier with all that butter, coconut oil & sea salt, everyone loves it, and it costs less than the junky snacks, even using organic ingredients! It only took me about 45 minutes, and since it's so easy, in the meantime I put groceries away. (Which, by the way, mostly consists of non-food items this time of year. I get our produce at the farm market, and our meat, eggs & milk from the farm, so that doesn't leave much.)
I wish I could say I left without anything from that aisle
But I did get a couple bags of the least rotten salty snacks I could find in case someone didn't want popcorn, but trust me, they're still plenty rotten (especially the first one) and I should've left them there.
- I got one bag of “All Natural Cheetos” – I can't believe I'm admitting this. The ingredient label isn't AS scary as some in that aisle, but it's still not all sparkly (sunflower oil is not a great oil and the ingredients also listed something ending in an “ate” – which means it's a preservative), and it's even puffed. (I've read that anything puffed, similar to breakfast cereals that are extruded, are even more denatured than other processed foods.) But my kids love them, so I get them for a RARE treat. These were “only” $3.79 for an 8-ounce bag! I just decided I'm an idiot for buying those – a lot of money for NO nutrients – and I'm never buying them again. (Thanks for helping me work through that…)
- The other snack bag I got: Original Sun Chips in a blue bag (no flavoring, just salt), also for $3.79, but this bag was more generous, with a whopping 10 1/2 ounces. Besides the sunflower oil in these, the rest of this ingredient label actually isn't too bad. (Not only is it short, but I can also pronounce all the words and know what they are.)
- Update: I've also recently discovered Bugles. They're still somewhat nasty due to the non-organic corn (which means they're genetically modified and super-processed – scary), but at least they're made with coconut oil.
I'm not as bad when I'm not buying them
If I'm at a friend's house and they have snacks out, I don't worry so much about what they're made of – I'll usually show some restraint, and won't look at the ingredients in front of the host. I will even eat a few, and probably enjoy it, too. But when it's something I'm spending our money on and serving to others, I just have to look at the labels.
If you need an occasional bag of snacks, buy the Sun Chips in the blue bag, organic snacks, or instead just come home and make popcorn like I did. 🙂
Have you found any “good”, healthy snacks, either something you make yourself, or something you've found at the store?
- More healthy snack ideas!
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