Discover Healthy Convenience Foods for Special Dietary Needs
As a society, we are becoming more aware of how food is impacting our everyday lives, with new discoveries being made in medicine and technology. Convenience foods are not always the best fit for our special dietary needs. For many of us, carbohydrates, refined sugars, and gluten have become unwanted elements in a healthy diet. There are a few staples, however, that make the grade. Here are a few low carb, diabetic, and gluten free alternatives for healthy convenience foods.
• Nuts and Seeds – These natural food sources are full of healthy antioxidants and proteins, making them a great convenience food for a low carb diet. Buying raw nuts and seeds is important here, as opposed to those that are salted, roasted, candied, or prepared with other unhealthy ingredients. If you’re not careful, you could be adding high levels of sugar and sodium to your diet unnecessarily.
• Jerky – Contrary to popular belief, jerky is a healthy convenience food you can trust for high protein, low carb diets. Jerky is made from a variety of meats, each having its own unique flavor and nutritional value. A number of distributors now carry naturally cured beef, turkey, and venison jerky for your convenience.
• Jerky is a low carb, low fat food source that provides energy in between meals. This is due to the fact that all fat is trimmed off before smoking to keep jerky from spoiling or getting rancid. Turkey and venison are naturally low in fat, and plain varieties have all the flavor you’ll need, so avoid the over-seasoned and flavored varieties.
• Cheese – Cheese is a portable convenience food that’s easy to carry, and is a filling snack with plenty of protein and calcium to boot. Many people love the taste of cheese, and with so many varieties out there, it’s hard to get tired of it. You could go weeks or months before running out of delicious cheese flavors to choose from. Cheese compliments crackers, fruit, meats, and other healthy foods very well, and you can even find low carb crackers to go with it. If too many calories are a concern, there are cheeses made from skim milk for you to buy.
• Lara Bars – As an all natural, nutrient dense snack bar made with figs and other organic ingredients, Larabars are excellent convenience foods for gluten free diets. With flavors like Apple Pie Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cashew Cookie, and Carrot Cake, you’ll find a wide variety of delicious choices for a quick snack bar with extra punch.
• Plantain Chips – Most chips use gluten to bind them together, but plantain chips are a delicious, salty-sweet crunch that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. This delicious cousin to the banana holds its consistency and flavor better than most dried fruits, and is another portable snack you can carry with you everywhere you go.
• Beans – Beans are an important staple for most diabetic diets. You can control the amount of salt and additives in bean dishes by soaking and cooking your own beans, but canned beans are a quick and easy substitute. You should look for cans packed in either natural juices or water, and avoid those that are packed in heavy liquids with lots of preservatives.
These days, manufacturers are listening to health-conscious consumers, packaging their products with less preservatives and, in some cases, less salt as well. You can still rinse them in water before eating if you want.
• Fresh Vegetables – Many diabetics must watch their intake of fresh fruits, but fresh vegetables are a different story. Lots of vegetables are naturally high in water content, and are therefore a perfect choice for diabetics. Some vegetables are also high in starch, however, like corn and potatoes. If you’re on a diabetic diet, you’re better off choosing carrots, celery, peppers, spinach, or other leafy greens to avoid potential problems. For the ultimate in convenience, buy some pre-cut vegetables or cut them up when you bring them home and store a fresh supply in zip-lock bags to grab when you need them.
Having special dietary needs shouldn’t hamper your eating habits. No reason, then, to get stuck at the stove preparing home-cooked meals all day. Today, supermarkets carry a wide selection of convenience foods that won’t cramp your style. Be sensible, though. Read the labels to make sure you’re adding more nutrients and less salt and preservatives to your meals and check with your doctor before making major changes in your diet.