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Top 5 Processed Foods to Have on Hand

Although we always suggest eating real food compared to processed foods, sometimes it makes sense – and saves time – to opt for premade choices. There are many that are delicious and convenient. Our Wellness Evangelist Emmie Satrazemis recommends five must-haves for your household:


Hummus is tasty and versatile – dip grilled chicken, crackers or veggies in it, or add it to your sandwich or wrap. This creamy spread is full of nutrition and heart-healthy ingredients like chickpeas and olive oil. Try a variety of hummus flavors like roasted red pepper, garlic or edamame to keep your taste buds thrilled!

Pasta (fresh or boxed)

There are so many ways to enjoy pasta, from sides to salads to main dishes. It cooks quickly and is a great minimally processed pantry staple. You can even find varieties with added superfoods like ancient grains or flaxseed. Look for brands with fewer ingredients and add your own seasonings and sauce!


Yogurt is an easy and tasty source of protein and calcium. Some yogurts also contain beneficial probiotic bacteria – look for “live and active cultures” on the label. Layer with fruit in a parfait, blend into a smoothie or use the plain variety as a substitute for sour cream. Choose a brand with a short list of ingredients and look for more protein and less added sugar.


This handy snack has come a long way from the highly processed, microwave version. When you stick to the basics, popcorn is a whole grain, nutritious snack option – and kids love it! Since there are so many choices in the snack foods aisle, we recommend brands that have just three ingredients – popcorn, oil, and salt.

Nut Butter

Whether you prefer peanut, almond, cashew, pecan or sunflower, nut butters are a shelf-stable source of tasty nutrition that pairs well with just about everything. In many of our stores, you can grind your own almond or peanut butter fresh – this way you know there are no additives!


  1. American Chemical Society (ACS). “Popcorn: The snack with even higher antioxidants levels than fruits and vegetables.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 March 2012.
  2. Manach, et al. Polyphenols: food sources and bioavailability. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;79:727–47.
  3. Mattes, et al. Acute and second-meal effects of peanuts on glycaemic response and appetite in obese women with high type 2 diabetes risk: a randomized cross-over clinical trial. British Journal of Nutrition (2013), 109, 2015–2023
  4. Albert CM, Gaziano JM, Willett WC, Manson JE. Nut consumption and decreased risk of sudden cardiac death in the Physicians’ Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(12):1382–1387.
  5. Jiang R, et al. Nut and Peanut Butter Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002; 288(20): 2554-2560
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