It’s 4 p.m., the afternoon is dragging, and you’d just about kill for a sweet or salty treat. Is all junk food off-limits? No! We’ve chosen better-for-you junk foods you can enjoy (in moderation) without blowing your clean diet:
While most bars in the vending machine are filled with colorings and cheap sweeteners, pure dark chocolate is known for its antioxidant benefits—especially when you keep the sugar low. Opt for bars with 70% dark chocolate or above. Try Theo: They have bars with a variety of flavors (salted almond is our favorite) as well as dark chocolate covered coconut bites and peanut butter and almond butter cups.
While these are still candy however you look at ’em (their main ingredient is sugar), YumEarth Organic Sour Beans don’t have the same chemicals or artificial colorings as, say, Sour Patch Kids. Also tasty are YumEarth’s organic lollipops and gummies.
“Other people have a sweet tooth; I’ve been accused of having a salt tooth,” says Clean Plates’ founder Jared Koch. Try Garden of Eatin’ organic blue corn chips (they’re great with guacamole). “Though they are processed, they’re not sprayed with chemicals, and they’re made with better quality, non-GMO corn.”
Despite Chipotle’s past troubles, it’s still a good place to get healthier fast food options. Contrary to popular belief, the chain is no longer owned by McDonald’s, all of its meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free, and it sources a healthy percentage of its produce locally and organically. Says Koch, “I usually order a bowl or a salad with chicken or beef, brown rice, guacamole and vegetables.”
When pizza calls, sometimes, we must obey. If you want pizza at home, you can try a frozen brand like Amy’s—“but for a real pizza lover, let’s face it, that’s not real pizza,” admits Koch. So at Clean Plates, we use “the 80/20 rule”: eat clean 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, give yourself a break. “Let this be your 20% splurge: enjoy a slice (preferably organic), and forget about it.”