Crackers can seem so innocent. You crumble them into soup, nibble on them with ginger ale when you’re sick, and top ‘em with cheese when sipping a little vino. But when it comes to wholesome ingredients and reasonable nutritional information that won’t widen your waistline, the thin slivers you choose from the snack aisle can be hit or miss. This list will help you decipher which of the biggest players to choose from when you’re at your typical grocery store.

RELATED: 150+ recipe ideas that get you lean for life.

First, The Best

1

Nabisco Triscuit Baked Whole Grain Wheat Original

6 crackers, 28 g: 120 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (3 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

You can’t beat the purity of this recipe: whole wheat, oil, and salt. Period.

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2

Kellogg’s Special K Sea Salt Cracker Chips

25 g:100 calories, 3.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

Potato starch is used to bolster this cracker chip’s fiber content.

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3

Special K Sea Salt Quinoa Crackers Crackers

special k sea salt multigrain crackers

14 crackers, 30 g: 130 calories, 4.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 3 g protein

While this one’s a bit high in sodium compared to our other picks, we can get behind the decent fiber and protein contents as well as the clean ingredient list.

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4

Wasa Crispbread Fiber

2 crispbreads, 20 g: 60 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (5 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

The wheat germ, bran, and whole grain rye in these crackers really amp up the fiber content here, while the sesame seeds add in healthy fat.

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5

Annie’s Whole Wheat Bunnies

annies whole wheat bunnies crackers

51 pieces, 30 g: 140 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

This wholesome Annie’s pick packs in organic whole wheat flour, sunflower oil, and a bit of real cheddar for a subtle flavor. You’ll find zero artificial preservatives in this box.

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6

Carr’s Table Water Crackers

4 crackers, 14 g: 60 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 80 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein

White crackers don’t have much nutritional value, it’s true, but plain crackers are a lifesaver for when you’re sick or just want something to pair a slice of Swiss with.

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7

Back to Nature Spinach & Roasted Garlic Crackers

back to nature spinach garlic crackers

20 crackers, 30 g: 130 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (2 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

The first two ingredients here are unbleached wheat flour and whole grain wheat flour. Plus, there’s actually dried spinach in here, which helps boost your iron levels.

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8

CrunchMaster Multi-Grain Sea Salt

crunchmaster multigrain crackers

16 crackers, 20 g: 120 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (3 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

This pick packs in a whole lot of crunch and wholesome ingredients. It’s baked with brown rice flour, oat fiber, sesame seeds, quinoa, millet, and flax seed.

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9

Cali’Flour FoodsCauliflower Thins, Classic

cali flour foods crackers

6 crackers, 14 g: 90 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 50 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 5 g protein

If you’re on a low-carb or keto diet, these cauliflower-based crackers are your best bet. They’re low in sodium and get their protein punch from almonds and egg whites.

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10

From The Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers

from the ground up cauliflower crackers

40 crackers, 28 g: 100 calories, 2.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

These babies are baked with cauliflower flour, lentil flour, and a veggie blend. One serving packs in 10 percent of your daily value of vitamins A, E, B6, B1 D, and C.

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11

Simple Mills Rosemary & Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers

simple mills rosemary sea salt crackers

17 crackers, 30 g: 150 calories, 8 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 180 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (2 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 3 g protein

The first ingredient in this gluten-free box is a nut and seed flour blend concocted with almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds—so you know a big chunk of the eight grams of fat in each serving comes from heart-healthy omega-3s and vitamin E.

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12

Ozery Bakery Lavash Crackers, Multi-Grain and Seeds

ozery bakery lavash crackers

per 4 crackers, 26 g: 90 calories, 3 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (2 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein

The cracked wheat, rye, flax seeds, millet meal, and other whole grains and seeds make this hearty cracker a solid source of fiber and protein. We like that Ozery Bakery keeps the sugar and sodium contents low. Pair it with your favorite hummus for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

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13

GG Scandinavian Fiber Crispbread, Oatbran

gg scandinavian crispbread oat bran

1 crispbread, 8 g: 30 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (4 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein

Snack on two of these crispbreads and you’ll get a third of your DV of fiber in! This Scandinavian snack packs in zero sodium and just two nutrient-dense ingredients—wheat bran and oat bran—for a truly wholesome eat.

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Now, The Worst

14

Keebler Club Crackers, Original

PER 4 PIECES: 70 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein

Definitely plain, but not so great. These Keebler Club Crackers pack in sugar and salt without any fiber or protein.

15

Ritz Roasted Vegetable

ritz roasted vegetable crackers

PER 5 CRACKERS, 16 G: 80 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

While this recipe contains dehydrated vegetables, the main ingredient is still refined flour. Plus, it packs in hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup, one of the unhealthiest foods on the planet.

16

Ritz Bits, Cheese

ritz bits cheese crackers

PER 13 PIECES, 31 G: 160 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (0 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 2 g protein

Soiled with sugar and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil—you can definitely find a better cracker to nosh on.

17

Cheez-It Original

cheez it

PER 27 CRACKERS, 30 G: 150 calories, 8 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 3 g protein

Cheez-Its’ lack of fiber won’t prevent your hunger from soaring minutes after you nosh on these savory bits.

18

Keebler Club Crackers, Multigrain

PER 4 CRACKERS, 14 G: 60 calories, 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), <1 g protein

While it’s marketed as a plain, multi-grain cracker, you’ll find more sugar than fiber in this deceitful pick.

19

Keebler Town House Flatbread Crisps Sea Salt & Olive Oil

townhouse flatbread crisps sea salt olive oil

PER 8 CRACKERS, 15 G: 70 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 1 g protein

The 4 grams of fat here come from inflammatory soybean oil. Hard pass.

20

Nabisco Wheat Thins Original

wheat thins

PER 16 CRACKERS, 31 G: 140 calories, 5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 230 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 2 g protein

Wheat Thins contain a decent fiber and protein content, but the five grams of sugar per serving is simply unnecessary.

The post The 20 Best and Worst Popular Supermarket Crackers appeared first on Eat This Not That.

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We know we’re about to break the hearts of lunch-preparing moms and dads everywhere, but those cold cuts might not be trustworthy. And it’s not just about your kiddos; you could be sabotaging your own figure. Just a couple slices—no, really, just two of those thinly-sliced pieces of lunch meat—have more sodium than a bag of pretzels; that’s 450 milligrams! Sodium, a known contributor to hypertension, not only makes your belly bloated, but it’s also a risk factor in the development of heart disease when eaten in excess.

As for the nitrate and nitrite debacle? Here’s what you need to know: All “cured” deli meats include sodium nitrate and nitrite as preservatives to keep the cuts free from harmful bacteria. To claim “All Natural,” brands substitute these artificial additives for their naturally-occurring counterpart—celery powder—and dub themselves “uncured.” But whether it’s the synthetic version or from celery powder, it’s basically the same thing, according to Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN. She also tells us there’s no verdict on whether nitrates are harmful or safe. (Ever seen beet juice nitrates being marketed to help boost your endurance?)

What we do know is this: the World Health Organization (WHO) released a study in 2015 linking high consumption of processed meats (which equates to four slices of bacon a day) to colorectal cancers. However, the authors of the study say that the occasional hot dog is okay. The takeaway? As long as you grab good-quality meat made with good-for-you ingredients, eating a sammy with deli meats once or twice a week isn’t going to do a ton of damage. What’s more important than choosing a nitrate- or celery-juice-preserved meat is actually eating a predominantly plant-based diet, which has been connected with the lowest incidences of cancers and other diseases when compared to those who eat the least amount of produce.

Below, you’ll find some of the best and worst lunch meat brands on the market. And if you can’t find the brand we’ve recommended in your own grocery store, use the chosen product’s nutritional information and ingredients as a guide to what you should look for. Once you’ve chosen a meat, find out where the rest of your sandwich add-ons stack up in our exclusive guide of best lunch foods for weight loss—ranked!

1

Oven-Roasted Turkey

applegate and land o frost turkey breast cold cuts

Eat This

Applegate Naturals Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Per 2 oz (56 g): 50 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 11 g protein

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Not That!

Land O’Frost Premium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

Per 4 slices (50 g): 80 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 8 g protein

Lunchtime has far surpassed Thanksgiving as the most popular time for getting your tryptophan fix, but are you also indulging in a daily sodium bomb? You will be if you’re going with Land O’Frost’s “Premium” Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast, which is mostly made up of the blood-pressure-raising stuff combined with “flavorings” and MSG. To get more protein—and way less sodium—go with Applegate’s humanely-raised lunch meat. Do this, and you won’t fall prey to one of the little things making you fatter and fatter—ignoring sodium!

2

Honey-Baked Ham

applegate and oscar mayer honey ham cold cuts

Eat This

Applegate Naturals Uncured Honey Ham

Per 2 oz (56 g): 70 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 450 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 10 g protein

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Not That!

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Honey Ham

Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 560 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 10 g protein

Oscar Mayer figured out how to throw in 560 milligrams of sodium including sodium phosphate, an ingredient whose high intake has been linked to higher rates of chronic kidney disease and weak bones. Even though phosphates are a necessary part of our diets, excess phosphate is more easily absorbed by the body and can lead to high levels of phosphate in the blood, which may put you at risk for heart disease. Concerned about heart disease? Check out these foods that lower cholesterol!

3

Smoked Turkey

Eat This

Oscar Mayer Natural Mesquite Smoked Turkey

Per 2 oz (56 g): 50 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 10 g protein

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Not That!

Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Smoked Turkey Breast

Per 2 oz (56 g): 50 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 9 g protein

Lower in sodium, higher in protein, and free of all the artificial ingredients of its sister brand, Oscar Mayer finally churns out an okay product with their NaturalMesquite Smoked Turkey.

4

Smoked Ham

Eat This

Hormel Natural Choice Smoked Deli Ham

Per 2 oz (56 g): 70 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 450 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 11 g protein

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Applegate Naturals Uncured Slow Cooked Ham

Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 420 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 11 g protein

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Not That!

Saag’s Hickory Smoked Virginia Brand Ham with Natural Juice

Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 680 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 10 g protein

If you don’t mind the extra sodium—it’s still a bag of Ruffles less than Saag’s option—Hormel offers a Natural Choice Smoked Deli Ham with good-for-you ingredients as good as those from the leading brand of good meats, Applegate. Saag’s, on the other hand, is not only full of sodium, it but also carries sodium erythorbate, nitrites, corn syrup, and propylene glycol; we don’t think you’d be able to find those in your pantry.

5

Bologna

Eat This

Saag’s German Brand Bologna

Per 1 oz: 70 calories, 7.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 3.5 g protein

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Not That!

Bar-S Classic Bologna

Per 1 slice (32 g): 90 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 360 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 4 g protein

A smoked, seasoned sausage usually made up of pork and chicken, bologna is the black sheep of deli meats thanks to being so over processed and concentrated in sodium. (Those nutritionals you’re seeing above are usually for a single slice, compared to the nutritionals of deli meats which are 4-5 slices per serving.) To avoid the modified corn starches and potassium acetates, grab a package of Saag’s over Bar-S—and you’ll also save yourself the calories, fat, and sodium.

6

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

Eat This

Hormel Natural Choice Rotisserie-Style Deli Chicken Breast

Per 2 oz (56 g): 50 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 11 g protein

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Not That!

Oscar Mayer Carving Board Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken Breast

Per 2 oz (56 g): 60 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 12 g protein

Who knew you could screw up chicken this much? These slices of Oscar Mayer Oven Roasted Chicken are browned with caramel color and doused in “cultured corn sugar”—a “label-friendly” fermented corn sugar which apparently minimizes listeria growth. Stick with Hormel’s Natural Choice to taste chicken and not the “rotisserie chicken flavoring” of yeast extract (a “natural” alternative to MSG that is added to products to enhance its meat-like taste instead of letting the meat speak for itself) and “flavor” that you’ll find in Oscar Mayer’s option.

7

Chipotle Chicken

chipotle seasoned chicken breast cold cuts

Eat This

Oscar Mayer Chipotle Seasoned Chicken Breast

Per 2 slices, 2 oz (56 g): 50 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 540 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 9 g protein

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Not That!

Hillshire Farm Chipotle Chicken Breast

Per 3 slices (49 g): 45 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 630 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 8 g protein

Complexly spicy and satisfyingly moist, Oscar Meyer’s sliced lunch meat is made without any antibiotics, nitrites, nitrates, or added hormones. The same can’t be said of Hillshire Farm’s Chipotle Chicken Breast. Not only do they use added nitrites, they also use natural mesquite smoke flavor, three different ingredients that contain MSG, and more “natural flavor” than real spices. Oh, and did we mention just three slices are packed with a quarter of your day’s worth of sodium? That’s definitely not the solution to how to get rid of bloating.

8

Roast Beef

roast beef cold cuts

Eat This

Applegate Organics Roast Beef

Per 2 oz (56 g): 80 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 400 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 13 g protein

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Not That!

Hillshire Farm Deli Select Ultra Thin Sliced Roast Beef

Per 2 oz (56 g): 70 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 11 g protein

Leave the beef flavor and caramel color—er, we mean Hillshire Farm’s Roast beef—on the shelf and grab a package of Applegate Organics Roast Beef. Made from organic beef, which studies have found to be higher in heart-healthy omega-3s than conventional cuts, these slices will be the best meat for your French dip or sandwich with spicy horseradish. It may be pricier, but organic beef is one of the 20 foods you should always splurge on.

9

Salami

genoa salami cold cuts

Eat This

Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami

Per 1 oz (28 g): 100 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 420 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 7 g protein

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Not That!

Gallo/Galileo Italian Dry Salame

Per 1 oz (28 g): 110 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 480 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 6 g protein

It’s salty, fatty, delicious, and a staple of every Italian sub. If you’re going to indulge, do so with your better body goals in mind and pick up a package of Applegate Naturals’ Genoa Salami. You’ll get the same flavor from Gallo (called Galileo on the East Coast) but for fewer calories and grams of fat and with an extra gram of protein.

10

Black Forest Ham

black forest ham cold cuts

Eat This

Hillshire Farm Naturals Black Forest Ham

Per 3 slices (49 g): 50 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 500 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 9 g protein

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Not That!

Buddig Original Black Forest Ham

Per 4 slices (50 g): 90 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 590 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 9 g protein

Most deli meats fail in one of two ways: too much fat or too much sodium. Buddig’s products routinely fail in both ways compared to their peers. Not only in nutritionals, but also in ingredients, throwing in additives like caramel color and natural flavoring to give their products the appearance of looking good and tasting good. Hillshire Farm’s Naturals line is made without any artificial nitrites—only getting them from celery juice powder—and let the meat speak for itself by eschewing any “natural flavors.” If you’re watching your sodium, we’d also recommend taking a look at Applegate Naturals, whose black forest ham rings are just shy of the 500-milligram mark at 470 milligrams.

11

Pastrami

Eat This

Saag’s Pastrami

Per 2 oz (56 g): 80 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 560 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 12 g protein

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Not That!

Buddig Original Pastrami

Per 2 oz (56 g): 100 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 600 mg sodium, 1 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 9 g protein

Pastrami is usually a Not That! when it comes to those who are watching their sodium levels. That’s because even the healthy options are full of the stuff. Saag’s cold cuts win out compared to Buddig here because it has more than half the fat, fewer calories, and more muscle-building protein. Plus, it’s made from Choice beef, one of the better cuts of meat (second tier) on the market.

12

Pork & Beef Pepperoni

applegate and hormel pork beef pepperoni cold cuts

Eat This

Applegate Naturals Uncured Pork & Beef Pepperoni

Per 15 pieces, 1 oz (30 g): 140 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 570 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 8 g protein

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Not That!

Hormel Pepperoni—25% Less Fat

Per 1.1 oz (30 g): 120 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 520 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 7 g protein

Hormel Pepperoni—50% Less Sodium

Per 1.1 oz (30 g): 160 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 5 g protein

Hormel serves up two foods that satisfy one of the weight loss rules you can cheat on: low-sodium and low-fat foods are not always best for your body. In Hormel’s case, the pepperoni with less fat is high in sodium and their less sodium option ramps up the fat count. You’re better off with their original option, which is moderate on both counts, or just go for the best option: Applegate Naturals. While Applegate packs in more sodium than both of Hormel’s picks, we chose it over the latter because it’s made with omega-3-packed grass-fed meat and doesn’t include added nitrites or BHA and BHT preservatives.

13

Turkey Pepperoni

turkey pepperoni cold cuts

Eat This

Applegate Naturals Uncured Turkey Pepperoni

Per 17 slices (30 g): 80 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 600 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 10 g protein

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Not That!

Hormel Turkey Pepperoni

Per 1 oz (30 g): 70 calories, 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 570 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 9 g protein

Turkey pepperoni is going to be naturally lower in calories and fat compared to its pork counterpart, so we’re looking for pizza toppers who have simple ingredients. Applegate’s cold cuts win this round hands down, as Hormel uses carcinogen-containing BHA and BHT as preservatives, along with “flavoring,” nitrite, and smoke flavor. Applegate sticks to celery powder for nitrites and even adds an extra layer of protection with rosemary extract. This ingredient acts as an antioxidant, which may help to limit the ability of nitrites to form cancer-causing nitrosamines under conditions of high temperatures. However, Applegate’s turkey pepperoni is still high in sodium, so consume in moderation.

14

Meat Alternatives

vegetarian meat cold cuts

Eat This

Tofurky Oven Roasted Deli Slices

Per 5 slices (52 g): 100 calories, 3.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 13 g protein

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Not That!

Yves Veggie Deli Turkey Slices

Per 5 slices (50 g): 80 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (0 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 13 g protein

Both vegetarianism and vegan foods are skyrocketing in popularity right now thanks to the advocacy of the benefits of a plant-based diet, which range from fewer incidences of disease to better weight management. When considering what brand to buy, you want to look for one with the least amount of scary chemicals, and something that’s low in carbs and sodium while being high in protein. Tofurky’s cold cuts may be higher in sodium compared to Yves, but Yves chooses to include an ingredient we’ve advocated against eating: carrageenan. This additive has been connected to inflammation, ulcers, and other gastrointestinal problems. Plus, you’ll get a gram of satiating fiber by choosing Tofurky.

RELATED: 150+ recipe ideas that get you lean for life.

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Meat lovers everywhere, rejoice! Brands introducing creative concoctions made of dried and dehydrated meats are making portable meat snacks the new thing. And we’re totally not beefin’ with that. Lean meats are an excellent low-calorie source of protein, omega-3s, anemia-fighting iron, energy-boosting vitamin B12, and even choline (the vitamin that can help cinch your waist).

And we’re not just talking beef-only meat snacks—there are pork, chicken, deer, and salmon, too! Just remember to choose grass-fed over grain-fed because the former contains less fat and higher levels of omega-3s, which have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. From bars and bites and little bits to jerky and sticks (and even trail mix!), we’ve rounded up a meaty list of our favorite high-protein snacks. Sorry to all the vegans and vegetarians out there—this one’s not for you.

1

Field Trip Cracked Pepper Turkey Jerky

field trip pepper turkey jerky

1 oz: 80 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 10 g carbs, 0 g fiber (0 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 8 g protein

This all-natural jerky is made of lean turkey marinated in cracked black pepper, smoky brown sugar, and apple—making it a finger-lickin’ good snack. Plus, it’s naturally sweetened (with fruit juices) and without corn syrup, giving you the green light to munch on this between meals.

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2

Epic Chicken Sriracha Bar

1 bar, 43 g: 130 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 540 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 13 g protein

Who knew a mere 130 calories can pack in 13 grams of wholesome, naturally raised chicken protein, and still be low in carbs, sugar-free, and pack in some hunger-quelling fiber? Apparently, Epic did. And its nutrition isn’t the only part we’re raving about. Seasoned with cumin, oregano, garlic, and spicy red pepper flakes, this sriracha bar is revolutionizing chicken as the health foodie’s holy grail.

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3

Paleo Valley Beef Sticks

paleovalley beef sticks

1 oz: 70 calories, 5 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 220 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 6 g protein

This low-carb, grass-fed snack boasts high levels of B vitamins, vitamins A and E, and CLA, which is known for its cancer- and stomach fat-fighting properties. They also come in five taste bud-pleasing flavors: original, jalapeño, teriyaki, summer sausage, and garlic summer sausage.

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4

Brooklyn Biltong

1 oz: 70 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 12 g protein

You may be wondering what is biltong. In simple terms, it’s beef jerky‘s tender brother—aka the one that’s not going to give your jaw muscles a workout. It’s made by hanging the grass-fed beef to dry in a drying box for 3-6 days, after which it is ready to be paired with allspice, coriander, and black pepper. This brand even sells a 16-ounce bag, which is perfect for sharing with your friends.

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5

Lorissa’s Kitchen Ginger Teriyaki Chicken

1 oz: 80 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 400 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 11 g protein

Try saying chicken kitchen three times fast. Now, try it with a piece of chicken jerky in your mouth. Just kidding! But we’re definitely not joking about the jerky. These antibiotic-free chicken bits are doused with a marinade of fresh ginger, sesame seeds, sea salt, and cane and brown sugars, guaranteeing this pick is taste bud-approved.

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6

Epic Bison Bacon Cranberry Bar

1 bar, 37 g: 130 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 320 g sodium, 8 g carbs (1 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 7 g protein

Bison and bacon pair up perfectly well in this delectable snack. This is Epic’s modern take on pemmican, a survival superfood that is comprised mainly of dried meat and fruit, as well as rendered fat that lends the meat its long shelf life. This portable snack packs a substantial source of omega-3s, iron, and vitamin B12, making it a go-to pick when you’re craving a meaty snack.

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7

The New Primal Cilantro Lime Turkey Sticks

1 stick, 1 oz: 50 calories, 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 320 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 7 g protein

These free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free turkey sticks provide a whopping seven grams of protein for only 50 calories. These meat snacks are individually packaged, making them perfect to throw in a bag and enjoy whenever. Bright flavor notes like cilantro, parsley, and lime prove that this bird’s not just for Thanksgiving.

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8

Epic Wagyu Beef Steak Strips

epic wagyu steak strip

1 package, 23 g: 110 calories, 7 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 6 g protein

If you want a succulently marbled Wagyu steak delivered to your door, ready to be salted and thrown on the barbie, then Holy Grail Steak is your absolute go-to. But if you want a portable snack that also packs in that rich tenderness, reach for Epic’s steak strips. The touch of wildflower honey and clean spices truly let the grass-fed Wagyu’s winning taste shine through.

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9

Perky Jerky Truffle & Thyme Wagyu Beef Jerky

perky jerky wagyu truffle thyme beef jerky

1 oz: 80 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 220 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 12 g protein

We can’t think of a better fancy snack to fuel your next hike. Teeming with ultra-tender beef and umami coming from black truffle, Perky Jerky’s humanely-raised meat snack will definitely perk you up. Major bonus: it’s low in sugar and salt without sacrificing flavor or texture.

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10

The New Primal Cayenne & Honey 100% Grass-Fed Beef

the new primal honey cayenne beef jerky

1 oz: 70 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 11 g protein

This yummy jerky is made of 100% grass-fed beef that’s spiced with paprika and coconut aminos, packing in a punch from cayenne and jalapeño peppers added to the mix. It’s low in carbs and high in protein, making it a perfect Atkins-approved snack. Plus, the jerky is free of artificial preservatives, soy, and gluten—so feel free to indulge all of your carnivorous cravings.

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11

Chomps Original Beef Sticks

Chomps beef sticks

1 stick, 1.15 oz: 100 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 9 g protein

Next time you’re in need of a savory snack, unwrap Chomps’ protein-packed beef sticks. They’re made with 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef, which ensures your snack is packed with beta-carotene, inflammation-fighting omega-3s, and more fat-burning CLA.

12

Country Archer Herb Citrus Turkey Bar

country archer herb citrus turkey bar

1 bar, 42 g: 120 calories, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 370 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 15 g protein

This meaty bar is spiked with extra protein thanks to the addition of chicken collagen—which helps up the protein content to a whopping 15 grams. Collagen, the most abundant protein in our bodies, helps keep our skin, joints, and hair youthful. You’ll want to pair this bar with a vitamin C-rich fruit, as the water-soluble vitamin helps your body form collagen. Bring Country Archer’s turkey bar and a few juicy tangerines along on your next adventure for the perfect portable snack.

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13

Epic Venison Sea Salt Pepper Bar

1 bar, 43 g: 80 calories, 3 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 390 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 12 g protein

Epic keeps it simple, sprinkling only salt, pepper, and vegetable powders on the grass-fed and free-range deer bar, staying true to the venison’s gamey flavor. With 12 whopping grams of protein, alongside being gluten- and sugar-free, we are totally digging this as our next mid-afternoon snack. And with only 80 calories, this one is our lowest-calorie protein-packed pick.

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RELATED: No-sugar-added recipes you’ll actually look forward to eating.

14

Krave Honey Habanero Chicken Jerky

Krave chicken jerky honey habanero

1 oz: 80 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 190 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 8 g protein

This chicken jerky is not only low in sodium compared to other jerkies, but it’s also packed with vitamin B6, niacin, and tryptophan (an amino acid that works to increase serotonin levels in the brain, therefore improving sleep latency). So, whether you want to enjoy it as a midday or midnight snack, the choice is yours!

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15

Epic Maple Glazed & Smoked Salmon Bites

epic maple smoked salmon bites

6 pieces, 28 g: 100 calories, 5 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 350 mg sodium, 6 g carbs (0 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 8 g protein

Put down the lox bagel lunch and grab a bag of these salmon bites. This low-carb snack is made with wild-caught salmon (which has more omega-3s than its farmed counterpart) from the Bristol Bay Region of Alaska and comes packed with 8 grams of muscle-building protein. Dill and maple complement the salmon’s rich flavor and texture.

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16

Fish People Lemon Zest + Herb Wild Alaskan Salmon Jerky

fish people alaskan salmon jerky

6 pieces, 28 g: 90 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 12 g protein

The makers of our favorite seafood dinner kits debuted a scrumptious line of wild-caught salmon jerky. You’ll get 900 milligrams of omega-3s per bag, but if you’re eating the entire bag, make sure to pair it with a glass of water, as the sodium content is a bit on the high side.

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17

Mighty Spark BBQ Sweet Potato Chicken Snack Sticks

mighty spark bbq sweet potato chicken stick

1 stick, 28 g: 60 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 280 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 6 g protein

This tryptophan-packed snack is spiked with real sweet potatoes, which add a hint of sweetness and some fiber to hold you over until your next meal. It’s your favorite healthy dinnertime combo made into a portable snack stick!

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18

Chef’s Cut Korean BBQ Chicken Jerky

chefs cut korean bbq chicken jerky

1 oz: 70 calories, 1 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (0 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 10 g protein

Craving Korean BBQ, but don’t have time to take the drive up to town? This sriracha-chili- and ginger-spiked jerky will definitely crush your cravings for the sizzling grilled meat. While Chef’s Cut’s rendition doesn’t come with any tangy banchans, it does come packed with 10 grams of protein for just 70 calories.

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19

Olli Salumeria Calabrese & Asiago Cracker Snack Tray

olli salumeria snack pack

1 pack, 2 oz: 210 calories, 13 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 550 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 13 g protein

Consider this snack pack your ultimate shortcut to Italy. Olli takes a twist on your favorite charcuterie board by combining Calabrese spicy salami with sharp Asiago cheese and La Panzanella crackers into a purse-friendly snack. Delizioso!

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20

Stryve Original Trail Mix With Beef Biltong

stryve beef biltong trail mix

1 pack, 2 oz: 290 calories, 21 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 470 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 20 g protein

This snack mix is studded with beef biltong, whole nuts, and seeds for extra-satiating healthy fats and 20 grams of muscle-maintaining protein in addition to four grams of fiber. Plus, it’s got way less sugar than your average trail mix, so you’ll want to swap out the sweet stuff for Stryve’s bag during your next hike.

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21

Shrooms Splits Turkey & Portabella

shrooms splits turkey portabella

1 oz: 60 calories, 0 g fat, 270 mg sodium, 8 g carbs (0 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 6 g protein

If you’re all about umami flavor, this pick is the best of both worlds. Shrooms’ split-up snack bag packs in equal parts hearty portabella mushrooms and robustly marinated turkey breast. This innovative snack is an omnivore’s dream, as well as a great gateway into the mushroom jerky trend while still getting your meaty fix.

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22

Epic Lamb Currant Mint Bar

1 bar, 37 g: 130 calories, 7 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 270 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (1 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 6 g protein

If you’re desperately craving a lamb gyro, but not really into getting your hands messy with tzatziki sauce, grab one of these bars on the way to work. The grass-fed ovis aries is paired with robust spices like basil, marjoram, and rosemary. It’s also seasoned with spearmint leaves and organic currants, which will totally get you daydreaming of a trip to Greece.

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By now, you’ve most definitely heard of the Instant Pot, also known as a multi-cooker or a pressure cooker, slow cooker combo. It’s the hottest kitchen staple since sliced bread (or the bread slicer, rather) and is currently sweeping the blogosphere with recipes for making healthy food fast.

Instant Pots make it easy to meal prep, revive leftovers better than the microwave, and jazz up chicken breast so well that it could compete with your favorite rotisserie brand. But with so many handy hacks, it can be difficult to navigate the ins and outs of the machine when you first give it a try.

So whether you just pulled yours out of the box or have been a loyal fan for years, the following wisdom from Instant Pot experts should shed some light on all the ways you can use this gadget to easily create healthy meals at home.

To help us hack the pot, we consulted multicooker expert, Dan Zuccarello, an executive editor of Multicooker Perfection: a book from the editors of America’s Test Kitchen. Check out these savvy tips below!

1

Choose your pressure based on your recipe.

Instant pot zoomCourtesy of Instant Pot

Instant Pots generally have both a low and high-pressure setting you can choose from, but the exact amounts and temperatures vary depending on the model you own. High pressure is used most often when cooking things quickly (like your favorite 15-minute chili), but according to Zuccarello, “low pressure produces slightly better results when cooking foods that need a gentler hand.” Desserts almost always require the lower setting to come out restaurant-worthy, too.

2

Freeze meals in Instant Pot molds.

Freezer smoothie bagShutterstock

Because Instant Pots allow you to cook straight from the freezer and throw in all your ingredients at the same time, make things easy for yourself by planning out recipes and freezing them in round containers that fit seamlessly into your Pot. It seems simple, but this hack will allow you to meal prep without the hassle of cooking everything at the same time. Once a Month Meals recommends simply preparing the ingredients, placing into round Tupperware containers (up to 64 ounces, or the size of a gallon-sized Ziploc bag), and freezing until it’s time for making dinner.

3

Check parts before cooking.

Instant pot partsCourtesy of Instant Pot

The inner workings of your Instant Pot may be new territory, but it’s important to make sure all parts are in place and functioning before you press the start button. Think about it: You’d never drive a car that’s missing a part or has the check engine light illuminated on the dashboard. You should be as familiar with your Instant Pot as you are your car. Zuccarello tells us to make sure that the silicone gasket in the lid is in place before cooking. “Soft and springy, not dry and cracked. If your pot is not coming to pressure, it may not be sealed correctly.” The gasket should be removed and cleaned after every use for maximum freshness.

4

Heed the maximum water line.

Tap waterShutterstock

There’s a water line on the inside for a reason. Liquid is required for almost every Instant Pot recipe, and it’s important to follow directions for your own safety, says Zuccarello. Every food is different and requires a specific amount of water. Foaming or expanding foods need less than most recipes. It may be easy to overlook the mark, but exact amounts are key if you want your food to be at its best.

5

Finish undercooked food in your multicooker.

Chicken breastShutterstock

We won’t lie. It’s slightly annoying that you can’t check the progress of food until it comes out of the pot. Recipes tend to err on the underdone side as opposed to overdone, says Zuccarello in Multicooker Perfection. If your food comes out needing a little more lovin’, finish the job by putting it back in the pot and turning it to the highest sauté or browning mode. Add liquids as needed to keep food moist.

6

Liquids are your friend.

Salting waterShutterstock

While it’s important to be exact with the liquids in your initial recipe, err on the wet side when you’re putting the finishing touches on a meal. “If you find that food is burning while you’re sautéing, try adding a small amount of liquid to slow down the cooking. Although you can’t fix food that has been burned during pressure or slow cooking, you can avoid the problem in the future by taking care to scrape up all the browned bits left in the pot after sautéing food and before closing the lid,” Zuccarello tells us. With this in mind, now all you have to worry about is whether to use chicken stock or water.

7

Use a natural release when cooking meat.

Instant pot ventCourtesy of Instant Pot

Your Instant Pot has two options when the cooking time has ended: a natural release of pressure or a quick release from the valve. If your timer goes off and you do nothing, the food will cool and the pressure will be released slowly in a natural release. If you choose the natural release option, food will continue to cook until all the heat escapes. Zuccarello tells us that this is the preferred method for meats because it allows the meat to rest and retain the natural fats and juices that make it melt-in-your-mouth good. “If you quick release the pressure on a large cut of meat, it will seize up and be tough.” So if you threw in a pork loin, let it be when the timer ends! After at least 15 minutes, quick release any remaining pressure.

8

Make it hot.

Sear beefShutterstock

When you’re browning, searing, or sauteing, that is. Multicooker Perfection tells us that the heating element of an Instant Pot is not as effective as your stove burner, so when you’re adding the finishing touches to a meal, the best practice is to crank the notch to the hottest setting available.

9

Stack away.

Instant pot accessoriesCourtesy of Instant Pot

There are many accessories that can accompany your pot, and they make it easy to get the most from everything you cook. A glass lid will allow you to keep an eye on foods when you’re using the saute function. Stackable steamer baskets let you cook meat and veggies on top of each other, which is perfect for reheating last night’s dinner. A ceramic inner pot lets you whip up cheesecakes and desserts with ease. You can find countless must-have accessories online at Amazon, like stack baskets, pans, and racks to cook your entire dinner at once.

10

Clean parts in the dishwasher.

Dishwasher handleShutterstock

Great news! Most of the Instant Pot’s parts are dishwasher-safe, which makes cleanup as fast and easy as the cooking itself. According to Living Well Spending Less, the lid needs to be washed by hand, but other than that, you can safely toss the inside accessories like the inner pot and steam rack into the washer. If you need a deeper clean (food builds up, after all), use vinegar or lemon and hot water to steam clean the inside. This will break down any gunk that’s built up in the nooks and crannies.

11

Know about slow.

Instant pot chopCourtesy of Instant Pot

Some multi-cookers have a “high-slow” and a “low-slow” setting. For the Instant Pot specifically, Zucarello says that the low-slow setting isn’t hot enough to produce the best quality food promised by recipes and reviews. The optimal cooking temperature is between 195 and 210 degrees, and the low-slow setting of the Instant Pot is 17 degrees too cool for that. If your recipe calls for a low-slow setting, you may want to choose a different setting or switch to high-slow and adjust the time accordingly.

12

Never buy store-bought stock again.

Chicken stockShutterstock

Have you ever watched animal stock being made from scratch on those Food Network shows? It’s usually one of the first things the chef does because it takes hours—sometimes even an entire day—to be ready to use in recipes. The Instant Pot has eliminated this problem. You can make chicken stock and bone broth in minutes. According to Romper, just throw in leftover chicken bones and veggies and let them stew, and you’ve got fresh, homemade stock worthy of Ina Garten.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

13

Get poppin’.

Popcorn bowlShutterstock

Microwave popcorn is delicious, addicting, and often full of inflammatory oils that can wreak havoc on your health. Don’t feel like you can give it up? Try tossing organic whole kernels in your Instant Pot instead and popping ’em the old-school way. IP Foodie recommends pouring the kernels in, setting your IP to sauté, and letting them slow cook until you’ve got a movie-worthy snack in no time. Use a glass lid to keep an eye on the popcorn and make sure it doesn’t burn.

14

Let steam slow.

Steam cookingShutterstock

Zuccarello explains that if you choose to do a quick release of the pressure in your pot for the sake of an overcooked chicken breast or pasta, turn the pressure knob to “vent” as soon as the timer tells you the cooking is done. This is a completely viable option if you’re in a hurry, just make sure the recipe doesn’t specify a natural release, or you could risk losing some of the recipe’s natural flavors.

15

Go with what you know.

ChiliShutterstock

Every person will inevitably have his or her own experience using an Instant Pot, but there are a few fail-safe recipes that it will always cook well. Don’t feel like experimenting in the kitchen? Don’t start by cooking a whole chicken or a creamy sauce—it takes an advanced user to master those. Instead, start with foolproof meals like risotto and chilis. They’re the recipes this gadget was made for and are always easier to make in the Instant Pot than the over the stovetop. In other words, you’ll never have to sweat stirring a pot of rice again!

16

Buy extra sealing rings.

Sealing ringInstant Pot/YouTube

The rubber sealing ring on the inside of the lid tends to pick up the scent of whatever has been stewing in the pot the night before. This usually requires an easy fix—just wash it often!—but if the smell and stain of tomato sauce simply won’t go away, Simple Most recommends ordering a new one. They run for about $8 on Amazon and will be well worth it when you prevent nasty cross-contamination.

17

Be patient.

Impatient girlShutterstock

Under no circumstances should you open the lid before pressure has been released. This shouldn’t be too hard because the average cook time is rarely longer than 20 minutes, but just in case you’re tempted to check on food like you would when cooking it on the stove, we’re adding this tip from Multicooker Perfection to the mix. Picture soup or chili exploding all over your walls and floor (and you, if you’re too close). Not pretty.

18

Face the steam away from you.

Steam potShutterstock

While it may seem like a great way to score a free facial, it could be dangerous to release the steam in your direction during a quick release, Zuccarello tells us. For best results, point the vent in the opposite direction and then open the pot carefully. When the last of the steam has escaped, remove the lid and proceed to the next instruction in your recipe.

19

Don’t limit yourself to just food.

Lotion barsShutterstock

Let your Instant Pot work for your every need—even the ones that aren’t food-related. In the same way that you can use the IP to make yogurt, you can also make hand lotion and lotion bars. Using the sauté function, liquefy the ingredients in glass jars and then pour into molds and cool in the freezer. The bars resemble soap but can be rubbed onto your elbows, feet, and hands for ultimate moisturizing power. Just when you thought you knew everything about the gadget!

20

Cook veggies to perfection.

Steamed broccoliShutterstock

The speedy efficiency of your IP is rarely a problem, but it can be when you end up with soggy vegetables. Since fresh produce is finicky and easy to overcook, throw it in before you start up your pot, and the initial heating process will cook it to perfection. Simple Most recommends setting the pot to manual mode and entering zero for the cook time to render perfectly-cooked veggies. Wondering which picks to try your hand at first? Give some of these Best Foods for Fiber a shot.

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brain scan

Due to safety concerns, Mavenclad is recommended for people who have not responded to or can’t tolerate other MS drugs, the FDA said. The drug is from EMD Serono, Inc.

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This just in: the Burger King you know and love is making a big, more inclusive change in one of the chain’s staple menu items—yes, we’re talking about the Whopper. BK announced that it will be testing out a meatless option called the Impossible Whopper—but there’s a catch.

OK, but wait. What exactly is an Impossible Whopper?

It’s possible that you have yet to hear about the Impossible Burger, which is a plant-based burger produced by Impossible Foods, based in Redwood City, California. Through genetic engineering, this meat alternative mocks the taste of meat and it even bleeds when you bite into it for a truly authentic meat-like experience, even though there isn’t a trace of animal protein in it.

Chief Executive of Impossible Foods, Pat Brown, told Reuters in an article that the Impossible Burger is currently sold in over 6,000 restaurants. However, if this test with the Impossible Whopper proves to be a success, he predicts the Impossible Burger will be in well over 13,000 restaurants. As of right now though, the Impossible Whopper will only be available in 59 Burger King locations in and around St. Louis, Missouri.

Burger King isn’t the only fast food restaurant that’s integrating the plant-based burger into its menu. In fact, White Castle did it already; The Impossible Slider was introduced as a permanent menu item last fall. In addition, Red Robin will also begin serving the Impossible Burger this month in locations all across the country.

The Impossible Whopper, however, is a big deal. Why? The Whopper has been around since 1957. Any modification to a long-standing menu item like that is going to get some attention—especially now that it can be enjoyed by those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet as well.

Burger King has high hopes for this new plant-based burger, too. Chris Finazzo, the president of Burger King North America, told CNN Business that, with this test, the restaurant chain hopes to “give somebody who wants to eat a burger every day, but doesn’t necessarily want to eat beef every day, permission to come into the restaurants more frequently.”

A more plant-friendly menu is currently a trend amid other major fast food restaurant chains, too. Taco Bell, for example, is in the midst of dabbling with a vegetarian menu.

Let’s talk about nutrition. How will the Impossible Whopper differ, nutritionally, from the traditional Whopper?

All we know right now is that the burger will pack 12 grams of fat and 17 grams of protein. For comparison, the classic Whopper sandwich has a whopping 40 grams of fat and 28 grams of protein. Evidently, the two versions of the Whopper are nearly identical in taste, too, fooling even those who proclaim to be able to taste the difference in beef in a heartbeat.

We have a good feeling that this plant-based burger will continue to take the U.S. by storm and land a permanent spot on Burger King’s menu, and we hope this meat-free alternative becomes available nationwide very soon for all to try for themselves!

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

The post Burger King Is Testing an Impossible Whopper—Here’s Where You Can Get It appeared first on Eat This Not That.

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Sometimes, there is nothing you crave more than a warm, gooey sandwich paired with a piping hot bowl of soup. Our sandwich of choice? Grilled cheese. Why? It’s extremely easy to make. Fool-proof, if you will. You don’t have to be a chef to whip up a stellar cheese and bread sandwich, and yet, with that being said, you may have been preparing grilled cheese wrong your entire life. Apparently, the secret ingredient to a better grilled cheese is actually…mayonnaise.

Um, what? Excuse me? Say it isn’t so!

Yes, the popular, all-too-familiar ingredient that will give you the perfect crisp to your grilled cheese is mayo. We recently discovered that this one simple ingredient amplifies the taste of your sandwich without completely burning it. Have you ever made a soggy grilled cheese that became a big square of mush before you even got to enjoy it? Or, even worse, have you ever burnt your grilled cheese into oblivion? Yeah, we’ve all been there.

Apparently, this trend was popularized by NYC-based chef Gabrielle Hamilton, thanks to her recipe for grilled cheese that swapped mayo in for butter. But not enough people seem to know about it, which is why we consulted the head chef of HelloFreshClaudia Sidoti, to get the lowdown on why mayo makes for a better substitute than butter.

“Butter helps to make sandwiches that are evenly browned, and mayonnaise produces crispy sandwiches,” says Sidoti.

Interestingly enough, mayo has a higher smoke point than butter does, which means it won’t burn as easily on high heat. Further, you’ll be able to achieve that crispy texture faster and without completely drying out the bread. How many times have you left your grilled cheese on the skillet for what seemed like a half an hour to get that perfect crisp? The bread likely became less palatable from the drawn-out exposure to heat. Avoid that with a swath of mayo on each slice instead. If you don’t want to give up your beloved butter completely, try spreading mayo on the outside of the bread and butter on the inside for the best of both worlds.

Ready to give this grilled cheese hack a try? We’ve picked out three potential contenders for you.

1

Sir Kensington’s Organic Mayonnaise

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We already determined that this brand of mayo is the best in a taste test of five different kinds, so, of course, we had to bring it up again when it comes to perfectly your grilled cheese skills. Sir Kensington’s Organic Mayonnaise is made of heart-healthy avocado oil, which is better for you than traditional kinds made from soybean or vegetable oil. This brand also integrates free-range eggs into its recipe. Talk about a health-conscious spread!

2

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise With Olive Oil

Hellman's olive oil mayo

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Hellmann’s also makes a killer non-traditional mayo made with olive oil. This spread will undoubtedly take your grilled cheese sandwich to the next level with its irresistible, subtle flavor. Bon appetit!

3

Just Sriracha Mayo

JUST sriracha mayo

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A little bit of hot sauce never hurt anyone, right? Just Mayo enhances its health-focused mayo with a dash of sriracha sauce. Warning: you may never use basic mayo again after trying this variety, and it’ll give your grilled cheese a kick of spice you’ll love to bite into.

And there you have it! Now stop making that sad and soggy grilled cheese and start making one that’s so crispy, you can hear it literally crunch as you bite into it.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

The post The One Ingredient Your Grilled Cheese Is Missing appeared first on Eat This Not That.

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