Monday, April 14, 2008

A Little Grossed Out

I've been eating a ton of cut up fruit and raw veggies lately. These are my new cravings and I'm pretty happy that I have healthy cravings now. Yesterday D and I had a big platter of veggies and fruit (cucumbers, carrots, red peppers, strawberries, pineapple) for lunch and I was wishing I had something to dip my veggies in, but there was nothing in the fridge. So, today at lunchtime I went to the supermarket to get something to dip my veggies in at work. Being that I was taking it to work, I had to go with something pre-packaged rather than something I would make myself. I checked out some different ranch dip options, but was blown away by the fat and calories (shouldn't have been surprised). So I settled on some Fat Free Ranch Veggie Dip by T. Marzetti.

I just opened the dip now to have with my late afternoon snack of veggies. The way the dip looked was a little disconcerting. The only word I can use to describe it is gelatinous. I dipped a cucumber in it and it tasted good enough, but I was curious as to what was in it. The first 2 ingredients are water and maltodextrin. Sounds appetizing, doesn't it? I had to look up maltodextrin and it turns out that it's an easily digestible carbohydrate classified as a sweet polysaccharide that is typically made from corn, rice, or potato starch. It's typically used to add texture to foods or to thicken, and is also used in artificial sweetners. Ick.

In addition to the maltodextrin, the dip contains all sorts of ingredients with chemical rather than "natural" names. I'm sure that there are plenty of things I eat that contain as many additives and preservatives as this stuff, but I don't think I've knowingly eaten something with this much "stuff" on the label in a long time. The thing is, the stuff tastes good, but not nearly as good as if I had made a dip with sour cream and spices. I'm thinking of making a dip with a mix of full fat yummy sour cream mixed with tofu (I generally dislike tofu, but it works with the sour cream for me). In the meantime, I'll keep on with the maltodextrin stuff.

Ironically, I spent quite a while at the grocery store today looking for lemonade that was made with sugar rather than corn syrup...and come to find out, the dip has corn syrup in it too!


ChefSara said...

I have been working hard to limit the amount of artificial stuff I eat, especially the High Fructose Corn Syrup. It's amazingly difficult! HFCS is in EVERYTHING! The whole wheat bread we'd been buying (one of the premium brands no less) has HFCS as the second ingredient. Almost any mainstream ceral (Kellogg's, Post, etc.) has HFCS. So even when you *think* you're being healthy by eating higher quality whole wheat bread and Special K, you're still getting the HFCS! Now, I read labels before I buy anything, and it helps.

I have found that by doing my regular shopping at Trader Joes (instead of Kroger) it has been much easier to find things with fewer additives and HFCS.

When my baby is born, I want to start him out eating well. I figure it's easier to start figuring that out now (and it's better nutrition for him in utero), than to try to do it all at once later. It's a step by step process, but I'm working on it!

Laura said...

I feel the same way as you Sara about trying to limit the artificial and overly processed stuff. We too do most of our shopping at Traders which definitely helps, but it is hard, especially because sometimes I want quick and easy food. I wonder what the push for ethanol will do to the high fructose corn syrup market? Maybe the corn proces will be driven up to the extent that food producers will turn back to actual sugar!

Hannah said...

I feel the same way you do!!! I have been a label reader for some time now and I cannot express how frustrating it is!! I hope that someone will start making some true "healthy" food!

rachel said...

you guys should read the book "twinkie, deconstructed". it has a chapter on each ingredient in a twinkie and walks you through what it is and how it's made. eye opening!!! i try to eat as naturally as possible b/c of my migraines.