Yeah, yeah. I know I’m still technically supposed to be on a blogging boycott, since my ebook isn’t out yet, but I was doing a little research for myself to see if I could find some decent packaged convenience snacks, and I figured I might as well share what I came up with. Because this is a big problem for me, and lots of other people, I’m guessing.
It drives me absolutely BONKERS that finding packaged snacks — even organic ones — that are not completely doused with nasty vegetable oils and super high in toxic polyunsaturated fats, is borderline impossible.
But not totally impossible.
If you look reeeeeally really carefully, you can find some packaged snacks out there that range from decently-okay-to-pretty-darn-good for you.
Yes, I said “packaged” snacks. As in — gasp! — somewhat processed. I think it’s worth compromising with this, because when I need to eat, I need to EAT. And I might not have a perfectly wholesome homemade snack made from scratch at the ready. And I don’t want my metabolism to crash. So when I start feeling cold hands or feet, or fatigue, or the sudden urge to pee, I know I’ve got to get some snacks in me, STAT. And eating a less-than-ideal snack during those times is much healthier than eating nothing at all. It’s much, much more important to manage stress hormones and maintain metabolic homeostasis than it is to make sure you’re eating absolutely 100% real and wholesome food 100% of the time.
(If that all sounded really weird and you have no clue what I’m talking about, I’d highly recommend you check out my friend Matt’s new book, Eat for Heat, to learn how to fix your metabolism with food. It’s only ten bucks right now.)
Anyway. Here are my findings. Ten savory snacks that range from a pretty awesome choice, to a decently acceptable choice. I’ll put them in order of awesomeness according to my opinion. From most to least awesome (all but the first one can be found on Amazon, click the pictures for the link):
Potato chips fried in coconut oil!
I am SO excited about these. You can now order online these amazing organic potato chips, fried in organic COCONUT OIL! It really doesn’t get any better than that!
You can now find these chips in the Village Green Marketplace HERE.
SeaSnax Roasted Olive Seaweed
Olive oil isn’t an ideal cooking oil, because it has an omega-6 PUFA content of about 9-10%. But it’s a heck of a lot better than most of the awful cooking oils the processed food industry uses, like cottonseed or soybean oil, which both have over 50% omega-6 PUFA!
And seaweed is a wonderfully healthy traditional food. It helps provide a natural source of iodine, which many people are deficient in. This is a great little snack.
Good Health Kettle Style Olive Oil Potato Chips
Again, I’d be happier if these were fried in tallow, but hey — this is a pretty good alternative to canola. Unless you have the time to be peeling and slicing and frying organic taters on a regular basis, good potato chips are hard to come by in most homes! This is about as good as it’s gonna get for the packaged variety. I feel totally fine about eating a handful of these every now and then.
Golden Valley Natural Organic Beef Jerky
Sure, it may not be perfectly 100% grass-finished beef, but this is as good as you’ll find for packaged jerky, unless you find some locally-made from a farmers’ market. And there are zero vegetable oils or other nasty ingredients like chemical preservatives or MSG like you’d find in most conventional beef jerky.
Tanka Bar, Natural Buffalo with Cranberry
Well, how about that? “Prairie-raised” buffalo, mixed with sweetened cranberries in a chewy bar! And no icky ingredients.
Suzie’s 100% Organic Crackers, Salted with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Another olive oil snack. This is about as good as you can expect for a cracker — only three ingredients! Well four, if you count water.
Snyder’s of Hanover Organic Honey Whole Wheat Pretzel Sticks
This one is a little tricky, because it contains sunflower oil. Usually, seeing sunflower oil on a list of ingredients is a bad thing, because it’s a highly-processed industrial oil that contains nearly 70% omega-6 PUFA!
But, if you see the words “high oleic” or “expeller-pressed,” this is actually an oil that is very low in omega-6 PUFA. Only 3.7%. Again, it’s not an ideal cooking oil (too low in saturated fat), but it’s a much better choice than most veggie oils.
Way Better Sprouted Organic Tortilla Chips
I think it’s pretty easy to make your own tortilla chips, but it does require some forethought. If you need some chips and salsa like RIGHT NOW, it would be good to have these on hand. And sprouted grains are always great. Even though these are made with high-oleic sunflower oil instead of coconut oil, I’d have to agree that these are “way better” than almost any alternative tortilla you’d find in stores.
Doctor Kracker Seedlander Organic Crispbreads
How amazingly tree-hugging hippie do these crackers look? It makes me laugh.
So, there’s a whole line of these crispbreads from this particular brand, which look pretty good because they actually don’t contain any vegetable oils. The only problem, is that that’s because they don’t contain any fats whatsoever. Which, I’m not a fan of. But, whatever, add some butter or cheese or something to these and that would be a good snack.
Oh, and I’m a little meh about the heavy inclusion of flax seeds here. In case you haven’t heard, I’m not exactly a fan of those, either.
Late July Organic Classic Rich Crackers
These unfortunately contain that fishy, “and/or” thing in the ingredient label, which I don’t like. Usually, that’s what industrially processed food manufacturers do because it means they put in whatever oil is cheapest at the time, and it’s usually between the worst of the worst (soybean, corn, or canola, etc.). On these crackers, the label says it contains, “Organic Oleic Safflower Oil and/or Organic Oleic Sunflower Oil.” If it just said “organic oleic sunflower oil,” I’d be cool with that, since I know that’s an oil that’s low in omega-6 polyunsaturated fat. But I have no idea if high-oleic safflower oil is the same story.
However, it also includes organic palm oil, which is a great choice for packaged foods because it’s a shelf-stable, mostly saturated fat.
Anyway, these do look like a tasty, healthier version of Ritz crackers. Which are delicious. But terrible for you. These Late July crackers are certainly a better option than Ritz.
Late July Organic Mini Cheddar Cheese Bite Size Sandwich Crackers
Speaking of Ritz, do you have childhood memories of inhaling those delicious little crackers stuffed with “cheese” (omg) in your lunchbox? These seem like a decently-okay alternative to satisfy those nostalgic crackery cravings.
The only thing I’m a little iffy about here is the inclusion of sunflower oil. It does say it’s organic, but doesn’t specify if it’s high-oleic or expeller-pressed or not (which would mean it’s very low in omega-6 PUFA). But, I bet if I contacted Late July, they would tell me. I really do think Late July is one of the good guys in the food biz, and I think they’re trying to do the best they can. I’d say these are an acceptable choice for a now-and-then snack, but I could do without the wasteful packaging. I’m sure there’s boxes available somewhere instead of these little individual packs.
Bugles Crispy Corn Snacks, Original
Alright. I’ll admit — this one’s a little suspect. Any processed food made with corn, unless it says it’s organic, is likely to be made with GMO corn. And we definitely don’t want that.
However, I did a little digging and discovered that at least in Europe, “the company pays extra to be sure the corn is not genetically modified, so the Bugles don’t have to be labeled.” (source) I don’t know if that really means that General Mills goes out of their way to change the formula for the european-destined Bugles they sell to not contain GMOs, or if Bugles just don’t contain GMOs. It’s confusing.
But, but! I am very impressed with the fact that Bugles are actually fried in — get this — coconut oil!! I have literally NEVER come across another snack food made with coconut oil. It’s unheard of! If only there were an organic variety of certified non-GMO Bugles, I’d be all over these things. And they would be near the top of my list here!
Can you think of any other convenient snack food that’s not completely awful for you? I’m hoping to do another edition of this list for more sweet-like snacks. Any suggestions would be awesome!
Oh, and you can always check out our Resources page for companies that may carry snack-like or convenience foods that are real-food-friendly. Those are companies we VGN bloggers know and trust.
Beth H says
Thank you! Perfect timing. I am traveling to the Democratic Republic of Congo this month and need a stash of healthy foods for the suitcase. The beef jerky, bugles, and sea snax will be making an appearance!
Nice!! Packaged snacks do travel much better than homemade usually.
Linda @ Axiom at Home says
What an awesome with extremely helpful information. For those of us with kids, especially, this is a HUGE help. Oh and husbands, LOL, husband is always bugging me for snacks.
Thanks so much!! This is really great.
Oh yes, husbands require copious amounts of salty snacks, I have learned! 😉
Susan W says
I eat seaweed wafers for a snack like pictured above but the oil(s) used are corn (ugh) and (not and/or) sesame oil. Very short list of ingredients: 4. I crush them up and add it to home made soups. Some seaweed wafers flavored with wasabi has (horrors!) maltodextrin in it. But I don’t eat them. I’ve had an underactive thyroid for over 20 years now and that is an excellent choice.
Unfortunately those Bugles are being sold in Norway (of all places) that are chocolate coated! Saw them in someone’s home in a snack dish while there this past summer.
I dunno, chocolate-coated Bugles sound pretty darn good to me!! 😀
Wouldn’t have thought to crush up the seaweed to put into soup. Great idea!
I love both the potato chips and seasnax. Delicious treats!
We’ve been eating Tanka Bars. They’re like jerky, but not so tough to chew.
Wow, those look awesome! I’ll add them to my list!
I really like the Way Better sprouted tortilla chips. I have a serious problem with tortilla chips and they’re the best I’ve found so far.
Sweet! Looks like they have the high oleic kind of sunflower oil. (Although it does say and/or safflower oil, which I am unsure about, but that’s okay.) I’ll add it to the list!
Unless General Mills has changed its practices (not likely), their processed foods are made differently for each country to which they’re exported. For example, stuff for Canada doesn’t have the same recipes as stuff for the U.S.
Trader Joe’s has some olive oil chips that are pretty good.
Tiffany @ The Coconut Mama says
Love the list, Butters!
I really like the Suzie’s crackers! I have found a few cool iteams at costco too. They have crackers that are made with coconut oil. They aren’t organic, but the coconut oil won me over :).
Awesome! 😀 I keep hearing more and more about Costco having some good snacks. I’m definitely gonna have to go investigate what mine has soon!
Timisha Woods says
It’s true Bugles are non-GMO even in the U.S. We performed PCR in my biochem lab class and confirmed it! Yay! 🙂
Wow! That is awesome, thanks so much for that info, Timisha!!
Chloe French says
Grandma Utz potato chips. Utz uses non-GM potatoes in their “potato chip operations.” Fried in lard. Add some salt. They do contain TBHQ and BHT but I can excuse it because it’s not like I’m chowing on these chips regularly. More like a every once if the mood strikes me.
Love this post. Your stress-free, common-sense approach to food is wonderful!