Misleading Product Roundup: Don’t be Fooled

Today I am sharing a “roundup” of the misleading products I’ve been sharing on Facebook lately. Just in case you missed some or need a friendly reminder…please don’t let the food industry fool you with these products!

Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning - misleading products on 100 Days of Real FoodI couldn’t believe it when I looked at the back of this taco seasoning packet and saw “Maltodextrin” as the first item on the ingredient list (meaning what it contains the most of). Maltodextrin is a filler found in highly processed foods and is usually made from corn. I don’t know about you but it’s not an additive I cook with at home. So then why would it be the main ingredient in something as simple as taco seasoning?

Real Food Alternative: Throw together a big batch of homemade taco seasoning by combining 1 tablespoon of chili powder and 1 ½ teaspoons each of cumin, oregano, and salt. Add some red pepper to taste then store in an airtight container. I use 2 ½ teaspoons of taco seasoning per 1 pound of ground meat. Also check out my taco salad recipe for a different take on tacos! 

Pasta “Plus”

Past Plus - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food This is the pasta I used to buy before we cut out processed food because I thought it was the “healthier” stuff. But, the thing that makes pasta “real” is being made with whole grains. The first ingredient in this pasta (and what it contains the most of) is “semolina” flour, which is actually a refined grain. The whole grain version of semolina is called whole durum wheat.

Real Food Alternative: Whole-wheat pasta is pretty easy to find and usually only contains 1 ingredient: whole durum wheat. And the word “whole” is very important! If you are new to understanding grains check out our post about grains for more info.

Breadcrumbs

 bread crumbs - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food It’s amazing how the food industry can take something as simple as plain breadcrumbs and make them full of so much junk. This one has more than 30 ingredients including high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (a.k.a. trans fat)! Not to mention it’s made with highly refined white flour (labeled as enriched flour).

Real Food Alternative: It’s easy to make your own bread crumbs (there’s a recipe at the end of this post), but if you don’t have time I like “Ian’s Whole-Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs” made with only a few simple ingredients. It comes in a yellow bag and is available in some grocery stores and on Amazon.

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal

Oatmeal  - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food Out of all the label reading I do this one really upsets me. Quaker (you know the “heart healthy” breakfast) says this on their website about their Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal, “Imagine a warm summer morning and a fresh bowl of juicy, sun-ripened strawberries topped with rich, dairy cream. Now imagine all of that warmth and rich flavor in a bowl of Quaker Oats.” Yet, when you actually read the ingredients you’ll find that the pictured red fruit chunks aren’t even strawberries! They are dehydrated apple pieces treated with artificial strawberry flavor and red dye. Not to mention this product also contains partially hydrogenated oil (a.k.a. trans fat), and a few other strange things I would never make oatmeal with at home.

Real Food Alternative: The key to products like oatmeal (and yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) is to always buy plain and flavor them yourself! Check out our basic oatmeal recipe…it takes less than 5 minutes to make. And it would be really easy to top it off with fresh, real strawberries.

Crystal Light

Crystal Light  - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food This “lemonade” product is another one that’s rather disturbing. Crystal Light’s “Natural Lemonade” mix doesn’t even contain a single drop of lemon or lemonade! Plus both its sweetener (aspartame) and yellow tint (yellow 5) are completely artificial. There are currently no regulations for slapping the word “natural” on a food package so don’t let this terminology fool you.

Real Food Alternative: Unfortunately even if you make REAL lemonade from scratch at home it calls for quite a bit of sugar. You are better off just squeezing a little fresh lemon juice in your water or saving lemonade for an extra special occasion!

Ranch Dip

 Ranch dressing - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food This packet of Hidden Valley ranch seasoning looks pretty innocent…you just add sour cream and you have yourself a zesty dip for veggies. Except the fact that, according to the ingredients, it contains more maltodextrin (an additive made from corn), salt, and MSG than it does any actual herbs or spices.

Real Food Alternative: I find this unfortunate when it’s super simple to make your own ranch dip at home. My recipe has been adapted from the $5 Dinner Mom’s ranch salad dressing!

Cool Whip

Cool Whip  - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food I know “Cool Whip” is quick and easy, but I find it strange that it contains more water, hydrogenated vegetable oil (might contain trans fat), high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup than it does cream, which happens to be the main ingredient in REAL whipped cream. I know this product doesn’t claim to be “whipped cream” and instead calls itself a “whipped topping,” but let’s face it…we all know what this is trying to imitate!

Real Food Alternative: In case you’ve never tried making your own homemade whipped cream before it’s actually pretty easy…check out the simple instructions at the bottom of this chocolate torte recipe.

Uncrustables

uncrustables  - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food
Uncrustables seem to be a pretty popular school lunch item. Just be sure to know they contain high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, AND sugar as well as partially hydrogenated oil (a.k.a. trans fat). This variety also uses bread made from refined white flour, dough conditioners, and quite a lot of other ingredients I cannot even pronounce and would never cook with at home.

Real Food Alternative: I don’t know about you, but when I make PB&J at home it doesn’t contain any of that junk. And you can even make your own “Uncrustable” sandwich with one of these handy little sandwich cutters/sealers from amazon (just wrap it up and throw it in the freezer when you are done)!

“Wheat” Crackers

 Back to Nature - misleading products on 100 Days of Real FoodThis product comes to you from the health food store (where you STILL have to read ingredient labels). The front of this healthy-looking brown box says “Crispy Wheat Crackers” but don’t let that lead you to believe there is anything “whole-wheat” about them. Even refined white flour comes from the wheat plant so if it doesn’t say the word “whole” then it’s not a “whole-wheat” product. I don’t understand why our society has given “whole-wheat” the nickname “wheat” because they are NOT the same thing and it makes things confusing! If you look at the ingredients on this box you can see these crackers contain no “whole wheat” flour at all…only refined “wheat flour” a.k.a. white flour.

Real Food Alternative: For 100% whole-wheat crackers our favorite is Ak-Mak, which is available in stores like Earth Fare and Trader Joe’s as well as on Amazon. To learn more about the difference between “wheat” and “whole-wheat” check out our post about Understanding Grains.

Strawberry Syrup

 strawberry syrup - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food I am guilty as charged because I used to buy this stuff for my kids. It was right there by the chocolate syrup, and I thought it would be a fun way to switch things up. But soon after my real food wake-up call I started raiding our pantry and fridge, and I was shocked to see (according to the ingredients) that this “strawberry” syrup doesn’t even contain any strawberries at all. The flavor and color are both completely artificial.

Real Food Alternative: If you are looking for a berry flavored drink try making this homemade berry sauce instead and sieve out the seeds…it would be great in some nice cold (organic) milk.

Bread

Health Nut Bread - misleading products on 100 Days of Real FoodIf I were to make sandwich bread at home it would take about 5 ingredients (whole-wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, and honey) and even if I were to add a few extras like nuts, seeds, and a different type of flour maybe we are up to 10 ingredients. So why does it take “Arnold” 31 ingredients including white flour (a.k.a. unbleached enriched wheat flour) to make their whole grain “Health Nut” bread?

All those extra additives aren’t there to make the bread taste better, but instead to give it a longer shelf life (and ensure it travels well before even hitting those shelves). I admit I used to eat white sandwich bread before all of this and that’s because I did not like whole-wheat bread. Then one day I tried “real” whole-wheat bread, made from only a few simple, fresh ingredients, and what do you know… it actually tastes pretty good!
Real Food Alternative: Nowadays we either buy the honey-whole wheat loaf from Great Harvest (a franchise chain that bakes fresh bread daily) or make it ourselves using our whole-wheat bread machine recipe.

Nutella

nutella  - misleading products on 100 Days of Real Food
Last but not least…Nutella! I shared Nutella on Facebook the other day after seeing their ad in a parenting magazine, which I personally found misleading. But after posting it quite a few readers pointed out to me that this product, which is positioned as a breakfast spread, actually has more sugar per serving than chocolate cake frosting…and they were right! “Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Chocolate Frosting” contains 18 grams of sugar per serving (2 tablespoons) and “Nutella” contains 21 grams of sugar per serving (also 2 tablespoons). Yet they advertise that their spread can “turn a balanced breakfast into a tasty one, too.” Just because something like chocolate frosting might taste good on your breakfast doesn’t mean you should necessarily indulge in it (or offer it to your children before school) on a regular basis! Of course moderation is one thing, but as I’ve said many times before different people seem to define “moderation” quite differently…and in our society junk food exceptions and special occasions add up pretty quick..
The part of the ad that I thought was misleading though was where they say, “Each jar contains hazelnuts, skim milk and a hint of cocoa.” When you look at the ingredient label on a jar of Nutella you’ll find sugar listed as the first item (i.e. what the product contains the most of). They purposely omitted the main ingredient, which is also coincidentally the part that’s not good for you.
Real Food Alternative: I would say just go for butter or 1 ingredient peanut butter on your morning toast, but, even though I’ve never tried it myself, many people tell me it’s easy to make your own “Nutella” spread at home. Here’s a recipe for chocolate hazelnut spread from Weelicious. I would personally make it with the honey instead of agave, but either way at least this version contains more hazlenuts than it does sweetener!

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204 thoughts on “Misleading Product Roundup: Don’t be Fooled”

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  1. And don’t forget that palm oil is used in many products on the shelf(such as Nutella), sometimes under the name canola oil. Palm oil is the number 1 used oil and is devastating the worlds rainforests and endangering many species such as the orangutan. Sad world we live in. We are ruining so much. Humans are the invasive species here.

    1. Bryn, you are mistaken about canola oil. While palm oil is indeed harvested from palms in rain forests, canola oil is manufactured from rape seed

      from wikipedia: Canola refers to both an edible oil (also known as Canola oil) produced from the seed of any of several varieties of the rape plant, and to those plants, namely a cultivar of either rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) or field mustard/turnip rape (Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera, syn. Brassica campestris L.). Consumption of the oil is not believed to cause harm in humans[1][dead link][2] and livestock,[3] and for use as biodiesel.
      Canola was bred naturally from rapeseed at the University of Manitoba, Canada by Keith Downey and Baldur R. Stefansson in the early 1970s, and had a different nutritional profile in addition to much less erucic acid. In the international community Canola is generally referred to as Rapeseed 00 or Double Zero Rapeseed to denote both low glucosinolates and low erucic acid. In addition to varieties from the traditional Rapa dn Napus species, recent cross-breeding of multiples lines of Brassica juncea have enable this mustard variety to be classified as a canola variety by lowering both erucic acid and glucosinolates to the market standards, achieving LEAR status (for low erucic acid rapeseed). It may also be referred to as canola oil and is considered safe for human consumption.[4]

  2. Hi, Lisa I learn fron my mom not to use any proces food so went I don’t know what to use I call her.. About 2 monts ago I needed bread crumbs and she recommend forget about bread crumb use Organic Yellow Corn Meal I have been using this and works great just fried at lower temperature, this is great also in muffins, chili, home made polenta, cornbread and much more I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Corn Meal, there is only 1 ingredient on it and is also gluten free, weat free, but please make sure it is organic because most corn use in other puducts is GMO.

  3. Great article! The more I learn about how misleading most of products are the more I want to learn to protect myself. The FDA is directly controlled by BIG PHARMA- the Federal entity that is supposed to protect “the people” learn more here- http://goo.gl/klEkf7

  4. Pacific brand Hemp milk was great, then we noticed a slight change, more ingredients and an increase in sugar, 16 gm sugar!! So much that they don’t put the percentage on the ingredients! This made me think…why do I buy “milk” alternatives? We get our nutrients from food because we eat real food, we take excellent supplements via practitioners advice. Rethinking “milk” at this home.

  5. Been making this kind of stuff for a long time, Especially the oatmeal, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing, cannot even eat the stuff from the store. Also stay away from hamburger helper, I make my own mixes for those as well it is great to see people are still passing the word along that making food and seasonings like this from scratch and watching your labels can help prevent us from consuming unnecessary chemicals that should never had been put in food for us to consume. For Christmas I am getting the pasta maker for the kitchen aide, so maybe I can avoid buying my pasta all together. Wish me luck and happy cooking to all of you!!

  6. Wow- That’s some serious misleading information. I’m switching pasta brands!! So glad that Washington State passed the GMO labeling law. Hoping this will point us in the right direction.

  7. I iust wanted to say thank you for caring enough to take the time to investigate and explain all of this in a way we can all understand and for posting it. I believe that our society is far to dependent on processed food. I try very hard to read labels and be aware. I love the alternatives you give as well.

  8. Maltodextrin, flour and sugar are most commonly used in all foods…its not misleading its just how its made….i also use cornsatrch to thicken my gravy

    1. Wow, I use those taco seasoning quit a lot, never knew how unhealthy it was, making it your own sounds great, I’d give it a go thank you.

  9. I just had a question about the Great Harvest Honey-Whole Wheat Bread…. Our local Great Harvest only has a loaf called Honey Wheat…Is this the same as the whole wheat? They don’t have a labeled ‘whole wheat’ loaf?

  10. When I make tacos at home, I just brown the meat and add some homemade (or restaurant-made when I am in a hurry) fresh salsa. The salsa already has the seasonings to add flavor to the tacos. Super easy and Yum!

  11. Thanks for the taco seasoning mix (and all the product alternatives on here!)

    I am really addicted to the McCormick Thick & Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix. The ingredients are listed as: Sugar, Tomato Powder, Modified Tapioca Starch, Salt, Onion, Modified Corn Starch, Spices (Including Basil, Paprika, Black Pepper), Garlic, Corn Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Beet Powder, Xanthan Gum, And Malic Acid.

    If I was to start making this myself, what would you suggest besides the basil, parprika, pepper and garlic powder?

  12. OK, 2 things I wanted to say. First, it’s making me crazy that a lot of people say hydrogenated oils are transfats. It’s not true. PARTIALLY hydrogenated oils are transfats. Hydrogenated oils are generally saturated fats – still not good. I did a college report on this last semester, and after reading it over and over I felt compelled to clear it up. Secondly, if you want to know what’s really causing that strawberry flavoring in all those “strawberry” items that don’t contain any strawberries at all, head on over to Foodbabe’s website,and search, “Do you eat beaver butt?” It’s a really cute, informative video – and you’ll never eat anything artificially flavored again…

    1. Hi Maria, my understanding is that you are right in that partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats and fully or completely hydrogenated oils do not, however the label “hydrogenated oil” is ambiguous and could go either way. I’ll update the section on Cool Whip to clarify. – Jason

  13. Thank you for this list. While we were doing most of these “real food” alternatives I had not seen the Ranch dressing one. It will come in handy. Thanks again!

  14. The Maltodextrin in taco seasoning is pretty bad (especially since it is a prime ingredient) but the silicone dioxide worries me even more! That’s the same crap in the “do not eat” packets you’ll find in with new shoes or a leather purse! I used to love the flavor of the store bought stuff but not any more. Wildtree makes a great taco seasoning that is just as flavorful and actually cheaper.

  15. Hello I love your site and have learned soo much . I was hoping for some advice on how to feed a family of four on a budget of 200 $ a month . I lost my job (still got tons of interviews so things look up) and my husband works but after bills( rent, 2cars, dental bill payment, electricity, trash, and phone plan trust me in a snow bank you wish you had a phone and for 3 phone unlimited $150.00 ish is a good deal but plan on dropping a line) and money to get to and frm work and bus stop (to far for kids as little as ours to walk ) were left with little to no money and we sadly have no stock pile(food or cash) anymore . We lost out home and jobs for a bit and used all we had to keep somewhat afloat to pack up and head cross country to find better jobs and lives for our kids . Any advice is welcome as long as it has a real helpful plan . Criticism is fine but not if it comes with no resolution. I’m truly at my low point I want to garden but I don’t know where to start . I don’t want to feed my babies junk to survive . And all of you here seem to know the value of loveing your family enough to want the best . Thank you Blessings to all

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Chris. Have you read through all the 100 Days on a Budget posts: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/100-days-on-a-budget/? While I realize Lisa’s budget was different from yours, I think you will find it a worthwhile read. Be sure to check out reader comments that follow each post because they have a lot of experience to share as well. You might find that others are in similar situations. I think you will find this useful, too: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/09/30/real-food-tips-12-ways-to-keep-it-cheap/. Best of luck. ~Amy

  16. To be quite honest, There’s really nothing pure we can eat anymore. Even if we were to grow our own things “naturally” there’s still things we have to buy to do that and it’s never natural. Anything “made with” all natural ingredients is never “made only with” all natural ingredients. Everything is so ridiculous that the only positive I can get out of it is by knowing that we’re all in the same boat.

  17. Hi,

    I’ve been following your recipes for just a few weeks. I loved your article about Kraft Dinner and even though I live in Canada, your food woes in the US are the same as ours over here in Canada.
    I read about your Bread post and I have a dilemma. We don’t have a Great Harvest here and I cannot go to a local bakery because my child has a severe tree nut allergy. I tried using a bread maker but discovered (this is after going through 4 machines) that there were a variety of problems i.e. grease from the machine was found in our bread…gross! So back to store bought I went.
    Any recommendations?

      1. Or get a starter going. My family did this when I was in high school and since you need to make bread frequently to keep everything going, we always had fresh bread in the house. We would change things up by making white bread one time (this was before white whole wheat flour was available), whole wheat the next, added some cooked oatmeal, made burger buns or dinner rolls, etc. to change it up.

  18. NICE article!!!

    I am so on your same page. I read all labels too and it is tricky business.

    While working on a recent project I’ve been going to Whole Foods, Smiths and Trader Joe’s just to read ingredient labels.

    Whole Foods had a lot of products that contained artificial flavor, color and even hydrogenated fats!

    Now, Trader Joe’s, who advertise no artificial flavoring or coloring or hydrogenated fats – well, they stayed true to their claims. After looking at everything – really – the only discrepency I could find was in beef jerky – a couple of questionable ingredients, so I asked the manager who said he stood behind their word, but would call the manufacturer and find out and call me the next day. He did in fact call the next day and shared the information with me and I stood corrected. Trader Joe’s remained true to advertising – no artificial flavor or color!! (or trans fats).

    Love your website! I agree, read ingredients! :O))

  19. Hi all, I urge each of you to take the time to read the fine print on the front of the packages first. It may tell you what you need to know without reading the ingredient list (although, I also encourage you the read that as well).

    I am a food scientist, as well as a mom who is concerned with what her kids are eating, so I balance my science-nerd understanding of the food terms with my mommy side. The front of the Cystal Light actually says “Natural Lemonade flavor with other natural flavors”. This means that the flavor is natural, not necessarily the whole product (and yes, this is legal and we have clear standards for labeling natural flavors in the US). Within the pink rectangle ont he front of the oatmeal box, it says “Artificial Strawberries and Cream Flavors Artificially Flavored Fruit Pieces and Non-Dairy Creamer”. I agree with 100 Days, make the plain oatmeal and flavor it with real food – it tastes so much better and the texture is so much better!

    For the taco seasoning, I would add a touch of flour to the mix. That will thicken up the added water, along with any meat juices, so that it goes into your taco instead of leaving that good flavor in the pan.

    For the bread crumbs, I don’t toast them like 100 Days, I just let our heels of bread (my family won’t touch them), stale burger buns, rolls, etc., sit on the counter for a couple days until completely dry – and no waste since these are things we wouldn’t eat anyway.
    I run them through the processor and keep them in the freezer since the naturally-occuring fats from the whole grains can get rancid-tasting quickly at room temp. Then I always have bread crumbs that I can flavor and use anyway I need.

    On my last note, please be very careful with reading the word “natural” on foods. As was stated by 100 Days, there is no legal definition for natural foods (the rules for labeling flavors as natural are clear though – which is why all the small print on the Crystal Light and on the oatmeal). Keep reading the labels – front and back!

  20. All I can say is wow! My eyes were really opened after reading this, not just these products but the fact that mostly everything I consume has these same ingredients and is extremely processed. I am on my way to reading part 2 of this series. I can’t wait until I am eating 100% unprocessed because I know I will feel so much better! Thank you!

  21. Do you add the water the same way the taco seasoning package states? I missed a part on how to prepare the meat with the seasoning. I”ve got my batch all made. Thanks

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Stacey. If it seems too dry when added, I would mix in a little water until you reached the consistency the you desire. ~Amy

  22. I think some of this stuff, like someone said above, is a “duh” judgement and I think it’s good to hold companies responsible for their misleading statements. BUT is it all really that bad? Take the bread for instance, there’s only 4 of the 31 ingredients that I couldn’t buy off the shelves at the grocery store to make myself. Let’s look at MSG too. Did you know that it’s natural? Found on seaweed? It’s currently made by bacterial or microbial fermentation. Similar to beer … or bread. It was a common food additive used by the Romans. The Japanese call it “umami” or the fifth flavor. It’s not bad for you at all. Look it up. Some people do have some adverse reactions to it but it’s rare. Just like wheat allergies.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy most of the gross artificially flavored things. Natural flavor is just that though. That’s an all encompassing term used to protect the recipe. That means that there probably is lemon flavoring in that gross crystal “drink”.

    1. I am a highly allergic to MSG, as most people with gluten or wheat intolerances are. The problem may seem minute to some but for the millions of people who have now discovered that they are gluten intolerant, this poses as a serious health concern. If you remember 20 years ago, no one was allergic to gluten or wheat but the issue is with the fact that food practices are changing and more and more food is being manufactured with ingredients that have been HIGHLY compromised from its natural state. These ingredients that you are reading on the label aren’t actually what they seem. “Natural flavoring” may seem harmless and may not require a second thought, however these natural flavors could be almost anything. It’s essential that those who are concerned about their health and well being pay closer attention to what we are putting in our bodies. Most of you don’t trust the government as far as you can throw it… why would you put all of your trust in the chemicals, biochemically engineered and altered “food products” that are being manufactured by the government?

      The definition of natural flavor under the Code of Federal Regulations is: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

  23. While I agree with most of the items on your list, there are so many more worse and misleading products. Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup is just as bad as the Strawberry flavor. The Arnold’s brand “health nut” variety has included nuts and nut products as most of those 31 ingredients.. It isn’t claiming to simply be “whole wheat.” While it contains calcium propionate as a preservative (an anti mold inhibitor), most research shows that this is one of the least harmful. Why not go after all of those cereals with TBHQ? While I agree Nutella’s advertisements are misleading, peanut butter has 14-18 grams of fat and 3-4 grams of sugar. Add the 12 grams of sugar from your average jelly or jam and you are right up there with Nutella on the classic pb&j.

  24. Pampered Chef also sells a metal round “press & seal” that takes off the crusts and seals the edges for making your own uncrustables. It’s about $10 I think but you can also use it for other things like appetizers, if you want a more multi-purpose tool than the one on Amazon. Other places may sell a similar product for a lower cost as well. But I can only vouch for the Pampered Chef one which I used as a kid (about 20 years ago) and absolutely loved! :)

  25. I love your instructions for the taco seasoning and totally want to follow them – one thing I’m just not clear on. The chili powder that I got from the store is actually a mix of chili pepper, cumin, salt, garlic, and oregano. Do you take this and mix it with more cumin, oregano, and salt? Or is there another kind of chili powder I’m supposed to use?

  26. Another FYI on reading labels: yeast extract, hydrolyzed anything, autolyzed anything, spice extractives, and even “spices”; can all be “hidden” forms of MSG. So sadly, given our boycott of MSG, we also avoid buying anything that has these ingredients in the label. Some soups say “NO MSG”..yet they have autolyzed yeast extract, or hyrdrolyzed soy protein…both = MSG. Also true of salad dressings and especially true of “cheesy” snacks that people think are healthy like Cheese Nips, Cheez-Its or even GOLDFISH! We buy Annie’s organic Cheddar Bunnies, and make our own soups.

  27. Good information, but a lot of it has me thinking, “well, duh!” Do you really mean to tell me that you gave your kids strawberry syrup expecting there to be real strawberries in it? You don’t have to read the label to figure that one out. Same with Chrystal Lite. Anyone who thinks that stuff is natural sure is naive. I don’t know anyone who was conned into thinking there were real lemons in it. It’s a powder, after all!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Erica. This blog is geared towards all levels of people on their real food journey. Having said that, while these things may seem obvious to you, for some they are not. Hope that helps. Jill

    2. I think you missed the point of the article. It was not about products that are fooling people into thinking they are natural. It was about products that are misleading PERIOD. This can include misleading consumers into thinking they are overall healthy, natural, or contain the ingredient they claim to be (i.e. strawberry syrup). These products try to pretend to be something they are not in some form or fashion and that was the point of this article. I agree with Jill in saying that not all consumers are on the same level of awareness. These things are deliberately misleading and the information about the ingredients are intentionally hidden from the public. Nutella is VERY misleading with their ads. Instead of trying to belittle others, maybe it would be nice to just thank these wonderful people for trying to get the word out. I know I am very grateful for what they do even when I already know what the post is about!

    3. (I know this is an older post/comment, but) a few months ago, my child & I were eating lunch at the local public library as part of their summer free lunch program. I overheard one of the librarians telling another that “she didn’t know why” kids seemed to love the chocolate milk so much. The other one (his patience strained, but trying) explained to her that it has sugar in it, to her great surprise. This woman was in her 50s.

  28. love this!!!!!!! I cook from scratch, always have, love it when articles like yours are posted on Facebook, I definitely will be sharing this!

  29. The one that got me this week is Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Right on the lable it claims it’s made with all natural ingredients, but when you read the ingredients list it has MSG! Ugh!

    1. Yes, this got me too!!! It was one of the chunky varieties and I unfortunately ate it before reading the label….will never make that mistake again!

    2. They can get away with saying it’s “all natural” because some of these ingredients that are terrible for us are “naturally occurring”. Just because it comes from nature and hasn’t been processed by mankind doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy or good for us.

  30. I love your posts. We are making great changes in our household every day. Keep up the great work. It is because of people like you that make it so much easier for people like me to become educated on the foods that we eat. Thank you so much for all that you do.

  31. I like to make fresh squeezed lemonade sweetened with grade B maple syrup instead of sugar. It tastes great and you get all the health benefits of the maple syrup as well! It actually sweetens it well with only a little bit and doesn’t taste maple-y.

  32. Great post. We don’t use any of these items really, but only bc i’ve read the horrifying labels also! Sometimes I feel very upset in the grocery store b/c everything is so unsafe. And I have to read EVERY label. The other day i was trying to save time and buy a greek dressing, and out of the 20 greek dressings in Publix every one had Soybean oil. So i just didn’t get any (usually make my own). But it’s very frustrating! I mill my own flour and make my own bread but i’ve gotten so tired of doing it but now I need to start again – i bought a few loaves of Nature’s Own and I really shouldn’t!

  33. WOW! Interesting reading. I, too, was appalled at Quaker’s misleading advertising in their packaging of artificial flavors and colors. I was just thinking the other day, as I made my kids plain oatmeal, how much I liked Quaker and how they seemed to make quality foods. So, imagine how disappointed I was to read your post. I let them know as much by sending them a comment on their website. Thanks for pulling back the curtain on the Wizards of Oz.

  34. I eat a pretty strict “clean” diet… however I just wanted to clarify that maltodextrin is used to keep seasoning mixes like your Taco Seasoning and Ranch Seasoning from clumping. Would you prefer they come out in a chunk or nice fine powder?

    1. That is interesting that something needed to keep it from clumping is the #1 ingredient, meaning there is more of that than any other ingredient.

    2. While that may true as to why it’s there in the packet…I often have my 13 year old daughter whip up a triple or quadruple batch of taco seasoning from spices in our cabinet. It takes her just a few minutes. Then the seasoning blend sits in a little container with a lid for weeks and I never have an issue with clumping. Just so much nicer to use your own spices and have nothing extra in it. :)

    3. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Krystal. Thanks for the information. Yes, it may be necessary to prevent caking in the store bought version since it has such a long shelf life, but, it’s not necessary when making it yourself so we don’t choose to use it. Jill

  35. I love your site!! I have been following it for about a month now. You are slowly helping me to see what I have been feeding my family! It’s overwhelming to think about changing everything, which is what needs to be done. I going to start w a few things and go from there. I have 3 picky eaters and my daughter has severe allergies to may foods. The things I have changed so far have helped her allergies and I hope to help her more, but also me and my other 2 kids eat heathy. Lifestyle change!!! Thanks again for all the great info!!

  36. The Nutella sold in the US is different than the Nutella sold in Europe. Ours is made for the “typically” American palate, which is much sweeter (more sugar) than the “typical European” palate. The real original version is better.

  37. I found your blog on Facebook. I must say kudos to your blogs! I have gone Paleo for the main reason…my health. After reading the ingredients on boxed items, it just makes me scared and sick. I believe that anything soy is harming us as well as any by-product. I am of sane belief that shopping and eating whole foods such as veggies and fruits and meats is the way to go. I also follow the rule that if I can identify it, then I can eat it. For example, an apple is an apple, an egg is an egg. There are no other “things” added. Whole is the only way to go anymore. And if I really want something I make it. Once in a while I fall off the wagon, which is only human, but I quickly get back to my real food. It just makes sense and it makes me feel way better! Keep up the blogs!

  38. Hello
    I want to thank you for all your hard work I’m grateful for the things you take time to write about it is very eye opening. I have been slowly trying to make alot of things from scratch over the last year but taco seasoning and ranch dressing has been very trying to say the least… every recipe seems very salty and flavorless. Is your recipes taste anything close to the store bought packages?

  39. Bought a box of Whole Foods brand pasta that said durum wheat on the front and thought I was good to go. When I got home I actually looked at the back and it said semolina durum wheat. I was so aggravated! I felt tricked!

    1. Kristan…this was kind of my question. I bought organic whole wheat and then when I read it, it is Organic Durum Wheat Semolina. Which isn’t good, right? I feel tricked too!

  40. Great information. It’s bad enough when obviously-bad Pop Tarts are out there, but when food labels are deceptive it is even worse.

    Another reason to skip the Nutella (has less to do with your own family): who has any idea where they source their palm oil? Although some tout the benefits of this, entire ecosystems are being demolished for its production. Sorry, but as much as my daughter may love this stuff, I can’t see the loss of animal habitats and farming villages so she can have some chocolate. Thanks for posting.

  41. Thank you for this great information! I knew a lot of it, but continue to learn more from your blog. I appreciate the link to alternative recipes! I look forward to trying more of your recipes!

  42. Thank you for all your great information. I am checking my pasta now. The ingredient is; Organic Durum Wheat Semolina. Thoughts? I went back and re-read your post and I’m still confused. I would appreicate your thoughts.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jennifer. It will usually say whole wheat. I know the Bionaturae brand I believe says whole durum wheat. Jill

  43. Thank you for this great information. I find the more I look the more OCD I have become about what we eat. Until last March – when I was diagnosed w/ gluten and dairy allergy, due to my newborn crying 15 hours a day, I never thought about what I ate. I was ‘fit’, now I have about 3 of the same foods in the pantry I used to have – quinoa, honey and vegetables (potatoes, winter squashes). Keep up the great work!!

  44. I so agree with everything said here! So tired of foods marketed as “multigrain” because people confuse it with wholegrain. They are not the same! I do like Barilla Plus though. I can’t get my family to eat 100% wholegrain pasta. Barilla Plus is healthier than the plain white stuff. Wholegrain crackers are fairly easy to find, thankfully, and palatable. Ak-Mak is great! I wish it was easier to find wholegrain pretzels.

  45. Thank you for all this information! My daughter has recently been diagnosed with PCOS and as a family we are making some major changes in our diets as a result. She’s been advised to go on a low carb,high protein,diabetic type diet. There are so many additives in foods & I have no idea what alot of them actually are made of- this post has helped clear up some things, and made me more aware of some more things we need to avoid!

    1. Beth my sister has PCOS and has been diagnosed for almost 10 years. There is a great pcos group on Facebook, where people bounce ideas off each other. Back to basics with simple ingredients is the best way! Good luck with helping her control it!

  46. I’m suprised that Cool Whip has any milk in it! I was raised on it, though I never liked it–the texture is weird and slimy.

    I have had several relatives tell me that whipped cream is “too hard” to make, and be shocked when I do it in 2 minutes and can sweeten it to taste because everyone thinks cool whip is too sweet. I think cool whip still exists because the generation the grew up whipping cream by hand thought it was awesome (especially when whipping cream for a family of 8 or 10), and now their kids (and grandkids!) think whipped cream is “hard.” Sad, but that is how it goes.

  47. I see you have an alternative for the strawberry syrup how about the chocolate syrup that my hubby lives on EVERY day??????I’m trying to find a healthier alternative for him.

    1. A few years ago I read the miserly moms book, and I have used her recipe for chocolate syrup. It is so simple.
      1 cup cocoa powder
      2 cups sugar1/4 t salt
      1-1/2 cups water
      Cook all in a saucepan over medium heat; stirring occasionally without letting it boil. Cook until sugar has melted.
      Once you syrup has cooled, add 1 tsp vanilla extract.
      Easy peasy. Which is good, because we also go through a lot of choc syrup here. We make homemade mochas :)

      1. How long does that last? that seems like a lot of sugar. I”m trying to cut sugar out but not having much luck with the hubby and his chocolate milk loving self.

      2. attempted to without sweetener and it didn’t go well. Carob powder actually tastes like coffee to me.

      3. I love this chocolate syrup. I make it every two weeks. I use Hershey’s dark chocolate and love it. It is great in coffee or in chocolate milk. I love her site too. She makes a lot of good things.

        Jan

  48. Sad to say, I’m not surprised by much anymore when I turn an item around to read the label. Probably the bread crumbs and the Arnold bread are the most upsetting to me. I know what is needed to make bread, and a lot of the listed ingredients are unnecessary!
    It’s also funny for me to think that I used to buy many of the items listed above, thinking I was being a smart consumer with Crystal Light’s zero-calories and Whole Wheat pasta and so on. I’m so thankful for all of the resources, including your blog, that have taught me so much about the food industry and have led me to make the change to a whole foods lifestyle instead! :)

  49. Hi Lisa,
    I found out several years ago that Great Harvest Bread Company switched sweeteners, from honey to high fructose corn syrup, at least at our local franchise. So disappointing!

  50. I would be interested in seeing a more in depth look at other foods. The important thing to note is that it teaches folks to look at the marketing/advertising of a product and think critically about the foods they are buying. Perhaps they haven’t even read the ingredients or buy those crackers assuming they are healthier because of the “look” of the box, the nice natural colour, the words used on the packaging etc.

  51. Hi! I grew up in Germany and we always used to have Nutella. The funny thing is that in Germany the first ingredient of Nutella are actually the hazelnuts. It tastes much better over there too. You can really taste the hazelnuts… not trying to imply that Nutella is good for you, just sharing an observation. A lot of European products that are sold over here in the US contain different ingredients than they do overseas. In Germany, foods are not allowed to have artificial colors or partially hydrogenated oils.

  52. Thank you for your blog! I have learned a lot and always look forward to your new entries. I tried your homemade strawberry syrup when I made “Santa Milk” for my kids. It was a hit! I also made snowmen for them out of hard-boiled eggs. :) Thanks for all you do to share this important information and yummy, healthy recipes.

  53. I kept you in mind the other day when I went to the grocery store. I ended up getting Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain bread…it had a very decent list…no enriched flour nonsense and I could pronounce all of the ingredients! I feel good giving my daughter this bread. In addition, I am getting a bread maker so that I can make my own. Just got babycakes, the gluten free cookbook…really liking it.

    Love what you do. Keep up the good work!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Gina. I’m not familiar with them. I would have to see the ingredient list to be able to comment. Jill

  54. I was glad to see that I was already aware of the sketchy ingredients in most of these things! :)

    You mention that whole wheat pasta should contain only one ingredient (the whole durum wheat). I’ve seen pasta like that in stores and thought that ingredient list couldn’t possibly be quite true. Is pasta just wheat and water? (And are they not required to list water in the ingredients?) I’ve made homemade pasta before and it called for an egg, but maybe not all pasta is egg pasta? If you know, I’d love to hear your answer! :)

    1. No, not all pasta is egg pasta – only the products that list it (and they have to list egg since it’s a allergen). And water doesn’t have to be listed because the pasta is dried out, effectively removing the water.

  55. I enjoy your blog and love your advice and the information you provide, especially the misleading products. It would be great if you could add more to the list and what to use instead, like butter spreads, cereals, etc… Thank you for informing me and educating me. You have changed my family of 6’s eating habits.

  56. I am guilty of buying some of the above, thanks for reminding me to continue to be more informed when I try to make healthy food for my family. I make great homemade ranch dressing, but lots of recipes my family enjoys call for ranch dressing packets. Any ideas on how to make it “dry” at home? Thanks!

    1. Not sure what recipes you are using the ranch seasoning for. If it is something like chicken, couldn’t you dredge the chicken in buttermilk or mayo, then sprinkle it with the herb blend you use for your own ranch dip. Otherwise, I would think you could just add the herb blend from your own ranch mix to recipes, possibly replace some of the liquid called for with buttermilk if appropriate as well.

  57. Another home run. You do a great job at busting out the truth. So many people are misinformed about what goes in our food. It’s overwhelming, really. But there is a reason our country is racked with disease, and all this hidden nonsense in our food is part of it. The simple advice I give people is that if it comes in a wrapper, bag, or box…you don’t want to eat it. Great post!

    1. A greater part of our country’s chronic disease is caused by animal foods, meat, eggs, dairy. If you’re a medical doctor, please read T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study”, and or Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease”, a similar title by Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live”, etc. All share a whole plant foods basis. All have copious references to peer-reviewed scientific research reports indicating that whole plant foods are more than sufficiently nutritious, animal foods are toxic to the body in many ways and promote heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. You owe it to your patients to inform them. So many diseases are lessened or cured by this style of eating.

      1. While I agree that dairy is harmful, I have to disagree that animal meats and eggs are dangerous as long as they are chemical free. The human body was genetically designed to eat meat, although I advise patients to make this about 5-10% of their diet. There is ample research supporting the benefits of the healthy fats found in animal products. I will indeed check into these books. Thank you for the recommendation.

      2. Genetically designed to eat meat? Hmmm. Certainly not genetically designed to capture and rend prey. Can we survive on meat. Apparently, yes, for a while, in some cases even for long lifetimes. But, as the prevalence of those chronic diseases indicates, not healthily.

        Campbell’s longtime work with rats in which cancer was initiated with aflatoxin, indicates that diets with casein, milk protein, less than 5% of calories, did not promote cancer, but bumping percentages over 5% made the cancers grow again. You’re fairly safe with your 5%, but getting in the danger zone with 10%. (I think his using humans in those experiments would have been rather frowned upon, and it would have taken him several lifetimes to accumulate the data that he did with the rat subjects.)

        Dr. John McDougall, The Starch Solution (hadn’t yet read his book at my previous posting), describes the presence of atherosclerosis and other chronic diseases in Egyptian mummies. Only royalty and the wealthiest would have been mummified, and only royalty and the wealthiest would have been eating meat (maybe an occasional fish or fowl, probably considered poached). Don’t think they were putting any dangerous chemicals in that meat; if so, I suppose the pharoah’s tasters would have sucumbed and probably not been mummified.

        I don’t think there are any healthy fats in animal foods, even chicken containing cholesterol. What is that ample research supporting the benefits of the healthy fats found in animal products? But I’m not qualified to debate this issue. Try posting that information on any of the named gentlemen’s websites.

        All of these doctors cite studies indicating that lifelong vegans are the healthiest populations.

  58. GEt over it. AMericans want cheap quick food and then complain none stop that in contains things they don’t recognize. WELL DUH.

    How do you think these items have shelf life? How do you think these things are so cheap?

    Get over it – stop complaining. Make your own.

  59. HA! I have been throwing a fit for awhile about Nutella. My mom bought it for my picky eater because he won’t eat peanut butter (or much of anything for that matter). I couldn’t get over how much sugar is in it! He was honest “Mom I don’t like it because it’s too sweet.” Good boy. What happened to the Nutella? His mother ate it all-straight from the jar. Evil, pure evil! I even wrote a blog post about it! I won’t be buying that again!

  60. The current issue of Bon Appetit (December 2012) also has a great recipe for hazelnut spread. Creamier and richer than the Weelicious one, with butter and cream in it. The recipe calls for sugar, but you can sub a less processed sweetener, of course. I used organic cane sugar and used less than the recipe called for.

  61. Dear 100 days, I am fairly new to your blog,but let me say ‘thank you’–I love all the advice, information,& encouragement you & your team provide. I have become much more aware of labels thanks to you. This weekend I looked at the ingredients of Nilla Wafers…I became interested because the packaging says ‘simple goodness’ on the box under the name. ‘Simple’–LOL!! This sweet looking box contains white flour, sugar, soybean oil, HFCS, PH-Cottonseed oil, ‘natural & artificial flavor, mono- and diglycerides, & soy lecithin! If you ever do a Misleading Part II, consider the innocent looking Nilla Wafer!

  62. I bought Nutella for a peanut butter replacement for my younger son who is allergic to peanuts. We have since found a nut butter that he likes and I think I will be throwing away the rest of that Nutella! I had no idea that I was essentially putting frosting on my child’s sandwiches!

    Thank you for sharing this information. While we don’t use most of the items that you mentioned, it does make me more aware to check labels before I buy food. I’m looking forward to learning more about replacing processed foods with healthy ones!

  63. Hi Lisa. I know many people I would like to share some of your postings with via e-mail, but I don’t see an option for that?

  64. I laugh at people who comment trying to attack you guys who are trying to educated and protect us. Those exact people are the ones that I want to just say,… “Your right, just keep eating as much of that as you want.” “The large food companies care about you and the rest of us are just stuck up snobs.” “Yep, THAT is what is happening here.”

    I wouldn’t care at all if these fools were not knowingly killing their children in the name of “Special Treats” and jacking up our healthcare costs!!!! Keep up the great work and these chemicals will ironically weed those fools out “naturally”.

  65. Although I agree with you, that most of the products you have listed are junk, barely any of them are actually misleading. Misleading would be, when a company promises you something on the front label or in a commercial, but the ingredient list tells you something completely different. For instance, a jar of pesto is labeled as “Original Italian Pesto” and you find in the ingredients sun flower oil, cheap cheese, and hazelnuts, then I would feel tricked. From your examples, the commercials for Nutella is misleading (BTW, it contains 13 % hazel nuts and 7.5 % milk powder). Hershey Strawberry Sirup I find misleading too. Clearly NOT misleading are the Wheat Crackers. With no word or picture does the company claim, that whole wheat is used. You can’t just denounce anything as misleading if it doesn’t fit your taste/eating habits. All the other products contain way too many ingredients and I would not buy them, but they are not really misleading. The surprising thing is, you can buy the same product in other countries and they only contain a fraction of the ingredients.

    Cool Whip – the first week I moved to the US I took a picture of cool whip and sent it home, because I could not believe that you can buy pre-made whip cream.

    1. Critical Reader – The point of this article is not to say “How could these food companies do this to us?!” but rather to educate people that these are some products that can easily trick the average consumer (even if just by the appearance of the package). While you or I would look at that box of wheat crackers, read the ingredients, and then make an informed decision on whether to buy or not, a lot of people don’t even read ingredient labels. We get about 50% new readers every month, and try to provide information that speaks to our broad audience at various stages in their real food journey.

      It does anger me though that food companies have different formulas for the same products in different countries, as you mention. I am all for capitalism but the influence food companies have on our government policies in the US disgusts me. But this blog is focused on practical ways to avoid processed foods, so we don’t get into the political side of things much here except through guests posts/interviews.

  66. Just a small clarification, the ingredients are listed in descending order by their weight, not volume. So maltodextrin being the first ingredient in OEP’s taco seasoning doesn’t mean that there is more of it in the mix than any other ingredient, it just means that whatever amount that’s in it is heavier than anything else… 2 chickpeas weigh more than probably 5 tablespoons of dried parsley, so they would be listed first. Not saying that taco seasoning shouldn’t be free of maltodextrin, I also believe that it’s misleading for food companies to list ingredients in order of weight simply b/c it would take a chemist to figure it out, but if you’re going to pose this as a threat to health it should be posed with accurate information.

    1. Hi Melissa – I’m no chemist but I am a mechanical engineer, and I have to respectfully disagree with you. We understand that ingredients are listed in descending order by weight…that’s how you know how “much” of an ingredient is there. And yes, since maltodextrin is listed as the first ingredient, the product does contain the most of that ingredient. Ingredient lists are standardized this way and it is not deceptive. Here’s an FDA link about ingredient labels. It would be much more confusing if ingredients were listed in order by volume. For example the dried parsley you mention could be 5 tablespoons in one product and 4 in another if the leaves were more finely chopped and therefore more compressed (but they could have the same weight).

  67. Hi Lisa! For sure, I don’t want most of these “foods” in my house or in the tummies of my family! Companies are allowed to be so deceitful. Still, while plus pasta contains a non-whole grain first ingredient, it at least has a lot of great ingredients (lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, barley, spelt, oats, egg whites, and oat fiber). It’s high in fiber and protein, and probably due to the semolina content, it tastes a lot more familiar to the average American. So they are choosing a healthier option compared to most. I think you will appreciate some other “pasta” alternatives besides whole wheat pasta: http://fresh-you.blogspot.com/2012/06/pasta-is-good-for-you.html …the Jerusalem artichoke pasta is “durum semolina” so that’s too bad, but at least it offers inulin, an ingredient that promotes healthy bacteria in our bodies! Thanks for the really cool interview in the previous post! Dr Campbell of the China Study would be a great person for Jason to interview next! Thanks as always for your super blog!!

    1. I agree, sometimes families need to start with part whole grain pasta before going to 100% whole wheat. Barilla whole grain is a good option. It is 51% WHOLE grain wheat and contains only 4 ingredients, whole grain durum wheat flour, semolina, durum wheat flour and oat fiber. Not to mention, 6 grams of fiber per serving. I realize the second and third flours listed are white, but Barilla whole grain pasta is still better then regular white pasta. It is a good transition pasta when going from white to 100% whole wheat.

  68. Thanks so much for opening my eyes on all of this. Common sense is to look at the label but I rarely even glance at it – thanks again it was a great post

  69. Hahaha… i guess those quaker oats guys did say we should “imagine” a bowl of steamy strawberry oatmeal. You just keep imagining that it’s strawberry the whole time you’re eating it.

  70. only two things on the list we ever eat — the crackers which are still better imho than others and the Nutella which isn’t going away anytime soon :)

  71. Informative, as usual. Shows how important it is to read the labels! I’ve found phoney blueberries in many processed foods boasting blueberries. Really!!! I’ve posted a homemade nutella that is delicious with just 2 Tablespoons maple syrup for sweetener n the whole recipe(plus the sugar in the chocolate). Haven’t run the recipe through a calorie tracker yet, but plan to do so for all my recipes – Keep up the good work! – http://cookupastory.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/hazel-tames-the-giant-nutella/

  72. I have been making my own taco seasoning for years now. It’s so easy, and tastes just as good as the store bought, but not bad for you! My recipe has a few more spices than yours does. I love that you show alternatives to the things people take for granted.

  73. I have almost never used convenience products. Compared to making your own, they come with a horrendous price tag. Dollar wise and health wise. I’m not a pushy ‘do-this-not-that’, but holy gosh. This information has been out there for years. It’s personal responsibility. Manufacturers depend on the public being gullible and are we ever. JUST because you read it in the paper or hear about it on TV doesn’t make it true. They have marketers and psychologists on staff. Slick marketing campaigns work. They know what sucks people in. And they laugh at us. All the way to the bank.

  74. I commented on facebook also, but here you may see me better–you mentioned Great Harvest bread as an alternative to Arnold. I thought Great Harvest used HFCS in its bread. Am I mistaken? That would be great if I am!

      1. Hey Jason, my local bakery got back to me. Here’s what they said when I asked them about baking with HFCS: Only in our sweet bread like apple scrapple and cinnamon swirl. We only use a small amount in these bread.

        So, good to know! I’ll message them now with a follow up asking them to try using a different sweetner.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jane. No, Great Harvest does not use HFCS. According to their website, the only ingredients in their honey whole wheat are whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, water and honey. Jill

      1. Jill, it’s all explained in the comments above (in the comment thread on the blog page). As Jason suggested, I contacted my local franchise. They told me that they do use HFCS in their sweeter breads.

  75. Great post! The Hershey’s syrup really gets my goat because I have a friend in England who buys candy for me for special occasions (European laws don’t allow all they stuff into food items that the FDA allows here) and one time she included some strawberry syrup for milk. Guess who it’s made by? And guess what’s in it? Real strawberries! Absolutely burns me up that they have the ability to do it and yet choose not to because they aren’t forced to.

  76. Such a great post! I used to use foods like this without even thinking about it. It took me 6 months to realize that it was these foods that were giving my toddler constipation, keeping her from sleeping, making her itchy, giving her pins and needles… As soon as I took away processed foods, she slept 2 hours a day more and was so happy. And most of the doctors don’t even think that a change in diet will make any difference like this. I love that you give a great real food alternative. It’s one thing to say that something is bad, but you’re not going to change anyone without a good solution. Thank you! This is so helpful!

  77. Funny that you included bread crumbs because it’s the most recent thing I was turned off to. I’ve made my own breadcrumbs, but was going to buy spme because it’s quicker. I actually put it back and told my husband that’s too many ingredients for BREAD CRUMBS!

    We also make our own taco seasoning, which my husband prefers :)

  78. Thank you for this. I’m an avid label reader, and you still opened my eyes to a lot (fake strawberries, what the heck?!?).

    What do you think of the palm oil in Nutella? Isn’t it one of the least healthy oils, as well? It does make a very tasty hot cocoa… :)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jennie. Yes, as you guessed, Nutella is not a product we would promote. The palm oil, sugar and artificial flavor are all red flags. Jill

  79. My kids love lemonade — made with fresh lemon juice and raw honey. We don’t use much honey and we tend to like things mildly flavored so it’s mostly water anyway. (Even if we bought store-bought “better” lemonade we would water it down a lot.) Sometimes we add a pinch of real salt and then it’s a sports drink stand-in.

    I also make chocolate hazelnut spread at home on occasion and usually use grade B maple syrup to sweeten. With a little real cream too it’s great. The kids eat it like frosting. (Not that I make it that often, but I do love chocolate and hazelnuts!) I also saw a brand at Whole Foods today called Justin’s, and it’s expensive $10 for a 16-oz. jar) but it’s made with much better ingredients — if you just want a treat and don’t want to make it.

    I like to make a big batch of taco seasoning all at once and keep it in a mason jar — so easy.

    Sometimes we blend homemade kefir with strawberries and honey and we call that “strawberry milk.” (It’s pretty tart though!)

    I make soaked whole wheat bread when we need bread…and also use that for breadcrumbs (which I keep in the freezer) and stuffing.

    We stick to brown rice pasta mostly (ingredients are brown rice and water). Trader Joe’s has a great price on it.

    I just bought a half gallon of grass-fed heavy cream, which I will be using for real whipped cream for a fruit dip as well as apple pie topping! (And making butter.) Love that stuff. It isn’t cheap, but it’s a wonderful treat. My kids love that too. In fact, we like to make our own apple pie filling, then soak oats and sometimes nuts and make our own apple crisp (low-sugar, with sucanat). We top this with real whipped cream. It’s a super yummy and fairly healthy breakfast!

    There’s very little that’s “safe” in a grocery store. But there are SO many yummy and easy options at home!

  80. Thanks! What a well written and informative post.

    Another one to look at is the mighty tortilla shell. Flour, water, oil, correct? The ingredient list on the ones on the grocery store shelf is so long that it fills up most of the (large) space on the back.

    And people who see nothing wrong with these foods also gross out over hot dogs because they aren’t sure what was ground up in them.

  81. Great Post! I was happy to find that NONE of those foods (or anything similar, except pasta) are in my kitchen :)

  82. Great list. Thank you!
    As you point out, whole foods are best, but as I’ve tried to find healthier treats that travel well for my toddler, I’ve been offended by the popular organic brands trying to fool parents with “dehydrated organic cane juice”. Just call it what it is – sugar. On a quick scan, which is what most of us only have time for, the word “sugar” doesn’t show up, so we feel good about finding a healthy snack for our little ones. It’s technically not dishonest, but it’s definitely purposefully misleading.

  83. I went on a tour of a plant that made instant oatmeal and they said that ALL flavors are actually apple with the powdered flavoring squirted on top.

    so if you want something real out of it – you should only eat the apple flavor.

  84. Thanks for the great post! I have been finding out about these products recently and actually wrote a blog post quacker oatmeal. It makes me so angry that they are trying to deceive consumers. Honestly, I used to buy the Back to Nature brand of crackers. That was one that shocked me the most. Thanks fordoing all you can to bring this to peoples attention. :) Love your blog.