You read that title right, I promise. This post is all about my favorite PACKAGED foods.
"I thought you didn't eat packaged stuff?!"
I do. I can't make literally everything from scratch. Well, I could, and hopefully one day will but right now, for convenience I do partake in packaged foods. But, I am extremely particular about what I buy, largely due to food allergies, and also because I do not like anything that has 900 lines in the ingredients listing.
When you have food allergies you live in a little bubble, and up until a few years ago, I didn't have very many choices. Luckily, there are a lot more options out there for those of us plagued with food allergies. Not only are they allergy friendly, but they are also HEALTHY! Mostly.
My favorite word: HEALTHY. I always exclaim in glee after I have someone taste something and shout at them, AND IT'S HEALTHY. Seriously, I shout a lot, it is a curse. Maybe "shout" is the wrong word, but I definitely have to volume check myself at least three times a day.
Enough about my loud voice. Everything on this list is obviously soy-free, but they also may be gluten-free & vegan. A few of these bad boys are special treats, so I don't have them often, but some are my absolute needs on a weekly basis.
My weekly obsession?
1. BOOCH! Better known by its real name: Kombucha.
My favorite Kombucha has to be GT's, hands down. I have tried a lot of their flavors, and I have also tried a TON of other brands. I am always searching for more booch, so if you have a recommendation let me know! Currently, the black label by GT's in Grape & the "Trilogy" flavor are my absolute go-to. Apparently everyone else is obsessed with the grape flavor as well, because they are ALWAYS GONE. But when I can score them, I grab at least four. Yes, booch is expensive. Yes, it is a super hipster thing. But it is worth it, because it is amazing for you. It is a definite gut health helper, most fermented foods are.
More information here: http://www.gtslivingfoods.com/
2. Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (All 8 allergen free/vegan)
Oooooh baby. Chocolate. Chips. When I was little, my aunt would watch my brother and I most weekends because my parents worked. Mom was a nurse, Dad was a cop, so they didn't get weekends off. My aunt is a baker, so I would always get to help her in the kitchen, and I would use it as an excuse to eat chocolate chips by the handful. This was life before soy. After I was diagnosed, my exposure to packaged ingredients, including chocolate chips were limited. Well, years ago, I discovered Enjoy Life products. They are free of all top 8 allergens! They have a line of chocolate chips (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and chocolate chunks). They also have granola bars, and cookies, but I rarely by these because I can't be trusted. I think they have the best tasting soy-free processed chocolate chips on the market. I buy one of these bags every couple of weeks, and I make trail mix, mix them with yogurt, or just take a little handful. I only buy the dark chocolate because it has less sugar, and it is made from real cacao so it is rich in iron!
3. Peanut Butter (Wild Friends, Crazy Richard's, Sprout's Line)
What the floof? Peanut butter. Is that really a processed food? Yes, it is. Or, it can be. It has definitely improved drastically over the last five years. For awhile, I couldn't purchase peanut butter because the stuff that was soy-free was extremely expensive and I was a broke college student. Large brands like Skippy, JIF, Peter Pan, can contain soy, or a ton of filler ingredients. I make my own peanut butter on occasion, like my fave Gingerbread Peanut Butter recipe, but mainly I eat too much peanut butter not to buy a container a week that is already prepared. I eat nut butter at least once a day. I am in love with cashew butter, or the always seductive almond butter, but my heart will always belong to the humble peanut butter. My favorite brand right now is Wild Friends! OR if you have a Sprout's by you, their brand peanut butter butter is also good.
Peanut butter perfection: https://wildfriendsfoods.com/
4. Larabars (GF/Vegan)
My go-to snack anytime I need something quick! I know I can have it, they taste great, and do not have a ton of crap ingredients. Larabars are special in the fact that normally do not contain more than 4 ingredients, at least in the ones that I purchase. They have dedicated soy-free labels on a lot of their products as well, so I know they have gone through strict testing to ensure the safety of what I am going to eat! They are easy to make on your own, because mostly they are just dates, nuts, cocoa powder and whatever other flavorings. But sometimes, I am allowed to be completely lazy. These are amazing to have after an exhausting hike, or if you are just starving midday. It is important to note that not all of them are strictly soy-free, so make sure to check labels!
Larabar goodness: http://www.larabar.com/our-products/food-values-special-diets/soy-free
5. Zing Bars (GF/Vegan)
Oh loooooooord. Zing bars. These I treat as my "treat" protein bars. They are so damn good, they taste very close to "candy" in my world. Zing bars are a gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free protein bar. Which is very special, because most vegan protein bars/protein products use soy as the protein source. It is exhausting really for me, but these protein bars were developed my nutritionists, so they aren't full of a ton of junk. I typically like to steer away from processed bars because A) they are dangerously delicious, and as someone that likes to eat tasty things, I need to control myself B) I like to rely on whole foods as my sources of protein, and treats. I know, snore, Allie, move to the next food.
Zing baby zing: https://zingbars.com/
6. Siete Tortillas (GF/Vegan/Paleo/all that other good stuff)
I have been on the hunt for a great grain-free tortilla for YEARS. I mean YEARS. I have tried making my own (to many failed or sub par outcomes), and even though I still eat corn tortillas (you will have to pry them from my cold, dead, hands), I need something more nutritional a majority of the time. Hands down the coconut & cassava tortillas by Siete are the best grain-free tortillas I have ever had. I have tried a ton of different companies out there, and Siete foods wins. Soy-free, grain-free, vegan (which is dairy-free and all the other stuff), paleo, the list goes on. They taste INCREDIBLE. I liked the almond flour tortillas by them a lot, but they are more for spreading a little peanut butter on them, due to the sweetness of the almond flour. But the coconut & cassava, my goodness. They taste like real flour tortillas, they fold up really well, and they hold everything together without breaking, which is usually a huge issue with grain-free tortillas. The downside? They are really expensive. Like Jake yells at me every time I grab them, but he knows they are delicious and a special treat. Most people won't spend 8 dollars on a package of tortillas, but for people with allergies, products that both taste amazing, and are allergy free, they are heaven sent. AND FRIGGIN DELICIOUS. This is also a family run company, created by a woman that was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when she was in high school, so I believe it is a great company to spend the money on. And I would use any excuse to continue to by them. Wink.
Siete information, including a store locator: https://sietefoods.com/
7. Orgain Protein Powder: Chocolate Fudge (GF/Vegan)
I know what you are wondering. "Allie, you aren't vegan, why are do you buy so many vegan products?" Well, it just so happens that a lot of soy-free products that I can buy happen to be vegan. I do not typically search out vegan products, but it just so happens that they are. I have mentioned this powder previously in my meal-prep post here. This protein powder is pretty much one of the only soy-free products out there in the protein world. It doesn't taste chalky either! It tastes great with just a little almond milk as well, so if you are into protein powder, I highly recommend the chocolate fudge one! It looks like they are out of the 2 lb package right now, but I always order it from Amazon, because it is always cheaper.
Read more, click hurr: http://orgain.com/
8. Amy's Organic Refried Beans
OM NOM NOM. These beans. I buy these every. single. week. They are actually dubbed "emergency beans" in our home. I always have these on hand because they are so easy to heat up in a pan, smear them on the aforementioned Siete tortilla (or a corn), or I will literally just eat these by themselves as a quick snack. Not sure if anyone loves beans as much as me, but these beans are so delicious, they do not taste like canned beans AT ALL, and they do not need a lot of salt. Which is a miracle for canned items. Bonus fact: this is probably 1 of the 5 canned items I will EVER recommend, like ever. I HATE canned food with a burning passion of a thousand suns inside me.
9. Trader Joe's Red Lentil Pasta
I rarely eat pasta anymore, I sort of just grew out of it over the last few years. I prefer going out for fresh pasta than making it at home. I definitely do not enjoy gluten-free pasta, it always seems to turn to mush, or taste entirely too sweet. BUT, this Trader Joe's Red Lentil Sedanini is a game changer. I have a recipe coming up that includes these pretty babies. They cook in less than 10 minutes so they are perfect for a filling weeknight meal that won't take forever. They hold their shape really well, not chewy, and they soak up whatever flavor you toss them in! Red lentils are full of protein, and are a great source of fiber, so this is a great alternative when you want to enjoy pasta and not feel super bloated! If you can get over the weird alien reddish color, it is a definite winner in my book.
10. Madecasse Chocolate Bars
So, I am sure by now, you have noticed that there are many chocolatey items in this list. Well, I even though I make my own chocolate quite often (not sure if you guys want my recipe), and mine is healthier...a good chocolate bar is just hard to pass up! Madecasse is one of the few bars out there that are fair trade, soy-free, and doesn't contain a bunch of additives. Because they are fair trade doesn't mean they are soy-free. The reason why this is so significant to me is because soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier for chocolate, so it is rare that you will pick up a piece of chocolate and not see soy in one of the ingredients. I usually will not purchase anything with chocolate in it unless it is labeled "soy-free", because it can still contain strains of it. But this chocolate is what chocolate should taste like. It is rich, slightly bitter, and acidic in its own way. It is only available at Whole Foods right now I believe, so go ahead and call me a snob now, I don't care. My favorites are the mint chocolate or the sea salt & nibs! SO GOOD! Funny story, I was going to take a picture of the package, but I ate it before I had a chance to snap a quick picture. This is why I don't eat these very often, because I am a chocolate monster with these!
All about my favorite chocolate bar: https://madecasse.com/
There they are, all 10 in their glory.
It was strange trying to nail down packaged items I purchase. I realized I really do not use a lot of packaged foods. I only buy about 3 of these on a normal weekly basis (shout out to Kombucha, peanut butter, and beans!), which is good, but I know it can seem weird to a lot of people. Mostly we just buy produce, dairy, and a little meat. I secretly think my normal grocery store hates us because they have to put in 8 million produce codes when we check out. I do not find a lot of romance or intrigue in packaged foods. That is why a lot of my suggestions may cost more than the average product. Partly because of my food allergy (everything automatically costs more to be soy-free), and partly because good, quality products, tend to cost more. Just the way of the world. Except you, Trader Joe's, you are the real MVP. If you have never checked out Trader Joe's I always implore everyone to check it out. Even if you do not have one close, I know there is maybe only one or two in the Milwaukee area. But, I promise you will find something delicious, low-cost, and thoughtful there!