*Friendly reminder to trash the contents only, not the containers! Recycle those little buggers appropriately, everyone!*
It’s pretty amazing that what started out as just making smoothies for breakfast has morphed into where we stand today, but it goes to show that one good decision leads into many others! Little by little, as I started learning more and more about the reasons why most processed food is not in fact “food” at all, but a food substitute, we started switching out the things we normally buy for much better choices.
But, keep in mind that as much as I want to have a healthy-eating household, I like money. More specifically, saving money. I also like efficiency and saving time, so there is a fine balance between what is doable and sustainable long-term vs. what’s a little extreme. As much as I’d love to live on a self-sustaining farm where we literally raise and grow all of our food, I have to be reasonable that (in the interests of time and money), there are still some foods I just simply can’t make myself.
That’s where the better choices come in. If you’re not used to reading labels and watching what you buy, chances are that most items in your kitchen or pantry are the standard go-to items you’ve been raised with and have always bought, not realizing that they are (sad to say) garbage.
So, here you have a list of the top 12 items we’ve switched out to better items, with my personal recommendation for each category. Keep in mind, selection may vary by region or by grocery chain, but I can almost bet that there will be a similar substitute in whichever grocery store you frequent. Lastly, this list is meant to be a springboard for those who have never started cleaning up their products. For people who have more specific preferences (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, 100% organic, 100% non-GMO, low-carb etc.), your personal list may or may not jive with my recommendations for certain items.
This is a biggie, so let’s get this out of the way. If you recall the whole Subway fiasco with azodicarbonamide in 2014, where people (myself included) started boycotting them because it came to light that they were using this chemical in their bread. This chemical is used as a flour-bleaching agent and dough conditioner, but guess what else it’s used to fluff up? Yoga mats. The kicker though, is that I shortly discovered that many, many bread companies found in grocery stores were also using this chemical, completely under the radar.
What’s also pretty gross is that most bread companies also load their loaves full of artificial preservatives/ colors/flavors and high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is banned in our household, so finding a replacement admittedly felt like a headache at first, but it can be done! In the couple years since we started eating cleaner, many better options have hit the shelves, so you should have an easier go of it now!
BETTER CHOICE: Your best bet is to go for 100% whole grain products, so that you don’t have to worry about bleached/enriched flour and all that jazz. Nature’s Own 100% Whole Grain bread or Arnold Country 100% Whole Wheat bread are good picks in that category that do not contain HFCS or azodicarbonamide. (On that note, Arnold has many products that meet the whole wheat/no HFCS/no artificial flavors/colors/preservatives, and their website has a cool tool for filtering products by these characteristics.)
If I need hamburger buns, I like Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Rolls. Likewise, when I need hot dog buns, I like Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Hot Dog Rolls.
Extra Credit: If you want to go the whole nine yards and get some super clean bread, check out Dave’s Killer Bread line, Rudi’s line, and Food for Life products. Most of these products make great use of organic and super high-quality power ingredients, like sprouted and ancient grains. Because wheat is a crop that usually is heavily sprayed with pesticides, buying organic bread technically is your safest (albeit priciest) bet.
#2 Peanut Butter
Traditional store-bought peanut butter can contain hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, trans fat, and preservatives, so your best bet is something pure and natural.
The encouraging news is that many well-known companies are starting to churn out “better” products, though you still have to be careful. Jif now has Jif Natural, and Peter Pan has the Natural and the Simply Ground lines, but beware that many still have palm oil and added sugar, and if we’re talking about Simply Ground, that line still contains hydrogenated oil – FAIL.
[We used to use Jif Natural from a price point (40 oz for $4.98), since we go through a ton. Its 3 main ingredients are peanuts, sugar, and palm oil, then 2% or less of salt and molasses. However, after learning that palm oil sourcing is devastating to our rainforests, I looked for a palm oil-free option, plus wanted to eliminate added sugar (or molasses) as well. (Jif’s website claims their palm oil is responsibly/ethically sourced, but it sounds safer to simply avoid it altogether.)]
BETTER CHOICE: Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. At $4.54 for 26 oz (17 cents/oz), it’s a bit pricier than the Jif Natural we were buying (see above), but it’s still quite reasonably priced among the natural options. The few extra cents per ounce are totally worth it for better quality; Smucker’s Natural contains nothing but peanuts and <1% salt! We love that it’s very nice and creamy, and it mixes very easily in the jar without having to deal with excessive oil sloshing out. The taste far exceeds what we had with Jif Natural, so I’m glad we traded up! If you’re into chunkier PB, they’ve also got a Chunky Natural option as well.
Another slightly pricier option (but still viable if you don’t go through a lot of PB) is Old Home 100% Natural Peanut Butter, found in the refrigerated section in 14 and 24 oz sizes (the best deal being the 24 oz container for $5.36), though it’s still one of the more expensive PBs per ounce that I’ve looked into.
If you want to go organic with your PB, it’s getting way easier to find, and even brands like Smucker’s are joining the party. I would highly recommend Smucker’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter, since it’s the exact same ingredients as Smucker’s Natural, but just organic (priced at $4.58 for a 16 oz. jar, or 28 cents/oz). There’s a Chunky variety too!
It’s worth saying that pure, freshly-ground peanut butter (made at home) is probably the ultimate ideal, if you have the time, motivation, and sufficient processor to do it, plus can find a cheap enough supply of unprocessed, quality peanuts (otherwise you’re defeating your purpose). It’s getting more common in stores too – I’ve seen several with machines in their bulk area that allow you to make freshly-ground PB right there, but it isn’t exactly cheap (ranging $5+/pound), plus there are some concerns: How clean is the machine? Can you control the quantity of oil? What type of oil is it, and are there options?
Please tell me you don’t have Miracle Whip in your fridge, right? I grew up on that stuff, now I loathe it. Apparently it was developed during WWII as a cheap substitute for real mayo, so it contains less than 2% eggs and is basically oil and sugar masquerading as mayo. Yuck! I don’t have a jar of the nasty stuff to look at, nor does Kraft readily admit their ingredients on their website, but I found some info online that shows Miracle Whip to contain gross things like HFCS, cellulose gel (yum!), sucralose and acesulfame potassium (cheap sweeteners). No, just no.
Hands-down, real mayo all the way, please! That’s the easy part, and the first better choice you can make here. The tough part, though, is finding the “realest” mayo (and no, that’s not my attempt at punning an Iggy Azalea song).
Mayo in itself is a huge cautionary zone, and I pretty much have to admit that (as far as I can see) there’s only one “best” option, but it’s expensive as heck (I’ll get to that in a sec). The problem? Virtually all mayos inevitably contain soybean or canola oil, even the ones marketed as being “olive oil” mayo. Soybean and canola are two huge commonly-GMO crops, which are also bombarded by pesticides.
So, okay, isn’t buying organic usually a better choice when you’re up the creek without a paddle? Usually, yes. However, even when you buy organic mayo, the caveat is that organic soybean and canola oil still aren’t really good for us. Yes, buying organic soy/canola is better than non-organic, but it’s still not healthy by the nature of the oil itself – does that make sense? EVOO is one of the best oils for us, so an organic EVOO-based mayo that does not contain any soy or canola oil truly is the best choice.
BETTER CHOICE: So, what can you do? It’s a tough game, but you can definitely try to pick the lesser of the evils where possible:
- Pick a product that’s actually mayo (eggs are listed within the first few ingredients on the list).
- Look for a short ingredient list with the most recognizable, real ingredients.
- “Expeller-pressed” soy or canola oil is the (slightly) lesser evil of the oils, since it means that the oils were extracted using heat and pressure rather than nasty chemical extraction methods (chemicals like hexane).
- Buy organic if you can. Again, it’s not the end-all, be-all in this case, but it helps.
- Pick a real mayo with no soy or canola oil, ideally.
I admit, we love Hellman’s with Olive Oil. It contains non-GMO sourced ingredients and cage-free eggs (though FYI, “cage-free” can mean lots of things, so it doesn’t automatically mean the same as “free range”). In terms of ingredients, this one does not contain HFCS, and in general has a shorter ingredient list than some others. Performance-wise, it’s the best-tasting mayo I’ve ever had, and has helped me make some unbelievably delicious macaroni salad and chicken salad.
But. You knew there was a “but” coming, right? Although I enjoy my Hellman’s w/Olive Olive, I know it could be better ingredient-wise. I dislike that it contains Calcium Disodium EDTA (a preservative I avoid) and Natural Flavoring (an umbrella term that can potentially hide oh-so-many things, even though it’s better than artificial flavoring). It also contains Modified Potato Starch, which isn’t a danger, but in my mind is just a cheap filler that shouldn’t be in mayo anyways.
Even though I’m not over-the-moon thrilled at using this product due to its ingredients (despite its wonderful taste), I’ve had a hard time thus far jumping to another, simply because nothing 100% satisfies me in ingredients, so it irks me to pay extra for it. (But once we’re out of Hellman’s this time, it may finally be time to pick another.) By all means though, these are all way better choices than run-of-the-mill, junky “whatever” mayos, so they’re definitely options you may want to look into based on taste, price, and availability differences:
- Many people recommend Hampton Creek Just Mayo, but this too is canola oil-based (non-GMO, but not organic). It also contains Modified Food Starch, plus the same preservative I mentioned that’s in my Hellman’s (Calcium Disodium EDTA). So is that any better than Hellman’s? Nah, I’d say it’s on par with Hellman’s with Olive Oil. I think a lot of people like the idea of getting away from the big names, which in general is usually your best bet, but in this case, it really isn’t resulting in a much better product.
- Kraft has also launched new Pure Kraft Mayo, which is probably the cleanest ingredient list I’ve seen – literally just soybean oil, vinegar, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, water, lemon juice concentrate, ground red pepper, dried garlic and mustard oil. Of course, you have to pick your battles. It’s a clean list, but not organic, and I’d bet the ranch that the soybean oil is GMO. (Why Kraft didn’t just go the whole nine yards to make this ingredient list all organic is beyond me.)
- Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Mayo is a nice organic choice with a simple ingredient list, but once again, it contains more soy/canola oil than it does olive oil. Sigh. All in all though, it’s a clean list, and the soy/canola oil is listed as expeller-pressed, so there’s that. [Contains: Organic expeller pressed soy and/or canola oil, organic whole eggs, organic egg yolks, organic extra virgin olive oil, filtered water, organic honey, organic distilled vinegar, sea salt, organic mustard (organic distilled vinegar, water, organic mustard seed, salt, organic spices), organic lemon juice concentrate.]
- Hellman’s has *just* launched a new organic line with three flavors: Organic Original, Organic Roasted Garlic, and Organic Spicy Chipotle. [The Original, for reference, contains: ORGANIC SOYBEAN OIL, WATER, ORGANIC WHOLE EGGS, ORGANIC DISTILLED VINEGAR, ORGANIC EGG YOLKS, ORGANIC DRIED CANE SYRUP, SALT, ORGANIC ROASTED GARLIC PUREE, ORGANIC DRIED GARLIC, NATURAL FLAVOR, ORGANIC LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE.] Same battle, folks. Soybean oil as the first ingredient, and it’s not specified as expeller-pressed. Hmm. Can’t say I’m thrilled that they’re suddenly adding extra sugar (dried cane syrup), and still keeping Natural Flavor. Why? Stop it! But, all in all, not bad. It’s probably less expensive than Spectrum’s Organic, and not that significantly different, to be honest.
- Lastly, I mentioned wayyy above that there is one “best choice” option, in my opinion. Hands down, if I could have any mayo in my fridge, I’d go for Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayo. It’s ingredients are (hold your breath for this): Avocado Oil, Organic Cage-Free Eggs, Organic Egg Yolks, Organic Vinegar, Sea Salt, Rosemary Extract. Yes, that’s right – no soy or canola in this product! The downside, of course, is price. The cheapest I’ve found it is on LuckyVitamin.com ($8.50 for 12 oz) or VitaCost.com (my fave website ever) for $9.99. I usually have coupon codes for VitaCost, but even still, it’s way more than I can reasonably pay for mayo, even “perfect” mayo. That being the case, this is a time where one of the other “better choices” will just have to suffice!
#4 Pasta Sauce
A lot of regular sauces contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors/colors, and preservatives, and often have a super high sugar content. Many also contain soybean oil, which can be a bad thing if it’s not organic, because of excessive pesticide use for GMO soybean crops.
While I don’t like to be pushy about buying organic, it’s worth mentioning that tomatoes do fall within the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of produce that’s the most contaminated by synthetic pesticides (even after a typical washing), so any pasta sauce you buy that isn’t organic likely has a nice helping of pesticide in that jar – yuck.
BETTER CHOICE: We enjoy the entire line of Wild Oats brand organic pasta sauces, which are found at Walmart for under $3 a jar. It’s absolutely delicious and full of veggie pieces, and makes you realize just how processed other sauces taste! We also really enjoy Aldi’s Simply Nature Organic pasta sauces, which are < $2 a jar, and contain no soybean oil at all. Big name sauce manufacturers are catching on, like for example I see that Ragu now has organic sauces listed on their website, but for what price, I don’t know.
#5 Salad Dressing
This is another potentially huge category for some of us. Salad dressings are just a chemical disaster, plain and simple. Depending what flavor you’re buying, you might be inviting even worse ingredients – like in ranch or bleu cheese dressing, for example, it’s not uncommon to find Titanium Dioxide, which is a whitening agent used to make that dressing look pearly white. Too bad it’s the same chemical used for making paint look whiter too! Other common nasties include high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (MSG), maltodextrin, and calcium disodium EDTA.
BETTER CHOICE: If I have to buy bottled, I buy organic. In my opinion, doing anything but buying organic is a bad idea. If, however, you still plan to buy dressing that’s not organic, do not – I repeat – do not buy “Light” or “Low Fat” dressings, as they are full of junk fillers and fake chemical ingredients to make them that way.
I’ve bought many different organic dressings, and one of my favorite store lines is still Giant Eagle’s “Nature’s Basket” organic salad dressings. But, since Giant Eagle isn’t in all states, check out which organic brands your local store offers. It may be some trial and error at first, but once you find your favorite, you’ll be set. Some Walmart stores carry salad dressing by Wild Oats, Walmart’s organic brand, that would probably be great (I’ve loved every Wild Oats item I’ve tried). Also, check your local Target – they carry many organic brands, including their own brand organic line, Simply Balanced. Not to be outdone, Aldi’s Simply Nature brand has some excellent organic dressings that can double as epic chicken marinades! Last but certainly not least, many stores carry Annie’s Naturals organic salad dressings, which are fab, fab, fab – I could practically drink the Papaya Poppy Seed one, and my husband is obsessed with the Cowgirl Ranch (LOL). The trick with Annie’s is to catch it on sale and buy a small boatload!
Of course, don’t forget, there is huge potential to make your own salad dressings at home when you need them, using EVOO as much as possible. But don’t forget, you’re defeating the purpose if the ingredients you put in aren’t quality. (For example, I saw a buttermilk ranch recipe that called for mayo. If your mayo is junk, your salad dressing will be too.)
#6 Chip Dip
This was initially a tough one for me! I absolutely love chip dip, so it kills me that all of the products on store shelves are sickeningly full of MSG, and not to mention other fun stuff like maltodextrin, artificial colors, modified starches, gelatin (which isn’t bad per se, but just gross to add in), extra sugar, tons of salt, preservatives, and unknowns. I used to love Dean’s back in my dark days, but look at this ingredient list! Yuck!
SKIM MILK, WHEY (MILK), PALM OIL, WATER, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF ONION*, PARSLEY*, SALT, SUGAR, HYDROLYZED SOY AND CORN PROTEIN, HYDROLYZED TORULA AND BREWER’S YEAST PROTEIN, CITRIC ACID, LACTIC ACID, ACETIC ACID, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, FOOD STARCH-MODIFIED, GELATIN, SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE, LOCUST BEAN GUM, SOY LECITHIN, POTASSIUM SORBATE (TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS), GUAR GUM, CARRAGEENAN, YELLOW 5 & 6. *DEHYDRATED.
BETTER CHOICE: Homemade all the way on this one. Here’s my favorite new go-to recipe, courtesy of Natural Loriel. Ingredients? Sour cream, onion powder, dried minced onion, garlic powder, sea salt, dried parsley, black pepper, turmeric, celery seed. It’s amazing to be able to whip up a batch and enjoy it knowing that you know exactly what’s in it! It’s quick and easy, especially if you whip up a few batches of the dry ingredients and store them individually so they’re ready to go with just the addition of sour cream! (Keep in mind here too, that using quality sour cream is key. Make sure the carton states it’s from cows not treated with rBGH or rBST, and avoid any “Light” or “Fat Free”, as these are full of junk fillers to make them that way. If you can, buy organic sour cream.)
We don’t eat a ton of this by itself, but I enjoy using it as an egg substitute when baking. Chances are, the applesauce in your fridge right now has high fructose corn syrup in it. Ew, ew, and ew. Mott’s recently has released a Natural applesauce that is HFCS-free, but they have regrettably left HFCS in their Original and Cinnamon varieties.
BETTER CHOICE: Walmart’s Great Value Unsweetened Apple Sauce or Aldi’s Simply Nature Unsweetened Apple Sauce. Both contain only apples, water, and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). For those used to regular applesauce sweetened with HFCS, yes, you’ll notice a difference. You can actually taste the apple! Imagine that. If you have the opportunity to do so, you really should go organic here, because apples are one of the Dirty Dozen (produce most highly concentrated with pesticides).
This is another unexpected place high fructose syrup and chemical fakery resides, and that grosses me out. Here again, is a product that tastes so vastly different (and much better) once you switch to a cleaner product. We don’t use very much at all, just a little on hashed browns and a cup or so each time we make homemade sloppy joes, but I still prefer it to be great quality.
The good news here is that a lot of well-known household brand names are finally listening to consumers and taking the HFCS out. For example, Hunt’s 100% Natural Ketchup is a step in the right direction, and is usually the lowest priced among the options with no HFCS or preservatives, but this brand still sneaks in “Natural Flavor”, which sometimes isn’t as innocuous as it sounds (even though that’s still better than artificial flavors) because this might mean that un-labeled glutamates or other additives may be hiding in those “natural flavors.” Heinz’s Organic Ketchup is an honorable mention (albeit a very expensive one) that also sneaks in “Natural Flavor”. Sigh.
BETTER CHOICE: Publix Greenwise Organic Tomato Ketchup, now $2.00 (was $2.39) for 24 oz. Also fantastic is Walmart’s Wild Oats Organic Ketchup, but it’s become super tough to find in stores. Both of these products are almost identical and contain: Organic Tomato Concentrate or Puree, Organic Sugar, Organic White Vinegar, Salt, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Spices. That’s what you’re shooting for! Other great candidates are Annie’s Organic Ketchup, $2.96 for 24 oz., or Aldi’s Simply Nature Organic Ketchup.
This is one of those things that most people typically think isn’t that bad because, hey, it sure looks real, doesn’t it? Think again. Many are made with hidden nasties, even in the brands you trust. You’ll typically find high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, along with a host of artificial flavors and colors.
BETTER CHOICE: Welch’s Natural Strawberry Spread, which contains no HFCS, no artificial flavors/colors, or preservatives. Grape is also available as well. The taste is so surprisingly fresh and sweet, without all the chemical garbage in there to wreck it. (Of course, if you want to spring for organic, even better.) While I hear that jams/jellies are quite easy to make at home, I simply don’t use enough to justify it.
#10 Whipped Topping
Oh, this is a tough one for some people. I know, I know. I grew up with Cool Whip (and generic brand versions of it). But I will never, ever touch it again. The list of ingredients is absolutely horrifying! Hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t pronounce. If you don’t believe that Cool Whip isn’t anything close to a food, please view this experiment. Basically, if your whipped topping doesn’t melt at room temp, you shouldn’t eat it.
Whipped topping is by no means a health food no matter what, and should be an occasional treat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick a better one for the times you do indulge.
BETTER CHOICE: Reddi Whip Original. Ok, so it’s not ideal, but when I dive into the kitchen at snack time for some ice cream and whipped topping, I’m not about to pull out whipping cream and sugar and go to town! I need a fast, easy go-to. This product isn’t perfect, since it still contains corn syrup (though not high fructose corn syrup) and less than 2% of natural/artificial flavor and mono- and di-glycerides. BUT, it at least doesn’t have hydrogenated oils or HFCS, and at least has recognizable ingredients otherwise. And it melts! (Note: Don’t go for the reduced fat variety – that type has some extra chemical nonsense in there that’s not worth the little bit of calories you save.)
I’ve also seen some other options at Whole Foods, like their 365 brand Real Dairy Whipped Topping with organic ingredients, but these definitely will make you dig deep in the wallet. Beware, this product does contain carrageenan, an unattractive ingredient that can be a source of intestinal distress for some people. Another option is non-dairy Rice or Soy Whip, though these too also are not cheap and contain carrageenan.
For the homemade-driven, I’ve been dying to try out this homemade whipped topping recipe that uses coconut milk, which sounds super fast and easy, and would actually provide some nutritional value from the coconut. Bonus points if you can buy an organic coconut milk that’s in a BPA-free can, like Native Forest!
#11 Barbecue Sauce
Yet another place that high fructose corn syrup hides – boy, I’m starting to feel like a broken record at this point! Like many of the other items I’ve mentioned above, you also have to watch out for other unnecessary gross additives like artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Finding a good replacement can be a little tough, because many well-known brand names are offenders with the HFCS.
BETTER CHOICE: We don’t use a ton of BBQ sauce, since we don’t have the option to do outdoor grilling, but we snagged a bottle of Aldi’s Simply Nature Organic Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce for a couple bucks – my husband loves it! Annie’s Organic BBQ Sauce is another good choice that’s probably made its way into many mainstream stores. Just like with the salad dressing, it looks to me like buying anything other than organic probably isn’t a good idea.
It’s not to say that you couldn’t also make your own, but this is an item that tends to use a lot of ingredients, so ensuring that they’re all quality would likely cost a ton more than just simply buying a bottle of something organic. But, I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from doing so!
#12 Pancake Syrup
Remember how I said at the beginning of this post that these common food items aren’t actually food? I hate to break it to you, but most pancake syrup is not even close to being real. Ready? Here are Mrs Butterworth’s Original Syrup ingredients:
High Fructose Corn Syrup,Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Molasses, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Polysorbate 60.
Can we all together say “Eww”? The first and main ingredient is a disgusting, cheap GMO sludge that is one of the worst things you can put in your body and is one of the worst offenders in America’s growing obesity epidemic. Don’t even get me started.
This is one of those times that I have to wave the caution flag when buying products labeled “natural” – don’t stop reading those labels! Log Cabin has released a line of “All Natural” maple syrup that is nothing more than a ruse to get your money. The ingredients are syrup (brown rice, sugar, maple [4%]), water, natural flavor, xanthan gum (natural thickener), caramel color, citric acid. Really?! 4% maple and all that filler. Wow!
BETTER CHOICE: Invest your money in REAL maple syrup! We bought a jar of organic maple syrup on a total steal, and it’s been worth it, although admittedly, we’ve had to call on it more frequently for using it in recipes more often than we’ve made pancakes! Buying organic and in the biggest bottle you can reasonably use will snag you the best per ounce price, but you can always pull out the calculator to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
There you have it! These were the top 12 items that we switched out first and foremost, but that’s not at all the full list. I like to present these items first because, in all honesty, it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to make simple changes that count. A lot of these products are ingredients that can touch many recipes, so it’s more far-reaching than it seems at first! Many of these changes are as easy as just reaching for a different product on the very same shelf. Thankfully, since there has been so much increased consumer demand, many stores are now carrying the better alternatives.
I’ll be back with more soon! Wishing you healthier, happier days!
* UPDATE * UPDATE * UPDATE * UPDATE *
July 2016 – If you enjoyed reading this post and getting a jump-start on better choices, be sure to check out the second post in the series! I just posted a follow-up: 8 More “Food” Items to Replace With Better Choices!