Let’s be honest, it is extremely challenging in today’s fast-paced culture to completely get away from processed or minimally processed foods – it’s a matter of fact for many families and individuals that some of the pre-packaged “fresh” foods do save time when preparing meals and snacks.
When you walk through a commercial-chain grocery store, it’s amazing to see the numbers of aisles filled with items that are in some type of package. We have all heard it before, when you go grocery shopping stick to the perimeter of the store since that is where the freshest and least processed foods can be found; however, be aware, there are still ‘minimally processed’ foods in these areas too. Did you realize that those pre-washed, peeled baby carrots in a plastic bag are considered processed as well as the pre-washed, pre-packaged bags of salad? Don’t worry, though, we’re not going to tell you those carrots and pre-packaged salads are bad for you or that you shouldn’t buy them – we just want to bring an awareness that there is a continuum of processed foods. The continuum of processed foods is wide and varies, but generally speaking we have ‘minimally processed foods’ (e.g. washed and packaged fruits, vegetables, lettuces) to ‘highly processed foods’ (e.g. anything in a box which is marketed to ‘save time’ or items that contain a long list of ingredients which help to preserve its shelf life).
So that brings us to the purpose of our topic -- we at Red Dot Fitness have collaborated with one another to share with you some of our top picks for “Quick and Easy, Non-Refrigerated, Minimally Processed, Pre-packaged Snacks;” oh yes, we went there! Whether you’re craving something sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, chewy, spicy, or just need a snack to supplement your energy sources, hopefully you will find something below or be inspired to find something else that you can share with us.
1. Lara bars – these are made from fruits, nuts and spices. There is never more than 9 ingredients in these bars, and many of these bars are Kosher, gluten free, vegan, diary free, and soy free. These bars can be easily found at Safeway, NobHill, Raley’s, Trader Joe’s, and Sports Basement.
- Almond 100 calorie snack packs. Both Blue Diamond and Emerald brands have these easy to ‘grab-n-go’ pre-packaged snacks where the only ingredient is Almonds – of course they have flavored almonds and other nuts, but keep in mind, those will have added ingredients.
- Jerky – this is a great source for protein, and there are quite a few varieties available any more – beef, pork, turkey, ostrich; however, be aware that some brands contain soy, MSG, corn syrup, nitrates and many other added ingredients. Here are a few brands that we think offer a healthier ingredient alternative:
- Perky Jerky – a variety of flavors in beef and turkey. No MSG, preservative free and nitrate free. You can find this product at Target, GNC as well as some other locations. Make sure you check out their website.
- Krave – a variety of flavors in beef, pork, & turkey. Nitrate free, MSG free, gluten free – however, beware, they have changed their recipe and some of their older product in the marketplace may contain some gluten so check your package! Krave can be purchased at Target, Safeway, Sprouts and many other places so make sure you check out their website.
- Primal Pacs – grass fed and grass finished beef. No preservatives, dairy free, grain free, hormone free and gluten free. One challenge with this product is that it’s best to order this from their website – we haven’t seen it in mainstream stores yet.
- Nut butters – brands by Justin and Barney Butter offer .06 oz and 1 oz packages of almond butter – talk about super convenient!
- Justin’s classic almond butter – only 2 ingredients, and it is Kosher, gluten free, vegan, dairy free and GMO free. You can find Justin products at Whole Foods, Fresh & Easy, & Sprouts; however, make sure you check out their website for other locations.
- Barney Butter – is an almond butter product only, and they have a variety of flavors and textures. This product is gluten free, GMO free, and vegan certified and produced in an almond only facility. They also have achieved the ASCO (Agricultural Services Certified Organic) certification. You can find their products in Campbell, Blossom Hill, San Jose, and Los Gatos; be sure to check out their website for other locations.
- Pop top cans of tuna & salmon – this is another great source for protein and a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. A definite advantage of this type of packaging is its convenience regarding transportation and accessibility – no tools required except a fork (or fingers). Companies such as Starkist and Bumble Bee make pop top cans (and on-the-go pouches) of tuna and salmon. If you’re worried about practices of sustainability, both of these companies hold themselves accountable. Make sure you check out their websites for more information and resource it for information regarding the types of fish used and ingredients used in processing their products. Bumble Bee for example offers some gluten free, Kosher products and they do not use MSG.
- Pre-packaged, washed & cut fruit and vegetables – while we might not think of vegetables and fruit as being processed, if they come in a pre-packaged container and have had the aforementioned applied to them, they are ‘minimally processed.’ Remember, this isn’t a bad thing as long as they haven’t been enhanced with a preservative(s) to maintain shelf life. These pre-packaged snacks are definitely a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber and they can be a great accompaniment to any of the above snacks as well.
While the above information might not be anything “new” to you, we do hope it reminds you that there are healthy, pre-packaged, non-refrigerated, minimally processed snacks available for your fast-pace life style. And, if you have a favorite ‘on-the-go’ snack or come across one in your daily journey that you’d like to share with us, post it on our Facebook page!