All Posts In Grocery Shopping

How High is “High-Fiber”? (Nutrition Buzzwords, Demystified)

by in Label Decoder, August 4, 2014

cereal
Ever wondered what that “high-fiber” cereal is actually providing in the way of fiber? (And is it less impressive than the box labeled “fiber-rich”?) Or ever considered how many calories are in a “low-calorie” sports drink?

In order for a food company to splash words like “high in fiber” across its packaging, the product must adhere to specific guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA also regulates claims at the other end of the spectrum: Foods that boast being “low in” or “free” of something (such as sodium), must also meet requirements. Here’s a cheat sheet of what’s behind the buzzwords.

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What to Look for on a Yogurt Label

by in Label Decoder, July 24, 2014

yogurt
The yogurt section in the dairy aisle has been expanding rapidly, with more spins on the creamy delight than you can shake a spoon at. The next time you’re adding yogurt to your shopping cart, here are some things to keep in mind as you scan the label.

Added Sugar
All yogurts contain sugar. Yogurt is made from milk, which contains lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. It’s the added sugar — what the yogurt manufacturer brings to the mix — that buyers need to watch out for. Fruit-flavored yogurt and honey-flavored yogurt have more sugar than plain because of added sugars. If you read the ingredient list, you will see words like fructose and evaporated cane sugar, both of which are simply different names for sugar. A good rule of thumb: If a yogurt contains more than 20 grams of sugar per serving, it’s more of a dessert than a healthful snack.

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Spreading the Joy: Halva Gets a Healthier Makeover

by in Grocery Shopping, Trends, July 9, 2014

halva
Halva, the Middle Eastern sesame candy, is a dessert favorite. Dense and rich, it tastes like peanut buttery fudge and is often layered with ribbons of chocolate. What could be better? Just one problem: It’s traditionally loaded with sugar. Israeli native Shahar Shamir was a huge halva fan too, but as a former dancer keen on keeping healthy, he was hesitant to dig in.

A home cook since the age of eight (his mother taught him everything he knows), Shamir decided to fiddle with a recipe of his own, grinding sesame seeds with honey and roasted nuts, and making something that more closely resembled a nut butter than a candy. His rendition also dispensed with the usual hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors. He served his new-fangled halva spreads to friends at dinner parties. They went wild.

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Summer Sips: Which Are the Healthiest of the Bunch?

by in Grocery Shopping, July 2, 2014

summer drinks
Looking for something refreshingly fun to beat the heat this summer? Check out these sensible sippers. Read more

Taste Test: Which Hot Dogs Are the Top Dogs?

by in Taste Test, June 30, 2014

hot dogs
With the season of backyard food fests in full swing, Healthy Eats vetted the most popular hot dog brands around to see which ones deserve a coveted spot on the grill grates. Find out which frank emerged as top dog.

The Criteria
We rated beef wieners on a 5-point scale (5 being highest), judging the dogs on taste, ingredient quality and nutrition and paying special attention to calories, fat and sodium. We stuck with regular franks instead of the reduced-fat versions, as many of those use a considerable amount of fillers made from potato starch to displace some of the meat (no thank you). We were also on the lookout for the presence of preservatives such as sodium nitrite. Hot dogs ranged in size from 42 to 57 grams (1.5 to 2 ounces) per piece.  Read more

Taste Test: Healthier Crackers

by in Taste Test, June 21, 2014

crackers
Have you  browsed the cracker aisle lately? In addition to stocking the classic varieties, shelves are overflowing with versions made from whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. But are these options really what they’re cracked up to be?

The Criteria
For this taste test, we chose the plain or original flavor crackers. Each was tasted alone, without any toppings or condiments. The crackers were rated on calories, fat, fiber and sodium, along with ingredients (including preservatives and additives), flavor, texture and cost. Each brand was rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being highest.

Kashi Original 7 Grain Snack Crackers (above)
Rating: 5.0
Cost (per ounce): $0.44
Nutrition Info (per serving: 15 crackers): 120 calories; 3.5 grams total fat; 160 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber
The Healthy Eats Take: With plenty of crackers per serving (15!) and a respectable amount of fiber, these delicious crackers won’t leave you hungry. The snacks have a hearty crunch and a well-rounded list of whole-grain ingredients, including millet, oats, hard red wheat, brown rice, barley, buckwheat and sesame seeds.

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Taste Test: Kale Chips

by in Taste Test, May 25, 2014

kale chips
Crunchy versions of this leafy green vegetable are taking the chip aisle by storm. There’s no doubt kale is delicious and nutritious — but do its dried spin-offs live up to the hype?

The Criteria
We rated these leafy snacks on a 5-point scale (5 being highest) and judged them on taste, texture, price and nutrition, with special attention paid to stats such as calories and sodium. All of the brands were vegan and gluten-free, but none contained only kale. Most featured various spices and nuts, so it’s worth reading labels carefully, particularly for anyone who has food allergies.

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Pop Goes the Popcorn Aisle

by in Grocery Shopping, May 2, 2014

popcorn
Have you noticed all the popcorn snacks popping up on supermarket shelves? Some might even merit a spot in your shopping cart. This whole-grain snack (yes, corn qualifies) is naturally gluten-free and filled with fiber, protein, iron and antioxidants. One ounce of kernels will pop into more than 3.5 cups of popcorn and total only about 100 calories.

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Taste Test: Frozen Burritos

by in Taste Test, April 4, 2014

burrito
As more burritos hit the frozen food aisle, Healthy Eats was curious to see which fit the “healthy” bill. Sure, making your own bundle of deliciousness is ideal — but sometimes you’re just in the mood for a grab-and-go meal. So which burrito to heat and eat?

The Criteria
Supermarket freezer cases are overflowing with burrito options, including vegetarian, beef and egg. But for the sake of simplicity, this taste test was narrowed down to chicken. Five brands of burrito were in the running, and each was heated in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s directions. The burritos were rated on calories, saturated fat and sodium, along with ingredients, flavor, texture and cost. Although some brands contain seemingly healthy ingredients, they can also have a laundry list of preservatives and additives. Each brand was rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being highest.

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