Do you ever find yourself comparing foods trying to find the “best” option or the “healthiest” one of the bunch? Do you ever get confused by the labels and say, “to heck with it” and just purchase your old standby? Our food industry continues to grow, new brands are coming out all of the time and they’re ALL trying to convince you to buy their product. That’s why it’s important to learn the facts and then decide for yourself, what is livable and doable for you and your family.
So where do we begin? I’m taking on the cracker aisle today per a recent request from an all-star client. I think this is an excellent place to start and later I’ll tackle granola bars, cereals, indulgences, ice creams, and more!
First and foremost, to understand the way I teach I have to be clear on one thing. I do not mark foods as good or bad. I won’t do it. It puts our food in a black and white category which can slip us into all or nothing thinking. Meaning, you might only feel good if you’re eating, “good foods” and you’ll feel bad if you’re eating, “bad” foods. It starts to silo your food choices and you might miss out on a lot of the gray space in between.
Someone challenged me on this recently regarding pop. They said, “no way, pop is so bad for you!” By me not labeling pop as bad, it does not inherently mean I am telling you it’s healthy for you. It is helpful for your body to get healthier and nourishing foods, but nourishment/nutrition is not the only reason why we eat. Okay, okay I’ll get off my soap box but just think about this as you read below on my cracker comparisons!
What am I looking out for in a cracker?
- Whole grain bonus
First and foremost, if we don’t enjoy the taste of our food…that is not very livable. Won’t work, so flavor is important to me. Crackers can have a lot of sodium so I try to find ones that are lower (read: closer to 5% sodium per serving) so that I get flavors and not just salt. Lastly, I try to make most of the grains I eat whole. This gives you more nutrition, less processing, and more fiber! I’ll always look for whole grain options but I try not to sweat it if I can’t find one. You don’t have to make every grain you eat, whole.
How do I pick a whole grain?
There are a few ways – one you can look for this stamp!
It’s on products that are whole grains so seeing it can help save you time while you’re browsing. Also, you can check the ingredients list. Is the first word whole? If it is, it’s a whole grain! Try to be a detective when it comes to these foods. Just because the title or product say’s something doesn’t make it a fact. It could say, “THESE CRACKERS COULD HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT AND GET MORE ENERGY!” That’s advertising and marketing, not factual evidenced based claims. I digress, let’s get into my current favorites!
Here are my top five favorite crackers in no particular order!
(these are all from Meijer – I do go to Aldi for most of my groceries though!)
Triscuits – I love them and all the amazing flavors they come out with! They’re a good source in fiber, low in sodium, high in flavor and almost an official good source of iron (8% per serving, 10% is considered a “good” source).
Melba – These pass my desire for crunch and salt all-in-one. They are a bit saltier so I don’t find myself eating quite as many but 4 grams of protein isn’t to shabby either.
Grains first – These are a staple in my home. They’re hearty, sturdy (can’t stand weak crackers), and are low in sodium. I love the flavor of them too because I think they’re nutty, toasty, and they don’t just melt in your mouth.
Wasa – Gotta love the ingredients, there’s only THREE! These were always something my mom used to buy and now I do as well. They’re filling because each slice has 3 grams of fiber and they hardly have any sodium. Plain they are a bit dry so I always spread a mix of guacamole, hummus, or tuna on them.
RW Garcia – Sweet potato crackers like these have a slightly sweeter taste but these crackers do not have added sugar. The first two ingredients, corn and sweet potato, have natural sugars and with six other whole food ingredients you’re left with a tasty, crunch and healthy pile of crackers.
Those are my top five but don’t think other crackers don’t make their way into my home! Steve and I almost always have saltines on hand, he likes Cheeze Its so we keep those around too.