Can anyone tell me what to look for when purchasing snacks in terms of meats? I'm going to head to Trader Joe's soon, and hoping they have something I can take back to work with me... Can you eat pepperoni? What should I look for when buying pepperoni or jerky? Any ideas?
At TJ's or anywhere else, I buy meat snacks that only have ingredients I have sitting on my counter, such as salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, turmeric. The fewer listed the better.
Definitely lean more towards jerky than pepperoni as the latter has a bunch of weird stuff in it. Jerky should generally be just meat and spices (read: not slim jims). Avoid "teriyaki" and other flavors that have a bunch of sweeteners (sweeteners generally = HFCS/sugar).
As much as I love eating lots of Jerky it is definitely on the expensive side. Also it gets stuck in my teeth and takes longer to floss out than other options. A great meat snack is just plain cold cuts from the deli counter. Buy a half pound of roast beef and some turkey and leave the packages in the fridge at work. When you need a meat snack head over and have a few roast beef or turkey roll ups. Natural, delicious, and sans preservative.
Also, in the interest of not seeming to myself to be too hypocritical I will say that I love pepperoni, salami, soppresatta, and basically all cured sausages and meats. They may not be super paleo, but dammit they are delicious. I say indulge if you want. Protein = good, fat = good. Preservatives aren't good but I think they're worth it.
Unfortunately, store-bought jerky is pretty much 100% NOT paleo -- and I'm not even taking the conventional v. grassfed meat issue.
Store bought jerky is nearly guaranteed to have both wheat, soy, and chemical preservatives in it. It's also very likely to have HFCS, if it's a sweet type. No thanks.
As a jerky-purist (jerkist?), I can say that jerky is traditionally prepared w/o thoroughly cooking the meat. It is simply dried fully to remove all moisture. All store bought jerky is cooked, re-moistened, and then has preservatives added so the moisture doesn't spoil the meat. Yeah, no thanks.
But don't fret! Making your own jerky can be easy, and is definitely rewarding. You don't need (although I prefer) a dehydrator -- you can use an oven at low temperature. And ground-meat jerky is probably the cheapest way to get your jerky fix -- and is 100x better than something like a "slim jim". Non-ground / traditional cut jerky is easy to make at home too -- but having a meat slicer is really key, in my humble opinion. If you like what you've made, definitely consider getting a good dehydrator.
I don't mean to rain on your parade -- some jerky from the store is WAY better than a bag of cookies. If you chose to eat it, consider it a good first step towards eating better.