What is the best practice for having an encrypted connection while connected to Tor?
all connections to and through Tor-network are encrypted! the only critical leg is the way from the exit node (the point where your data leaves the Tor-network) to the destination...
simply make sure to use a SSL/TLS-encrypted connection (for webpages via https) to the destination.
further reading at the section "Use HTTPS versions of websites".
[...] articles stating the best practice for connecting to Tor is through a VPN
NO, it is not! - they are either not knowing what they are talking about or want to sell you something. either way, hands off!!!
[...] exit nodes can still watch your traffic unencrypted.
not necessarily, it depends! - as already stated: use encrypted protocols and you are fine.
here is a nice interactive website to find out who knows what, depending on the setup: https://www.eff.org/pages/tor-and-https
Also, if the VPN provider is logging traffic, then using a VPN won't be too much different from just using your ISP.
exactly! it is just an other (resp. another) man in the middle.
So my question would to be what is the best method of ensuring my Mac is getting full anonymity while safely connecting to Tor.
a VPN can only help to hide from your ISP the fact that you are using Tor; BUT i don't advise this setup, because a VPN can counteract the Tor-usage and harm resp. destroy your privacy/anonymity elsewhere.
if you want to hide the fact that you are using Tor or unable to connect because of censorship use bridges instead!
once more back to the VPN-topic in general:
a VPN has nothing to do with anonymity! - it just encrypts your traffic from your device to the VPN-server (which is just another man-in-the-middle); and from there it is redirected "unencrypted" (resp. as much/little encrypted as it were without a VPN) to the destination. - therefore it may only be an improvement, if you strongly distrust your ISP, hotspot, etc. (but then you still have to trust the VPN-provider!).
additional some important things regarding Tor and VPN: Is Tor like a VPN?