Clean eating packaged food list

Can Packaged Food Be Healthy?

CLean eating packaged foods

I’m asked all the time about what we eat during my online group program, Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating. I’m also asked how my program compares to Whole30, 21 Day Fix, or other group programs. My program is different from these programs for a few reasons. For one, we are learning about food in an inclusive way, not by what we give up. What I mean by that is, we focus more on what we ARE eating vs. what we aren’t. We also don’t give up foods simply because they’re packaged or because some pseudo-science tells us they are going to destroy our health. We know better than that.  Which brings me to reason two….

There’s me: a real-life health professional with degrees and credentials and over 15 years of experience actually working with individuals and groups on how to get healthy. I say this because I think it’s important. I’m not trying to sell anyone on my own lifestyle or product. I’m there to provide expert guidance based largely on proven, evidence-based information, with some practice-based wisdom thrown in for good measure. I can do this because I’ve actually worked with hundreds and hundreds of people over the last decade and a half. I’ve partnered with physicians, physical therapists, personal trainers, and psychologists to get their clients and patients healthy. Bottom line: this is my profession. You can trust that I have a valid reason for what I recommend, I have your best interests in mind, and I care deeply about your health.

And finally, In Nourish we eat more than just veggies and meat. We actually eat grains, beans, some dairy, and other packaged food. We don’t eat a ton of packaged food because a majority of it is made with too much sodium, fillers, preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, additives and other unsavory ingredients. I’ve written about this before. But not all packaged foods are unhealthy. In Nourish, I teach you what to look for on a nutrition label and why; I teach you how to read the ingredient list like a pro. Once you learn this, you can see that many packaged foods are doing it right and are vital to achieving and maintaining good health. Let’s take a look….

Danielle’s List of Clean Eating Packaged Food

Canned Food

  • Dried beans may be best, but canned or boxed beans are a great alternative. Rinse and drain them before eating to remove added sodium and you are ready to go. Steamed lentils are a great choice as well and are super convenient.
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned tuna (or tuna in pouches)
  • Canned salmon

I recommend BPA free cans, whenever possible. Here’s why.  For a list of food companies who are and are not using BPA in their packaging, click here.

Whole Grains

  • Oats: oats and other grains have to be processed in order to eat them. Oats are also one of the most studied grains in terms of their health benefits. Oats contain a special type of heart-healthy fiber that has been proven to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff).
  • Quinoa: (during Nourish, I emphasis whole grains first, whole grain flours second. This means choosing quinoa over quinoa pasta, fresh oat vs oat cereal, etc.)
  • Whole Grain Rice: (choose plain (unseasoned) rice that has been minimally processed. This includes wild rice, brown rice, red rice, black rice, brown basmati and brown jasmine rice)

RX bars + Lara bars (I love these bars; they are relatively natural, with no sugar added)

Natural nut butters (with no sugar or chocolate added)

Nut milks

Chia Seed

Hemp Hearts

Ground Flax Seed


Oil (choose unrefined, heart healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, coconut, flaxseed, peanut, and avocado oil)

Salad dressing (look for olive oil based, no sugar added versions)

Frozen fruit

Frozen veggies (without added sauces)


Pre-chopped veggies (eat these quick though, they don’t stay fresh long)

Shelled edamame

Miso paste


Frozen salmon / fish

As you can see, you can eat quite a bit of healthy, packaged food and still feel good about your health. Of course this is not an exhaustive list and there are definitely other packaged foods that are healthy and Nourish-friendly.

If you want to learn more about how eating clean, whole food effects your health, mood and overall wellness, join us this September for Nourish: 21 Days Of Clean Eating and find out! Registration opens September 1st.

Join my weekly eblast HERE to get advanced notice of Early Bird pricing.

Join Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating this fall! Registration opens Sept. 1st!


Wellness Stock Photo by Sash Photography

Clean Eating on the Cheap

Danielle's best tips for eating clean on a budget. How to save money at the grocery store while still eating clean!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. One of the many community share discussions we have during my Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating program are tips for eating clean on a budget.  I consider myself an expert in this area, as I tend to be a bit of budget grocery shopper. I am known for visiting SEVERAL different grocery stores to get the best price, especially when I know the exact same item costs less somewhere else. There are definitely a few items I will gladly spend more on to get the quality I want, but I always cut back somewhere else to cover for it. And that my dears, is trick number one in my little bag of “eating clean on the cheap” tricks.

Rob Peter to Pay Paul

Can’t live without those organic strawberries? Me neither. But I CAN live without organic avocado, bananas or anything else with inedible skin. I use the Clean 15 list from the Environmental Working Group so I know when I don’t need to go organic. I also don’t bother with organic produce that I can get locally, or, better yet garden grown. My neighbors (who gladly share herbs with me) don’t use pesky pesticides. Nor does my sister, who has an AMAZING garden. Check out her cabbage and potatoes. I recently made this with her fresh tomatoes. Which brings me to my next tip…

Shop with Seasonality

It’s easy to give in to eating tomatoes in the dead of winter, but I just don’t do it. I don’t eat zucchini in the winter either and I don’t eat Acorn squash in the summer. I try to eat what is available to me locally during that particular season. It makes sense to do this for a variety of reasons (taste being the best one) and cost is a huge factor.  When you can, shop your Farmer’s markets, CSAs and grocery stores that support local farms in your area. If you live nowhere near a farm (you’d be surprised, you probably live closer than you think) then the next best thing is to stay on the same coast. If you live in VA, then NY produce is still a better (and oftentimes cheaper) choice than Mexican or California produce. Click here to learn what’s in season in your neck of the woods.

Think Outside the Produce Aisle

I know what you’re thinking, she wants us to eat processed food? The answer is yes, sometimes. I’ve written about how to eat processed food before and there’s definitely a hierarchy you need to be aware of, but other than that, packaged food can be a real bargain! Just because a food is canned or boxed doesn’t automatically make it unhealthy, if you take a little extra time to read labels. Processed food should be responsibly processed (canned fish should be sustainably caught, for example) and the packaging should be safe (BPA and plastic free). Clean choices that are relatively inexpensive include: whole beans, canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and veggies, oatmeal, rice and other grains, yogurt, salsa, etc. Canned fish like tuna and salmon can seem a little on the pricey side, but compared to fresh, they cost less and they’re super versatile.

DIY, Whenever Possible

I actually LOVE to recreate restaurant dishes myself, so this tip is near and dear to my heart. I have a girlfriend who doesn’t like eating out with me because I’m that gal who comments about the cost of restaurant food. It’s difficult for me to spend close to $20 (sometimes more!) for a salmon salad that I know I could make myself for much less. So here’s the deal, anytime you can make something yourself, do it…especially at the grocery store! I know convenience is a “thing” and I understand that, but you pay for that convenience, big time.  Having the grocery store clerk slice your onions, chop and bag your broccoli, clean and chop your Romaine lettuce or spinach…well that is going to cost you.

Buy your veggies and greens whole, by the pound, and you’ll be able to “splurge” on the organic strawberries, worry free. This rule applies even more with meat and poultry. Buying a whole chicken can save you a ton of money. Even if you’re buying an organic, locally raised, pastured farmed chicken, it’s cheaper than buying that skinless, boneless chicken breast at the store. Think I’m crazy? Read this post. Not only do you get several meals from one bit of cooking effort, you can use the leftover bones to make healthy, gut-healing bone broth. Perfect for Nourish!

Compare the Unit Price 

This is something I’ve been doing since taking consumer math back in high school! I check the unit price when comparing brands. It’s such an easy way to save money. It actually irritates me when stores don’t include unit prices on the shelf, but it’s regulated by state, so not every store has them.

Unit pricing takes the price of an item and divides it by a unit of measurement (ounces, for example). This number tells you know how much the item costs per unit. For example, let’s look at organic yogurt.

If the 38 oz tub of organic vanilla yogurt is $4.99 and the 6 oz organic containers are $.99 each, which is the better deal? Let’s calculate the unit price to find out. The price per ounce for the large tub of yogurt is $0.13 /oz. The price per equivalent ounces in little containers is $0.17 / oz.  So, the 38 oz tub is a better deal. The larger container was cheaper in my example, but that’s not always the case and, unfortunately, you can’t always trust the unit price provided. Your best bet is to just calculate it yourself. Here’s why.

I hope you enjoyed my tips for eating clean on a budget. I hope you’ll join me for Nourish this fall so you can put all of my tips into action! The fall session starts September 12th.


Join Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating this fall! Registration opens Sept. 1st!


Chia Fresca w/ Pineapple and Turmeric

zesty pineapple turmeric chia fresca

This delicious and refreshing chia fresca smoothie is my new favorite afternoon snack. I was looking for something refreshing and satisfying, but not so BIG. My smoothies are typically large and in charge so I knew I had to pair it down a bit to get what I wanted.

I also think it’s important to add a little something healthy to your meals, whenever possible. In this case we’re talking turmeric. Indeed, you don’t often think of turmeric for smoothies, but I knew I could make this work. Turmeric has a distinct taste to it that goes great with tropical flavors. Mango would have been just as good in this yummy chia fresca.

chia fresca with pineapple and turmeric

What’s so great about turmeric?

Great question! For over 4,000 years, Ayurvedic healers have used turmeric root for its health-promoting properties. From helping to decrease inflammation and reduce joint pain to aiding in digestion and boosting energy levels, turmeric is a nutrition superstar.

Curcumin is responsible for the bright orange color in turmeric and for its antioxidant power. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals and helping to decrease inflammation. Curcumin is naturally found in turmeric, and turmeric is a main ingredient in curry. I don’t eat a lot of curry, so I like to add turmeric to my diet whenever possible!

zesty pineapple turmeric chia fresca

I should also admit that this is not your typical chia fresca. Fresca is a Mexican lemonade and usually consists of water, sugar, lemon and chia seeds. I decided to put my own spin on this refreshing drink by blending frozen pineapple with coconut water, a hit of lime juice, and turmeric. Then I stirred in the chia seeds. The result is a divine delight of refreshing deliciousness.

If you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up like other, blend up my pineapple chia fresca — you’ll be glad you did.

Chia Fresca w/ Pineapple and Turmeric

Yield: 1 serving

Chia Fresca w/ Pineapple and Turmeric


  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • juice from half a lime
  • 4-6 oz coconut water
  • 2 tsp chia seeds


  1. Blend pineapple, lime and turmeric in a high speed blender. Pour into serving glass and stir in chia seeds. Let sit for a few minutes before drinking!

Healthy, antioxidant rich pineapple chia fresca with turmeric