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You’ve probably heard of the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen, but if you haven’t, you can check it out here. Basically, it’s a list of the most common produce products that have the least (clean) and most (dirty) amount of pesticides. It’s helpful when deciding which fruits and vegetables you should buy organic.

I thought it would be helpful to make a list of the cleanest packaged foods and compare them to some of their ‘dirty’ counterparts. When food shopping, it’s best to stay out of the center aisles as much as possible, but we all need some packaged food every now and then.

The use of the word ‘clean’ for this list will mean simply the least amount of ingredients in their most natural form. For my “research” I decided to stick to Stop ‘n Shop. I felt that using a more accessible store would pertain to more people than including somewhere like Whole Foods. So for those of you that do shop elsewhere just start to look at labels and be aware of what you might be putting in your body.

I tried to include foods from most categories including, meats, dairy, breakfast food, frozen food, drinks, snacks, sweets, and condiments.

Note that this list is not necessarily in order of “cleanliness.”

The Clean Fifteen

Clean Food # 1- Oatmeal


Oatmeal in it’s purest form. Only 1 ingredient! I’m a fan of mixing in my own cinnamon and pure vanilla extract.

Clean Food # 2- High Quality Maple Syrup

Another single ingredient champ. Obviously maple syrup should be used in moderation, but it’s better than processed sugar. It’s also a good source of manganese and zinc!

Clean Food #3 Lara Bars

Using dates as the base ingredient, these energy bars are the cleanest around. The ‘cashew cookie’ only has two ingredients!

Clean Food #4 Hint Water

Hint’s tag line is: Drink water, not sugar. These flavored waters have no sugar or artificial sweeteners. No way you can get bored with water now!

Clean Food # 5 Annie’s Natural Salad Dressing


Although the cleanest salad dressings are homemade, Annie’s is a close second. One of the only bottled brands I could find that didn’t have high fructose corn syrup. Most of their ingredients are also organic!

Clean Food #6 Plain Greek Yogurt (Chobani, Oikos or Fage)

Most of these yogurts are simply strained milk and probiotics. Bonus points for the protein! More ways to spice up your greek yogurt.

Clean Food # 7 Horizon Organic Half & Half

Two ingredients: organic milk and organic cream. Winning!

Clean Food # 7 Real Butter

Yes, real butter is good for you! Grass-fed butter is superior, but tough to find in regular grocery stores. Read more about the benefits of butter here.

Clean Food # 8 Salsa (many brands)

Most jarred salsa only contain vegetables and spices with no preservatives. Not to mention salsa is delicious.

Clean Food #9 Applegate packaged deli meat

In a world where deli meat can be a very mysterious thing, you can trust Applegate Natural’s; most meat is packaged with just honey and some spices.  Read more about deli meats here.

Clean Food # 10 Nature’s Promise cereal

Nature’s Promise was one of the only cereals I could find that was corn AND soy free. The only downfall is the added sugar (7 grams/serving).

Clean Food # 11 Amy’s Organic Frozen Foods

Sonoma Veggie Burger

Some of Amy’s options are cleaner than others. But they’re pretty good on the frozen-foods list. I’m a big fan of the Sonoma Burger- quinoa and walnuts!

Clean Food #12 Garden Lites

Garden Lites makes a few products: souffles, veggie muffins, and zucchini pasta.  Although I’d probably stay away from the muffins, the souffles and pasta are relatively clean.

Clean Food #13 Unreal Candy

Unreal brand has managed to ‘unjunk’ common candy. Although its much less sugar, it is still candy and should be saved for special treats. Most of their candy has lower sugar, no corn syrup, no GMO’s, no hydrogenated oil, and no preservatives.

Clean Food #14 Food Should Taste Good Sweet potato chips

If you’re craving salty or crunchy, these sweet potato chips are better than conventional. Just 3 ingredients: sweet potato, oil, and salt.

Clean Food #15 French’s Mustard

Mustard is one of the cleanest condiments you’ll find with zero calories to boot. Ingredients in standard yellow are typically just vinegar, mustard seed and spices.

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Counterpart #1 Fruit and Cream Instant Oatmeal

Better skip this breakfast option. Unlike it’s healthy counterpart, this variety of instant oatmeal is filled with sugar, artificial coloring, and hydrogenated oils. Woof!

The Dirty Counterpart #2 “Fake” maple syrup (many brands)

Most pancake syrups are actually just high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, and preservatives. Stick to the real stuff.

The Dirty Counterpart #3 Skinny Cow Candy Bars (and MANY other brands)

This product has hydrogenated palm oil on the ingredient list multiple times. Not sure how that happens, but steer clear if you’re trying to eat clean. This goes for many other “diet” treats and energy bars as well. Read the ingredients!

The Dirty Counterpart #4 Gatorade or Powerade

Unless you’re a professional athlete, there’s pretty much no need to consume sports drinks. It’s basically sugar water with electrolytes and fake coloring. (You mean to tell me that neon yellow does not occur in nature!?!)

The Dirty Counterpart #5 Most Bottled Salad dressings (especially lite or fat free)

Again, usually filled with sugar, HFCS, soybean oil and preservatives.

The Dirty Counterpart #6 Flavored Lite Yogurt (many brands)

Modified corn start and sugar tend to be high on the ingredient list for lite yogurt.

Dirty Counterpart #7 Fat Free Flavored Half & Half

Seems like an oxymoron to me. Cue the corn syrup and thickeners. You’re better off using the full-fat version, or plain skim milk.

Dirty Counterpart #8 I Dunno… Bologna!?

Who knows what goes in this mystery meat. Other things you want to look out for with deli meat are nitrates, modified food starch, gelatin and corn syrup.

Dirty Counterpart #9 Sugary Cereals (Most cereals, in fact)

I really hope these are not served daily for breakfast in your household. Frosted wheats and Fruit Loops are two of the worst contenders.

Dirty Counterpart #10 Hot Pockets

Some of these ‘meals’ have over 100 ingredients. Whaa? Close seconds in the frozen food department include Banquet and Hungry Man.

Dirty Counterpart #11 Traditional Candy


Enough said.

Dirty Counterpart #12 Fat Free Mayo

Mayo, in theory is just eggs, oil, vinegar, and spices. Pretty clean right? Nay, Nay, poo-poo. Once again, top ingredients include HFCS, modified food starch, soy bean oil, and artificial flavors.


As you can see, there is a common theme in the dirty foods. Corn and it’s derivatives,  soy, sugar, and artificial colors and flavors.

It was actually surprisingly difficult to find ingredients online for most of the ‘dirty’ foods. Funny how that happens, huh?

This is by no means an absolute or exhaustive list, as the ‘packaged foods’ category is exponential more abundant than produce. But it’s definitely a good start; and a warning to be aware of what you’re consuming and feeding your kids. The best rule of thumb when looking at food labels is to choose foods with the least amount of ingredients.

The “fat free” epic fail of the 80’s and 90’s has only gotten us fatter and sicker. Stick to real food– something you can grow or kill– 90% of the time, and you’re on the right track.

Who else has some clean, go-to packaged foods? I’m always looking to mix up my grocery list!

I hope you enjoyed!


Related Readings:

Soy: Healthful or Harmful?

Scrutinizing Soy

Fructose, not HFCS

Is HFCS bad for you?

All About Hydrogenated Oil


First and foremost, happy new year! I hope everyone celebrated the holidays safely and rung in the new year with friends and family.

I had a fantastic week off of work. Christmas was relaxing, and I caught up on family time, laundry, shopping, cleaning and miscellaneous get-my-ish-together errands. Here’s a shot of my two brothers and I on Christmas Eve… we joked that our gifts were very symbolic 🙂

Photo: So symbolic

My Family Knows Me Too Well

Needless to say- I am not above the holiday eating shenanigans and I’m looking forward to being on a normal eating plan again. I actually had a lot of free time the past week so I got some great training sessions in. Although it seemed like every time I went I ended up giving deadlifting lessons… but I don’t mind that 🙂

Anyway, I wanted to share my new years resolutions with you guys, and maybe give you some ideas. For some reason, I keep seeing things like “don’t make resolutions make GOALS.” I don’t understand what the big deal is with the word resolution. By definition it means “a firm decision to do or not do something.” In other words, to make a commitment. Goals are great, but without commitment they’re useless. So I stand by my statements of ‘New Years Resolutions’. Boo-yeah!

Health/Fitness Goals

1) Remember to take my fish oil every day. 

The benefits of fish oil are too long to list, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you know what they are. I’m not big on supplements but I think fish oil is one everyone can benefit from.  I keep a gigantic bottle right next to my computer and somehow manage to forget to take it sometimes. So my commitment is to remember to take it every day!

2) Drink a big glass of water WITH every meal. 

“Vodka water hold the Vodka”

I’m usually pretty good with drinking enough water, so hydration is not really my intention with this resolution. A lot of nutrition advice tells you to stop eating when you’re mostly full… My issue is I rarely feel full. If I listened to that advice I’d grossly overeat at every meal. So I’m hoping by slowing down and filling up with some H2O I will feel more satiated at meal time. However if you feel like you don’t drink enough water to begin with, this is a good solid goal to start with… it’s concrete and certainly doable. The idea is to make this a habit so you won’t even have to think twice about it.

3. Eat 2 bites less of every meal/snack

This is easier said than done people! I’ve practice this before and it really does work for shedding a few pounds over time. If you’re like me, you were raised to finish your plate (before you could have dessert that is). This is an easy version of portion control; again it’s concrete and doable. It’s just a matter of getting into the habit.

4. Deadlift 225lbs!

You didn’t think I could get through this whole category with out some sort of show-off goal did you!?!


Work Goals:

1. Start giving presentations

Luckily I’ll have an opportunity to do this thanks to a good friend of mine in the UMass Lowell department of Physical Therapy. I get to pick any topic I want to present to doctorate students, PTs, OTs, and MD’s! Prrreeetty excited about that. The hard part will be picking a topic!

2. Find a PT to volunteer for

The field of physical fitness is constantly changing. Which is awesome because that’s what makes it challenging and fun. I’m a firm believer of continuing education, and I’d like to get another mode of learning besides books, blogs and personal trial and error. That’s why I’d like to find a physical therapist to volunteer for. Of course, the ultimate goal is to gain more tools to better serve my clients 😉


1. Try something awesome that I’ve never done before

Sky diving? Swim with dolphins? Volunteer in Africa? The gallon challenge?? Decisions, decisions…..

2. Do something completely by myself and appreciate it. 

I’m the type of person that likes to be surrounded with people. The more the merrier in any situation. When I’m by myself I get pretty bad FOMO (fear of missing out), and I can never just relax and appreciate my solitude. I haven’t quite decided what this will be yet; but I’m thinking a long hike, a road trip, or maybe I’ll just try some meditation.

3. Get back in the habit of reading on the train

For the first year or so of my commute to Boston, I flew through books on the train. It was great; it makes the time fly and I can learn a thing or two. Then for some reason I got into the sleep/listen to music habit which is not as helpful in life. So I’m aiming for 1 work related and 1 non-work related book per month. Aggressive but doable.


Channing Tatum says “You can do it, Laura”

Welp, that’s all I got! I hope you’ve got some good goals to reach for in 2013. Just remember… you can’t go down the same road expecting different scenery. Whether you’re striving for a better physique, better job, more happiness… choices must change in order to improve!


Good talk see ya out there-