More Healthy Snacks Debunked

By Jackie Cartier
March 10, 2016


Last year we published our first Healthy Snacks Debunked blog post, where a Nutritional Weight & Wellness nutritionist helped clarify what “healthy snacks” are actually good for you and which are just a marketing ploy. We’re back today with even more products you’ve likely seen on the shelves of your local grocer; even most natural and organic chains carry many of these items. So if it’s in a natural grocer does that make it okay? Not so fast says Britni, a Nutritional Weight & Wellness nutritionist, and here she explains why. If it isn’t a great option, we’ll provide an alternative idea to ensure you’re getting protein, fat and carbs at each snack.

Bear Naked® Original Cinnamon Protein Granola  

The first thing I noticed is that this advertised “6g PROTEIN” on the package, which I think was intentionally marketed to make many consumers think “healthy.” What they don’t print on the front of the package is that it’s soy protein, which is difficult for many (I’d go ahead and say most) people to digest. Soy can increase estrogen levels in men, women and kids, and can affect thyroid function and many other health issues that you can learn about here.

For a better option, combine unsweetened coconut flakes and chopped nuts to create your own quick mix that still provides good crunch.

Stretch Island Fruit Co.® Fruit Strips  

One strip contains 7 grams of sugar and 11 grams of carbohydrates. Although it’s made from fruit, it’s missing the fiber and other nutrients you would get from eating a piece of fruit. Also, just because a product says gluten free doesn’t mean that it’s any healthier. Foods labeled “gluten free” are still processed. The healthiest gluten free foods—real, unprocessed foods—do not need labels. Read more about that important differentiation here.  

A better option is to eat a real piece of fruit and balance that with nut butter and hard-boiled egg.

Harvest Snaps® Snapea Crisps   

Although these have fewer carbohydrates than potato chips, they contain refined oils which we strongly urge our clients to stay away from. Think of a soybean. If you squeeze one, oil doesn’t come out naturally so it needs to be heated, and then gas or a similar solvent is added to draw out the oil. Once the oil is finally out, it’s bleached and deodorized because it’s become rancid. Follow that with several other steps and you’re left with an oil with no nutritional value and one that is inflammatory.

For a better option, buy a bag of snap peas, a great carb that will still give you a good crunch. Better yet, dip them in our Lil’ Dipper sauce and pair with a nitrate-free turkey stick.

Sensible Portions® Garden Veggie Straws  

These are basically potato chips. There’s truly no beneficial “veggie” component of them. They contain spinach powder, beet powder and tomato paste, which are all found on the ingredient list below potato. They also contain the refined oils created in the same process as the Snapea Crisps. Skip these.  

For a better option, thinly slice potatoes or sweet potatoes, drizzle generously with olive oil or coconut oil, season and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. You can broil for 2-5 minutes at the end to get them nice and crispy like a potato chip. Have ½ cup of these crisps with some non-starchy veggies (potatoes are starchy carbs that we don’t recommend be your entire carb source) and some deli meat.

KIND Bars®  

The Strong bars would be acceptable for emergency situations, as would the Kind bars that contain less than 5 grams of sugar. Ideally you should add a protein such as a meat stick or hard-boiled egg to balance it. However, these should not be eaten on a daily basis; they’re still processed!

A better option to keep in your purse or car for emergency situations is the UCAN Snack bar that comes in flavors such as cinnamon (sold online) and chocolate or peanut butter and chocolate, (sold in our offices). However, we always suggest real food first, so an even better option is a deli meat roll-up with mayo or cream cheese and a pickle, sauerkraut or veggie rolled up in the middle.

Stonyfield® Yogurt Pouches  

Yikes, one pouch contains 14 grams of sugar! That’s equivalent to 4 teaspoons of sugar. It also uses low-fat yogurt, which isn’t good because we need good fat to stabilize blood sugar, support our brain and much more. I’d recommend completely avoiding sending a kiddo off to school with this as their breakfast or snack. It’s the recipe for poor attention span and irritable behavior, leading to less than ideal learning for sure.

A better option would be full fat, plain yogurt, and adding ½ cup fruit. I like frozen fruit because it’s cheaper, and when it thaws the juices get mixed into the yogurt. Top all that with your favorite chopped nuts and/or unsweetened coconut flakes or nut butter for healthy fat.

alive & radiant foods® Kale Chips  

These look acceptable actually. That said, it’s always better to make your own so you know exactly what is in them.

Lucy’s® Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies  

I mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating—even though it’s gluten free, it’s still a cookie and not any healthier. Three cookies has 20 grams of carbs which equals 5 teaspoons of sugar. Plus, are you really going to stop at three cookies?

For a better option, snack on 1 ounce of dark chocolate (above 70% cocoa is a good starting point). Or make your own dark chocolate cups by first melting dark chocolate in coconut oil. Separate from the chocolate, put nuts and/or nut butter and/or coconut flakes in the bottom of empty muffin tins, then pour the melted dark chocolate and coconut oil mixture on top of the nut mixture and freeze. One to two is a good snack size.

What Else?

Were you surprised with Britni’s take on these foods marketed as healthy? Are there any other products you’re curious about? Let us know and sign up for our newsletter to make sure you catch our next addition of healthy snacks debunked.

About the author

Jackie Cartier is Content Strategy Manager for Nutritional Weight & Wellness. She was once a client, seeking natural solutions to her achy runner knees and hormonal imbalances. From then she was hooked and eventually ended up on their team, spreading the real food message on the blog and through social media. 

View all posts by Jackie Cartier


Mary Murry
THANK YOU!!! This is very informative and helpful, and a real eye-opener!
July 20, 2016 at 9:00 am

What do you think of Lara Bars? Good if only 5 grams of sugar or less?
April 1, 2017 at 3:39 pm


They're good because they are simply real food ingredients, however they don’t have much protein and many of them are higher in sugar, so yes, your 5 grams of sugar recommendation would be an alright option in a pinch. RX bars are very similar, but there’s a lot more protein.

How about Lara bars? Whole Me granola?
April 1, 2017 at 4:37 pm


They're good because they are simply real food ingredients, however they don’t have much protein and many of them are higher in sugar. It would be an alright option in a pinch. The RX bars are very similar, but there’s a lot more protein. 

Robert Miller
I am amazed at the amount of sugar in any foods at the supermarkets. If you get one ingredient food like in the bulk aisle you can make your own snacks that are far better for you nad far tastier than prepackaged without adding any sugar.
June 5, 2019 at 3:43 pm


Yes, we find eating real food for snacks and being prepared for when hunger strikes is always best.

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