Sunday, October 23, 2011

31 Days to a Cleaner Diet {14}: Snacks & “Popcorn in a Bag” Recipe

I think one of the most important things you can do for the health of your family is to stop buying processed foods and snacks. 

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{Click here to see the other posts in this series.}

It drives me crazy, as a former elementary teacher, a mother, and just a human being to see the marketing that goes into so many icky snacks for kids.  Even Luke (who’s only 2!) falls prey to it – I’ll be pushing him around the store in the carriage, engrossed in my shopping list, and all of sudden he’ll get super excited and yell “George!” or “Cars!” and point to a brightly colored box, smack-dab in the middle of the shelf.   He’s actually cried before when I have to tell him “no” – and he doesn’t even know or care what’s inside the box!

I used to want to scream when I’d walk around school for my lunch duty and see kids eating cheez-in-a-can on crackers, or giant bags of Doritos, or those small, round, plastic bottles of colored juice/water for lunch.  Believe me when I say that those kids are NOT the kids who stay super-focused on their work when they get back to class.  

{And then there was one girl who would literally come in with spinach salad with vinaigrette, sliced fruit, and veggies and dip.  I wanted to give her mom a big high-five! lol}

BELIEVE ME, if you’ve been buying not-so-great snacks for your kids, I have complete compassion for what you might be about to go through when you pull the plug.  Seriously.  Our government has done a deplorable job of regulating what is allowed to be sold as food and what shouldn’t be seen outside of a laboratory.  But at the end of the day, we are the only ones who are responsible for what we decide to eat. 

So…you know what you need to do, right? ;)

Start looking through your pantry and cupboards – take out anything that has an artificial color in it (things like Red 40, etc.).  Take out anything that has preservatives in it, and anything that has “artificial flavor” on it as well.  Remove anything that has MSG or autolyzed yeast extract or hydrolyzed protein in it (all code names for flavor additives).  If it has high fructose corn syrup in it, remove that, too.  Working through this list is a great start to cleaning up your snack cabinet! 

If you’re left with anything, hooray!  :)  And if not one thing is left, well….that’s why you’re reading this post tonight. lol

Start with changing one snack at a time…..then one more snack….then another, and another.  One day you will open that cupboard and realize that you can pronounce every single ingredient on every single item – and not one of them will make your kids hyperactive or their tongues turn blue. ;)

Here’s a list of what we snack on in our house (most of our snacks would be considered “whole” foods but not necessarily “clean” yet – if you’re confused about the difference, feel free to ask in the comments or e-mail me!):

Homemade trail mix  (cranberries, dried fruit, raisins, assorted nuts and seeds, and  chocolate chips) {just check the labels on the nuts and dried fruits; a lot of them have icky additives}

Popcorn in a bag {see below!}


Peanut butter sandwiches or PB-crackers



Homemade baked goods (muffins, banana breads, etc.)

Cheese and crackers

Veggies and homemade dip {my personal fave}


Annie’s snack products (my son loves the cheddar bunnies)

Kashi products (we love their oatmeal cookies, crackers, and cereals)


Again, please hear me when I say that we are not perfect!  My husband LOVES the Keebler Grasshopper cookies (like Thin Mints), so when they are on sale, I buy them for him.  And all summer long we had marshmallows in the cupboard because you know what?  We like marshmallows over a campfire in the backyard.  :)  It’s okay to make small compromises like that.  We are all human.  

But overall, strive to have the healthiest snacks that you can on a regular basis.  You’ll feel so much better, I promise. 

What do you snack on at your house? Please share - I’m always up for new ideas!


Popcorn in a Bag
{from Food Matters by Mark Bittman}

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Place 1/4 C popcorn kernels and a few shakes of salt in a brown paper bag.  Fold the top of the bag over and place in microwave; press the “Popcorn” button.  Remove when the pops are more than a few seconds apart.  (Watch for the steam when you open the bag!)

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Eat plain or top with anything you like; I personally like mine with a little melted butter, salt, chili powder, and parmesan cheese (although I learned after my Spaghetti Dinner Overhaul post, thanks to my friend Erin, that my parmesan cheese had preservatives in it!  So sad.  I will survive…somehow. :)

Don’t forget to recycle the brown bag when you're finished!  Enjoy!


  1. I love the popcorn in a bag...since microwave popcorn is full of funky additives and has been linked to cancer (PS. Don't breathe the fumes from the bag...REALLY?) When I (rarely) make popcorn, I like to cook it on the stove so I get a chance to use my super-duper healthy coconut oil on it. It makes delicious popcorn!!

  2. I found your 31 to Cleaner Diet on pinterest :) and I've been reading through your posts this morning and wondered if you have a "quick list" of all the food books you have read and refer from during this series.

    I've so desire this lifestyle and with a older family already set in their ways (my kids are 25, 23, 18, 14 - and one is a chef :)) this is such a challenge for me/us to start. We do the "organic" on our dairy items and most fruits, but I want to remove all processing foods out of the house too.

    I'm enjoying your "31" articles and I hope you do a follow up. Thank you for your information!


I'd love to hear from you! Comments make my day! :) I generally respond to comments right here on my blog. If you have a more specific question for me, you are always welcome to e-mail me at blessedlifeblog{at}gmail{dot}com.