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Educational Food Websites!

So, even though I’m off on summer vacation as of last week I won’t have access to an oven until May 24th at the earliest. This means that I’m still living in my dorm room, currently surviving on peanut butter sandwiches, oatmeal and frozen vegetables. This is what happens when the most technological piece of kitchen equipment in your dorm is a microwave.

like this only a lot less high tech

So, in short I’m rapidly running out of bread because the most I can do to spice up a meal is put it in the microwave.

Right now I’m on a hunt for the healthiest whole wheat bread I can find (and hopefully something reasonably cheap as well). Although my main grocery options are Kroger or CVS, the internet helped me find a fantastic website that will help me significantly in my search for a peanut butter sandwich.

If you haven’t heard of it before, check out fooducate.com.

This website rates products based on their overall nutritional value going beyond the standard nutrition label of calories, fat content and sugars. For people who really want to know what’s up with their food, fooducate will you tell you that

Great Grains Bakery 100% Whole Wheat & Honey Bread:

  1. has 120 calories per serving (per slice)
  2. has caramel coloring

The caramel coloring fooducate goes into detail on as a point in this product to watch out for. As fooducate explains:

Homemade caramel is made by melting sugar in a saucepan.

Brown coloring in sodas and some other products is not the same thing.

Industrial caramel coloring is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. The chemical reactions create 4-methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats. This is why California recently required foods containing caramel color to be labeled as potential cancer-causing agents.

But you won’t see this warning label any time soon – manufacturers simply reduced the use of caramel color enough that the labeling requirements no longer applied.

Caramel color varies slightly between products – when in beer, sauces or baked goods it has just ammonia and when used in soft drinks, it has both sulfites and ammonia. Neither one is a “good” option.

Although the bread has an A- rating and is by most reviews a high quality product, fooducate wants its readers to be as healthy as possible and know what they’re eating beyond the basic nutritional information.

I’m still on the look out for the perfect bread, but now I have a few ideas of what to look for in my bread choices beyond the obvious avoidance of high fructose corn syrup. While I would much rather make my own bread, that won’t be an option for another 9 days.

If you have a bread you’re interested in highlighting or recommending me to try, please suggest it! I’m looking forward to starting up my Product Placement line again.




Product Placement: Tropicana Orange Juice

Hey, I’m back in GA! I do believe I got in enough baking and making my own recipes to last me a little while (or at least I can tell myself that) and I’m back and ready to continue my Product Placement. My schedule has been a bit off what with moving back into the dorms, but I’m all set to make some inroads on talking about products to buy or stay away from.

I was at a Leadership Conference the past couple of days and at breakfast there were these sleek looking black pitchers of cranberry juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, you name it they had it. Now, I’ve already discussed my love of grape juice and apple juice  but I do love orange juice as well. I just hate pulp and generally find the juice to be too sweet. I’m very picky when it comes to my orange juice.

The point, though, is that I was lured in to believe that this jazzy design for the pitcher meat the juice had been fresh squeezed. We were at a hotel and the entire conference can only be described as needlessly swanky, so I had reasons to believe that fresh squeezed juice was not outside the realm of possibilities.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Nope. I drank the typical Tropicana juice and unfortunately didn’t realize it until the next morning that it was typical Tropicana Juice until the hotel staff moved to refill it. From a carton.

Needless to say my spirit was crushed for a bit.

This is not to say Tropicana is a bad company or that their juice is disgusting. It’s not. I was just expecting to be blown away by the fresh squeezed variety and no matter what Tropicana claims on their website about from ‘Grove to Glass’ it’s packaged and it’s loaded with sugar.

I don’t care how many vitamins and minerals the juice has because it has 28 grams of sugar per serving. Something that claims to be healthy for you should not have that much sugar. Ever. There is no excuse. I am particularly critical here because this juice falls under the category of ‘masquerading as healthy’. If people don’t read the nutrition label they won’t know that although there’s 120% of their daily Vitamin C in that 10 oz glass of juice they’re also ingesting needless amounts of excess sugar that will then need to be burned off.

There are other ways to get your vitamin C (and occasionally Vitamin D if the juice is enriched). Try eating an actual orange, eat kiwi fruits, cherries, strawberries, and even red and green peppers are high in Vitamin C. For more information on Vitamin C rich foods check out: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/top-sources-vitamin-C-44102808

If none of these are in season (like strawberries, etc) you can always find oranges at the local supermarket and buy a small orange juicer to get the job done yourself. Small juicers like these are incredibly cheap and can be bought at a local Macy’s, or possibly even Target. You don’t need a fancy juicer in order to make healthy juice drinks. Juice away with all the health benefits and none of the added sugar.

Product Placement: Salada Green Tea

My family drinks tea by the gallon. In the winter time, or really from October until around May because it’s Connecticut weather, we make pots and pots of hot tea and in the summer time we keep a pitcher of iced tea in the refrigerator. My mother is into holistic remedies and no matter what was wrong with my brother or I the solution was always drink green tea.

Now, Salada Green Tea is not our family’s favorite. We prefer Good Earth, but  if I’m to be perfectly honest, Good Earth  might be good for the earth, but it is also expensive. So to save costs, we decided to buy Salada  where a 40 count box of tea bags costs $3.99 at Stop and Shop according to peapod. The Good Earth tea is only sold as a 2o count (as are most teas) and so is even less cost effective.

The good news is that buying cheaper does not mean sacrificing on flavor. Salada tea is a good brand. There’s a rich flavor to their teas and one bag is potent enough for 2 or 3 cups depending on how dark you prefer your beverage.

The company cares about health and their website is devoted to explaining the benefits of fresh brewed tea and how their varying flavors can support bone health or immunity based on the type of tea you buy.

You can buy it by the 40 count to save money and for all  its worth it’s a sturdy brand of tea guaranteed to satisfy. To learn more about different types of teas and the health benefits of each read the following article and apply your new knowledge when purchasing your chosen type of Salada: 


Product Placement: Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest

Why does it seem that if you want to buy natural you have to buy brands that are expensive or brands no one has heard of before? It’s unfortunate that most brand name products are stuffed with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals and dyes.

But there’s a secret to most of these big name products: they produce natural versions of their commercial products. Both Jif and Skippy have natural peanut butters and Smucker’s has Orchard’s Finest berry preserves.


Now, I’ve only tried the blueberry (far right of the photo) but there are whole blueberries in the jam. It’s smooth and sweet and whole blueberries are abundant. When my family ran out of blueberries from Jones Family Farm and I wanted to make blueberry loaf cake, I used a half cup of Smucker’s jam and my blueberry cake is studded with blueberries.

Here comes the hard part though, it’s not perfect. Though it pains me to admit it, Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest preserves are not in fact perfect. The ingredients (though all readable and common) are: BLUEBERRIES, SUGAR, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID. It would be preferred if there was no sugar added, but this seems rather minor. There are 12 grams of sugar and 50 calories. For more information on the nutrition label visit: http://www.smucker.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?groupId=1&categoryId=338&flavorId=755

As usual, unfortunately, the natural jams are more expensive than the standard ones. A twelve oz jar is $3.29 for the natural jam and a 12 oz jar is $2.99 for their commercial products. This is, thankfully, not a huge cost difference. Look for the natural Smucker’s jams next time you shop and let me know what you think!

Apparently, Smucker’s also has an organic line. I’ll be looking into this soon and I’ll keep you posted. Enjoy!

Product Placement: The Baker Yoga Bread

My mother introduces me to all the best foods. She manages to find food that is great for you and tastes better than standard commercial products and I wish to model Cheryl’s Confections after her example. This post is not just a Product Placement, but is dedicated to my mom and every parent who invests in his or her child’s health and well being. Here’s to you parents, enjoy the post and consider trying this product.

My mom is a yoga teacher and I’m still not quite sure if Yoga Bread caught her attention because of its name or because of the natural ingredients.

This bread has been a conundrum to me for years. My mom buys it whenever she gets a chance to do so, but it never made any sense to me, why put fruit into bread? what made this yoga bread? what is yoga bread? I could have gotten some answers any time if I just decided to either try a piece (like I finally did yesterday) or just read the packaging information. All I really knew about this bread was that it was not cheap (unfortunately its only flaw).

Yes, so if I had ever bothered to read the labeling, I would have come to realize that this is Yoga Bread because it promotes more than just healthy eating: it promotes healthy lifestyles centered around a balance of the body.

As the packaging says:

Yoga is more than practicing asanas [postures]! Yoga is about cultivating the authentic you while being mindful of your body, to thers, and this earth. There are five yogic principles to follow: 

proper exercise

proper breathing

proper relaxation

proper diet and

positive thinking and meditation.

The serving size is 1 slice, each slice 120 calories, with 3 grams of fat (no trans fats or sat fats) 0 grams cholesterol, 22o mg sodium, 21 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

This whole wheat bread is sweetened naturally with dried cranberries and has a subtle nutty crunch flavor due to pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds. The taste is surprisingly similar to a rye bread though no rye flour is used and the bread is far less dark in coloring than a standard rye.

After being adventurous last night and trying a piece of my mom’s bread, I have gone from a skeptic of fruit/nut breads to a true believer. I am now looking into finding a recipe that can recreate these healthy, nutty, sweet results.

If anyone has any fruit/nut bread recipes to share I would love to hear from you.

Until next time, then. Enjoy and make sure to give this bread a try for your family! This is not a product to pass over lightly.

Belated Product Placement: Honey Bunches of Oats

There was no holiday this past Wednesday so I don’t have the same excuse from last week as to why I didn’t post my weekly plug for a product. As it stands all I can do is say I’m sorry and have this be a bit belated.

When I was a kid I used to flip flop around between a few different cereals. I had a phase of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch (it’s a bit painful to remember I used to eat that), I would eat Honey Smacks, some weeks I would love Honey Nut Cheerios (and still do, though I only eat them on occasion) and some days Frosted Flakes or Lucky Charms, or any other big brand name cereal geared toward kids. It never occurred to me that I could, if I wanted to, eat adult cereal.

It was some kind of mental road block where I figured that if a cereal had a cartoon mascot and bright colors it was meant for kids, and if the box looked bland and adult it was meant for adults and there would be ingredients in the adult cereal my child’s body would not be able to digest. Childhood logic is surprisingly funny this way.

The irony is that the children’s cereals were (and for the most part still are) worse for you, but I wasn’t the only one who thought children’s cereal must have ingredients children need. No, they’re just full of chemical dyes and processed sugars.

My point is that there were very few ‘adult’ cereals I would eat, but one I would occasionally come back to would be Post’s Banana Nut Crunch.

As a matter of fact I think I would want to give this cereal another try because as  a child I would pick out all the granola but find the rest of the cereal to be dry and tasteless. This is also due to the fact that I ate the cereal without milk, as I do with almost all of my cereals. Looking back on it, I’m sure the cereal was actually quite good and I mean to give it another shot.

So, until about 4 years ago or so, I stopped eating cereal because there was no brand I would continuously enjoy. And then on a whim my family tried Honey Bunches of Oats.

I’m really not quite sure why we tried it, but it must have been my idea because we started out with the Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds and my mom doesn’t eat non-organic cereal and my brother doesn’t like almonds, so somewhere along the lines I must have though this was a good idea. Somewhere along the lines I was right.

This is the only cereal I will eat with milk, but it doesn’t lose anything to eat it dry. The granola bunches are crunchy and flavorful but never too sweet, and the flakes of the cereal are a combination of honey roasted and sweet and plain and crunchy.

Honey Bunches of Oats is the cereal I have been searching for my entire life. It has all the flavor a children’s cereal but with none of the chemicals and additives or colorings. This cereal may not be organic, but it’s surprisingly healthy with no more sugar than the typical children’s cereal (11g) and is not sweetened with any kind of corn syrup (high fructose or otherwise). This is what I miss at breakfast when I’m at college: I miss having Honey Bunches of Oats. I miss having a cereal I can (and will) eat with milk.

Honey Bunches of Oats comes in the following flavors: Original Honey Roasted, Almond, Peach, Cinnamon, Strawberry, Raisin Medley, Vanilla Bunches, Just Bunches (a box of their fantastic granola), and their NEW fruit blends: Banana Blueberry, and Peach Raspberry.

Grab a box if you get a chance, I can’t say enough about this cereal. Enjoy!

Why no Product Placement?

As some of you may have noticed, there was no Product Placement this past Wednesday. I am happy to say I spent the 4th of July with my family barbecuing and watching fireworks from across the Hudson River. I debated posting about a product or even uploading more information on my Avengers’ Food and the Captain America Cookie, but I decided to stay away from the computer entirely and spend time with my family.

This has nothing to do with food, but a lot to do with being American and being thankful. My grandfather sent me an email I think I should share with you about what the 4th of July means. Enjoy.

Humbling Independence Day History Lesson:
> Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men
> who signed the Declaration of Independence ?
> Five signers were captured by the British as traitors,
> and tortured before they died.
> Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.
> Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army;
> another had two sons captured.
> Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or
> hardships of the Revolutionary War.
> They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes,
> and their sacred honor.
> What kind of men were they?
> Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists.
> Eleven were merchants,
> nine were farmers and large plantation owners;
> men of means, well educated,
> but they signed the Declaration of Independence
> knowing full well that the penalty would be death if
> they were captured.
> Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and
> trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the
> British Navy. He sold his home and properties to
> pay his debts, and died in rags.
> Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British
> that he was forced to move his family almost constantly.
> He served in the Congress without pay, and his family
> was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him,
> and poverty was his reward.
> Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer,
> Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
> At the battle of Yorktown , Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that
> the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson
> home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General
> George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed,
> and Nelson died bankrupt.
> Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed.
> The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
> John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying.
> Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill
> were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests
> and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his
> children vanished.
> So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and
> silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.
> Remember: freedom is never free!
> I hope you will show your support by sending this to as many
> people as you can, please. It’s time we get the word out that patriotism
> is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer,
> picnics, and baseball games.