Following is a list of my favorite “real food” products for my real life. I don’t always have every one of these items on hand. It varies depending on the recipes I have planned for the week. Hopefully this might save you a little time (and sanity) from examining ingredient labels while in the store with your kids. I hope it will also give you peace of mind that you are making healthy choices.
Please share your favorite “clean” products/brands in the comments below.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Green Beans
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Baby Carrots
- Grape Tomatoes
- Vine or Roma Tomatoes
- Romaine Hearts
- Baby Spinach
- Spring Mix
- English Cucumber
- Fresh Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Rosemary, Thyme)
- Others depending on specific recipes
(Organic, pastured and local, if possible, in that order of importance.)
- Organic Milk – I usually buy Organic Valley 1%. If possible, look for organic milk from pastured, grass-fed cows that is non-homogenized and minimum heat pasteurized. Or, your store-brand organic will do. Last resort, buy non-organic that is labeled NO “rBST” or NO “rBGH”, a hormone administered to cows to increase milk production.
- Stonyfield Organic Greek 0% Plain Yogurt or Fage Plain Greek 2%
- Organic Valley Butter
- Organic Valley Cream Cheese
- Organic Valley Cottage Cheese
- Organic Valley String Cheese
- Organic Valley Cheese for shredding (or their already shredded product will do)
- Organic Valley Sliced Cheese for sandwiches
- Feta Cheese
- Shredded Parmigiano Reggiano – Store-Brand
EGGS AND PROTEIN PRODUCTS
(Organic, pastured and local, if possible)
- Wild Caught Fish – I tend to buy Salmon, Halibut and Grouper most often.
- Organic Pastured Cage Free Eggs
- There are various choices at my store. Many are organic and cage free, but not always pastured and local. It is confusing. They are all pricey, so you’ll have to weigh the benefits based on what is most important to you.
- Organic Pastured Chicken & Turkey
- Where I shop, the best I can find is Smart Chicken. It is organic and free range, but not pastured or local.
- I normally buy a local Amish brand of ground turkey. That’s the best they sell in the store. I have also purchased Whole Foods organic turkey that they grind in store.
- Deli Meat – For the most part, we’ve given up deli meat at our house. The kids do like salami which I know isn’t the best choice. If I buy anything from the deli case I choose the Applegate brand.
- Applegate Organic Hot-Dogs (for the kids, on occasion)- Hot dogs are not the healthiest choice, but this is about finding a good compromise, right? Made with grass-fed beef and clean ingredients this is the healthiest hot dog I’ve been able to find.
- Chicken Nuggets – Ok, so there’s no choice that’s super healthy. Your best bet is to serve baked or grilled chicken breast instead. But for crazy nights I keep Applegate Brand Organic Chicken Nuggets or Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets on hand for when I’m in a pinch. They’re not totally “clean”, but they are a decent compromise.
BREAD, ROLLS, BUNS
We go through A LOT of bread. This is one item I do not make time to bake myself. I couldn’t keep up with the demand around here. Here are some of my favorite brands.
- Food for Life Brand Breads – Ezekial or 7 Sprouted Grain Bread are my favorites. (Some, like Ezekial, include soy which is questionable for some people. 7 Sprouted Grains Variety does not). They also make good hamburger buns and english muffins which are higher in calories, but you can always just use half.
- Alvarado Street Sprouted Whole Wheat or Essential Flax Seed Bread & Buns (This brand uses Soy Based Lecithin which is questionable for some people.)
- Local Bakery Brand Breads (Look at the ingredients for those with 5 or so ingredients that are all whole foods. Many have more “fake ingredients” than you would think.)
- Angelic Brand Sprouted Bread and Rolls are a good choice as well, but are not organic.
- Still trying to find a good “soft” clean whole wheat bread that the kids like. Right now I’ve been settling on Schwebel’s 100 percent whole wheat.
- Food for Life Corn or Sprouted Grain Tortillas. Whole Foods corn tortillas.
- Whole Wheat Pita
- Rolled Oats – For making oatmeal and granola. Try my Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal recipe.
- Uncle Sam’s Wheat Berries
- Kids Cereal – Cereal is a battle here with the kids. Love Grown Foods, Power O’s work for us. The Nature’s Path EnviroKidz varieties are a decent compromise.
- RX Bars – I like to have some sort of snack bar around I can throw in my purse for emergencies. I like these because they have egg whites in them giving them protein without the fake ingredients in most protein bars. Peanut Butter or Blueberry are my favorite flavors. The others are pretty chewy.
- Granola Bars for the Kids- Like cereal, this is a battle too. I’m working on eliminating them altogether. There is really no good compromise here unless you make your own, which I know there isn’t usually time for. My kids like Nature’s Path Organic EnviroKidz bars, but they are definitely not “clean.” Kind Bars are a decent choice.
- Raw Nuts. I like almonds, walnuts and pecans.
- Salted Nuts – Peanuts and pistachios for snacks
- Dried Fruit with no added sugar – Cranberries, Raisins, Apricots
- Popcorn – Trader Joe’s Organic Popcorn – made with olive oil instead of canola oil, like Skinny Pop.
- Pretzels – “Unique” Brand Sprouted 100% Whole Wheat Pretzels – I’ve only seen these at Whole Foods. The kids don’t love them, but I think they are a great substitute for regular pretzels and they meat the 5 clean ingredient rule!
- Crackers – 365 Brand Baked Woven Wheat crackers – Also at Whole Foods.
- Chips – I don’t eat chips and my kids don’t care about them much either. Lately we’ve been buying the Beanitos brand.
- Pita Chips – Best bet is to toast up the whole wheat pitas from Trader Joes or Whole Foods by tossing them with a little olive oil and sea salt and pepper and put them under the broiler for a bit.
- Hummus – I buy Sabra
SWEETENERS & BAKING GOODS
- Honey – Organic Store Brand
- 100% Pure Maple Syrup – Organic Store Brand
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – King Arthur or Hodgson Mill
- Coconut Oil
- Ian’s Whole Wheat Panko
- Brown Rice – I use Uncle Ben’s 10 Minute Boil in Bag Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat Pasta – Organic Store Brand
- Whole Wheat Couscous
- Pasta Sauce – Store Brand Organic. I do make my own when I have the time, but there are plenty of clean store bought choices.
- Canned Tuna
- Store-Ground Almond Butter – With no added sugar, salt or oil.
- Store-Ground Peanut Butter- Or other brand with no added sugar, salt or oil
- Jelly – Trader Joe’s Fruit Spread (raspberry, strawberry or super fruit) has no added sugar. or Simply Fruit from Smucker’s. Sweetened with fruit juice concentrate and fruit pectin. I like Crofter’s Super Fruit as well, but it has sugar in it. 😦
- Coffee – Store brand
- Salad Dressing – Best to make your own. We’ve been using Garlic Expressions. It does have sugar though, so I need to find a new alternative. 😦
- Juice – We’ve stopped buying store brand orange juice. Andy is an OJ snob 🙂 and insists on bringing home oranges from work and making fresh squeezed OJ.
- Apple Juice – We don’t drink much juice at all, but I keep a container of store brand organic apple juice on hand.
(Organic when possible)
- Black Beans – with only beans, water and sea salt
- Kidney Beans – with only beans, water and sea salt
- Garbanzo Beans – with only beans, water and sea salt
- Kalamata Olives – with only olives, water and sea salt
- Black Olives – with only olives, water and sea salt
- Diced Tomatoes
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Vegetable Broth – Trader Joe’s or Store Brand Organic
- Chicken Broth – Organic Store Brand or Trader Joe’s Free Range
- Dr. Praeger’s Kale & Quinoa Burgers
OILS AND CONDIMENTS
- Store brand extra virgin olive oil
- Organic Vinegars
- Mustard – Store-brand organic
- Ketchup – Store-brand organic.
- Mayonnaise – Here I just buy Helmann’s. We use it so little that I’m not worried about it.
- BBQ Sauce – Store brand organic.
- Dark Chocolate – 85% cacao or the darkest you can find
- Caramel Natural Almond Date Bars – Just two ingredients. Dates and almonds. They make some with coconut as well, that we love!
- Diana’s Bananas Banana Babies – Dark Chocolate Covered Bananas. My kids love these! There is some sugar in the chocolate, but I am ok with that.
- Yonana’s! – If you don’t have a Yonana’s machine you can use a blender or food processor, but the machine is only about $20 at Bed Bath & Beyond. All you need are frozen bananas and any other frozen fruit and you have a delicious, clean replacement for ice cream. I will post a recipe sometime.