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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - The Scoop on Some Nasties

Frugal Kitchens 101
Today's supermarkets are filled with an amazing variety of foods. Many people are so used to going into the grocery store and filling their cart putting blind trust into the food manufacturers. Did you know what is in your food can hurt you! It's true. Chemical residues, preservatives, additives in your foods as well as food packaging can cause harm. Notice that some of these nasties can be found in various combinations with other food nasties so you are getting more than a double whammy in that food product. For example a cake mix could contain alloxan, high fructose corn syrup and tartrazin with each acting alone or in combination to have a variety of negative effect on the human body. You won't be able to elimate these ingredients entirely especially if you eat out but you will be able to greatly reduce your exposure. It is imparative to read that ingredient list on any food product you buy. If at all possible it is best to avoid if at all possible or minimize your exposure to the following:

  • white flour - White flour has been chemically bleached using chloride oxide. When combined with whatever proteins are still left in the flour chloride oxide produces alloxan, a poison that has been used to produce diabetes in laboratory animals. Unbleached flour does not have any alloxan so is healthier for you than white flour yet it tastes and costs the same as white flour. In addition to the chemical residue, white flour has been stripped of most of it's nutritive value so is a poor value for your food dollar. A better choice is whole whole wheat, multi-grain or rye flours. Many products now list if a product is made with unbleached flour so it is getting easier to choose products making your purchase decision easier. Avoid all commercially prepared baked products made with white flour which is not as difficult as it sounds given there are so many alternatives. Aside of that where you will run into white flour is the fast food industry specifically in the buns which of course can be eliminated from your diet entirely or at the very least greatly reduced.
  • preservatives - Avoid as many food preservatives as possible as in many cases little is known about their long term side effects on the human body. One particular preservative to avoid is sodium benzoate that is often used to preserve citrus juice concentrate (eg. RealLemon®). When combined with heat in acidic conditions sodium benzoate converts to benzene, a known carcinogen. Do not use any lemon juice containing this preservative for home canning when acidifying tomato products but rather use a preservative free lemon juice. When using lemon juice for other purposes use fresh squeezed lemon juice or preservative free lemon juice. Avoiding preservatives is as easy as using fresh produce or substituting frozen fruits and vegetables for canned if buying store bought and buying preservative free products. The number of commercially prepared preservative free products grows almost daily so finding a substitute is getting easier. Make your own mixes using whole foods for a low cost, preservative free alternative. Preserving foods at home (canning, freezing, drying) eliminates preservatives as well.
  • high fructose corn syrup - It is almost impossible to find a store bought product that does not have corn in it or influencing it to some degree. The problem is severe corn allergies are increasing and some corn products such as high fructose corn syrup which is increasing dramatically in store bought products has been implicated in triggering ADD/ADHD. Surprisingly high fructose corn syrup can even be found in products such as multi-grain breads that are supposed to be healthier for you. High fructose corn syrup should be avoided if at all possible by making your own products like breads, ketchup, pasta sauces, mixes and anything else that would contain high fructose corn syrup. An alternative to making your own is to buy health conscious products that do not use high fructose corn syrup in their products. Look for products that use maple syrup, honey or molasses as sweeteners rather than high fructose corn syrup.
  • BPA (bisphenol-A) - BPA is widely used in baby and water bottles as well as in the mandatory plastic lining of all food cans used in North America. he FDA (US) declared BPA in use since the 1960's to be safein 2008 safe but is now concerned about the safety of BPA so this chemical has had a good 50 years to do considerable damage "on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children" (from linked article). The problem is any commercially canned food has small amounts of BPA in it from the coating due to leaching during the canning process. Avoid BPA by using commercially prepared foods in jars, home canning or using frozen foods instead. The lids on glass jars both commercial and those used for home canning also have this coating but there is less chance of leaching into the food.
  • food colourings/flavourings - Many commercially prepared foods contain artifical food colourings and/or flavourings. Tartrazin a synthetic yellow azo dye (E102) (FD&C Yellow #5) is used in a wide range of commercially prepared food products from Mountain Dew to jams, jellies, corn chips, soups, cake mixes, pickles and so much more. This artificial dye causes the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all the azo dyes. It is particularly problematic for asthmatics and those with an aspirin intolerance. The mixture of tartrazin and sodium benzoate in foods has been indicated as a cause of increased hyperactivity in children. Allura red AC (E129) (FD&C Red #40) is a synthetic orange/red food dye that when combined with sodium benzoate has also been implicated in in increased hyperactivity in children. Products with artificial dyes can be avoided and in many cases there are substitutions that use natural dyes instead. When using any food dye or flavouring in home cooking or baking look for the natural colour and flavour alternatives.
  • municiple water - Those using municiple water are treated with chlorine and/or fluoride. Studies have shown that by-products of chlorination are associated with increased cancer risks. High doses of fluoride can be toxic but in lower doses "fluoride may increase the risk of cancer, bone weakening, and other serious health problems". Invest in a good water filter that will remove both chlorine and fluoride from water used for drinking, cooking and for pets.

6 food lovers commented:

A Year on the Grill said...

It's a tough sell, but especially the corn syrup is killing our kids

great post

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks Dave :)

Ask Ms Recipe said...

Very good information, thanks for sharing with me,especially about ADHD kids.

Ms Recipe

pslorenz said...

Thanks for the list. We have for the most part kicked all of those "foods" off of our eating list. I stumbled upon your blog because I googled Homemade Shake and Bake and your recipe came up. I've looked around a bit and have enjoyed what you share. Thanks so much for our dinner recipe tonight! We are going to have baked potatoes also! Have a blessed day! Happy Cooking!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Pslorenz and thanks for visiting. I'm so glad you found a couple of recipes here that you can use. I hope you enjoy them and happy cooking :)

Garden Gnome said...

You're quite welcome Ms Recipe :)