Sunday, July 29, 2012

WhoNu these weren't a good option? I knew, that's who!

WhoNu? Cookies. Don't get fooled. These have been on the shelves for a while now and I thought they'd go away but they haven't. I'm not sure if people are buying them and that's why or if the shelf life is so long they've just been sitting there this whole time.

I did a little research on the Oreo type version of the WhoNu? cookie and let me start by comparing the ingredients.

WhoNu? Chocolate Cookies: Sugar, Wheat Flour, Vegetable Oils (Canola, Palm, Palm Kernel Oil, Soybean Oil And Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed And Coconut Oil), Cocoa, Dextrose, Polydextrose, Yellow Corn Flour, Corn Syrup, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Monoglycerides, Vanilla Extract.

Oreo Cookies: Sugar, Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid), High Oleic Canola Oil And/or Palm Oil And/or Canola Oil, And/or Soybean Oil, Cocoa (Processed With Alkali), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Leavening (Baking Soda And/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Vanillin – An Artificial Flavor, Chocolate.

They're very similar, yes? Although I don't buy Oreo cookies or other boxed/highly processed cookies, I've never noticed them claiming to be "nutrition rich cookies." That's what's irritating. Well that and this piece written last year. Especially "Who knew delicious could be so nutritious? That's what Moms across the country are exclaiming since the recent launch of WhoNu?..." Moms are exclaiming? Hu? Any mom exclaiming that in regards to these cookies, needs to brush up on the facts. Oh and this quote from the VP "Children are snacking more than ever and they're snacking on nutrient-deficient foods with empty calories" reminds us that kids in the US are snacking too much and often it is junk they're snacking on. Whether it's hard to hear or not, parents are the reason for both these issues. We decide what we buy and serve to our kids, they don't.

No matter how you slice it, WhoNu? chocolate cookies are highly processed junk. Oreos with added vitamins. And I don't need a cookie to assist me with my child's nutritional needs. So, please leave these on the shelf along with the other boxes and bags and if it's a cookie your kiddos want, get in the kitchen and bake some. Perhaps, these Vegan Chocolate Chips Cookies? You don't have to be vegan to like a vegan cookie. That's my motto anyway!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Never underestimate the PB&J. When made with quality ingredients, it's a nutritious snack or meal for the kids. And you, too. Here are my rules when making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich:

1. Whole grain bread, wrap, etc.
2. Natural peanut butter
3. Organic real fruit spread

Whole grain bread is easy to come by and Jif or like brands are not natural peanut butter. They commonly contain sugar, molasses, hydrogenated vegetable oil, mono and diglycerides. Even the "Natural Jif" is not natural peanut butter. It contains sugar, palm oil and molasses. Pick one that contains just peanuts or just peanuts and salt. There is no need for anything else. You can read an earlier post about peanut butter here for a little more detail.

Now for the jelly/jam/preserves/fruit spread/conserve. Like peanut butter, they are not all created equal. Some are full of artificial ingredients, color and preservatives. Here are some examples:

Smucker's Strawberry Preserves:  Strawberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid.

Smucker's Simply Fruit Strawberry: Fruit Syrup, Strawberries, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Fruit Pectin, Red Grape Juice Concentrate Added for color, Natural Flavors.

Smucker's Low Sugar Strawberry: Strawberries, Sugar, Water*, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid, Locust Bean Gum*,  Potassium Sorbate Added As a Preservative, Calcium Chloride*, RED 40*.  *INGREDIENTS NOT IN REGULAR PRESERVES.

Market Pantry Strawberry Preserves: Strawberries, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid.

Trader Joe's Fresh Strawberry Preserves: Fresh Strawberries, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Pectin, Citric Acid

Dickenson's Strawberry Preserves: Strawberries, Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Pectin, Citric Acid

The ingredients in your jelly/jam/preserves/fruit spread/conserve should be as minimal as possible. Pectin and citric acid are common ingredients in store bought preserves, which is fine for me but so are artificial color, corn syrup and/or high fructose corn syrup, which are not fine for me. Look for preserves with a short ingredients list. Like:

Happy Girl Kitchen, Co Strawberry Jam: Organic Strawberries, Organic Cane Sugar

Santa Cruz Organic Fruit spread: Organic strawberries, organic sugar, fruit pectin, organic fruit and vegetable juice (color), citric acid

365 Organic Strawberry Conserve: Organic strawberries, organic cane sugar, natural fruit pectin, ascorbic acid, citric acid

In my experience you may or may not pay more for a better quality jelly. The prices seem to be comparable with the exception of the big brand organic spreads, they're terribly over priced. Trader Joe's, although not used as an example in the good list, has some affordable options (read the labels though to avoid the one/s with corn syrup) as well.

And, of course, if you or your children have a peanut allergy, seed or other nut butters make a yummy substitute for peanut butter. My favorite is Sunflower Seed Butter. So go ahead, make a PB&J for you and the kiddos, it's nutritious, affordable and fast!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Honey is something that I think most families have in the pantry/cabinet. Personally, I use it often. And my use of honey has actually increased over the last year since updating a handful of my recipes to include honey as the sweetener instead of regular sugar.

As I do with all the things I buy, I like to take a look at the ingredients, find out where the food came from and compare prices. Honey should be pretty straightforward, right? Well after stumbling upon an article about honey, it's not.

The article was written late last year. I think everyone should read it. It's information to be armed with. So many people "just shop" and have faith what they're buying is, well, what it says it is. Here's just one quote from the article that stands out to me: "The grocery stores want processed honey as it lasts longer on the shelves." This is definitely the motivation for most products grocery stores stock. We are surrounded with highly processed foods for the long shelf life and low price. And although I could go on and on about that subject, I won't because that's an entirely different post.

Like quite a few of our staples, I buy honey at Trader Joe's because it's good and the price is right. I was certainly relieved to see Trader Joe's honey was noted as a good choice but still super frustrated at the fact that this is something we're forced to contend with. It definitely reinforces the importance and necessity of taking the time to research what you're putting in your grocery cart and eventually in your body.

Click here to read the article.