If you had trouble pronouncing the last word in the title of this article, you are not alone. It’s quite the tongue twister. In fact, it sounds like the name of an industrial chemical used in the plastics and rubber industry. Oh wait, it is. So why do I care about it? Because the same chemical is also used in the baking industry for things like hamburger buns and bread.
Commercial bakeries use azodicarbonamide to bleach the flour, making it whiter. In addition, this additive changes the structure of the dough, strengthening it and adding elasticity. Apparently, these are desired traits for Big Food companies like Subway, Sara Lee, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Starbucks. This issue with this chemical is whether or not it’s actually safe to consume. The US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) classifies this additive as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and allows it in baked goods and flour up to the limit of 45 part per million. Sounds like a miniscule amount; but then again, if this additive might cause respiratory issues and possibly even be a carcinogen, should there really be ANY of it in my food? The European Union, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand all think this food additive is not worth the risk and have banned it’s use as a bleaching agent.
Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe, did a little investigation and found that Subway uses the additive in at least eight of their popular sandwich breads including: 9-Grain Wheat, 9-Grain Honey Oat, Italian White, Italian Herbs & Cheese, Parmesan/Oregano, Roasted Garlic, Sourdough, and Monterrey Cheddar. It is interesting to note that Subway does NOT use this additive in their restaurants overseas because they can’t (because they’re banned!). This really got under the Food Babe’s skin, but what really pushed her over the edge was when the First Lady, the American Heart Association and several Olympic athletes began touting Subway as “fresh” and “nutritious” meals. After repeated requests for a response, she decided to launch a full-scale petition to get Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
We give kudos to the Food Babe for launching this campaign and for pointing out the hypocrisy of Subway having two versions of the same breads (the crappy one from all us Americans and the “clean” version for those abroad). Click here to sign the petition and ask Subway to remove azodicarbonamide from their breads.
Unless you’ve been living far away from civilization, you’ve probably noticed a trend of folks avoiding grains or more specifically, gluten. While we can debate the merits or harmful effects of gluten/grain consumption, one thing is certain, there are those that simply can’t eat gluten. Who are these people? Well, two of them are my friends; a mother and daughter, who for years suffered from unexplained stomach, digestive, and other “IBS” systems. Last year, they were finally tested and and low and behold, were diagnosed with celiac disease. For those of you who may not be aware, here is what celiac disease is:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten…Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer.
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
Um, I don’t know about you, but the thought of a bagel causing my body to “punch itself” sounds downright miserable. My friend on the other hand, is feeling better than she has in years. Even though it is difficult finding her way through living a life and raising her daughter without gluten (aka pasta, beer, bread, pastries, cookies, cake and essentially every other addictively delicious carb), finding an explanation for all her intestinal issues is such a relief. Note that people with celiac cannot tolerate any gluten. Even a few crumbs can have an effect and trigger an internal attack.
I have a family member who is also gluten-free. He doesn’t have celiac disease, but notices a marked difference when he eats gluten and when he doesn’t. He’s always been prone to having nose-bleeds and won’t have one for months, accidentally eats some gluten and voila, his nose starts dripping. He has chosen to skip the gluten completely and since he visits regularly, I’ve gotten used to checking packaging for hidden gluten.
Apparently, I’m not there quite yet. We needed some more garlic salt and picked up this jar at Whole Foods. It is their store brand, 365. On the label is says “Garlic Salt,” which to me, should be mean garlic and salt. One would think it would be so simple (remember my Lawry’s Garlic Powder post awhile back? What is it with this seasoning!). Here is the actual ingredient list on the Whole Foods 365 Garlic Salt jar:
Ingredients: sea salt, garlic, breadcrumbs (unbleached wheat flour, calcium carbonate, salt, leavening [ammonium bicarbonate]), onion, silicon dioxide (to prevent caking), parsley.
Sea salt – check. Garlic – check. Breadcrumbs – check…wait, what the heck? Why oh why would there be breadcrumbs in garlic salt? The only reason I can think of is it is cheap. It’s a filler, one that makes this 6oz jar look like a great value. Except, I’m not really getting garlic salt, it’s more like I’m buying ground-up garlic bread. While it irks me that I’m getting bread in my seasoning, it makes me more annoyed that people like my brother and especially people like my dear friend and her daughter, could be eating gluten without realizing it due to sneaky practices like this. The Whole Foods garlic salt is only one example of hundreds of “hidden” gluten sources in packaged foods. This reminds me yet again, that the only true way to know what you are eating is to make it from scratch, grow it from seed, and only buy from farmers/vendors/sources you trust and always, always read the label.
Quick Tip: Buy plain garlic powder (be sure to check the label!) and mix in your own sea salt to make basic garlic salt.
On Easter Sunday, I went to visit my friend Meg. We had a morning photo shoot to help promote her new show ‘Garden Wise’. Afterwards we had lunch together, which she made from scratch: fresh focaccia bread and salad from her garden. She had prepared the dough ahead of time so all she had to do was roll it out. We worked on the toppings together and she popped it in the oven (great idea for a party or to do with kids). The smell of bread baking filled the house, and I couldn’t wait to try it. She pulled the focaccia out of the oven, steaming hot and golden brown. We enjoyed it in the garden under the blossoms of the orange tree, truly a delicious meal. The taste of the warm, fresh bread dipped in olive oil was fantastic! The olives, rosemary, and garlic were a great combination. It occurred to me that maybe my life could be just a little bit better if I made my own bread. Here is the recipe if you want to give it a try for yourself…
Thanks to the world of Twitter, I bring you a cool video from SunsetMagazine.com. In 3 minutes and 9 seconds you will: see an awesome below-counter fridge, wish you were French so you could appear as effortlessly eco-chic as the woman in the video, and perhaps feel a tad bit crappy for not doing more. Do you have a fantastic tip for reducing waste in your kitchen? Please share!
Thanks @LisaBraithwaite for tweeting!
This is Part 2 of a three-part series on The Paleo Diet. Click here to read Part 1.
Day 1 of our 30-day Paleo challenge is about to begin…and we have no idea what we’re in store for. What did this mean though, what were we actually allowed to and not allowed to consume? Here’s what we could eat: lean meat, fish, chicken, nuts and seeds (except cashews), vegetables (except legumes), and fruit. We could season our food with spices and that was it.