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Archive for 'Ingredients'

When I saw the advertisement for Jack in the Box’s Bacon Shake, I had to know what was really inside. Do they actually blend up bacon and ice cream?  As with the 21 ingredients in McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, I’m finding a trend with fast food menus. They give you a simple description of what’s in the product, but don’t actually tell you the ingredient list without some serious digging. Case in point. When you look up the Bacon Shake, here is what you see:

Bacon Shake
Made with real vanilla ice cream, bacon flavored syrup, whipped topping and a maraschino cherry.

While the descriptions sounds fairly simple and straight forward, there are some early warning signs. First, is the “bacon flavored” bit. If it really contained bacon, it would tell you so. Second is the “whipped topping.”  This is not to be confused with whipped cream as they are entirely two different things. Third, we’re all aware that no cherry is that candy-red in nature, so be assured you’re about to consume some red dye.

Here is the full ingredient list for the Jack in the Box Bacon Shake…all 48 of them:
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So what’s the big deal if the majority of our food contains soy? Well, if you’re like Kathy Kottaras’ daughter M, it may mean yet another ear infection and up to six months of antibiotics. Why? Both M and her dad, Matthew Frey, have soy allergies.

Matthew and M struggled with constant illness. For Matthew it was digestive problems and for M it was sinus infections, ear aches and congestion. Matthew’s visits to the doctor always led to more antibiotics and it was only after an elimination diet that he finally figured out he was allergic to soy. I chatted with Kathy Kottaras of Subtract Soy Now to understand what’s going on with soy in our foods, why it’s problematic, and why she’s fighting to get soy out of America’s most popular cookies.
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Are you hosting a Superbowl party? Need a kick-ass recipe to impress your guests?

Try this food-allergy friendly recipe for Slow-Cooked BBQ Chicken Thighs.

Last week we interviewed Kathy Kottaras of Subtract Soy Now (article coming tomorrow) and she shared this recipe with us. Not only is it a fabulous recipe, it’s also free from common allergens making it an excellent entree for friends with food sensitivities. Kathy explains how she came up with the recipe:

Why soy-free? Because my husband and daughter are both allergic to soy (it’s a top eight allergen), and because most BBQ recipes call for Worcestershire, which contains soy, AND most bottled sauces contain soy. I had to figure out something. The chipotle adds the smoke flavor but leaves out the soy. And family can eat BBQ again! Hallelujah!

 

Slow-Cooked BBQ Chicken Thighs (Food-Allergy Friendly Recipe)

Serves 6-8
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I like condiments. Sauces, dips, drizzles and sprinkles. Having the right agent for the right dish. Mushroom risotto is just that much more superb with a sprinkling of freshly grated Aged Parmesan. Toasted sourdough bread practically begs for a luscious and moisturizing spread of mayo. Given my affection for accoutrements (one of my favorite words as long as it’s pronounced with a French accent and optional grandiose hand gesture), it shouldn’t really come as surprise that I might have tempura sauce for, you guessed it, tempura. What sucks, though, is when you look at that Kikkoman bottle that’s been in your fridge (for, dare I say…years?) and take a glance at the ingredient label:

Ingredients: naturally brewed soy sauce (water, soybeans, salt), sugar, water, salt, vinegar, bonito extract (fish), natural flavoring, monosodium glutamate, caramel color, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, succinic acid, sodium benzoate. 

I’m not even going to start a dialogue about the possible issues of soy at this juncture, but rather stick with the other goodness that blesses this dipping agent.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – This oldie but goodie just won’t go away. If you are wondering why your asthma is suddenly flaring up or what the deal is with your headache and heart palpitations, this flavor enhancer could be to blame.

Caramel Color – The type of caramel color generally used for soy sauce type products is prepared with heat and ammonium compounds (Caramel III). In February 2011 the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA to bar the use of caramel colorings produced with ammonia  due to the formation of two known carcinogens (2-Methylimidazole & 4-Methylimidazole). Great, now my “sauce” is going to give me cancer. At a minimum,  caramel coloring produced with ammonia needs to be labeled differently so consumers will know which type of caramel coloring was used.

Sodium Benzoate – This extremely popular preservative may also exacerbate asthma and in animal studies there are reports of liver and kidney issues. It has also been linked to hyperactivity.

Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate – On their own, these two additives are somewhat benign. They are not doing you any favors, but probably not going to kill you. However, I bring them up because they are virtually exclusively used in conjunction with MSG. If you see these two culprits, put the object back on the shelf and walk away.

Clearly this tempura dipping sauce is not something any self-respecting, co-founder of a food additive database website should have anywhere near her fridge. Yet, it was. I consider myself on notice. Check your refrigerators, especially those condiment containers that seem to last forever) and pantries for gems like these. Then, take great pride in chucking them. This is 2012 my friends and it is time to make the commitment to ditching the pseudo food.

It was a very overcast and chilly day. While wrapped in several layers of clothing, I was ill-prepared for the bite of wind at sea. For the first two and half hours I was fine. It was magical actually. Seeing dolphins racing alongside the boat, calf tucked protectively under mama’s fin, amazing. I hardly noticed the ocean spray against my cheeks as I peered down into the water with all the excitement of child. We had been told ahead of time that we there was a chance we may not see whales. We were prepared, and quite frankly, convinced that there would be no sightings.
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This week we’re doing a deep dive on the very popular, Greek-style yogurt. The first post, Greek-style yogurt 101,  was dedicated to explaining what Greek-style yogurt is, why it’s different than regular yogurt, and how to make it at home. The second post was all about what to look for at the grocery store including fat (we’re pro-fat around here), flavors, and additives. Today, is all about the brands. We took 9 popular brands and compared everything from price to additives. The one thing missing? Taste! We want to see what our readers think:

 

 

The Results

The brands below are listed in order from best to worst. We looked at the following information to rank the yogurt:

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Is your breakfast cereal “natural” or “organic?” Think there is not much difference between the two? You’re not alone. Fancy marketing campaigns specifically designed to trick consumers into believing that these two terms essentially mean the same thing are in play every time you see a cereal box. But the true difference between “natural” and “organic” is huge and one organization took up the challenge of exposing this practice.

A just-released report from The Cornucopia Institute found many breakfast cereals bearing the label “natural” to be loaded with pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and ingredients processed with unnatural chemicals.  To be clear, the report was not looking at cereals such as Lucky Charms or Pops, but rather brands like Kashi, Barbara’s and Annie’s Homegrown; cereals and granola which are specifically marketed as health-conscious and “natural.” In Cereal Crimes: How “Natural” Claims Deceive Consumers and Undermine the Organic Label—A Look Down the Cereal and Granola Aisle, the analysis looked at over 45 “natural” cereal brands to determine how natural they really were. They also tested the products for the presence of GMOs. The results of the GMO tests were especially surprising. Even several brands enrolled in the Non-GMO Project contained genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
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