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Tag: trans fats

Stocking the Back-to-School Pantry

This is a guest post by Cindy Santa Ana, CHC. Know of a food blogger, nutrition guru, farmer or passionate storyteller who may be interested? Contact us or provide details in your comment.

As summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to be packing in those lunch boxes, snack bags, and what you’ll be feeding the kiddos when they come bounding off the bus. First and foremost is to feed them a nutritious, protein-packed breakfast to start their day. And, no, a Pop-Tart doesn’t count. Those tasty pastries are essentially a giant candy bar filled with sugar, HFCS, trans fats, artificial colors and sodium. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them growing up, but the over 50 ingredients inside can lead to a myriad of health problems down the road and a sugar crash before they even finish first period.

A great start to the day could include a scrambled egg with whole grain toast, whole grain waffle with peanut butter, oatmeal with berries, or a protein smoothie (blend berries, whey protein powder, nut butter, spinach, yogurt, milk or milk alternative).

There are many prepackaged options out there for lunches, but be careful of dangerous preservatives, trans fats, excessive amounts of sodium and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that are often laden in those foods. The worst offenders are Lunchables, 100-calorie snacks, packages of chips, cheez-its and juice boxes. The winner for worst offender is the Uncrustable sandwich. It contains 38 ridiculous ingredients (5 of which are sugar and more than a dozen are chemicals) like HFCS, trans fats, sorbates, sulfates, and phosphates. A simple PB & jelly takes 1 minute to make – please make them from scratch. I’m disgusted that my children’s school offers these as alternatives to a hot lunch.

So, here’s my shopping list for the Back-to-School Pantry:

  • Lots of whole fruits – bananas, organic apples, organic peaches, pears, watermelon slices, organic grapes, organic berries or melon balls/cubes, orange slices, small boxes of organic raisins. Make a fun fruit kebab! Whole fruits provide fiber, potassium, antioxidants and tons of vitamins that they need for fuel during the day. (I suggest the organic option of those fruits listed on the Dirty Dozen). Remember to shop/eat seasonally – some of these fruits won’t be available this fall and winter.
  • Trail mix – make your own with raw, unsalted nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped pitted dates, small amount of chocolate chips & dried apricots. (NO M&M’s!!)
  • Wraps – I like whole grain options to wrap up turkey slices, PB& jelly, cream cheese and veggies, chicken salad, tuna salad
  • Whole grain English muffins (make mini-pizzas or slather w/ PB & jelly)
  • Organic string cheese
  • Newman’s Own High Protein Pretzels
  • Gluten-free? Buy large lettuce leafs and wrap over creamy chicken salad, tuna salad with lots of crunchy pickles, turkey slices (not deli meat)
  • Make extra for dinner. Leftovers make for a great school lunch. Pack hot items in stainless steel or a thermos to retain their heat. My kids’ faves are homemade chicken strips, leftover quinoa spaghetti and ravioli.
  • Unsweetened organic apple sauce
  • Plain organic yogurt – place in a blender with berries, kale, nut or sunflower butter, process and freeze in a flexible popsicle mold
  • Organic ham and cheese roll ups
  • Veggies – sliced cucumbers with hummus, organic celery with nut butter and raisins, carrots with hummus or homemade ranch dip, red & yellow pepper slices with hummus or dip, kale chips
  • Whole grain crackers, like Triscuits or Multi-Seed (Goldfish don’t make the cut)
  • Brown rice cakes, real popcorn (not microwaved in a chemical-filled bag)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Roasted chickpeas with honey & cinnamon
  • Whole grain waffles (great for after school snacks topped with PB)
  • Reusable bottle of ice cold water – no sugary juice needed

It’s important that lunch contain a protein item, a whole grain carb option, fruit and lots of water. Kids don’t need a sugary treat or cookie for lunch. Between all the treats and birthday parties at school, they get enough sugar! They need a highly nutritious meal that can carry them through the rest of the day for optimal learning.

Some of my favorite containers:

Top photo by o5com via Flickr


About the author:
Cindy Santa Ana, CHC

Cindy Santa Ana is a Certified Health Coach dedicated to helping clients discover the healing properties of real food. Successfully healing her own allergies, high cholesterol and migraines with health-promoting foods and exercise was the catalyst that transformed Cindy’s life, health and profession, and she is passionate about sharing this information with others. www.UnlockBetterHealth.com




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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:
Continue reading…

The check arrived after a decent Chinese dinner of Egg Foo Young and Stir Fry Vegetables. As is customary these days, the paper check was buried under a pile of individually wrapped fortune cookies.  My 3-year old’s eyes greatly enlarged as she realized the noisy packages were filled with dessert. I let her select her cookie and explained why there was an itty bitty piece of paper inside. This was my fortune:

You will take a chance in something in the near future.
Daily Numbers 0, 3, 9.  Lotto Six #’s 22, 43, 11, 13, 4, 27

As I crumbled up the wrapper, I noticed that the ingredients were listed in small red lettering.

INGREDIENTS: Flour, Sugar, Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening, Margarine, Corn Starch, FD&C Yellow 5 & 6, FD&C Red #40, Citric Acid and Preserved with Sodium Benzoate.

I know it’s dessert, but this cookie barely has one redeeming ingredient to it’s name. It’s really just refined white flour mixed with sugar, trans fats, colors and preservatives. It’s funny to me that they have to add 3 different types of artificial colorings to achieve that “baked brown” look. I wonder what color the cookie would be without it.

My fortune is quite amusing and accurate. I’m taking a chance with my health just by eating the cookie! In fairness, one fortune cookie is not going to kill you, but understand you’re eating crap, even if it does come in a decorative package with lotto number suggestions.

Image: Ksayer1 via Flickr

Dina (left) & Robyn (right) in San Francisco

It was a bright, yet breezy day on the Embarcadero pier in San Francisco on Thursday. I was still buzzing from meeting food activist, Robyn O’Brien a few minutes earlier and knew I was in for a treat. The setting was the patio of The Plant Cafe, an organic restaurant which overlooks the sparkling water. It was an intimate group of food bloggers at a luncheon sponsored by Stonyfield. The mood was lively and inquisitive, and as we all took our seats, featured speaker Robyn O’Brien stood up to tell her story. To find out how she was transformed from an everyday American mom into “the Erin Brochovich of the food movement,” watch her story in this TEDx Austin video. My blog post today attempts to recapture to essence of Robyn’s message through a series of her quotes.
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Have you ever sat down and watched a half hour of children’s programming? How many ads do you see marketed specifically towards children? Between Ronald McDonald, the Keebler Elves, Captain Crunch and Tony the Tiger, there is no shortage of cartoon mascots tantalizing our children with visions of sugary and colorful delights.

According to a newly formed inter-agency Working Group (FTC, FDA, CDC, USDA), the food industry spends more than $1.6 BILLION each year to promote junk foods to our kids (foods high in calories, low in nutrition). They find every possible way to reach your kids using TV, the internet, video games, social media, movies, and even marketing in schools. Here is a shocking statistic:

Cookies and cakes, pizza, and soda/energy/sports drinks are the top sources of calories in the diets of children 2 through 18. Chips and french fries comprise half of all the vegetables kids eat.

Since when are french fries and chips vegetables? It’s no wonder that one in three children will be overweight or obese putting them at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other diseases.

Yesterday, this Working Group released a set of proposed principles for the food industry to use when marketing food to children. The proposal is designed to “encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet; and contain limited amounts of nutrients that have a negative impact on health or weight…”

Overview of the Proposal:

The basic premise is our government is trying to get the food industry to market healthy foods to kids instead of junk food.

  • Applies to children ages 2-11 and adolescents 12-17
  • Defines what  “food marketing targeted to children” means
  • Sets separate guidelines for individual foods, main dishes and meals.
  • Gives the food industry 5 years to be in compliance with guidelines (by 2016)
    Continue reading…

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Unhealthy additives find our way into almost every imaginable food. Last week, my husband purchased this spice jar of garlic powder for a recipe without looking at the ingredient list (you’d think I’d have him trained better considering he lives with me!). I happened to take a peek and this is what I saw:

Lawry’s Garlic Powder, Coarse Ground with Parsley

INGREDIENTS: GARLIC, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN), PARSLEY.

So they’ve basically taken something as simple as powdered garlic and added unnecessary and harmful trans fats. Remember, ingredients are listed in order of weight, so this means there is more hydrogenated oil in this jar than parsley. Not quite what I had in mind for dinner.

Moral of this story? Never assume something simple will be free from additives and preservatives. There are many other brands which only contain garlic and parsley, so read the label and shop smart!

Back Label

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will require nutritional labeling of raw meats and poultry beginning January 1, 2012. Here is an overview of the types of meats covered and exemptions:

Major cuts: This final rule requires nutrition labeling of the major cuts of single-ingredient, raw meat and poultry products that are not ground or chopped, except for certain exemptions (see below). For these products, the final rule requires that nutrition information be provided on the label or at point-of-purchase, unless an exemption applies.

Ground or Chopped Products: This final rule requires that nutrition labels be provided for all ground or chopped products (livestock or poultry) and hamburger, with or without added seasonings, unless an exemption applies
Continue reading…