Additive Avoidance Tips

This blog is about avoiding additives, vs. complete elimination. It is nearly impossible to find every food item without some additives. In these cases, finding the best brand containing the fewest additives is the goal. This is where becoming a “label reader” will guide you to the best choice. Here are some tips to help you along.

- Familiarize yourself with names of additives and read labels. Print out the list of additives names and keep it in your wallet for shopping.

- The fewer the ingredients listed, the better. And, the farther down they are on the list, the less amount is used.

- Use whole milk, real sour cream, butter. Low fat, no fat, and diet foods and beverages contain mass amounts of additives to try to replace the flavor and texture that is lost. I worried about our weight with these changes, but I quickly saw that the switch only improved our metabolism. I don't give it a second thought. I am just so glad to taste the good stuff, and use everything in moderation.

- Beware of sulfites: meta-bisulfites, sodium bisulfite, etc. These are added to foods that discolor quickly, like frozen potatoes, canned white beans, dried fruit, seafood, white grape and apple juices. They can cause terrible stomach problems very quickly for those who are sensitive. Be very careful with restaurant shrimp. I ask every time if their shrimp is treated with sulfites. Ask about seafood at the grocer's butcher counter. It is usually possible to find a brand of shrimp frozen with only salt water. Again, read labels.

- Look for canned tuna, salmon, and chicken in water and salt only. No broth or “protein”. Starkist Gourmet Choice Solid Light Tuna Filet (in water or olive oil), Safeway Select Tongol Tuna, or Kirkland brands are good.

- Look for additive-free convenience. Some examples: Paradise Valley All Natural Creamy Mashed Potatoes (Costco), Health Valley canned soups (still read label), Kirkland canned tuna, salmon, and chicken (Costco), McCormack Parsley Patch garlic seasoning blend (Costco), organic salad dressings (read labels), bagged salads, coleslaw shreds, Kozy Shak puddings (great for quick cream pies), Glen Muir tomato products, Safeway Select brand (read labels), Albertson’s Wild Harvest Organic Pasta sauces and boxed cereal, Pacific Foods boxed Chicken Broth and Tomato soup, Herdez Salsas, frozen vegetables for quick soups, casseroles, stirfry.

- Avoid “solution” and “extra tender” meats in the meat and frozen department. Look for “minimally processed”, and “all natural” labels. I buy Cook's brand ham and rinse it well. Safeway Select also has an "All Natural" ham that is good.

- Tortillas and baked goods, bread can be made with L-Cysteine, or dough conditioners. Some good brands: Guerreros, Mission, and Kirkland (Costco).

- When seasoning dishes, add sugar along with the salt, about a 1-2 ratio. These two work together in bringing out optimum flavors, and actually reduce the amount of salt you might use otherwise.

- Avoid canned soups in general. Read labels.

- Avoid flavored chips, potato or corn tortilla. Some Kettle Chips are okay, but again, read the labels. Plain old salted original can be flavored up with my recipes for BBQ and Nacho seasonings for chips.

- I read once that color is nutrition. The more color variance in your meal, the more nutritionally balanced it will be. Think about a simple plate (and one of my favorite meals) of browned meatloaf with red glazed ketchup, green peas and orange carrots, and golden garlic mashed potatoes. Throw in some berry cobbler for dessert and you’ve got a rainbow! It is also helpful in filling out a menu. Ask yourself, “What colors am I missing?” Of course, you don’t have to use every color in every meal, but the idea is to have a variety.

- As a busy mom, I have made compromises. I am not supermom. I buy bread, white and wheat, and 100% juice boxes for school lunches. I buy cereal for our busy mornings, but I avoid corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors. I buy ketchup, mustard, and mayo, checking labels for the “cleanest” product. I buy occasional packages of Foster Farms or Jennie-O chicken hotdogs, or Falls Brand Wieners for a special treat, and Bush’s Original Baked Beans for those nights on the go. These are my personal compromises, so I may keep my sanity, and my family’s additive levels minimal.

- I do not take vitamin supplements, use diet shakes and bars, Instant breakfasts, or supplemental beverages. These are loaded with additives and fillers, binders, and gelatin. We get what we need from the good whole foods we eat, and enriched breads, pastas, and cereals.

- Most people, when considering this way of eating and cooking, are concerned about the cost. It is understandably assumed that this will be more expensive. Walk into a whole foods store and things are expensive. But I am not suggesting you buy everything at a whole foods store, all organic, all natural. There are many, many items full of additives in a whole foods store (textured vegetable protein, anyone?). I ask you to consider the expense of prepared foods. When your pantry is stocked with the basics (see Pantry Suggestions) for additive avoidance cooking, you are using basic, inexpensive food items that many times are more cost effective than their additive-filled counterparts. Other than the expense of replacing the old brands with the new, I have seen no increase in expense in our budget. In fact, without having to rely on pre-packaged, frozen, or boxed meals, I don't go to the store as often. I use what I have to make something from scratch, or close to it. Yes, a few items will be more expensive (real butter, cane sugar), but I am saving in other areas, and the difference is minimal. Really.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Are there vitamin supplements that are safe?