Posts Tagged ‘food additives’

Inconvenience Foods

April 24, 2013

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Several people I follow on Facebook have taken to posting recipes culled from various cooking sites on their walls. They are quite popular, and are often met with “likes” and comments about how delicious they are.

As someone who writes about food, I look at these recipes with great interest. And each time, I am appalled.

Most of these delicacies are made with mixes, and contain tons of fat, sugar and “white stuff.”  A cake recipe features yellow cake mix, eggs, lemon Jell-O, vegetable oil and 7-UP (yes, the soft drink!). It is iced with sugar and orange juice.

While I am no stranger to treats, and bake often, it is my philosophy that the best possible ingredients should be used, and the end result should be well worth the dietary splurge.

Calorie for calorie, I am sure that my baked goods would weigh in at a similar or even greater amount. This isn’t about fat content or grams of sugar. My issue is with the chemicals and unnecessary additives in the Jell-O, soda and cake mix.

“Holy Cow Cake” contains a jar of caramel topping, cream cheese, a can of sweetened condensed milk and Cool Whip blended with a chocolate cake mix. Holy Cow, indeed!

The fresh strawberry cake does in fact feature the real deal, and the website talks about the joys of going strawberry picking (fresh and local= good). Yet those freshly picked berries are beaten into submission by a meat tenderizer, and overcome by Jell-O and cake mix again.

Honestly, I didn’t think people used this stuff anymore. I really, truly believed that people fell into two distinct camps: those who baked, and those who frequented bakeries. I am shocked that someone would take the time to prepare things like this, under the guise of homemade.

There are savory dishes here as well, such as a recently posted soup recipe that features bacon, whipping cream, potatoes, cheese and bouillon cubes. Bouillon cubes! Those tiny blocks of flavor are made of salt, sugar, MSG, hydrogenated palm Olien, and Disodium Inosinate among the long list of ingredients. I don’t use any of those things in my homemade stock, which is much richer and more flavorful than rehydrated chemicals will ever be. But I also don’t add bacon, whipped cream and cheese to my soups either.

While we blame much of the obesity epidemic and its related diseases on fast food, this “semi-homemade” movement is often worse. Basing our meals around premade, processed and preservative ridden mixes is creating dishes that are worse for us than a fast food burger. I can’t help but think that many people have no idea how much less healthy these foods are even as compared to the “real” versions of the same thing.

Why does dry cake mix need to have well over a dozen unpronounceable ingredients in it? Most of the dry components of a cake are flour, sugar, a small amount of salt and some type of leavening, such as baking soda or baking powder. All of these are shelf stable, without the need for additional preservatives. For most basic mixes, you need to add water, oil and eggs. For most basic recipes from “scratch” you need to add butter, and eggs. I can’t even begin to imagine how a mix is easier, or why anyone would want to eat all those chemical additives.

I don’t mean to offend anyone’s palette, or to get all judge-y about anyone’s dietary preferences. If you want to indulge, go for it. But in using manufactured ingredients instead of fresh ones, we are harming our bodies and subjecting ourselves to exposure to unsafe food additives, without any good reason to do so.

Next time you long to make a special cake, or a hearty casserole,consider not only the nutritional value of the dish itself, but also the unnecessary additions and additives you are using as well.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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(Easter) Basket Case

March 29, 2013

CHOCOLATS DE PAQUES

It’s Easter, and inevitably, there will be candy. Here are a few “fun” facts to help you decide if it’s really worth it to indulge:

The Chocolate Bunny:

Your average run of the mill drug store bunny is considered 3 servings. Eat the whole thing for a calorie total of almost 700. Add in 66 grams of fat, and almost 70 grams of sugar. It’s filled with high fructose corn syrup, and other additives. If you are going to go the chocolate route, go for rich dark chocolate. It’s heart healthy and so much more satisfying than a waxy tasting chocolate rabbit.

Jelly Beans:

These little nibbles are fat free, but contain 34 grams of sugar. Don’t even think about what created all those attractive colors. ( if you really want to know, click HERE) That lustrous sheen comes from the secretions of female lac bugs, and is very much the same product used to shellac wood. Yum!

Peeps:
Five of these little chicks will cost you about 140 calories. They are fat free, but contain 34 grams of sugar per serving. They have absolutely no nutritional value, and contain sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, yellow dye and carnauba wax, which is commonly used on cars.  The gelatin that gives them their spongy texture, is made of animal skin, bones, hoofs, cartilage and intestines. Many people prefer them when they are stale. Sorry, but that just doesn’t seem appealing to me.

Dove White Chocolate Mini Eggs:

Um, chocolate isn’t white. This confection is made from cocoa butter, powdered milk and sugar, if you’re lucky. The less expensive versions trade the cocoa butter for vegetable oil. There is absolutely no chocolate in white chocolate. These faux -chocolate tidbits pack about 24 grams of sugar and 24 grams of fat. If you love it, go ahead and enjoy it. Just don’t pretend it’s really chocolate.

Cadbury Cream Eggs:

Each one packs 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 20 grams of sugar, and Castoreum, which is excreted by beaver’s anal glands. And admit it, you aren’t only going to eat one, are you?

Indulgence is fine, as long as it is worth the splurge. In my opinion, these Easter treats are not it for me. I’d rather have something else.

For children, consider making a basket containing real eggs, dyed with natural food colorings, and baby carrots to share with a cute little stuffed bunny.

Happy Easter!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Food Additive Blues

January 18, 2013

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Food additives are giving us the blues, and it could pose major health risks.

A recent study of blue dyes revealed that the chemicals in them are potentially harmful.

Patent Blue has been banned from foodstuffs in the United States, but Brilliant Blue is popularly used in both food products and cosmetics.

Brilliant Blue is also known as FD&C #1, and is thought to seep into the bloodstream either by ingestion, or through the skin, and cause gastrointestinal issues. There are also concerns that it could cause ADHD, asthma and allergic reactions.

The exposure is higher when the skin is vulnerable due to irritation from shaving, or when placed directly on the tongue.
To protect yourself from the dangers of dyes, steer clear of blue colored candies, especially lollipops and other “sucking candies” that sit on the mucus membranes in the mouth. Also avoid cleansers, toners, mouthwash and makeup that contain blue dyes.

photo:Glasshouse Images


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