Video: Don’t Fall For These Deceiving Packaged Foods!

I got to do one of my favorite things on the Charlotte Today show this morning…debunk deceiving food labels! We went through 6 different examples of packaged foods, and I shared better (and realistic) alternatives for each. I used to buy every single one of these processed items before my real food wake up call back in 2010. Which ones have you fallen for?



Here are some details for the alternatives I mention in the video.

Real Food Alternatives:

  1. Pasta: Look for 100% whole grain pasta that only has 1 ingredient (whole durum wheat) listed on the package.
  2. Breadcrumbs: Make your own (by crumbling bread in a food processor and baking it at 300 degrees F for 20 to 22 min) or buy Ian’s brand that has only 4 whole ingredients.
    _
  3. Honey Mustard: Make this at home by mixing together equal parts honey and mustard.
  4. Popcorn: Add 1/4 or 1/3 cup kernels to brown paper lunch bag, fold it over 2 or 3 times, and microwave it until the popping slows down to 1 to 2 seconds between pops (it takes 3 minutes 15 seconds to fully cook at my house).
  5. Lemonade: Even if you make it at home from scratch it’s still full of sugar! So try water with a slice of lemon or a splash of juice instead.
  6. Taco Seasoning: Make it at home by mixing together 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, oregano, and salt.

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60 thoughts on “Video: Don’t Fall For These Deceiving Packaged Foods!”

  1. Although I noticed that this is a few years old, I still have to say how much I appreciated this. I’ve seen clips like this before, with the idea of which foods to avoid, but yours was so much more helpful and informative. Good tips and well explained, while keeping it simple. Thank you!

  2. I LOVE when you do these kind of videos this is so hard sometimes to figure out and these are very very helpful. Thank you very much!

  3. I usually like to do my own spice and seasoning blends, but taco seasoning is one we use a lot and is good to have made up ahead of time. I like Penzey’s (www.penzeys.com) because they don’t use any junk. And it’s delicious!

  4. We have been doing the popcorn trick for a few weeks here and I am so thankful for it. So easy and you are right, NONE of the added crap that the microwavable popcorn has AND it ends up being cheaper in the end. Love it!

  5. I make my lemonade with honey from my step-dad’s bees. My kids love it and it’s much healthier than processed sugar!

  6. These are great tips, thanks for sharing! When looking at labels, I am always of the mindset that if I can’t pronounce an ingredient, I probably don’t want it in my body. Many people think it’s difficult or intimidating to start eating better, but often it’s simple and easy to make wholesome alternatives to processed items.

  7. Great video, thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to try the popcorn in a brown bag alternative. Such a minor change for a healthier option, thanks!

  8. Thank you. I used Old El Paso taco/fajitas spice mixes (and Maggi So Juicy too, I’m in the UK don’t know if you have those in the US) and I just found home made replacements for all after seeing your video. No more expensive, unhealthy mixes for us! Many many thanks!

  9. Oh my goodness, I had never ever thought to make my own microwave popcorn! I usually use an air popper or stovetop with oil, but sometimes we get the nasty bad for you stuff when we want something easy and mess-free. Mind blown. :)

  10. I was going to point out that none of the foods (except the glass of water) were actually real foods at all, but processed grain food-like substances instead, when I realized that at least these ideas might move someone partway towards real food.

    Real foods are easy to find, they are in your produce and meat departments, and nowhere else in the store.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Melissa. As long as you find one that has a short ingredient list without additives and preservatives. Here is Eden Organic’s list: Organic whole, yellow mustard seed Brassica alba with mild heat and mellow sweetness is hammer milled and mixed with organic raw apple cider vinegar, organic turmeric, organic paprika, organic garlic, and a bit of our finest Portuguese sea salt. ~Amy

  11. Great information! I was actually just thinking about the terrible ingredients in taco seasoning and how I could mix it myself, so this was beautiful timing for me! Thank you for doing what you do!!!

  12. Thanks so much for sharing. I LOVE all the information you provide and have learned so much. Keep ’em coming!

  13. Lisa, I think your “Real Food” title is very misleading as, other than the popcorn, most of what you recommended is processed, not real, food. Why not just try to avoid anything that comes in a box, a can, or from a drive-thru window? As far as ‘healthy whole grains’ goes, if you would show me just one whole grain in that pasta I might be tempted to try it but once it is processed to a fine powder it becomes easily digestable and causes the same blood sugar spike as white flour.

    1. I disagree. That would mean you’re opposed to stone mill ground flours, and corn meals. Or local honey sold in stores, and or farmers markets. Most foods will go through some type of process. We need to clean fruits, and veggies. Isn’t that considered a process? To make coffee in 1800’s they used small grinding mills, and did their own. That’s a process.
      For myself I understand what this website is all about. It’s returning to the ways we should be feeding ourselves. Unfortunately as a nation we get caught up on details that may hinder working toward better products, and consumer need. I grew up on a farm. I took it for granted all the fresh meats, and produce. Monsanto, and ConAgra are killing foods, as well as the local farmers. How would you make pasta with an untouched kernel of wheat, without grinding it? How could you fix a bowl of oatmeal without having the oats ground to meal? That’s a process. Not all “canned” products are bad. Lisa my hubby, and I both come in agreement with what you, and your team put on the site. Thanks for ideas, and your hardwork.

    2. Really? I guess with that logic the only “real” food would be RAW, because once cooked, everything becomes processed, even popcorn. Actually Lisa has many real food recipes. And she does advocate using fresh ingredients and making things from scratch whenever possible. However, she also lives in the real world and understands that not everyone has time to say, make their own mustard, so she gave the suggestion to a least make healthier honey mustard. Oh, and those of us living in a northern climate, don’t have the luxury of things like GOOD tomatoes in the middle of winter, so I buy the occasional BPA free can of organic tomatoes to get me though until the summer farmer’s market.

    3. She actually does make her own pasta, and grinds her own wheat. So, little do you know! She was doing a segment on deceiving labels, not her whole entire philosophy!

  14. I loved this video and the tip on honey mustard — great easy alternative to ketchup for a dip. I also need to try the microwave popcorn tip!!

    I just saw this article on my local new site and it just made me cringe — their suggestions for quick kids meals start with pasta, then tortillas, bread, then fruits/veggies. I am so glad to have your blog as a resource for healthy ways to feed my family!

    http://www.syracuse.com/cooking/index.ssf/2014/03/four_things_to_keep_on_hand_fo.html#comments

  15. I switched from taco seasoning packets to homemade a while back. My suggestion is to find a recipe you like, write it on the side of an airtight container (zippered bags work), and just make more when it gets low. That way it’s handy and ready to go, and you don’t have to search for the recipe every time you want to use it.

    I also noted on mine to use 2-3 Tbsp to equal one package of seasoning, since most recipes just call for packages rather than actual quantity of spices.

  16. Hi All,

    there is a misconception in some of the text above…wheat is NOT a GMO. It definitely is not what it was and has been hybridized, but that is not the same as a genetically modified organism such as corn. Just wanted to clear that up. And I agree, Monsanto is ruining food!

  17. Hi Lisa, Im a long-time reader but dont comment. I just had to comment today to say what a natural you are in front of the camera! You really need to host your own show!! You are so likeable and well spoken and offer so much great information in a relatable non-judgey way. Your camera presence is really just as amazing as your writing and recipes. Just wanted to let you know Im a huge fan of yours :)

  18. I love your website and recent video. I pretty much use all your vegetarian recipes. After reading your post on bread crumbs, I now make my own. Thanks for all your research and sharing it with the masses. Also, I can’t wait for your book to be published.

  19. Hi Lisa, I enjoyed your show and really appreciate you taking time to make folks aware of what is in those nicely packaged containers. I’m so blown away by the crazy stuff that seem to come from the most commonly used, seemingly safe foods. I’m guilty of using each one of those, except for the lemonade. We do have a lemon tree and it makes sense for us to make fresh lemonade when needed.
    Congratulations on the show and hopefully we see more of you in the video media formats.

  20. This is great info. I have just switched my family over to whole grain pasta and are starting to make big improvements in the amount of processed foods we purchase and eat. With that, is there a pasta sauce you recommend that doesn’t include unnecessary ingredients? I have tried making my own, with different recipes, and have not found one my whole family will eat. I am in California, so we have Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts, which are all grocery store options for us. Thanks for the help!

  21. Great ideas. I love the one of doing the popcorn in the paper bag in the microwave. I will have to try that. I switched from the pre-packaged type with al the bad stuff in it to just kernels a long time ago.

  22. We make homemade lemonade in our juicer- a couple of apples, peeled lemon, celery, and (if we have them) a handful of grapes. My kids (4 and 6) love it!

  23. I used to think making my own salad dressing, taco seasoning, bread crumbs, etc. would take too much time. Then I started paying attention to all the “extra” unnecessary ingredients and how I wanted to eat better and feed my kids better. So, I started making my own dressings and seasonings and it’s funny – I just made some breadcrumbs out of a loaf of homemade bread I make in my dutch oven and honestly it’s not that much work. It kind of comes naturally and theres more satisfaction in eating something that you prepared from scratch with basic ingredients!!!

  24. I used to use packet taco seasoning, now my home-made recipe is a bit different to yours. Chilli powder, paprika, cumin, celery salt, onion powder and garlic powder. I would say your oregano is more of a Italian seasoning, and I think the paprika is very important! But I can’t tell you the amounts because I put in a couple of shakes of this and a couple of shakes of that! Maybe half a teaspoon of each.

    1. I lived in Mexico for a few years, and was surprised to find that oregano was used in many of traditional dishes. We were there in a travel trailer and we would simply walk out through the surrounding countryside and pick the oregano that grew wild everywhere.

  25. Lemonade can be made in a sugar free way if you use apple and add some lemon juice. The apple adds plenty of sugar/ the sweet it needs without the raw sugar. I read it in the juice book that I got, but I am sure you could make it in a more whole foods version. When I made it in the juicer it was very good.

  26. I think rather than cut out wheat all together, it is good to look for organic and nonGMo.Monsanto has contaminated too much of our food supply.

  27. I have started using almond meal in place of bread crumbs. I think it tastes better in most things, cuts carbs and increases protein!

  28. Thanks so much for all you do. Found your website at the beginning of the year. We’ve tried SO many of your recipes and love them all. Thanks for all your hard work.

  29. This was great Lisa – you’ve been such a terrific source in helping me transition into cleaner eating. Much appreciated and great seeing you “live!”

  30. Well, I had already been thinking about it but just haven’t gotten around to making my own breadcrumbs. I keep buying them because its fast and convenient!! I need help!! Is there any particular bread that you think is best for homemade breadcrumbs?

    1. I keep all the ends and any other pieces that get a little stale of all types of bread, even buns, and make them into bread crumbs and put them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer. Super convenient and even better tasting than store-bought ones. (I often add some Italian seasonings and a little grated parmesan cheese when I use them.)

  31. Thank you, Lisa and team, for all you are doing! I found your site a week ago and I am OBSESSED. I always thought we were fairly healthy eaters, but now know that I overlooked SO much. We’ve been doing organic veggies and fruit when possible, but meat, eggs, and dairy are much more challenging. I found a market that I’m going to try finding them at this weekend. Thank you so much for the inspiration! I love this taco seasoning alternative as I’ve been wondering if I can keep any of my easy go-to meals. I look forward to trying so many of your recipes and ideas!!!

    1. Emily – try the “roasted chicken in a crockpot” and “granola” recipes first. They are very easy and you will love them!

  32. Great message but you may want to do a little more research on the “healthy whole grains”. Modern wheat is very bad for humans whether it’s refined or not. Granted, whole wheat is a little less bad for humans but not by much. Skip the wheat altogether. Skip the genetically modified corn while you’re at it.

    1. Bill – I know there are quite a few in the “wheat is poison” camp, but it’s a traditional food that’s been around for centuries and unless you have an allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity to it I don’t think there is any reason to avoid it. So long story short – if you feel better without wheat then don’t eat it, but cutting out wheat is not for the masses. There are lots of blogs that are gluten-free and even grain-free that I’d be happy to recommend, but that’s not what you’ll find here (FYI).

      1. Lisa, yes, wheat has been around for centuries… but what we call ‘wheat’ now bears VERY LITTLE resemblance to what our grandparents called wheat. Not trying to convince you that it’s ‘evil’, but there is a reason that wheat/gluten intolerance have proliferated in the last 30 years or so, and that’s because wheat has been ‘modernized’ significantly in the last 50-60 years.

        I cannot eat modern wheat, but I can eat heirloom wheat varieties–the kinds that my grandparents grew and used—the traditional kinds that have been used for centuries. :)

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