Have you ever wondered what exactly is in the food you eat? Some of your favorite foods might be misleading you. Many foods contain additional ingredients, turning (normally) healthy foods into unhealthy ones that are actually doing more harm than good. Read the list below to learn about the 5 hidden ingredients that are damaging your health:
1. Carrageenan- extracted from red seaweed, carrageenan is used to gel, thicken, and stabilize foods. Due to its ability to thicken consistencies and to help fill out the taste of low-fat versions of food items, carrageenan can even be found in organic foods. The problem with this additive is that it can cause inflammation, intestinal irritation, and in some cases, cancer.
2. Soy- there was a time (in the 1990’s) when consuming soy and soy products promised to give us health benefits like lowering cholesterol and protecting against breast and prostate cancer. Sadly, this is not true. Unfermented, as well as fermented, soy contains substances that suppress thyroid functioning which can lead to anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, difficulty losing weight, digestive issues, and food allergies. It can also produce infertility in women and loss of libido for men. Food labels are also misleading. Other aliases for soy are: mono-diglycerides, textured soy flour (TSF), textured soy protein (TSP), textured vegetable protein, lecithin, monosodium glutamate (MSG), bouillon, natural flavor, and textured plant protein.
3. Sugar- added sugar is found in a myriad of food items. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain which can lead to health problems. Americans consume up to twice the allowable amount of daily sugar. Be sure to read nutritional labels but be aware that sugar can be hidden under other names: corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, cane juice, cane syrup, and sucrose. Also, avoid artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and maltodextrin.
4. Sodium- this is another term for salt. Foods rich in salt are unhealthy, leading to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Canned and processed foods contain particularly high amounts of sodium. Check food labels for sodium percentages and hidden sodium in the ingredient content list. Other names for sodium (or salt) are: monosodium glutamate, sodium citrate, sodium sulfite, sodium caseinate, sodium benzoate, sodium hydroxide, and disodium phosphate.
5. Artificial Color- commonly found in processed, empty-calorie foods (such as candies), color additives have been linked to hyperactivity and attention disorders in children. It can also lead to allergies and sinus congestion. Other parts of the world, such as in the U.K., have taken action by using natural dye replacements for artificial ones such as paprika and beetroot powder. The U.S. has not taken such action. Which artificial colors should you avoid then? Blue #1, Blue #2, Citrus Red #2, Green #3, Red #40, Red #3, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6 all come with high health concerns. Red #40 has shown observable decreases in hyperactive children whose diet has been restricted of this particular artificial color.
The art of cooking, just like any other creative outlet, requires tools to help one master their craft. As an artist needs paints and brushes, so too does the chef need the proper items to allow for culinary magic to take place. There are many kinds of kitchen gadgets out there, each with its own purpose and function. Some get lost in the kitchen-cabinet graveyard of unwanted and unneeded items, but others, however, withstand the test of time. One of those kitchen tools is the knife. We use and need knives for so many reasons in this world, especially in the kitchen. There are many different kinds of knives out there but the home cook only needs 4 of them to help make cooking easier.
1. Paring Knife- the smallest on the list, the paring knife serves a big purpose despite its size. The most popular use is for peeling (thick and thin) skins from fruits and vegetables. Other uses include slicing and using the tip of the knife for accomplishing small jobs like destemming strawberries or deveining shrimp.
2. Chef’s Knife- this is the most important knife that a chef can own. Most have 8” blades and, due to their sharp edges, are used to mince, chop, and slice vegetables and meat. They are very versatile in use.
3. Utility Knife- larger than a paring knife yet smaller than a chef’s knife, the utility knife is used to cut and slice vegetables and deli meats that are too big for a paring knife but too small for a chef’s knife. Utility knives are also known as “sandwich knives”.
4. Bread Knife- the long, serrated, thick blade of this knife works great for cutting through the thick, hard crust of bread. Other uses include cutting blocks of chocolate, cutting off the rinds of melons, cutting cake slices, and even shaping cake prior to frosting.
America loves burgers. We consume about 50 billion each year. Yes…that’s 50 “billion”. That’s an awful lot of burger-eating! There’s even a place in Seymour, Wisconsin that celebrates hamburger history with its “Hamburger Hall of Fame”. Maybe they’re our favorite sandwiches, not only because they taste great, but because they are so versatile. There are so many ways to prepare and top a burger, the options are endless. There are also many types of burgers to use, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorites. Here’s Healthy Little Cooks’ top 10 list of burger options for your next barbeque:
1. Beef Hamburger- this top selling sandwich in the U.S. is definitely a go-to staple in American cuisine. When making your own version at home, look for lean ground beef to cut down on the fat content. The most lean option is 95%.
2. Turkey Burger- this is a lean version of the beef burger. It is very versatile for pairing with a variety of flavors.
3. Pork Burger- this is also a very versatile meat that packs a lot of taste.
4. Chicken Burger- ground chicken is similar to ground turkey in taste and texture, but not as lean.
5. Veggie Burger- this is a meatless burger made from vegetables (like corn), soy, tofu, legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts. It’s a great option for vegetarians!
6. Black Bean Burger- for vegans, this may be a perfect option. It’s gluten-free, has fewer calories than beef burgers, and is high in fiber.
7. Salmon Burger- another option for those looking for a healthier version of the traditional burger. Salmon is high in protein and omega-3 (heart-healthy) fats.
8. Portobello Mushroom Burger- this is another great healthy option. Portobello mushrooms are excellent sources of copper and selenium. Copper is especially important for helping your body form connective tissue and metabolize iron.
9. Tuna Burger- tuna is high in protein, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, iron, and vitamin C, making tuna burgers a healthy option for those looking to eat burgers in a health-conscious way.
10. Lentil Burgers- part of the legume family, lentils can be made into burgers. They are high in fiber, folate, and magnesium, Try using coconut flour as a binding agent to make this burger gluten-free, as well as vegan!
When you think of the summer, does the beach come to mind? Surf, sun, and sand goes hand-in-hand with the summer! It’s relaxing and fun, but what’s not fun is getting sand mixed in with the food you bring along. Don’t fret…there are food items that pack well to the beach. Here are 10 items that will be sure to please, no matter where your vacation takes you:
1. Popcorn- be sure to not add in wet ingredients like butter. It’ll only make it sticky and hard to eat.
2. Hard-Skinned Fruit- fruit like apples and bananas are healthy and come complete with their own natural protection.
3. Grapes- just like the above option, grapes have their own natural protection. Plus, they are healthy and the perfect size for little hands.
4. Sliced Watermelon- this fruit is perfectly refreshing and hydrating for hot summer days. Be sure to pack in containers with ice packs to keep them cool, and don’t forget to bring along wipes to clean off sandy hands before eating.
5. Iced Water- it’s important to stay hydrated when out in the sun. Pack ice water to keep every healthy…and cool! Try pre-freezing water bottles to bring along, just make sure there’s space at the top of the bottles because water expands when it freezes.
6. Homemade Trail Mix- a healthy option for a protein-packed snack. It’ll give you energy you need to play all day long outside.
7. Crackers or Pretzel Chips- this snack will also give you energy and is perfect for the beach since they are dry and easy to handle.
8. Wraps or Sandwiches- wraps and sandwiches are a great to pack along healthy lunches. Make sure to avoid mayo, but still pack ice or ice packs in a cooler to keep your food from spoiling in the hot sun.
9. Frozen Fruits- frozen fruits will be refreshing and also hydrating for you and your family. Just like with sliced watermelon, be sure to use hand wipes prior to handling.
10. Raw Veggies- a healthy snack for any occasion. If bringing to the beach, skip the dips to avoid it spoiling in the heat.