8 Ways to Cut Back on Processed Foods

1 Read every food label.

A quick glance at the labels of every food item you grab at the store is a surefire way to help you avoid variations of packaged foods containing high amounts of salt, sugar, and fat.

2 Cook at home whenever possible.

When you have extra time, try your hand at making food from scratch that you wouldn’t normally think to make. Homemade pasta, bread, and corn tortillas require only a few ingredients, and making these foods at home can help you avoid the unhealthy additives found in prepackaged food.

3 Opt for canned beans that have no added salt.

If you have trouble finding salt-free canned beans, purchase dried beans and cook them yourself.

4 Simplify those salad dressings.

Many pre-made salad dressings you’ll find in the grocery store contain added sugar and salt and often list some type of oil as their first ingredient. Whip up a batch of your own salad dressing using healthy whole fats and fresh herbs.

5 Shun the sugary fruit.

When buying canned fruit, look for fruit canned in water , not syrup, and with no added sugar.

6 Choose corn tortillas.

Clean up Taco Tuesdays by switching from flour tortillas to corn tortillas. Pre-made flour tortillas, even those labeled “whole wheat” or “multigrain,” commonly contain hydrogenated oils and high amounts of salt. Popular brands of corn tortillas that can be found in most grocery stores usually contain only corn, water, and lime.

7 Unprocess the popcorn.

Swap microwave popcorn for stovetop popcorn. A bag of popcorn kernels is not only a more cost-effective choice than microwave popcorn, but this option allows you to choose the oil it’s cooked in and the amount of salt and flavorings that go on your whole-grain snack. If you’re an avid popcorn fan, invest in an air popper and avoid the oil altogether.

8 Make your own frozen meals.

Plan ahead for busy nights— prepare and freeze food you might normally purchase pre-made from the store. For example, pat out ground beef or turkey into burger patties, boil whole wheat pasta, make your own marinara sauce, create your own soups, and roast some root vegetables— all of these items freeze especially well. NHR

FAST FACT! Simply being aware of label contents has been shown to dramatically decrease the overconsumption of unhealthy additives. In 1985, Finland had the highest rate of fatal cardiovascular disease in the world, which scientists attributed to their incredibly high salt consumption. In response, the Finnish government required all salty foods to be marked with a “High Salt Content” label. By 2007, salt consumption in Finland dropped by a third, which led to a 75-percent decline in deaths from strokes and heart disease.

SOURCE: Moss M. The extraordinary science of addictive junk food. The New York Times. https:// www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html. 20 Feb 2013. Accessed 18 Feb 2019. NHR

FAST FACT—Ever finish an entire bag of chips without noticing? You can thank the “bliss point.” Food scientists have found that an ideal ratio of salt to fat, the right level of crunch, and an optimal mouth feel of a chip can hijack the brain’s satiety signals and allow us to snack indefinitely. Good for profits, bad for waistlines.

SOURCE: Moss M. The extraordinary science of addictive junk food. The New York Times. https:// www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html. 20 Feb 2013. Accessed 18 Feb 2019. NHR


  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chopped parsley, dried
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Water

Combine tahini, garlic powder, parsley, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add water and stir until desired thickness is achieved.


  • 1 cup hemp seeds, hulled
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 11/2 cup plain almond milk
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Combine ingredients until smooth. NHR

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