By Callie McBride
The cat’s out of the bag: you’ve been buying frozen dinners and snack bars left and right due to a hectic work or school schedule. We all do it from time to time, don’t sweat it. Instead, make sure you are choosing the right products! Nothing will compare to fresh, home-cooked meals of homemade vegetable dishes and deliciously ripe fruit smoothies; when it’s time to put your health in the hands of your local grocery store, you know it’s time for a game of This Or That. I have a handful of brands that carry amazing vegan products that fit in with my healthy lifestyle. Many mainstream brands that claim unreal nutrition, though, can pack in loads of unwanted sugar. I don’t mean to bash certain food companies by any means, but just inform my fellow vegans of the extra sugar they may be consuming throughout their quest for weight loss.
For instance, the well-known brand Special K advocates for eating a balanced and nutritious diet for women, yet its latest product, the Dark Chocolate Protein Shake, has 190 calories per serving and contains 13 grams of sugar. Yikes! A better option for taste, protein, and fiber is Kashi‘s Go Lean Toasted Berry Crumble Cereal, offering 180 calories and only 10 grams of sugar per every 3/4 cup.
We vegans love our milk: soy, almond, coconut, rice, the list goes on! The brand Eden has an “original” soymilk product that, for 8 ounces, has 170 calories and 13 sugars. Whaaa?! I prefer West Soy Unsweetened soy milk, which offers half the calories and only one-ONE!-gram of sugar. Oatmeal, meet West Soy. West Soy, meet oatmeal.
You all know I am a huge fan of coconut water. Aside from its awesome flavor and incredible taste, it has a much better track record than a leading competitor for flavored drinks, Vitamin Water. Hey-the packaging is fun and the titles are awesome, but 120 calories and 32 sugars per bottle? Taste Nirvana has as only 50 calories and 9 grams sugar…I’ll take two, please.
College life = snack bars. It’s that simple. But snack bars do not need to equate to meal replacement bars! How can a measly little bar replace an entire meal!? I may be crunched for time, but never to the point where I must forgo my beloved vegetable and quinoa stir-fry from my awesome campus cafe. ProBar, an entirely vegan meal replacement bar line, offers its products with 370 calories and 26 sugars. Whoa! Kind Bars, however, as a simple afternoon snack, are a better option for your body’s sugar levels. The newest flavor, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt (need I even go on?) has only 200 calories and 5 sugars!
Finally, when dinnertime rolls around and your oven has become more of a storage unit than a functional kitchen tool, frozen meals do come in handy (yep, I said it). Lean Cuisine is a very popular brand for properly proportioned and tasty frozen dinners; don’t be fooled: the sodium and sugar content is through the roof! The Vegetable Egg Roll, for instance, packs in 320 calories and 12 sugars. I spent a few minutes on its website and learned that none of its products are vegan yet. So, passing on this brand is a no-brainer! A better option, still, is Amy’s Kitchen. Her Veggies & Brown Rice meal is a mere 260 calories and 7 sugars. Quickly broil up some tofu squares or heat up a sweet potato, and that’s a dinner of champions right there.
Keep these facts in mind when you are stocking up your pantry. Sugar is everywhere, but there is no need to add unncessary amounts to your diet. You’re sweet enough! (I said it. Not sorry.)
*All images and nutritional information of the mentioned brands came directly from their official websites.