Whether you follow a vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, clean eating, or calorie counting diet, there is one piece of health and nutrition advice that rings true across the board. AVOID PACKAGED FOODS. Generally speaking, packaged foods are highly processed and full of undesirable ingredients liked added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and chemicals. Yet, despite their drawbacks, packaged foods hold the undeniable benefit of being convenient. And in today’s busy world, convenience can be very alluring.
If you find yourself caught between the desire to be healthy and the need for convenience, we have the news you have been waiting for. Careful searching reveals a multitude of choices that come in a package, without compromising nutrition. Reach for one of these healthy and fast options next time you need something to eat in a hurry!
- Roasted Nuts. Roasted nuts top the list of healthy convenience foods because they are one of the most widely available quick snacks. Even if you need to grab a snack at a gas station, roasted nuts give you a great option to fill you up on the go. Be sure to select plain, dry roasted nuts to avoid sugars and refined oils.
- Greek Yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt gives you an easy base for a protein and probiotic packed meal or snack. Make it even better by throwing on some sliced fruit and roasted nuts.
- Dried Fruit. Dried fruit (particularly raisins) are another easy to find, quick, and healthy food. Take care to make sure your dried fruit does not contain any added sugar. Add dried fruit to the yogurt for a simple parfait or toss with nuts for a ready to go trail mix.
- Guacamole Packs. Guacamole is often grouped in with other junky party foods, but when prepared well and served with plenty of raw veggies, guacamole is actually super food. When you don’t have time make your own, readymade guacs are widely available—including in single serve portions. Check labels to make sure only the only ingredients are avocados and possibly onions and/or tomatoes and spices.
- Nut Butter Individual Packs. Several companies now make nut butters in individual packets which makes them a terrific option as a quick hunger buster. Grab one to add to fruit or veggies or even just enjoy it on its own for an instant source of healthy fat and protein.
- Snack Bars. Snack and energy bars can be hit or miss when it comes to being a healthy option. But as the demand for quick and healthy snacks increases, some companies are answering the demand with some healthy options. Check labels and select an option that contains only fruit, nuts, and (optional) spices, like Larabars and Rx bars.
- Dark Chocolate. Sometimes we all crave a sweet treat NOW. When that sweet treat demands an instant fix, go for dark chocolate. As long as it’s 80 percent cacao, this indulgence will give you convenience and antioxidants!
- Bananas. No, they aren’t technically packaged, but we had to include bananas along with the healthiest convenience foods! With its own natural wrapper right from Mother Nature, it’s hard to beat the humble banana. Grab an individual nut butter pack (see # 6), and you’ll be all set!