Healthy Kids First: Top Healthy Grocery Picks

By Mandy Curry on November 17, 2012 from Healthy Kids First via Connect-Bridgeport.com

For the past few weeks, the HKI team has tackled some of the healthiest products at the grocery store.  From breads, to butter, to cereal, to snacks, we have you covered.  By simply buying a more healthful product, you can make a big impact on your healthy eating efforts. 
 
Labels, ingredients, fat, serving size, calories...we scoured them all in an effort to find that one brand that was superior to the others.
Without further ado, here's the entire list. Happy Shopping!

Dinner:

When you just need an easy dinner fix, good old fashioned spaghetti always tops the list.  Here are a few tips when selecting the perfect products.

Always look for 100% Whole Grain Pasta when choosing a noodle. Barilla tops our list for health and taste.

Finding that perfect spaghetti sauce to accompany your pasta can be a little intimidating. Always look for a lower sodium sauce.  You can always flavor up your sauce with fresh herbs during the cooking process (basil, garlic, oregano, etc). Topping our list was Classico Tomato & Basil.

As for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, opt for organic in a dark glass bottle.  EVO contains light sensitive nutrients.  The dark glass protects the contents from the deteriorating effect of light.

Snacks:

Moms often ask about the best snacks for their kids. We steered clear of cookie items and opted for a cracker choice.
Reduced Fat Triscuits are the preferred cracker snack.  A whopping 14 crackers is only 130 calories. One serving also contains healthy fats, 3 grams of fiber and protein.

Cereal:

In the world of cereals, plain Cheerios tops the list. Cheerios has fewer calories and more fiber per serving.

If you’re in the mood for a hot cereal, then good Old Fashioned Oats is preferred. Old Fashioned Oats are 100% whole grain with only a single ingredient- rolled oats.  Fresh fruit or honey are great toppings to flavor your oats up a bit.

If you have time to start your day with an egg or two, then we recommend organic, free range eggs versus conventional eggs.  Because of the diet of the free-ranging birds, the nutritional intake they have compared to conventionally raised egg-layers provides for a richer yolk. You'll likely notice that the egg yolk from a free-range egg is deep yellow, almost golden in color.

In case you wondered about that morning glass of orange juice, we have a top pick, but must admit that if you really want to take healthy living to new levels, making your own homemade juice is best.  You’ll find this article a great resource outlining the benefits of juicing both fruits and vegetables.

So if you must have your pre-packaged juice, then Tropicana is the preferred choice.  We recommend steering clear of diet OJ as this typically includes artificial sweeteners.

When buying milk, it’s important to look for organic, low-fat (or non-fat) milk. Our goal is to avoid any milk that may contain artificial hormones. This article gives you more details on organic vs. regular milk.

We found a winner in Homestead Creamery. This milk contains no artificial hormones. While price did not factor into our decision, this milk costs only $2.99/half gallon and you will receive a $2 refund when the glass jar is returned back to your local Kroger store. Homestead Creamery has a great taste and it’s a little fun to take a step back in the past with a glass jar. Homestead Creamery is unique to Kroger, so if you can't find this brand at your local grocer, then stick with the above guidance and opt for any organic, low fat milk.

When buying yogurt, Greek is preferred. It’s best to stick with plain or vanilla (with no added sugars). Keep in mind that you can always add a little honey or fresh fruits to flavor your yogurt up a bit.

In this category, any brand that fits the above works so we opted for an inexpensive Kroger brand yogurt.

“Overwhelming” sums up the butter section of the grocery store. When choosing butter, it’s best to look for a butter with 50 calories or les per serving.  Land O'Lakes and Brummel and Brown hit the list of top picks.

Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread is another spread that received a thumbs-up from the dietitian. While it contains a little more fat than the other brands, it's a good heart healthy spread full of good fats.?

The bread aisle is one of the most intimidating aisles of them all. White, wheat, potato, flax, grains, rolls and muffins...it’s all very overwhelming.  Many assume that “specialty” breads are the best. The loaves that have special packaging and boast numerous benefits (12-grain, flax seed, whole wheat - all in one). Surprisingly, these actually come with more calories because the size of each slice is a little larger. The rule of thumb with bread is to look for those brands with 80 calories/slice (or less) and 100% whole wheat.

After considerable label comparison, the following hit our list of favorites:

Natures Own 100% Wheat Bread: This bread has only 50 calories per slice, two grams of fiber per slice and is 100% whole wheat.   While price had no influence on the brand, this bread comes in at a minimal $2.99 loaf.  Impressive, and #1 on our list? Rudi’s Sprouted Multigrain Bread

This bread received a nice thumbs-up from the dietitian. You can find Rudi’s in the healthy freezer section of your grocery store (we found this at Kroger). While Rudi’s boasts a few more calories than Nature’s Own it packs a strong lineup of healthy, organic, ingredients into each slice.  This article from Livestrong.com will give you some additional information on the benefits of sprouted wheat bread.

In the Muffin Category, Thomas English Muffins won the prize.

This muffin boasts 100% whole wheat, 25 grams of whole grains and 120 calories per entire muffin.

Shew...so there you have it.  A complete list of the more healthful items in the grocery store. Little changes can go a long way in healthy eating efforts, so give these products a shot.  You'll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle in no time.
 


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