Have you noticed how hard it is to find healthy brands that you can actually trust? Then when you do find something, you’re lucky if it isn’t 2 to 3 times the price.
Then you start questioning whether it’s the real deal or somehow you’ve fallen for some “healthy” marketing scam. You don’t have time to figure it out while you’re standing there with your kids falling out of the cart, so you just buy the same old stuff.
Am I right or am I right?
I once almost bought pasteurized eggs for a “great” price because I thought they were pastured eggs. HA! Who the heck wants to buy pasteurized eggs?
Here at Eat Real Stay Sane, we try not to stress about the stuff that we can or can’t buy. We can’t afford raw milk anymore or pastured chicken but that’s okay; we try our best.
When I go grocery shopping and I’m buying a certain product, I always look at the label first. If the ingredient list looks like a novel I put it back. If it looks short and sweet, I keep reading.
We try to avoid things like: canola oil, soy anything (unless it’s organic), artificial sweeteners, food dyes, artificial flavorings, bad preservatives like sodium benzoate and most other chemical-y sounding nonsense. Of course, that’s not a perfect system, but it’s easier than learning every stinkin’ last additive that’s put in your food.
The other thing that I look for is the brand name. It’s a beautiful thing when you find a brand you can trust (or at least semi-trust) – then you can buy with.
Okay, here’s what I did: I went into our pantry and made a list of what we have in there right now. These are the go-to brands that we buy with confidence. I will say though I haven’t researched EVERY product from ALL of these brands, but that in general they’re good companies with stellar reputations.
Our Go-To Healthy Brands in our Pantry
Wholesome Sweeteners – I buy organic cane sugar, sucanat, organic brown sugar, and organic powdered sugar from these guys. I emailed them once asking them about their process for brown sugar and they were very helpful and responsive – which I appreciate in a company. They’re also committed to organic and fair trade products, and environmentally responsible partners. They’re winners for us and one of our all-time favorite brands.
Bragg – Personally, I think their label and their website are obnoxious, but it’s recognizable at least. We buy their organic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar and their liquid aminos (soy sauce alternative). Many of their products also come in a glass bottle (which I turn into spray bottles). Their lifestyle motto is “You are what you eat, drink, breathe, think, say and do. Take control to live a long, vital, happy life.” Can I get an amen?
One Degree – I came across this brand just because it was on sale one day. We buy our sprouted wheat and sprouted spelt flour from them (Amazon is uber expensive!). They use sustainable, organic practices, and use only simple ingredients. You can also scan the code on the bag to trace exactly where your grain has been and where it came from.
Late July – We buy their Organic Classic Rich Crackers because they are a super convenient snack and I simply love Ritz crackers. They have no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. However, these are a little bit of a “real food” guilty pleasure. They aren’t made with sprouted grain and have organic expeller pressed safflower oil and ammonium bicarbonate, both of which I’m not too sure on. But as far as crackers go, it’s a whale of a lot better than most other stuff out there.
Annie’s – I’ve been pretty happy with Annie’s products so far. We’ve only bought their Mac and Cheese, Cheddar Bunnies, and the Graham Bunny Friends. These are to replace the Kraft Mac and Cheese, Gold Fish, and Teddy Grahams from my previous life. I wouldn’t call these health foods, but I’m all about finding a real foodie alternative to my junk food. Annie’s is committed to providing products without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Enjoy Life – We buy our chocolate chips from these guys if it’s a good price. If it’s not on sale, we make our own or buy the Ghiradelli or Costco brand because they have a short ingredient list and their only questionable ingredients are soy-lecithin and sugar (if only they were organic). Enjoy life is probably best known for making their products allergy friendly with no gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy fish, and shellfish. Their products are also made without casein, potato, sesame, and sulfites. They are non-GMO and have no artificial anything.
Jovial – We buy einkorn pasta and sometimes their sourdough crackers (Ryker loves those crackers but they’re pretty pricey). Einkorn is an heirloom grain that is considered genetically pure. This means the gluten hasn’t been hybridized into a gut-tearing machine, but it unfortunately still has anti-nutrients that block absorption. We made a list of other pasta you could buy here. Jovial also sells cookies, flour, and wheat berries. They’ve also started a gluten-free line and have a cookbook out.
Kerrygold – We buy Kerrygold butter because it’s the only grass-fed butter we can find at most grocery stores. Their butter comes from grass-fed cows in Ireland and their ingredients are pasteurized cream and salt, YAY! Kerrygold has admitted though that up to 3% of their feed could contain GMOs because grass doesn’t grow year round in Ireland and they supplement with grains. They also came out with a whipped butter product that has canola oil in it, which just irks me. Why ruin a good thing?
Dr. Christopher – This isn’t a food company, mostly an herbal supplement company. I trust their products 100% and never even look at the ingredient list except out of curiosity. Many of our juice cleanse supplements come from Dr. Christopher. One of my goals in life is to go to their School of Natural Healing and become our family herbalist.
Nutiva – I love Nutiva coconut oil! Course we’ve only tried about 3 different brands, but Nutiva seems to be the creamiest. Cameron thinks I’m crazy though, so who knows. We also have used their coconut flour. All of Nutiva’s coconut products are certified organic and made from one ingredient, coconuts! If you don’t like the coconut taste, their refined coconut oil is great because they use a steam refining process instead of chemicals (our local Costco sells an 84-ounce tub for $20!).
Garden of Life – Garden of Life is mostly a supplement company. We aren’t big fans of supplements since we feel you should get your nutrition from the food you eat, but there are times when it’s advantageous to take them. For example, I’m 33 weeks pregnant and I take their prenatal pills. After a round of antibiotics you can get their souped-up probiotic supplement to help restore your gut health. They’re committed to making products that come from whole food.
Great Lakes – This company sells gelatin from grass-fed cows and is the best brand you can get as far as purity and quality. Gelatin has a wide variety of uses and health benefits. We use this in our smoothies.
Mountain Rose Herbs – I found these guys through my chiropractor. They sell spices, teas, herbs, essential oils, and butters. Their spices and teas are much more flavorful than the stuff you get at the store. Plus their products are organic, non-GMO, Fair For Life, and sustainable. Unfortunately they are a little pricey, but I have been able to do bulk orders with people so it’s cheaper.
Dr. Bronner – Dr. Bronner’s soap is the only soap I use in our house because it is a pure castile soap, made with real ingredients, and no detergents, fillers, or anything synthetic. My favorite scents are citrus, lavender, and the baby mild is nice if you want an unscented soap. All of my cleaning recipes are from Mommypotamus’s cleaner and personal care eBooks. Our local Sprouts have amazing sales all the time on these soaps!
Butterfly Express (not really a pantry brand) – This is the company that I buy 99.9% of my essential and carrier oils from. They are not an MLM so their prices are actually reasonable, they have monthly specials, and they charge a flat fee for shipping. What more could you ask for? We pretty much only use essential oils in our cleaners and personal care stuff. We’re learning about using it for medicinal purposes like in our homemade baby vapor rub.
Smart Balance – These guys are NOT real food approved for a lot of their products because they have a love affair with canola oil. But, I’m a peanut butter snob, and I honestly could eat Smart Balance peanut butter every day… all day. Cameron likes to tease me about the time I once dropped $60 bucks on peanut butter on Amazon! The ingredients in their peanut butter are peanuts, dried cane syrup, salt, molasses, palm and flaxseed oils. Adam’s is an even healthier brand, but I like the sweetness of Smart Balance. Girl’s gotta get her peanut butter fix! Only thing these brands need is to use soaked peanuts, but I haven’t found that at a reasonable price.
Costco/Kirkland – I am getting so impressed with Costco lately. I know they don’t carry the exact same products across the board, but at our Costco they have a wide variety of awesome products. We’ve bought their organic produce, Kerrygold butter, Daisy sour cream, uncured organic bacon, organic tortilla chips, coconut oil, organic cane sugar, organic strawberry jam, Annie’s mac and cheese, organic tomato stuff (yes it’s canned, but we’ll live with it because it’s organic), and organic applesauce for Little Man, just to name a few things.
Coombs Family – If you want anything maple, this is the company to go to! I gag on the fake maple syrup now that we’ve been eating real maple syrup for years. The fake stuff is just sugar, coloring, and maple flavor… basically no maple syrup in the maple syrup. Coombs organic maple syrup is super tasty and is certified organic through QAI (Quality Assurance International) which is much more than just simply being produced without pesticides. Their forests are also checked to make sure their practices are sustainable and that they aren’t over “tapping” their trees.
There ya go! There’s our short and sweet list of the different brands you can find at our house.
What brands do you trust? Leave a comment below!