Friday, April 1, 2011

Things get dicey when it comes to tomatoes...

Recently I purchased a case of Hunt's All Natural Diced Tomatoes. I looked at the ingredients first, of course. Tomatoes, tomato juice, less than 2% of salt, citric acid and calcium chloride. I could live without the last two, but they're kind of standard in canned tomatoes, not a problem and probably necessary to keep things right with color and flavor.

Anyway, I had been buying the Kroger store brand as it was usually cheaper. I got the case of Hunts at a great price on sale at Sams.

I opened a can, used it in a dish and could immediately taste the difference. The Hunts was sweeter. Not eating sugar, I have rather sensitive taste buds anymore.

I happened to have a can of the Kroger brand on the shelf so I compared ingredients. The same although they reversed the order of citric acid and calcium chloride.

I then compared the nutrition facts. Whoa, the Hunts brand had six (6) carbs per 1/2 c serving while the Kroger brand had only four (4) for the same size serving. Both had 3g of sugar.

I zapped off an email to ConAgra, maker / owner or whatever of Hunts. I simply asked if they included sugar in the tomato juice. It's been almost three weeks and aside from the canned response, I haven't had a response. Given the sugars are the same I doubt there is added sugar. Plus, I believe they would have to list it as an ingredient in the tomato juice in parenthesis. Maybe they just grind up more tomatoes in the juice?  It is a richer juice.

I then went on a search to compare brands. Here's what I found:

Del Monte - 25 calories, 250mg sodium, 6 carbs, 2 fibers, 4 sugars
Muir Glen - 30 calories, 290mg sodium, 6 carbs, 1 fiber, 4 sugars
Hunts - 25 calories, 250mg sodium, 6 carbs, 2 fibers, 4 sugars (although can says 3)
Great Value (Walmart brand) - 25 calories, 220mg sodium, 4 carbs, 1 fiber, 3 sugars
Progresso - 25 calories, 250mg sodium, 5 carbs, 1 fiber, 3 sugars
Kroger - 25 calories, 220mg sodium, 4 carbs, 1 fiber, 3 sugars

My conclusion? Stay away from Muir Glen as it ranked highest in everything bad. Chances are it probably tastes the best!

And the bottom line? This is one area where buying the store brand is definitely healthier. The store brands I compared are much better for those counting carbs, too.

In case you're wondering, I couldn't find anything that said Hunts or any of the other brands included sugar in the tomato juice used in their canned tomatoes. However, beware of ANY of the ones that have other ingredients, the Italian Herb, etc. Most, if not all, of the ones with things other than straight tomatoes have sugar plainly listed in the ingredients.

If salt / sodium is an issue for you then you already know these are bad boys and that you have the option of salt-free canned tomatoes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do you put sugar in your gravy?

I've been making gravy since I was old enough to reach the stove. Flour or cornstarch, milk or water, drippings, and a whole bunch of different spices depending on the type. It has never crossed my mind to add a touch of sugar to country gravy, brown gravy, or any other kind of gravy. Even before I kicked the habit.

What about you? Do you toss a quarter teaspoon or more of sugar into your chicken or turkey gravy?

Well, Shawnee Mills Peppered Country Gravy does. It's the gravy that is packaged with Fast Classics Chicken Fried Chicken Breasts. They're one of my husband's favorites. He likes sugar, meat, and pretty much anything that is considered 'normal' eating these days.

I sneak in healthy stuff wherever I can but am not a nagger. I really try to avoid buying processed foods for him as much as possible, too.

I started looking at the package for the gravy as I was whisking it up this evening. I expected to find the usual chemicals, but was not expecting to find "corn syrup solids", "dextrose", AND "sugar" listed in the ingredients. The serving size was 2 tablespoons. Yep,  2 li'l ol' tablespoons. There are 5g carbs per serving and... ta da... NO sugar. No fiber. It would be real interesting to find out how many sugars there are in a real serving like most of us dole out.

Then, I just had to pull out the package of chicken and look at the ingredients. It's amazing how much stuff there is in one of those pieces. Yep, they included sugar in the mix. It's way down near the bottom, under the "less than 2%" heading but it's there.

I know they put these things together and taste test. They add this, add that, play until they come up with something that testers can't resist. I wonder if that little dab of sugar is what tips the scales from "that's good" to "Wow, love it"? Or do they just stick sugar in stuff now because it's that addictive? I haven't got a clue. I can just speculate.

I think our taste buds have adjusted to all the super sweet things we eat. Adjusted so much that things don't taste right without a little bit of sugar in them. I don't think that these food producers are sitting around in a big room, gleefully rubbing their hands, thinking of ways to addict the masses to sugar. The end result may be the same!

Bottom line is that I won't be buying Fast Classics Chicken Fried Chicken Breasts anymore. Darn.

Wasabi Almonds

I was loving Blue Diamond's Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds...until I looked at the ingredients. Sugar. I know everyone is sticking it in their products now 'cause we're used to it (plus, it's addictive), but still, why in Wasabi flavored almonds?

Lest you ask why I didn't check before trying, I was given them at someone's house who doesn't eat sugar and made the mistake of trusting without verifying. I actually bought a container and ate a few before my taste buds raised the question as to that tinge of sweet I was tasting. It's slight, but if you're not a sugar-eater, it's noticeable.

Here's the list of ingredients:

Wasabi & Soy Sauce Flavor
Ingredients: almonds, vegetable oil (canola, safflower and/or sunflower), sugar, modified corn starch, salt, soy sauce (soybeans, wheat, salt), horseradish, onion, spice, fractionated coconut oil, garlic, maltodextrin, yeast extract, natural flavor, citric acid, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate.

What's really strange is that Blue Diamond has a great recipe for Wasabi Almonds on their website that doesn't contain sugar, Here's a link to the recipe. I'm making it now.

Just in case you're curious, here's the ingredients on a few other Blue Diamond products. All contain one of more forms of sugar. Some  of their flavors, like the barbecue, would obviously have sugar in them so I didn't include.

Jalapeno Smokehouse Flavor
Ingredients: almonds, vegetable oil (canola, safflower and/or sunflower), salt, maltodextrin, torula yeast, spices, jalapeno pepper, onion powder, natural smoke flavor (contains soybean oil), natural flavors, and garlic powder.

Lime 'N Chili Flavor
Ingredients: almonds, vegetable oil (canola, safflower and/or sunflower), salt, sour cream (cream, nonfat milk, cultures), maltodextrin, modified corn starch, paprika, citric acid, spice, corn syrup solids, lime juice solids, vinegar solids, natural flavor.

Salt 'N Vinegar Flavor
Ingredients: almonds, vegetable oil (canola, safflower and/or sunflower), salt, sodium diacetate, dextrose, lactose (milk), and malic acid.

Good article: The “Skinny” On High-Fructose Corn Syrup

If you’re like me, you’ve heard a great deal of conflicting talk about the naturalness, goodness, badness, healthfulness and harmfulness of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). 

The FDA says it can be labeled a “natural” product because it is made from corn. Yet, a percentage of the corn it is manufactured from is known as GMO or has been genetically modified. That doesn’t sound so natural to me. More

He ends the article appropriately with a comment about the 'lesser of two evils'.

Sugar isn't good, high fructose corn syrup is worse.

Here's the link again if clicking 'More' doesn't work properly:[P11218801]&rrid=387593487

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We're on a hunt...

I've been sugar free for many, many years. I fell off the wagon for a short while. It didn't take long to put on weight, start getting those afternoon blahs and start having all kinds of little aches and pains. However, getting off the stuff proved difficult.

I'd start, handle it for a few days, then my hubby would bring home a box of cookies or I'd go to my Mom's and she'd have made a caramel cake and there I'd go. If you could hear the thoughts that went through my head! "Just one bite, that's all I'll have". "I'll start tomorrow." "I can just cut back."


Sugar is highly addictive.

Why do you think they give junkies coming off drugs all the candy they want? The feelings may not be as strong, but they do enough to help. They trade one addiction for another. One is legal, the other isn't.

Why do you think you have such a hard time sticking to a diet? It's not just the fats, it's the sugar that's in almost everything you eat!

Why do you think they now put sugar in almost everything? My shocker of the week was the sweet potato fries I used to buy. I had a craving for sweet potatoes, reached into the freezer section at Publix to grab a bag and just on a whim looked at the ingredients. Sugar. Why do they need to add sugar to something that is already so naturally sweet? I wasn't looking for sugar, I was curious to see what kind of preservatives or additives they had.

I got back off sugar with ease when it finally clicked. I wasn't really intending to stop eating it, either. I went on a low carb diet with my son, which meant --> NO SUGAR. I didn't think about it as I was so busy counting carbs and trying to find things I could eat. Luckily I was working my butt off for the first five or six days so I really didn't have time to feel the cravings.

At the end of the time with my son I realized I was well on my way to cleansing my system of sugar and that I may as well stick with it. I'll be doing this the rest of my life. I see no reason in the world to go back on sugar. I have so much more energy, most of my aches and pains have vanished and I've lost over 30 pounds in just a few short months. I'm in for good. I had forgotten how good it felt to be free of sugar.

So, I'm now on a hunt. I'm going to share what I find about hidden sugars and the affects of sugar on our bodies.