I know for a fact that one of the biggest things people struggle with when it comes to getting healthy is nutrition. When I share my own weight-loss story people always want to know about my diet. Most assume I’m cooking fresh organic vegetables, drinking green juice, and cooking perfectly balanced homemade meals and snacks all day long with no sugar, carbs, or fat. I suppose some people do that (at least according to Instagram.) But that’s not real-life for me. I’m a busy, normal, person. And while I try to eat lots of fresh food, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, I also rely on lots of “normal” store-bought, even pre-packaged foods. In real life, you have to have stuff you can grab and go, stuff that tastes good, and stuff your family will like. It’s not about being on a constant “diet,” and “eating clean” it’s simply about making good choices, or at least making a better choice, more often than not.
I share lots of healthy home-made recipes on Our Best Bites, but today isn’t about that. It’s about some of my favorite snacks, meals, and treats at the grocery store. I want to be clear that this is in no way a sponsored post. I’m not being compensated by any of these brands and I’m not working with them in any way. These are all just personal favorites that I buy and my family loves, and I wanted to share them with you so you can maybe find some new faves on your next shopping trip, too!
My last disclaimer is that I’m not promoting anything as being nutritionally perfect here. We always get a little, “Sara! Did you know that has Red Dye #5 in it?? I would NEVER feed that to MY family.” “Sara! You didn’t hear??? Agave will sterilize you!” “Sara! How can you be telling people to eat that, it has sugar substitute in it, and here are 14 links to random articles I found on Google that tell you that Splenda murders children.” I get it. Everyone has different standards when it comes to what they consider worthy to label “healthy.” Feed your family the way you feel comfortable. These are things that I personally enjoy, and that have fit in with a healthy diet and lifestyle so I’m sharing them with you. Enjoy 🙂
I work out in the early AM most days of the week, so when I get home, the first thing I do is have a protein shake and in my last fitness post, SO many of you asked us how I do that. Simple protein powder stirred into water is pretty gross; it’s all about making it the right way! I’ve tried lots of brands of protein powder, and what I look for is: flavor, ratio of protein to calories, and sugar. This brand in my photo is my favorite. I blend it with a big scoop of ice and Almond-Coconut Milk, which has much less protein than regular cow’s milk, but also half the calories. It makes it smooth and creamy, and the hit of coconut syrup makes it taste like a chocolate-coconut milkshake. I have at least one of these a day, and sometimes 2 or 3. If I’m on the go, I pour it into a Blender Bottle.
If you follow many food bloggers on Instagram, you would think we all eat mashed avocado on whole grain toast with liquified kale every morning for breakfast. You know what I like? Cereal. Oatmeal. Normal stuff. (Well, okay, also doughnuts, french toast, and hot chocolate.) Sometimes I have time to whip up scrambled eggs and veggies or something, but more often than not, I eat quick and easy normal food.
I have, and always will be, a cold-cereal eater. It must be in my blood because my children could literally eat cereal for every meal. I’m loving the new trend of breakfast cereals fortified with protein! It makes me feel a little better when I feed it to my kids for dinner. These are 3 of my favorites these days: Fiber One (bonus fiber + protein, love the Maple Brown Sugar flavor), Special K (no froo-froo, just plain jane flakes, but the lowest in calories of any I’ve tried), and Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy (my kids especially love this one).
I have some health issues that require me to eat a high-fiber diet, and more often than not- this Fiber One Chocolate cereal is my go-to. Almost every morning I have a bowl of this, with a giant serving of raspberries (super high in fiber) and that coconut-almond milk, or regular milk (for a little added protein.) The serving size is substantial for only 80 calories, and it’s loaded with flavor and fiber. It’s often an afternoon snack, too!
We all know oats are a great part of a healthy diet, and gone are the days of those little sugar-loaded paper packets (well, not gone. But there are certainly a lot more options now.) I’m a huge fan of BetterOats. They have a ton of great products, that you can see on their website. They use a combination of thick, quick, steel cut, and old-fashioned oats, and the OatFit line has only 100 calories and no added sugar. Plus, it’s just a little thing, but I love how they have the measuring cup built into the packet. So smart!
These Quaker Real Medleys are like fancy grown-up oatmeal. They’re higher in calories, but so much more substantial that most oatmeal packets. They have big chunks of real fruit and nuts and they’re so good. I eat these sometimes for an afternoon mini-meal, and they’re also terrific for all of you campers out there. You just add boiling water to the sturdy cup and it’s done in a few minutes and you can eat right out of the container. Good for taking to the office, too! And while we’re talking about Quaker- this Warm and Crunchy Oatmeal is so, so good.
We buy these Jimmy Dean Delights from Costco by the case-load. Seriously, my family eats so many of these. If you’re a fan of the Egg McMuffin, you’ll like these. They have only 250 calories and 17 grams of protein. They’re great for taking in the car or sending with a kid to the bus stop. I’m literally eating one right now for lunch as I write this post. This is definitely a family favorite at my house.
When it comes to meal-time, sure I try to cook a real meal more often than not- but sometimes you just need something quick and easy, especially at lunch time when it’s just me. Of all of the frozen meals in the freezer section, I think Lean Cuisine is the best by a landslide. Our freezer is always stocked full of these. At WinCo, many of them about $1.60 so they’re really inexpensive to load up on (like the one pictured, one of my favorites: Sesame Chicken). I really love their Salad Editions too, where you just add lettuce and get veggies, chicken, toppings, and dressing for a big salad. I don’t eat them every day, but they’re a great thing to keep on hand.
Snacks are often the downfall for people trying to stick to a healthy diet. I have to have snacks, and not fruit and vegetable snacks. Salty, sweet, crunchy snacks. I buy all of these items in single serve bags on a regular basis to make portion size easy.
I’ve had more than one person ask me if I’m a spokesperson for Angies Popcorn because I talk about it so much! It’s sweet, salty, crunchy perfection, and they’re all low-calorie as well. It’s the perfect snack. I take this to movies and keep little bags in my car as well.
I pretend to buy Pirate’s Booty for my kids, but it’s a total cover. I love this stuff. It’s like not-so-naughty Cheetos. Again, love the single serve bags. You get a really huge serving for minimal calories too, and that’s always a win in my book.
BARS & ON THE GO SNACKS
There are a million different kinds of bars on the market, and they’re all really different. Protein bars are generally high in calories and look better on the wrapper than they actually taste. Super healthy bars are sometimes lacking in actual flavor. I go for something in the middle. These aren’t any sort of nutritional powerhouse, but they’re made with pretty good ingredients, have a reasonable amount of calories and some protein and whole grains. I keep these in my purse pretty much all the time. I usually grab a bar when I’m hungry between meals and need something on the run.
These Clif Mojo bars are my absolute favorite. The Chocolate Almond Coconut, and the Peanut Butter Pretzel are amaaaazing. Soft, chewy, crunchy, with really BIG chunks of actual chocolate and peanut butter.
Luna Bars are kind of nostalgic for me because my Mom always bought them, and I lived off them in college. 3 of my long-time faves are Peanut Honey Pretzel, Chocolate Dipped Coconut, and Chocolate Peppermint Stick.
I haven’t always been a yogurt-lover. I actually used to gag every time I tried to eat it. I didn’t jump on the Greek yogurt bandwagon when it started, but I’m on it now. Chobani 2% are my favorites, and I pretty much eat these two flavors (Passion Fruit and Coconut) exclusively. For those of you who have Brazil connections like I do, or someone in your family does, buy them passion fruit Chobani. It tastes like Mousse de Maracuja. The other thing down there is the Chobani Almond Coco-Loco Flip. Oh my gosh, just buy it. It’s amazing.
Emerald 100 Calorie Packs. I love the Cinnamon Roast, Dark Cocoa Roast, and the Vanilla almonds. Great when you need something quick with a little protein.
Now that we’ve covered snacks and meals, let’s get to the good stuff. I’ve got to have things like candy and ice cream, so here are some healthier options that satisfy that sweet tooth.
Skinny Cow Candy
Another brand that people assume I’m a spokesperson for. This isn’t fake, sugar-free-sends-you-to-the-bathroom stuff (need a laugh? Go read the amazon reviews for these sugar free gummy bears.) It’s real, yummy chocolate, just a little better for you than some of the alternatives and keeps it portion-controlled, with everything weighing in at 110-130 calories. Peanut Butter Chocolate Heavenly Crisps are my favorite. We buy the big variety packs of Skinny Cow at Costco and always stay stocked up.
Since we’re talking about Skinny Cow- I love their ice cream, too. I always, always save room in my daily calories for an ice cream treat after my kids are in bed; it’s kind of a nightly ritual. The cookie dough bars are one of my faves, and I especially love the ice cream sandwiches, too (mmmm...snickerdoodle.)
A newer favorite of mine are these Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt pops. I’ve been buying the coconut ones and I like that they have some protein and are all around 100 calories (many, like coconut, are even less.)
My last fruity frozen favorite are Outshine Bars. These have been a long-time favorite for my husband and I. When we were just newly dating, I got sick with mono and he took care of me for weeks and all I ate day in and day out were the Creamy Coconut Bars. You’d think that would have turned me off of those forever, but no- just the opposite. I’ve been obsessed ever since. I love pretty much all of the flavors, but I like to keep the smaller, no added sugar, variety around because at just 25 calories (yes, 25!) it’s sometimes just enough to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Whew! That ended up being longer than I expected. I hope you guys find some new things to try out at your grocery store. Let me know what you think- and feel free to share your faves in the comments! (Remember, we pick people from our Scoop comments to win prizes each month!)
If you’ve missed other posts in our Fit Series, you can read them Here:
Fit Gear Favorites (my favorite gear and gadgets!)
How To: Get Fit (Tips on how to get started exercising and being healthy)
Real-Life Health and Weight Loss (my personal story of a 50lb weight loss)