Recently I've had more clients than ever discover that their bodies can't tolerate certain foods. When they eat specific ingredients or additives, like dairy, gluten, or soy, they experienceÂ less-than-desirableÂ symptoms, which can range fromÂ bloatingÂ and fatigue, to eczema, headaches, joint pain, sinus congestion, or even âbrain fog.â These types of intolerances may limitÂ store-bought options, but luckily plenty of companies now offer packaged snacks "free from" (a term gaining popularity in the food industry) dietary triggers.
If youâre in the gluten-, soy-, or dairy-freeÂ club and looking for easy grab-and-go bites, here are six that fit the billâand meet my clean eating criteria. Each is anÂ excellent choice to keep you fueled and satisfy your cravings, without the unwanted side effects.
Amrita Chocolate Maca BarÂ ($37 for 12 bars;Â amazon.com)
This entirely plant-based bar contains organically-sourced ingredients like brown rice protein, date paste, and cacao powder. Plus it boasts a trio of healthy seeds: chia, sesame, and sunflower. Iâm a big fan of the brownie-like textureÂ whichÂ isnât gritty, overly chewy, or chalky likeÂ some other bars on the market. I also love the healthy balance of protein (15 grams), good fat, and nutrient-rich carbs. This bar isÂ great as a portableÂ breakfast option, tie-over snack between lunch and dinner, or as recovery fuelÂ after a strenuous workout.Â I always keep one of these stashed in my bag as a healthy, ready-to-eat option.
Orgain Vegan ShakeÂ ($28 for 12;Â amazon.com)
If you prefer sipping a shake to eating a proteinÂ bar, and donât have time to whip one upÂ yourself, this bottled option is a nice go-to. Although manyÂ ready-to-drink shakes are made with whey (dairy) protein, this one is formulated with brown rice, chia, flax, and hemp seeds, packingÂ 16 grams of plant protein per bottle. I also appreciate that there'sÂ no trace of corn syrup or artificial additives, making it a cleanÂ packaged shakeÂ you can feel good about drinking!
The Good Bean ($22 for 12 bags;Â amazon.com)
Pulses, which include beans, lentils, and peas, are the latest and greatestÂ superfood group.Â They offer plenty of weight loss and health benefits, and make for simpleÂ yet satisfyingÂ snacks. Roasted chickpeas satisfy a saltyÂ craving, and help meet your protein and fiberÂ needs. (One ounceÂ contains 20% of the recommendedÂ daily serving of fiber.) Even the sea salt flavor fromÂ this brand wonât blow your sodium budget: At just 185 mg per serving, it's just 8% of the daily recommended limit.
Skinny Pop ($25 for 6 bags;Â amazon.com)
I personally don't like the word "skinny" because it makes me think of dieting orÂ under-eating,Â but Iâm obsessed with Skinny Popâespecially the black pepper version. The ingredient list includesÂ non-GMO popcorn, sunflower oil, salt, black pepperâand thatâs it! As a member of the whole grain family, popcorn provides vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and âgoodâ (or unrefined)Â carbs. To avoid over-doing it with the grains, I'll omit them in my dinner, and noshÂ on Skinny PopÂ afterwards, while enjoying a Netflix or HBO escape.
Alter Eco Dark Chocolate ($8 for 2.8 oz;Â amazon.com)
I eat a little dark chocolate every single day (yes, that's totally healthy!), and this brand is my absolute fave. Not only is it 70% dark, organic, and a fair trade product I feel good about buying, butÂ itâs also completelyÂ dairy- and soy-free (which is tough to find in a chocolate bar, even when it's dark). This melt-in-your-mouth bar is made up of just a fewÂ ingredients:Â cocoa beans, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, and fleur de sel (sea salt). And with just 72 mg of sodium per 5 squares, it only comes toÂ 3% of the daily recommended maximum. But this delicious sweet and salty combo keeps me away from other less nutritiousÂ goodies, like my hubbyâs stash of candy and chips.
Rise Protein Bar ($22 for 12 bars;Â amazon.com)
Here's anotherÂ simple, clean bar that offers a non-whey option. I especially like the lemon cashew flavor,Â whichÂ is a lighter, fruity alternative to theÂ usual chocolate protein bar. Once again,Â the ingredients are minimal and recognizable (are you sensing a theme here?). It's got cashews, coconut nectar, pea protein (a pulse), and lemon extract. At 15 grams, this bar provides a similar amount of protein to a single serve contain of Greek yogurt, andÂ you can easily tuck it in your bag orÂ pocket for a quick bite when hunger strikes.
Meet Cynthia Sass at theÂ HealthÂ Total Wellness Weekend at Canyon RanchÂ AprilÂ 22-24. For details, go toÂ Health.com/TotalWellness.
Do you have a question about nutrition? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioningÂ @goodhealthÂ andÂ @CynthiaSass.Â Cynthia SassÂ is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with masterâs degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen onÂ national TV, sheâs Healthâs contributing nutrition editor, and privately counselsÂ clientsÂ in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her newest book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her onÂ Facebook,Â TwitterÂ andÂ Pinterest.