Are you a label-reader?
I am an obsessive label reader…it started when I was losing weight for the first time, I would look at the calorie and fat content of everything that had a nutrition label. When I did Weight Watchers for a stint, I started paying attention to the fiber content of my foods (fiber = lower points, but I know now that adding fiber powder to ice cream doesn’t make it a health food. Right, Gina?).
These days, I read labels with other purposes, maybe not instead, but in addition to the calorie count. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals awhile back, I started paying more attention to the food I was eating, and began making efforts to eat less “Franken-foods” made with crazy chemicals. I also try to avoid trans fats when grocery shopping, because trans fats are just bad news.
Yesterday, I hit up Whole Foods to swap out some items in my kitchen for healthier counterparts. First up…peanut butter.
I buy nut butter from Trader Joe’s because it’s cheap and all-natural, but a few weeks ago, I snagged (don’t judge!) some single-serving cups of Smucker’s peanut butter from a hotel’s breakfast buffet. I figured they’d be great for camping, or oatmeal breakfasts/snacks away from home. It wasn’t until later that I read the ingredient list and saw “partially hydrogenated soybean oil,” which means it contains trans fat.
I bought a single-serving pack of Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter, which I’m sure will be MORE delicious than the Smucker’s, with a much more desirable ingredient list.
I made this swap because I realized that the Montreal Steak Seasoning we had at home contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil and even though it’s a tiny amount, is that really needed in SPICES? Me thinks not.
My harping on the evils of hidden trans fat finally convinced Mitch (or he wants me to shut up, one of the two) so he asked me to find trans-fat-free steak seasonings for tomorrow’s planned grilled dinner. Of course, I found it at Whole Foods. It’s basically the same thing, with less sodium per teaspoon and NO trans fat!
At the store, I didn’t get why WF called it “Toronto” seasoning…and then I got home and put the two side by side. Toronto, Montreal…I thought that was hilarious and called Mitch to tell him, but he didn’t pick up his phone, which was probably for the best. I doubt he’d find it as clever as I did.
I tried, I really did, to cut out my post-dinner treat…and then Mitch started buying Jello pudding cups and that was the end of that. Now, I’m not even that wild about the sugar-free (aka Splenda-filled) cups, but they were somewhat chocolaty and 60 calories a pop, so I was breaking into the boy’s stash. To keep myself away from the Jello and its less-than-natural ingredients, I bought two portion-controlled sweet snacks.
On the far right is a So Delicious dairy-free mint “ice cream” sandwich. I’ve had the full-size flavor so I know how, well, delicious, these are. They taste like mint chocolate-chip ice cream, and the mini size only has 90 calories apiece. Three bites of heaven (very processed, but better than the Jello, I’d say).
The item in the middle is probably new to you. These are ChocoPods, a 60-calorie serving of gourmet chocolate developed by Chuao Chocolatier, based out of San Diego. I picked the Picante flavor, which Chuao describes as “delicate dark chocolate shell filled with a blend of Cabernet wine caramel seasoned with pasilla chile and cayenne pepper.” Does that not sound amazing? I’ve tried their Spicy Maya flavor of chocolate, which is HOLY YUM so I have high hopes for this flavor (they make chocolate without chilis too).
The “healthier” swaps I made are all more expensive than the original (free versus $1.39 a pop for the peanut butter, for example). But I fully believe in “doing what I can” as far as making the best food choices for me (and Mitch, when he’ll let me!).
Have you made any product swaps recently due to the nutrition label/ingredient list? Do you have any “never-buy” ingredients that you don’t allow in your kitchen? I’m certainly not perfect, and I don’t do all our grocery shopping, but I think every little swap I can make is a step in the right direction!
Before I head out, I have two items to report:
- For two days in a row, I did 45 minutes on the stair climber at the gym! I’m nursing a toe injury so I can’t run or walk hills outside, so I’ve been sticking to stairs. I used to not be able to do more than 5 minutes, so this is huge for me!
- Nina seems to be doing better, after an expensive trip to the vet for x-rays showed that she didn’t have any more bones in her digestive tract (sorry if TMI). The worst seems to be behind us, as long as she’ll stay out of the damn trash.