This is the time of year when we really want to be able to have some convenience foods on hand. Or at least be able to run to the shops to pick up the bits and pieces to make food preparation easier. Today in our Preparing for a healthy paleo Christmas series we want to alert you to some of the unwanted ingredients that can undermine our efforts……. if we aren’t prepared.
It’s so easy to be caught out when you are in a hurry, distracted by children, tired, or just plain in need of something easy. It is SOOOOO important to be looking at the ingredients in any packaged foods. It’s a sad comment, but I often find that many of the products that are deceptive are found in the health food stores. The contents of the package may be `organic’, but they are not things that contribute to good health in the first place.
For example I was recently shopping for mixed fruit to use in the Christmas cake I planned to make. After having found that there was vegetable oil in the dried blueberries we had bought to add to our Coconut Energisers, I was taking extra care when looking at the labels. I was surprised to find that almost all the mixed fruit varieties I could find on the shelves of the supermarkets (big and small), fruit markets, and even the health food store, contained vegetable oil of some kind. In most cases it was sunflower oil, even organic sunflower oil. But of course there are lots of other things we have to watch out for…..grains, added sugar, hydrogenated oils, and lots of numbered additives in food.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
1. Notice the cranberries – the first ingredient is sugar!! Then there is the juice concentrate and sunflower oil. All I wanted was the cranberries!! Now look at the cashews – there’s no salt, but I don’t want the cottonseed oil thanks.
2. Both of these dairy substitutes are labelled to appeal – the word `organic’ is used many times on the package. Even the added sunflower oil is organic. No thanks!!!
3. Here’s one of the long time favourites of us Aussies – Copha. After all it’s the main ingredient in that old favourite `Chocolate Crackles’. Copha is coconut oil, but don’t be deceived, it’s hydrogenated coconut oil. This product is the reason that coconut oil gets its bad rap by dieticians, doctors etc. Avoid it at all costs!!! Natural coconut oil is not hydrogenated.
The other product here is the very nice, moist coconut flakes which are great for decorating cakes and desserts. BUT this product is loaded with added sugar.
4. Mixed fruit – after much searching I did find one brand of mixed dried fruit that had no oil or sugar added. However, it does have those artificial `cherries’ that are basically sugar and food colouring added. In my desperation, I simply threw them out of the mix!!
So there we are….a few things to watch out for as we prepare for the Christmas celebration. Maybe it’s time to go and re-check the labels on any of the packaged things in your pantry. An when you’re out shopping, make sure you check the labels carefully!! If you find any nasties lurking in unexpected places you could let us know. And if you find some healthy, paleo treasures everyone would like to know!!!
We’ll be back tomorrow with some more food ideas for the festive season.