In a perfect world, we’d all eat handcrafted, produce-heavy meals three times per day. But take a good look around: Does this look like a perfect world to you?
Sometimes, packaged treats can be the life raft you need to haul yourself out of a sea of office birthday cake and leftover Halloween candy. And thanks in part to the popularity of the paleo movement, there are more mass-market whole-food snacks than ever before. Ingredient lists are getting shorter, quality is increasing, and Snackwell’s has finally been banished to the cookie hell from whence it came.
This is not to say that all paleo snacks are created equal. Plenty of the options I taste tested were downright inedible. But after many hours of eating and calories consumed, a few new standouts earned a permanent spot in my already crowded “emergency” snack drawer.
Wilde Snacks Chicken Chips
Chicken Chips? Gross, I thought. Then I tried them. Fried in coconut oil, these incredibly thin slices of free-range chicken have the satisfying snap of a Pringle without the blood sugar–spiking simple carbs. Plus, they taste vaguely meaty, and I mean that in the best possible way. While they are not on the market yet, you can expect to see them for sale sometime this winter.
Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bar ($15 for 12)
The ingredients in this bar are simple: pumpkin seeds, organic wildflower honey, coconut oil, sea salt, and spices like cinnamon, cocoa, turmeric, and cracked pepper. That’s it. Pumpkin seeds are loaded with nutrients athletes need, like magnesium and iron. With three flavors—Cinnamon Spice, Dark Chocolate, and Honey Cracked Pepper with Turmeric—you can eat a different bar each day and not get sick of them.
Les Trois Petits Cochon’s Organic Pâté de Campagne ($6)
Thanks to a new organic pork pâté that qualifies as both paleo and ketogenic—high-fat and low-carbohydrate—America’s oldest pâté company has jumped headfirst into the newest diet craze. Pungent onions, garlic, and parsley are blended together with top-quality pork to create a luscious, super-savory spread. It’s enough to make you want a piece of crusty, non-paleo bread to smear it on.
Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Granola ($7)
Eat this mix of crunchy cashews, toasted coconut, and rich pumpkin seeds by the fistful mid-hike or drown it in almond milk for breakfast. I’m particularly partial to the Banana Nut Butter flavor, which tastes a bit like a banana muffin but doesn’t come with a side of nutritional self-loathing.
Thrive Tribe Bites ($14)
These soft nuggets of coconut, dates, honey, and walnuts are almost sweet enough to count as cookies, but they have fewer calories and grams of sugar. Some of the flavors aren’t great—the Curry Cayenne, for example, is way too salty—but the Maple Walnut is perfection.
The New Primal Meat Sticks ($14 for 20)
The New Primal has busted out of the endless loop of teriyaki and spicy sausage with flavors like Habañero Pineapple and Cilantro Lime, both of which are delightful and pack just the right amount of heat.
NuttZo Power Fuel ($15)
This is not Nutella. It’s way healthier. Made from seven different nuts, plus organic chocolate and sea salt, Nuttzo Power Fuel is delicious and packed with energy. A spoonful will have you buzzing around the office for hours.
Epic Pork Rinds and Cracklings ($16 for a 4-Pack)
As a Southern transplant, it gives me great pleasure to include these iconic treats on this list. For the uninitiated, pork rinds and cracklings are fried bits of skin from the pig’s belly and shoulders. Cracklings are crispier, while rinds melt on your tongue. But beware: The varieties stocked in convenience stores use factory-farmed pork and are loaded with preservatives. Instead, grab a bag from Epic, which includes nothing beyond antibiotic-free, pasture-raised meat, sea salt, and a dusting of coconut and maple sugar.