When it comes to eating clean, our approach is what we like to call "clean eating in the real world." Fresh fruits and veggies are a no-brainer, but here's the 411 on some other staples! And since Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry
(the brand-new, all-natural HG cookbook) makes its official debut in just four
days, it's time to hit the supermarket, and stock up on ingredients...
All of the foods here are readily available in natural varieties, and we've called out some brand favorites. Unsure if the product at the store is natural or not? Flip over the package, and check the ingredient list for anything questionable. Or just shop at natural-food markets.
Reduced-fat cheddar and Mexican-blend cheese
Part-skim mozzarella cheese
Light (not part-skim) ricotta cheese
Natural cheese that comes pre-shredded, sliced, etc., sometimes contains (natural) preservatives. If you prefer, stick with block-style cheese, and DIY!
Favorite brands: Sargento and Cabot.
Unsweetened almond milk (refrigerated & shelf-stable)
This is a great alternative to dairy milk, which has two to four times as many calories and around 12 grams of sugar per cup. Some brands contain carrageenan, an FDA-approved (but controversial) plant-derived natural additive. If you prefer to avoid it, check the ingredients on the label.
Favorite carrageenan-free brands: So Delicious (refrigerated) and Silk (refrigerated).
Fat-free plain Greek yogurt
Prefer flavored yogurt, but don't want all the excess sugar? DIY by adding pure extracts (like vanilla) and natural no-calorie sweetener (like stevia). Easy-peasy.
Favorite brands: Fage and Chobani.
Eggs & Poultry
Boneless skinless chicken breast
Lean ground turkey (7% fat or less)
Considering paying more for products marked "no added hormones"? Federal regulations actually prohibit the use of hormones in any poultry. So if it's on store shelves, it's likely free of added hormones.
Meat & Seafood
Extra-lean ground beef (4% fat or less)
Albacore tuna packed in water
FYI: Wild fish tend to be healthier, with less chance of contact with pesticides and contaminated materials. Good to know!
Veggies as Starch Swaps
Instead of calorie-dense rice, pulse cauliflower florets in a blender into rice-sized pieces. Once lightly cooked, it's the perfect swap. And rather than settle for a small portion of heavy pasta, cook up some spaghetti squash or thinly sliced zucchini noodles!
When it comes to sandwich "bread," we love lettuce buns and cabbage wraps. If you prefer the real thing, look for minimally processed whole-grain buns or bread slices -- the fewer calories, the better. Food For Life's Ezekiel line of sprouted bread products is great.
Grains, Nuts & Seeds
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Curious about BPA? It's a synthetic compound found in the lining of some cans. While it's safe in low levels, many companies have eliminated it as a precaution. Look for cans marked BPA-free.
We use black beans and garbanzo beans to make deliciously rich baked goodies! (Don't knock 'em til you try 'em.) The creamy pumpkin comes in handy there too...
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Semi-sweet chocolate contains less sugar than milk chocolate. The semi-sweet chips by Enjoy Life and Sunspire are made with cane sugar, and Lily's makes stevia-sweetened dark chocolate chips. Hooray for options!
Sauces, Salad Dressing & Condiments
Nonstick cooking spray
Apple cider vinegar
Pompeian makes a fantastic line of aerosol-free cooking sprays. Another option? DIY! Buy a food-safe mist sprayer bottle, and fill it with your favorite oil.
Apple cider vinegar is a key ingredient in a couple of our low-sugar, low-calorie sauce recipes: Clean & Hungry Ketchup, Clean & Hungry BBQ Sauce, and Clean & Hungry Teriyaki Sauce. (Get a sneak peek here
Natural No-Calorie Sweetener
Natural no-calorie sweetener packets
Spoonable natural no-calorie sweetener
All-natural stevia blends are common and easy to find. They're made with stevia-plant extract and typically include another natural calorie-free ingredient for texture and taste. If you prefer pure stevia, look for liquid varieties or multi-serving jars of stevia powder.
Favorite brands: Truvia (packets and spoonable), Stevia in the Raw (packets and Bakers Bag), and SweetLeaf (packets).
Powdered peanut butter and defatted peanut flour
Creamy peanut butter (no sugar added)
Powdered peanut butter and defatted peanut flour are simply peanuts in powdered form... with the excess oil squeezed out! They have less than half the calories of standard peanut butter. We like to combine them with traditional PB to keep the stats low and the texture spot on.
Favorite brands: Just Great Stuff Powdered Organic Peanut Butter (made by Betty Lou's), Jif Peanut Powder, and Old Virginia Byrd Mill Light Roast Peanut Flour.
Plain protein powder
The three most popular types of protein powder are whey, casein, and soy. Whey and casein are milk derived; soy comes from plants. Whey is our top choice, but egg white protein powder is also great!
Favorite brands: Tera's Whey, Jay Robb, and Quest (All-Purpose Baking Blend).
HG FYI: This isn't a full-on supermarket list. It's just a helpful resource to get you started in the world of Clean & Hungry!
We may have received free samples of food, which in no way influences whether these products are reviewed favorably, unfavorably, mentioned with indifference, or mentioned at all. Click for more about our editorial and advertising policies.
SmartPoints® value* not what you expected? We follow the same method as Weight Watchers when calculating the SmartPoints® value* for a recipe: We add up the SmartPoints® values* of the individual ingredients. (Many foods have a value of zero and remain zero in recipes.)
*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints® trademark.