Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Snacks are Back! Part 1

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I recently attended the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California. Thousands of vendors converge into a Disneyland of natural foods, supplements, ingredients and organics, as everyone hops on the roller coaster of a natural foods extravaganza. Trends emulating as reality at the show, are still many months away from hitting the stores, and retailers and buyers gobble up the best and tastiest foods, placing their orders to cater to the palettes and preferences of their buyers – insert YOU. 

So what can you expect to see on the shelves in the months to come? Snacks! Healthy AND tasty. There has been an evolution in the convenience revolution. Sating your love affair with crunchy, zesty, and salty these new adorations are eloquent adaptations that ring in power-packed nutrients like kale, greens and seeds.  

But what defines a healthy snack? Many of us have been misled into believing that just because something is “gluten free” it is “healthy”. And as one who has personally been duped by gluten, this is not at all a knock on the gluten free movement. Rather it’s intended to rip open that bag of “healthy” pretzels or potato chips shedding light on what really resides within. Luckily to go within, you need not go far.  In this case, you are not only allowed but encouraged to judge this book by its cover because quite simply, most everything you need to know is on the label.

Here’s what to look for:

1. Does it contain flour-based ingredients? 

Formerly ubiquitous, snacks and flour used to go hand in hand. Even though something might be allergen free or gluten free:  flour = processed = less healthy than whole foods.  Rice flour, sorghum flour, oat flour etc are the primary ingredients in anything that is not a whole food based snack. Look for Whole Food based ingredients instead, more about those down below in tip number 4.

2. How many preservatives and extra additives or fillers are there?

The shorter the ingredients list the better. Unless there is simply a bevy of spices, words like maltodextrin, lecithin, vitamin E, citric acid fall under the preservative or additive category. Snacks that are less “flavored” typically have fewer additives which artificially simulate tastes – think sea salt and black pepper rather than BBQ or Cool Ranch.

3. Does it have common inflammatory ingredients such as soy, wheat, dairy, corn?

Many people have awakened to their unique inflammatory ingredients and have discovered which ones are the bane of their existence triggering a cascade of unwanted symptoms, some of which include – lower energy, weight gain, headaches, skin issues, mood issues, seasonal allergies and more. Why are so many people reacting to these everyday ingredients?  This is a more complex question to be addressed at another time but the short version is that we receive “hits” of these pervasive ingredients in the foods we eat, multiple times every single day. And these additives are subsidized, therefore cheap, highly processed and often GMO. Continuing to regularly eat these ingredients throughout our days, often leads to an inflammatory histamine response within the body, in which it says – Enough! Rebellion ensues. Discovering and eliminating your unique inflammatory triggers, however, can be an enormously transformational experience, leading to a happy, non-inflamed you. 

4. Is it a whole food?

What defines a “whole food"? Typically anything that is on the perimeter of the grocery store - vegetables, fruits, meats at the deli counter – or in the bulk bin section including – nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.  

However, there are now many alternative types of snacks that are part of a huge snack evolution!  R-A-W. Raw snacks use a dehydrator that allow foods like kale and sweet potatoes to bare their happy naked little souls, without preservatives or their formerly pulverized flour versions.

Here for some of our favorite Raw Snack companies:
Our of thousands of products at the Natural Products Expo, 2 of Austin's own Snack Companies walked away first in class.  Both Hail Merry and Rhythm Superfoods won awards for best in show.  Congrats!

Coming soon – Snacks are Back! Part 2 with examples of labels and how to read them, more snack suggestions and the rollout of The Love Cleanse “Healthy Snack Rating System”.

-Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to be alerted when Part 2 is posted along with other blog updates! -

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