10 Processed Foods I Eat Regularly

If you know both yourself and your enemy, you can come out of hundreds of battles without danger. — The Art of War

This is how I feel about junk food. In general, I don’t eat junk food, but there are a few things that I enjoy on occasion and I think that is just fine. As with many things, as long as you practice moderation and “know your enemy” then you can have the occasional treat and still maintain a healthy diet.

Before I give my list of 10 sins, it is important to note that almost anything that is in the grocery store these days is processed. Except for most items in the produce section (notice I say most), a lot of what we consume is “processed.” This includes things like milk and frozen peas which are good for you and can definitely be a part of a healthy diet.

This post, though, is about the section of processed foods that people think of when they think of processed foods. Mostly this includes junk foods processed with high fructose corn syrup or fried or in some other way enhanced.

Why am I writing this post? Well, because I think it is important to acknowledge your enemies! These are things that I really enjoy and as long as I recognize that they are treats and not what I should be eating everyday, then I think it is fine for me to have them. Keep in mind that I also exercise a few times a week and walk 3 miles round trip to work everyday so my daily calorie count is a bit forgiving.

On with the list! Some of these are worse than others…

1) Wasabi Peas. Ok. For a snack food these are actually pretty good for you. The fact that I can eat my own weight in them though makes up for the reasonable health. If you are going to snack you could do way worse than these spicy little things.

2) Triscuits. Again. Not the worst thing you could eat, but I load them up with cheese or some sort of cream cheese spread. That makes them a treat. If you eat them in their bare form then they are probably okay to eat regularly.

3) Nutella. Betsy and I have yet to have a container of Nutella that lasts more than a few weeks in our house. One spoonful at a time it just… disappears!

4) Diet Dr. Pepper. If I’m going to drink soda, this is my soda of choice. I know it has 0 calories and all and so theoretically I could drink it everyday, but I know that it isn’t good for me. The caffeine plus whatever the hell they put it in to make it taste so damn good cannot be good for you.

5) Velveeta. Velveeta is pretty much the definition of processed. I have no idea how it is made. In fact, I’ve tried to reproduce it’s texture with regular cheese and milk. It is impossible. But Velveeta makes some of the best queso dip around. That’s all there is to it.

6) Ramen Noodles. This should come as no surprise to Macheesmo readers. I love Ramen noodles. In fact, I love to incorporate them into different dishes.

7) Salsa. This is another pretty healthy one, but definitely worth mentioning given the amount of it I consume. It’s a great snack but most jarred salsas are pretty sodium-packed so while it is good for you in the snack food spectrum, you wouldn’t want to eat the stuff by the bucket.

8) Cheddar and sour cream Baked Ruffles. My coworkers and I all refer to these simply as “The Chips.” I have to be careful because I can eat an entire bag without even blinking. That’s all I have to say about that.

9) Cadbury Cream Eggs. If these were available all year long, I would be in very serious trouble.

10) Beer. I love a good beer and it is definitely considered a “processed” thing. In fact, sometimes I love many beers. I couldn’t leave this off the list.

So those are my favorites. I don’t feel bad about having them occasionally as long as I balance them with healthy homemade dishes, fresh fruit, lots of veggies, and the once-in-awhile treadmill visit.

So, I have to ask. What junk foods are your enemies and do you know them?!

Photos by awrose, bunchofpants, and jeffk.

24 comments on “10 Processed Foods I Eat Regularly

  1. people feel quite passionately about junk food.

    for example, when i saw you listing Cadbury's creme eggs on your top 10 list, Nick? a tiny little red mark appeared against your name. you remember that sound you'd hear when someone wanted to buy a vowel on Wheel of Fortune and their vowel was rubbish? it wasn't on the board? Uhhh-errr! that noise?

    yeah, that's the sound i heard at your mention of those eggs.

    what was i saying about junk food and passion?

    you see my point.

    anyway – my junk food weaknesses:

    i'm absolutely terrible for salty stuff from the Crisps/Potato Chips food group. mmmmmm…that salty crispy crunch!

    i love Kettle Chips – give me plain or chilli flavoured!

    also chocolate.

    sometimes i want just some plain old Cadburys

    other times i'm a sucker for those seasonal dark chocolate concoctions that Lindt bring out – chocolate and orange, chocolate creme brulee, chocolate mint crisp…

  2. Oh no! I have a red mark! It's okay. I'll wear it with pride. Honestly, I usually only eat one or two on Easter because they are so disgustingly rich, but I do enjoy them for some odd reason.

    @VeggieGirl. Salsa is very low cal and it's probably okay as a snack everyday. If you are trying to watch your sodium though, you may want to avoid it. Here's the info on like, Pace, which is maybe the most popular salsa, although not one of my personal faves.
    http://www.pacefoods.com/nutrition.aspx?productid

    That salsa has 230mgs of sodium per two tablespoons. That's about 10% of the max a person should be eating a day. I doubt that most people only eat two tablespoons in a sitting and I also bet that they couple salsa with another salty food… chips ;)

  3. -cool ranch doritos

    -mint milanos

    -cheez-its

    none of these have any redeeming quality, but it's not slowing me down at all.

  4. This was maybe a bad idea for a post. Now I'm getting incredibly hungry and it is only 10AM…

    Thanks for the comments though everyone ;)

  5. Since you included beer …

    1) Captain Morgan's and Coke

    2) Beer – though we mostly drink our own homebrewed beer

    3) Doritos & Kettle Chips – seriously, I could devour these things all day long – and other potato chips too

    4) Cookies & baked sweets – there is a reason we don't buy them or even make them that often .. though we try to make them organically, and from scratch so it isn't as bad when we do

    5) Velveeta – I have to admit, it does make for the best dip. Football season might as well be velveeta season

    6) Ranch Dressing – I tend to prefer this instead of ketchup

    7) Rice-a-roni – I know, it's awful, and I'm trying to ween myself from it. It's a slow process, but beginning to be effective

    8) Cheese Crackers – particularly this Goldfish knock-off brand called "Whales" from Wal-mart. They must put crack in those things, we're all addicted. Again, another weening process in place.

    9) Ritz Crackers – I rarely eat them, never buy them, but if I do (we got two boxes for free last grocery trip), I'll eat an entire tube in one sitting

    10) Girl Scout Cookies – forget one serving at a time, I can usually eat a box at a time. Another one where we try to limit the amount that ever enters the house. (Just for a note – I'm currently holding onto the last Thin Mint box for use in Christmas Fudge – it is a battle of wills .. especially with PMS a monthly adversary!! – so they're hidden away in a back room. I can still hear them though!)

  6. For about $100 of equipment (less if you have a clean 5 gallon bucket and a big strainer), you can make your own beer.

    You start with roasted, crushed grains, yeast and malted grains. Mix well, boil for an hour, cool, add yeast and wait a couple weeks. So simple.

    A lot of homebrew stores have "brew nights" where you use their equipment and their storage space.

    My favorite beer just went to $11.00 a six – the ingredient cost is $30 for 50 bottles, or $3.60 a six.

    Other than that?

    In general:

    Dr. Pepper

    Chocolate peanut butter ice cream

    Right now? Smitten Kitchen's lemon bars.

  7. Avoiding processed foods is easier said than done. With that said, I agree with Nick's stance on moderation and not letting the fact that processed foods are everywhere be a license to eat garbage regularly.

    Coming from one extreme (eating mainly processed foods) and going far towards the other end (eating as many whole foods as I can when I can). I can say that it makes a huge difference. Some things are not completely tangible but I can certainly "tell or feel" a difference in my body. Not to mention that after making the change and eating mainly whole foods for a while, processed foods just do not taste as good as they once used to.

  8. Oh by the way, forgot to tell my secrets. Like Nick, I do enjoy beer (Guinness anyone!) and sugar free syrup on my pancakes on the weekend.

  9. oh gosh… probably 75% of your list is what mine would be too (I can take or leave triscuits, and I hate ramen and wasabe peas.. but the rest? GIMME.)

    I also really love m+ms and rochers.

  10. reese’s peanut butter cups. that’s number one. two, coca-cola, but i like it better with sugar, rather than corn syrup — it tastes better. cadbury’s whole nut bars and crunchie bars. salsa — rosa mexicano chipotle is the best, bar none.

    actually, i guess number one should be bourbon. buffalo trace, maker’s or elijah craig. yes, please.

  11. I’m gonna go with the “processed foods I wish I ate less of” route, rather than the “processed foods like we think about it” thing you did: flour, fake eggs, laughing cow, diet soda and velveeta (I eat it like, once a year but OH MY GOD is it amazing).

    I like that you pointed out that even produce is processed. If you cut an apple before you eat it? That’s processed too! I’m reading a book about food processing and I gotta say that it’s a lot less scary when you realize what goes into the stuff you eat. A lot of folks are scared of processed food just because they’re not quite sure what exactly that means. I could go on and on but I’m going to mum up now. Great post for getting me thinking!

  12. wait, a jar of nutella lasts weeks at your house? i'm lucky if i can make it past day 4.

    also, i don't think beer should count as a processed food. sure, you could make your own, but it's not like store-bought beer has any weird-ass ingredients or chemicals; it's just grains, hops, yeast and water. maybe some spices of fruit for added flavor. if your beer has more than that in it, then you need to rethink your beer choices. so i think you need a new #10.

    me: baked lays, either sour cream and onion or BBQ. and cocoa pebbles (not all at once).

  13. I recently discovered BAKED salt and vinegar chips at Target. They are not made by Lays – the brand is called Archer. You will DIE when you try them so make sure to write a will beforehand.

  14. Ha ha, cute post. I can almost understand all of them except Velveeta. I think it’s soylent green in there, that’s why you can’t reproduce it ;)

  15. Look and see if you can find fresh salsa in the refrigerated produce area, at least then you can sort of cross one off the list!

    I eat:

    greek yogurt in single serve cups,

    breakfast cereals (the more chocolate and marshmallows the better),

    kashi granola bars (at least they're the healthiest ones I can find),

    mayonnaise and ketchup from the jar (I know, blechhh),

    hotdogs (I got kids),

    and doritos (did you know they have 2gms fiber and 2 gms protein per serving?).

Leave a Comment