Misleading Food Product Roundup II: Don’t Be Fooled

Today I am once again posting a “roundup” of the misleading food products I frequently share on Facebook…just in case you missed some of these or need a friendly reminder (or simply don’t use Facebook). Please don’t let the food industry fool you with these products!

First though, if you are trying to make the switch to real food then you’ll definitely want to know about our sponsor, Tribe Wellness. They provide virtual one-on-one “real food” consultations that can be customized to your family’s specific needs (budget, food allergies, etc.). And they are currently offering all new email subscribers a FREE “Shop Healthy Guide” that’s 9 pages full of tips on how to make healthy choices at the grocery store. Their motto at Tribe Wellness is “Eating Healthy Shouldn’t Be So Hard”, and they are so right! So if you need some extra help in figuring out how to painlessly switch your family to real food then visit their website.

GoGurt

GoGurt - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

Yogurt seems like a pretty innocent snack, right? Well, take a closer look (at the ingredient list) and you’ll see that these “Strawberry Milkshake” and “Banana Split” flavored yogurt tubes don’t actually contain any strawberries or bananas at all! The flavors come from refined sugar and artificial flavors/dyes. Did you know that artificial dyes are derived from petroleum and require a warning label in some countries stating they “have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children?”

Real Food Alternative: Why not make your own yogurt tubes by filling reusable silicone molds with homemade smoothies, plain organic yogurt (that you flavor yourself), or even applesauce? My kids love the homemade versions!

Hot Cocoa

Hot Cocoa - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

When we picked out our Christmas tree last year they had hot chocolate available for the kids. I contemplated not even reading the packet (because my daughters were of course already drinking some!), but I couldn’t help myself and this is what I saw: corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil (i.e. trans fat), artificial flavor, and a bunch of other ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce. I understand this was a convenient and cheap way for them to offer refreshments to customers, but please know making “homemade” hot chocolate is super easy as well.

Real Food Alternative:
Just combine 1/2 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa (we prefer “special dark” 100% cacao) with 1 teaspoon of pure maple syrup and stir in 3/4 cup warm milk. If you own a milk frother use that to heat the milk for an extra special treat. This tastes so much better than those packets…and it’s better for you! :)

Ritz “Whole Wheat” Crackers

Ritz "Whole Wheat" Crackers - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

This is yet another reason to always read the ingredient label instead of just relying on the claims on the front of the package. These Ritz Crackers boast they contain “Whole Wheat” when in reality they contain more white flour (i.e. unbleached enriched wheat flour) than they do WHOLE wheat flour. They also offer a nice dose of sugar, partially hydrogenated oil (i.e. trans fat), and high fructose corn syrup as well.

Real Food Alternative: Eating some whole grains is certainly better than none, but as an alternative why not consider some 100% whole-wheat organic crackers like the ones by ak-mak instead (one of our favorites). They are available at Trader Joe’s, Earth Fare, and Amazon.

Trader Joe’s Pretzels

Trader Joes Pretzels - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

Please know if a product simply says “Honey Wheat” or “Wheat” that does not automatically translate into “Whole Wheat.” Refined white flour is made from the “wheat” plant so unless you see the word “whole” listed in front it’s likely not a whole grain product. For some reason our society has nicknamed “whole wheat” products as “wheat,” but they are usually not the same thing. These Trader Joe’s pretzels look incredibly similar, but the “Honey Wheat” ones on the left contain more honey than they do whole wheat flour and the ones on the right are 100% whole-wheat. In summary, “When highly processed (a.k.a. refined) white flour is made the nutritious bran and germ are removed and only the endosperm is left, which is basically high in calories and low in nutrients.”

Real Food Alternative: The whole grain version on the right are 100% whole wheat and therefore the better choice. Would your kids even notice the difference? Now this version does also contain a small amount of corn syrup, which I agree is less than ideal, but good-quality whole-wheat pretzels are unfortunately hard to come by!

Applesauce

Motts Strawberry Flavored Applesauce - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

We celebrated one of our daughter’s birthdays at Great Wolf Lodge (indoor waterpark) this year. The water slides were awesome, but I must say…the one meal we ate at their restaurant left a lot to be desired. Once or twice a year we’ll let our daughters order off the kids menu (the rest of the time they usually split an adult entree or a plate of side items), and this was one of those rare occasions. I honestly don’t expect much from any kids menu these days, but my husband and I were both perplexed with the little applesauce container that came on the side. Since when does something as simple as applesauce need both high-fructose corn syrup and artificial red dye added for it to be appealing to kids??

Real Food Alternative: It’s actually pretty easy to find simple, suitable applesauce at the grocery store (or you can of course make it yourself). Just look for applesauce that is both organic and unsweetened with only “organic apples” – and nothing else – listed on the ingredient label.

Log Cabin All Natural Table Syrup

Log Cabin All Natural Table Syrup - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

The syrup jug looks identical to the pure maple syrup containers and in big letters it boasts “no high fructose corn syrup” on the front. But when you turn it around you see that it’s made from brown rice syrup (yet another form of refined sugar) and not REAL maple syrup. These companies know many of us are busy and in a hurry and making decisions based on the front  of the package (and in this case the shape) so you have to be very careful when making purchases! In the end “sugar is sugar,” but we do like to avoid the refined (and artificial) stuff.

Real Food Alternative: Pure organic maple syrup (we usually buy grade B), but even then…use it in moderation!

Ken’s Steakhouse Honey Mustard Dressing

Kens Steakhouse Honey Mustard Dressing - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

Leave it to the food industry to muck up something as simple as honey mustard. In this version by Ken’s they put in more refined oil (that’s likely GMO) and high fructose corn syrup than they did honey or mustard! It also contains quite a few other questionable ingredients I wouldn’t think about putting in my salad dressing at home including calcium disodium edta, xantham gum, and artificial dye (yellow #5). Why am I even surprised?

Real Food Alternative: You can easily make honey mustard at home by combining equal parts honey and mustard (and optional olive oil).

Real Mint Jelly

Polaner "Real" Mint Jelly - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

I can’t say I’ve ever had mint jelly on anything myself, but this jar caught my eye because in big letters on the front it says “Real” Mint Jelly. So I of course wondered…what’s “real” about it? And as it turns out this product is basically a bunch of sugar (in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and sugar) that contains more “Citric Acid” and “Potassium Citrate” than it does actual “Oil of Spearmint.” Plus what makes the jelly so green is of course artificial dye.

Real Food Alternative: How about just some fresh mint leaves? Or if you prefer the jelly search for homemade recipes online.

Bac-Os Bits

Bac-Os Bits - Misleading Food Products II on 100 Days of Real Food

I recently learned that Betty Crocker’s “Bac-Os” Bits are vegan (meaning no animal products or by-products). What?!?! So I of course had to look up the ingredients and this is what I found: Defatted Soy Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Salt, Sugar, Artificial and Natural Flavor, Red 40 and Other Color Added, Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (Corn, Soy, Wheat). I didn’t exactly think this product would be “real” bacon, but I would have guessed it would at least contain some sort of meat product. But no this imitation food is made with artificial ingredients, trans fat, and a some other stuff I would never cook with at home!

Real Food Alternative: Organic (and/or locally raised) bacon. Yum.

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102 thoughts on “Misleading Food Product Roundup II: Don’t Be Fooled”

  1. Can you tell me how you fill the silicon tubes with yogurt? My son is milk allergic and I want to fill these with soy yogurt and freeze them for his lunch but an wondering how to get the yogurt in the tube easily! Thanks!

  2. The fact that Baco-O bits are simultaneously terrifies and intrigues me. Not that they look, feel, or taste like bacon in any way.

  3. I love your way of making hot coco. I make it the same ay, but without maple syrup. Milk has a natural sweetness to me, so to me, unsweetened coco and milk taste better than conventional hot coco.

  4. I already make my own raw yogurt and would like to make some flavored yogurt tubes for the kids. I’m drawing a blank of what to add to them other then fruit. Do you have any other suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated. Thanks

  5. I have Xanthan Gum in my home, and according to the label it is a 100% natural plant derived ingredient. It apparently makes food thicker, so I can see why it’s necessary in something like salad dressing. But I’m not sure. What are your thoughts on this?

  6. Please check out this video if you havent already!! its a real eye opener about GMO’s. For all that care bout the food we put in our body, there is soooo much more to learn!

    GMO A Go Go!

    http://www.youtube.com

    PS thank you for your blog, I have learned alot! and making the change to all “real food”.

  7. I’ve just discovered some grocery stores are using the NuVal system of rating food for nutritional value. What do you think of this?

      1. Thank you for looking. So far I have found that the Simple Truth brand allows me to buy some items cheaper than at other stores. But only when Kroger is running a sale. Otherwise Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc is actually cheaper.

  8. I recently am trying to switch to no artificial dyes and sweetners with my kids. I noticed a link you had awhile back for the silicone tubes. I bought some and they do not work… for school lunches anyways. My kids would always have a go-cart in their lunch. So instead I started making yogurt smoothies in my Magic Bullet, and pour some in the silicone tubes to freeze, and for them to take to school. The silicone tubes ALWAYS leak! And it’s a huge mess. Those tubes work well for at home use, but not for taking to school :(

  9. Jean, this blog is not to make you feel inadequate or attack anyone for the way they eat. It is simply a place to get yourself educated, you take that education and do what you will with it. I guarantee you that every.single.person. Who follows this blog is not a perfect eater. I am a busy wife and mother too, sole proprietor of a small business and have a special needs child. I do not make alot of money, either, by the time I pay my taxes. And I most certainly do not have the time to cook and clean all day.I have always felt welcomed on this blog, and not judged. We are all different people with different circumstances. This diversity is what makes the ‘world go around’. With that being said, either this blog is for you or it isn’t. My diet is certainly not perfect, it is an ongoing learning process. Every healthy meal i can prepare for my family is one less meal of processed, unhealthy junk. Even if I only have time to cook 1 “real food” meal that day, I know I have done something good for my family.

  10. I recently stopped giving my kiddos Go-Gurt and substituted it with Chobani Champion tubes. I read the ingredient labels of both products to my husband and we just couldn’t believe the difference between the two. I really feel Chobani is a great alternative to Go-Gurt if you need something quick.

  11. I love your site and the last couple of weeks have been trying to make everything from scratch. But a couple of nights ago I went to my husband in tears because I was so stressed out. We have six kids on a school teacher’s income. I want to eat like this all the time, but it is really hard! When I make meals for 8 people everyday I already have to double all the recipes which leaves nothing to freeze. I found that I was in the kitchen for hours and hours last week. We already spend so much on food and even though they are all whole foods, I have only been able to buy a few things that are organic because of our tight budget. We don’t drink alcohol or coffee or ever eat out, and we eat very little meat, so there are very few things that we can cut out due to expense. We only have one Whole Foods store and it is about 30 minutes away. We have Sprouts which sells good produce and a lot of really pricey fancy “organic junk food”. I’m not sure that I am looking for advice or just a place to vent, but I can’t unlearn this information! I feel so good, my four year old’s constipation is gone and my husband is loving it too. I just feel trapped when it comes to the money and availability of anything local or organic. And feeding teenage boys is a lot different than feeding my tiny little girls. I totally feel what you mean when you talked about how nice it was when we were oblivious as to what we were eating. Ignorance was bliss.
    Any advice from anyone with a large family and very tight budget?

    1. One of the things I feel is most helpful is to pick the most expensive produce that you use the most and grow it yourself. For us, it is peppers and tomatoes. You can easily grow it inside or out in a small space. I would rather buy whole foods that are not organic than junk food that is organic. I also found that our local butcher has great meat at a much lower price. The owner proudly traced the source of their meats to small, humanely raised farms. Although not organic, it helps me feed whole foods. Soak your non organic berries in a vinegar water solution.

    2. Single working Mom of only 2 (or 3-exchange student) here. Dried beans are my sanity and grocery bill saver. It takes minutes to put together black beans, black eyed peas, lentils, split peas or great northerns in the crockpot. On-line there’s lots of recipes, with different spices, some only vebetarian, some with added meat. There’s also a great deal of recipes that work quickly for yellow lentils, chick peas or mung beans. I usually quick soak these per the package and then either simmer them most of the evening or overnight them in the crockpot. We eat a mainly bean based recipe at least weekly, often with brown rice sometimes with bread. Also as you become more familiar with “your” recipes you become a lots faster. Finally sometimes you can combine two meal preps. If one needs to simmer on the stove (so you need to be near) you can prep stuff to put into crockpot for the next day, so you may spend an hour but it’s for two meal instead of one.

  12. The one thing that surprised me after going sugar-free was how sweet unsweetened applesauce taste like. I could never imagine buying the regular sweetened one now…..and bacon….nothing like the real stuff. I precut my bacon in small pieces and freeze it. Cooks up in a couple minutes.

  13. Hi Lisa! I appreciate your distaste for GOgurt — that stuff makes me so mad! And it’s not just all the ‘kid’ type yogurts that are so bad — pretty much all flavored yogurt is super-sugary! Plus, since you know I’M all into the health part of it all, plain yogurt also KNOCKS the pants off any flavored yogurt in it’s healthy bacteria content! Like you could have a cup of plain yogurt once a month, or the other stuff daily, and get more healthy bacteria, and less sugar from the plain! http://fresh-you.blogspot.com/2012/07/homemade-greek-frozen-yogurt-popsicles.html

  14. With such a large number of so called “healthy” products available at your neighborhood grocery store, so many of us have decided the best way to prepare wholesome meals for yourself or your family is to cook with as many “whole” foods as possible. Many have discovered that by incorporating more plants in their diets results in many healthful benefits. If you’re interested in moving this way but aren’t real confident on how to prepare plant-based meals, you might want to check out a new course from the online cooking school, Rouxbe called Plant-Based Cooking. It focuses on cooking techniques rather than recipes. It is taught totally online and is available 24 hours a day. I think you will be impressed with how comprehensive it is. The link is below. Happy cooking!

    http://rouxbe.com/cooking-courses/plant-based-cooking-level-1/details

  15. Hi Lisa, Really love your blog. I have been eating mostly organic for 20 years. The first thing I noticed was my allergies went away. As I have gotten older I notice that regular dairy products bothered me, made some of my lymph nodes ache. (regular cheese is so much cheaper it was hard to resist – but I resist it now). I think it is wonderful you are getting the word out about whats going on with our food. Have you noticed sometimes when you read the back of canned veggies that they are a product of China. I noticed on canned mushrooms. Even name brand are from China but all of them aren’t you just have to read. There are no food standards in China and pollution is awful so I try not to buy any food from there. I am working on no GMO which is harder than you think. All your info is very helpful. I really appreciate everything you report!

  16. I love using bacon bits in our egg muffin recipe (obtained from Lisa’s recipe list), but am disturbed by the nitrates and nitrites used in most all the packaged preserved meats in the market. This blog mentions organic bacon. Does anyone know of a bacon product I can use without the harmful additives mentioned above? Thanks a bunch, and love being equipped with the facts about the foods being marketed in our country. It has changed the way I shop and how my family eats.

    1. In a pinch, we buy the Hormel Naturals Bacon. It is nitrite and nitrate free, but still not as good as organic bacon. We’ve found a local meat seller who specializes in all natural meats. They sell cured and uncured bacon. My only complaint about their uncured bacon is it isn’t thick cut! So, I have to make more to satisfy everyone’s hunger for it! :)

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi. Look for locally sourced humanely raised meat sources. You may actually be able to talk to the farmer about the meat you are buying:…http://www.eatwild.com/. Hope this helps…good luck. ~Amy

      1. Hate to burst your bubble, but the uncured bacon does contain naturally occurring nitrate in the form of celery extract. Many foods do contain nitrate naturally.

        Of all the food additives, nitrate in meats are actually there for safety. The risk for food poisoning from bacteria in cured meats is significantly higher than the risk of developing cancer from the nitrate. The nitrate is added to prevent parhogenic (bad) bacteria from growing.

  17. Anna, up above you mention that store bought crackers are better than Ritz. False. Both are GMO filled. We have switched to Annies. And they are really good.

  18. I have always taught that saying ‘Whole Wheat’ is not enough. It has to say ‘Whole Grain’. Otherwise it’s not really much better than regular white flour. (Nutrition and Fitness Degrees)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Blueberry. It is important that a label say 100% whole grain. Otherwise, you really don’t know what you are getting. ~Amy

  19. My husband has relatives that let their daughter eat Bac-Os as a snack out of a plastic baggie. I am not a “real food” person, but I would like to be one, and even though my eating habits have a lot to be desired, I was horrified to see them give this to their child. I mean, really, it doesn’t even look like food.

  20. RE the Ken’s honey mustard: Xanthum gum is simply a thickener. It isn’t horrible. However, the dyes and refined sugars should keep the dressing on the ‘poor choice’ list.

    1. Thank you for including the link to this article. I read it and the information was enlightening (and frightening!). I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more and make better, informed decisions about food for myself and my family. I realize that I know what is good for me and what is not, but wow, the food industry doesn’t make it easy to “make good choices”, like I am forever telling my kids!
      Thanks again. I shared it on my FB page with the hope that others will take the time to read it as well.

  21. First off,I started reading your blog a few months ago and I love it! Like any mother, I want to do better for my kids, as well as myself. I started with baby steps, cutting put processed foods and really reading labels. I’m often shocked by what I find in food! One of the first changes i made was with syrup. There was no maple syrup in what I had been giving my family previously. The pure maple syrup tastes so much better than the other junk. I use it in all kinds of recipes now. Thank you for all of the great information.

    1. Great Wolf Lodge Locations:
      Charlotte/Concord, NC
      Cincinnati/Mason, OH
      Grand Mound, WA
      Grapevine, TX
      Kansas City, KS
      Niagara Falls, Ontario
      Pocono Mountains, PA
      Sandusky, OH
      Traverse City, MI
      Williamsburg, VA
      Wisconsin Dells, WI

  22. i have dropped everything on this list except the Ritz they are one of my guilty treats i eat them in my soup and use them in my meatloaf. i tried a few alternatives with no luck. but i do try to eat them sparingly

    1. By no means perfect sub, but have you tried the store brand of Ritz? When we buy those type of crackers I always buy the store brand. Main reason…they usually don’t contain partially hydrog. oils. Granted we know they are not perfect but moderation is key :)

  23. To Jean’s comment on 2/21 “So tired of “experts” that want you to feel guilty about what you eat.”

    I don’t think that this is supposed to make you feel guilty, but to educate you on what is actually in the food you and others eat.

  24. We eat about 80 to 90% whole ( depends on the day / week ) and I refuse to stress out about the rest. So tired of “experts” that want you to feel guilty about what you eat. In a perfect world, I would get to stay home and bake and cook all day. In a perfect world, I would have a husband that made six figures so I could buy all the expensive organic and local ingredients. But I would rather have my life the way it is. My kids are awesome , healthy and good eaters and I love my wonderful,police officer husband who protects and helps all the rest of you for not near enough money.

    1. Jean – I’m not sure why you follow this blog if not to help you become more informed. There is no ‘expert’ on here telling you what you should do. She is providing a service for people who are busy. She’s pointing out things most people wouldn’t stop to consider. If you don’t want this stuff to be pointed out to you, don’t read the blog!

      1. It seems like Lisa’s defenders are becoming as aggressive as her detractors! By all indications, Lisa and her husband are willing to allow those with differing opinions to join the dialogue they are leading — they seem very welcoming to opposing points of view and happy to explain their way of eating and the reasoning behind it with anyone who is interested. The patience and tolerance they have shown thus far has been inspiring! Let’s work together to spread the word about the benefits of eating real food and stop alienating people who are at a different place in the journey!

  25. I began watching food labels when my oldest was born (now 5) and I am appalled at what is in our food! I try to give my children as little processed food as possible and as much organic/whole food as I can find, but I do occassionally let them eat processed things. I try to be conscious about it, but not fanatic about it. It is truly disheartening that the FDA allows all of this to be in our food. And so many people are not informed.

  26. It should be no surprise to readers/shoppers that the products contain the artificial items you highlight.

    How do people think they are store shelf stable??

    I’m shocked that people complain about these items – as you note, if you want one that lasts a day in your fridge, make your own – if you want one you can keep in your cupboard, buy these. But people need to stop acting surprised – there is a HUGE demand for these items because people don’t want to make their own. Let pople have an option!

    1. It’s a huge problem, Renata, in part because of the marketing that presents these options as healthy “natural” options when they are clearly nothing of the sort. Several people in the comments noted that they bought something on this list thinking it was healthy before checking the ingredients list.

      Someone mentioned “natural flavors” earlier.. I saw something floating around on Facebook last week about that. Google “castoreum” and “natural flavors.”

      1. I think you’re missing my point.

        My point is people need to take personal responsibility and use their minds and NOT blame marketing.

        Something may say “natural” on the pack – well we all KNOW that means different things. HOWEVER, ask yourself how it maintains a shelf life of six months and use your own mind to decide to put it in your cart or back on the rack.

        Get out of this reliance on marketing and stop acting surprised that something ooey gooey and delicious and lasting 5 months contains bad stuff.

  27. The gogurt, apple sauce, crackers and pretzels are not things we buy at our house but my daughter gets them at kindergarten for snacks. It makes me sad that people think these are ok snacks for our children.

  28. Actually gogurts are colored with vegetable juice. They still don’t contain real fruit and do have artificial flavor but they are one of the few kids yogurts not colored with food dye. Doesn’t make them real food, I just know because I read my labels and don’t buy food dye.

    1. Actually there are two types of GoGurt. The “bad” ones pictured above. And the “not quite so bad” ones that you mentioned which are called Simply Go-Gurt. I had to go back and double check my freezer because I didn’t recall buying GoGurt with artificial colors or flavors.

  29. Buy Newman’s Own Spelt Pretzels (organic). They contain only 5 ingredients, 4 grams of fiber, and NO sweetener of any kind.

    For naturally colored applesauce try Whole food’s 365 Applesauce cups with Berries (organic, no added sugar). Ingredients are just apples, berries and ascorbic acid. The addition of berries only ups the naturally occurring sugar by 1 gram when compared to their regular organic applesauce. As a bonus 365 is the cheapest organic applesauce cups I’ve found in my area. Perfect for my daughter’s school lunch.

    For hot cocoa, I like to bloom my natural (not dutched) cocoa with a little boiling water to make a thick paste before adding the milk and organic sugar. Blooming intensifies the flavor and also creates a smoother (less grainy) finished product when made on the stove top. I like Penzy’s Natural Bark Cocoa.

    Lastly, does anyone know of a SOFT whole wheat/grain cracker? Triscuits, ak-maks and brown rice crackers just don’t won’t work for a baby/toddler without molars.

    1. I give my kids Coco-Pop. If you live in the NE you can buy it in the store, but it is also available on Amazon. It is not really a cracker, more along the lines of a rice cake but very thin and basically melts in your mouth when it gets wet. Perfect for little gummers. My 7.5 month old loves them and I smear avocado on them. My middle son hated puréed food and the spoon so I smeared all the baby purées I had made for him on the Coco-Pop and that is how he leaned to eat solids. I’m now doing the same thing with baby #3 and it is going great so far. They have just a few ingredients, they are really a lot of air! My oldest likes them with hummus and avocado or dipped in plain yogurt. Google them and see what you think!

  30. My daughter is 10 months now and I make almost every thing she eats (which is a lot) but she loves yogurt and so we buy plain yogurt and add cranberries to it. I just boil fresh cranberries until they are almost pastey and freeze them in baby food jars then add to her yogurt. she is very healthy and grows fast, so I’m glad I started from the very beginning

  31. I was going to share the Log Cabin syrup with you recently. I was certaily fooled. I was half-way through the bottle and I looked at the ingredients.

  32. I have noticed that I can buy store brand applesauce from our grocery store, with no high fructose corn syrup, and with vitamin C (many other brands have none) and it costs less

  33. Right now crackers are the hardest food for us. I haven’t found a good recipe for making them and there are few brands that are totally clean. I like Triscuits (3 ingredients!) but Hubby would rather have nothing than give up Ritz.

  34. i am disappointed in Polaner. I had been buying their jellies bc they didn’t have hfcs (I thought). HFCS is made from GMO corn, it could never occur naturally.

  35. There are great things alled “Sili-squeeze” that I have been using for yogurt with my daughter (currently 17 months old). (I am not an affiliate of the “Sili” company). She will eat anything out of them, and it’s a grea way to serve baby foods, or toddler foods in a “clean” way. We also have the silicone tubes, and my 12 year old makes “yogurt popsicles” with them. They’ve gone over really well in my home.

  36. I love your site and am SO mad at myself for not getting educated on this topic sooner! I have two small girls and it sickens me to think of what I have been putting in their bodies, thinking it was “healthy.” I guess it is better late than never (I hope!). Your site is my new addiction — I learn a little more everyday (there’s lots to learn!). Thank you for this site, and for helping me feed my family the right way!
    P.S. I use my hand mixer to make milk frothy — it works great!

    1. Thank you Dot, but don’t fret because you are not alone! I fed my children total crap until they were 3 and 5 (not to mention I ate the same type of stuff until I was in my 30s) and you are right…better late than never for sure! You can actually reverse some of the Western diet-related diseases by switching to real food.

    2. Better late than never, Dot! Don’t beat yourself up – we all do the best we can. It can be hard to see past the food industry’s big marketing machine.

  37. I don’t know if this was mentioned as i didn’t read thru all the comments. This is just an FYI- traditionally mint jelly is served as a condiment with lamb. Usually we only have it if i serve leg of lamb for a special occasion. It is also easy to make, but as with all jelly made from scratch it will still be mostly sugar. However you would only use a little dab with your lamb.

  38. On the yogurt/applesauce front in our house, we will put yogurt in a sippy cup, or for both applesauce and sometimes yogurt as well, we have just stuck a straw into the bowl and let her slurp away!

  39. Wow…It’s so frustrating what they are allowed to sell as “food”. I wish the food industry would be forced to have to be honest with product labeling. Anyways, I’m thankful for blogs like yours that continue to help us pay closer attention to what we are eating.

    Thank you,
    Meg

  40. I have to say that in all the years I’ve either helped make (its a family affair, always has been) or been in charge of making jam, I’ve never used HFCS. Just lots and lots and lots of sugar.

    I’ve never made 100% mint – its always been apple mint. And it contained fresh mint leaves, water, sugar, apple juice and lemon juice. (I suspect apple juice for the pectin content, since we never used commercial pectin for anything that had apple juice in it)

    1. Courtney, a vendor at our farmer’s market sells homemade jam that all contain pectin. Is pectin necessary, or an unhealthy shortcut they are taking? Thank you.

      1. Let me clarify, and add that this is my opinion – I have no qualms about using commercial pectin. It is just about necessary in order to thicken/set jam.

        It is naturally found in fruit, generally moreso in the lesser ripe varieties. Most commercial pectin in the US is actually imported from Europe if memory serves, and since it lets jam jell up in a timely fashion, as opposed to cooking the nutrition completely out of it and adding even more sugar, I’d say its what I’d call a necessary shortcut. Even homemade, too much jam isn’t healthy (as it has a lot of sugar in it).

        The exception we always found (to needing pectin) was that when jelly was made with apple juice (and a lot of it, like 3 to 1 ratio of juice to boiling water), we didn’t need pectin. Makes sense, since my understanding of the commercial type is that it is extracted from apples.

      2. I love Pamona’s Pectin. IT is made from orange peels -definitely a processed prouct. BUT, it jells with far less sugar than Certo.

      3. I too am a Pamona’s pectin fan. I have tried making jam with no sugar in a variety of ways (apple juice and other fruits as sweeteners, as an example) but we’ve never been happy with the flavor we ended up with. The other fruits as sweeteners, significantly altered the flavor of the jam. So, I finally settled for the less sugar that Pamona’s permits.

      4. pectin is what makes it gel. Apples and apple skin contain natural pectin, that’s why you don’t need to use it in apple jams/jellies. I buy a special natural pectin. But from what I can tell most pectins are fine

  41. Great round-up! It’s crazy how much the food industry tricks people into getting unhealthy food by making them THINK that it actually IS healthy!

    I just discovered your blog while Googling some information for a nutrition class and I will be adding this post to my blog favorites this week!

    Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to more of your posts! :)

  42. This site is definitely the place to get educated about real food, but what about the rest of the folks out there? Why aren’t nutrition classes being taught at school? My son’s school recently had a Valentine fundraiser called, a Crush for a crush. Kids paid a dollar to have an orange Crush and a note given to another student. Obviously the grown-ups didn’t read the label on the can. And didn’t realize they were violating their own Wellness Policy. Sheesh… Maybe we should lobby for the label being placed on the front of the package.

    1. Honestly, as a teacher, comments like this bug me. How much more do we need to put on the schools? I have a class of 25 to 25 students (that number fluctuates), and I can’t teach them everything! At some point in time, parents have to take some responsibility to teach their children about good food. The schools have a big enough job as it is. In addition, if parents don’t like the fundraisersmthe schools are doing that are food based, then be willing to come up with something else. My system is going to deal with yet another round of budget cuts. Unfortunately, these fundraisersmthe are starting to pay for necessities like paper nowadays.

    1. I make my own Hot cocoa emergency packets with dry coco, dry milk and sad to say sugar, but at least I control the sweetness. When ever we go somewhere “bank, Library ect that they offer free drinks I’m ready with our own additives not theirs.

      1. Honestly, making your own hot chocolate is just as easy as using instant and tastes so much better! Once I tried it, I never used instant again. I use the recipe on the back on the Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa can. I think it’s 2 tablespoons of cocoa, 2 tablespoon of sugar (I like the real thing), 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt and a cup of milk. I will say though that I use less sugar. I think it’s sweet enough with 1 tablespoon.

  43. Here’s a fun video made about the general topic of inaccurate food labeling information. Although the video focuses on calories of typical fast foods available in NYC, it still stands to make you question the information you are getting about the food you eat. (And Casey Neistat’s videos are fun to watch, even when they are about serious topics.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE2lna5Wxuo

    As an aside, I just want to quickly thank you, Lisa, for this blog/site. My family loves your recipes, as do my sisters’ families. And I greatly appreciate the insight and research you contribute. Please don’t ever end this amazing mission!

    1. And as an aside, I am not affiliated with Casey Neistat in anyway, I just subscribe to his youtube channel because I like his film style.

  44. I have a comment and a question. Besides ak-mac are there any other whole rain-high fiber crackers? it is easy to find %100 whole grain bread but not crackers.

    Try adding a little vanilla and cinnamon to your hot chocolate. Very yummy!

    1. There are some woven wheat crakers that are whole grain (a la Triskets). We love Mary’s gluten free crackers, eventhough we aren’t GF. Mary’s are round and full of seeds.

  45. Sad to see the Motts–we buy their “Fruitsations” for our toddler and he loves them. They look exactly like the applesauce that you’ve pictured except they’re unsweetened, and any extra colourings come from carrot juice. Hmmm… Upon closer inspection I see that some flavours have natural flavour in them… whatever that is. Other than that though, it’s just fruit and veggie juices.

  46. We don’t have a milk-frother, but what I’ve done is just use a whisk in the mug. Spin it rapidly for about a minute with the hot milk, and voila! Lots and lots of foam.

  47. Just have to say that as a whole food vegan, for health (who LOVES your site) I wouldn’t touch Bacos with a 10 foot pole!!! Most of the vegans I know have ZERO interest in reclaiming the taste of things we CHOOSE not to eat :) Once you clean out your system from all those chemicals, that stuff (like in the Bacos) tastes BEYOND horrible. :)

    1. I agree with you Debi. My husband and I eat a whole foods plant based diet, and we wouldn’t touch Bacos either. We stay away for super processed foods as well!

  48. Just yesterday we did the pretzel check at Trader Joes. On occasion we buy pretzels, and I like to get the whole grain ones (you have them on the right) but I saw the other ones yesterday and checked the back. Put them right back and grabbed our regular bag instead.

    As an FYI- I bought those reusable tubes but my kids refuse to eat out of them. They have sort of an odor. Like a plastic-sort of smell. It’s made our lunch boxes smell too. :( I think we’ll just stick to regular cups to put our plain yogurts and applesauces in. My kids don’t necessarily need the tube for the novelty of it anyway. I’ve never been a big fan of flavored tubes of yogurt anyway. That’s one healthy habit I started earlier in their lives, the plain yogurt with a little honey or fruit. So they’ve always liked it better anyway. Now, if only I’d done that with everything else! ;)

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