Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What's Hiding in Your Kitchen?

As a homemaker, one of my ongoing goals is to limit the amount of artificial ingredients that we consume.

When I began taking the time to read labels, I was blown away by all the unnecessary and potentially harmful additives that are found in our food. How do I know they're unnecessary? Because I've found alternative products that taste identical (or better) and work just as well in recipes.

Here are a few tips that I've learned:

1. Buy Organic Whenever Possible
I'm grateful for stores like Aldi, Trader Joe's, Costco, and sometimes even Walmart for carrying reasonably-priced organic produce, canned goods, and packaged foods. Approximately 1/5 of the items in my kitchen are organic.

2. Spice Up Your Spice Cabinet
The number of anti-caking agents, artificial colors, and chemical additives that are found in species can be startling. When you buy garlic powder, you expect a container filled with powdered garlic--not powdered garlic, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, parsley, and MSG. After stopping by several grocery stores to find pure spices, I can now take pride in my spice cabinet (aside from the fact that I desperately need to organize it.)

3. Purge Your Pantry
Canned goods and packaged foods are the two most common hiding places for artificial ingredients. If you don't read the label of every single item you purchase, there's no telling what harmful additives will find their way into your home (and into your stomach).

When reading labels, keep these two guidelines in mind: 1. Less is more; 2. If you don't know what's in it, don't buy it. The ingredient lists of foods that contain potentially harmful additives are almost always going to be longer, and they will often contain a number of complex chemicals with long-winded names.

To give you an idea of how I put all this into practice, here are some reasonably-priced, all-natural staples that I currently have in my kitchen. They all contain fewer than four ingredients:

-SimplyNature Organic, 100% Whole Wheat Rotini (Aldi)
-Trader Joe's Tomato Paste (Trader Joe's)
-Happy Harvest Canned Green Beans--No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives (Aldi)
-Ronzoni Healthy Harvest, 100% Whole Grain Lasagna Noodles (Walmart)
-Fit & Active 100% Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti (Aldi)
-SimplyNature Organic Canned Black Beans (Aldi)
-Sweet Harvest Canned Pineapple Chunks in 100% Juice (Aldi)
-Publix Brand Seasoned Salt and Chili Powder (Publix)
-Great Value Ground Cumin (Walmart)
-California Garlic Powder (Trader Joe's)
-Alessi Balsamic Vinegar (Kroger)
-Crystal Hot Sauce (Walmart)
-USDA Organic Coconut Oil (Aldi)

21 comments:

  1. We are attempting the same! I'd say about 80% of what I buy is now organic or all natural with acceptable ingredients. If you have a Kroger near you, their Simple Truth line is wonderful and affordable!

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    1. Hi Jennie,

      We do have a Kroger somewhat nearby, although I've only been there a few times because I've been told that their food is overpriced. But I'm definitely going to take a look at their Simple Truth line. Thanks!

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous1/12/2016

      It is interesting to know that you have been told Kroger is overpriced. When my family used to go to Kroger (10 yrs. ago) we used to get great deals on food with coupons. It could have changed. :)

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    3. Maybe it's only certain products that are overpriced. Now you all have me so curious that I'm definitely going to make a stop by Kroger. :) I am especially looking forward to checking out their Simple Truth items.

      Ellie

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  2. Anonymous1/12/2016

    Thought I might mention something I read the other day: Campbell's Soup announced it will be labeling all its soups as containing GMO's (Genetically Modified). Being a strict clean water, I'm glad theyre labeling their products, but disheartend they aren't changing them to a non GMO recipe.

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    1. It will be interesting to see if the GMO labeling deters people from purchasing their food. Perhaps if it does, they will take the hint and strive to cut out GMOs.

      Ellie

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  3. Anonymous1/12/2016

    As a registered Canadian dietition, I encourage you to get frozen veggies instead of canned!! They are usually flash frozen, and usually quite fresh at the time of freezing- which meanings the have a higher concentration of nutrients.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I prefer the taste of frozen veggies anyways, so that's great. :)

      Ellie

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    2. Anonymous1/13/2016

      Oh, a dietitian! May I pick your brain? What's your take on the best way to cook them? I've heard steaming is better than boiling but then I've also heard that stove-top is better than microwaving. What do you think of the frozen steamer bags? LOL, does it all just cancel out in the end? I like the steamer ones more than the regular bagged. For some reason, I find the bagged kind usually get soggier ..and... just...blegh to me. Even if I under-cook them they still seem to be way too water-logged. I try to buy fresh if possible but if not, I prefer canned for the non-soggy factor. But I've been heard the dangers of the lining in the cans so I'm now questioning that! Can't win for losing! If only I could stomach raw brussels sprouts like my husband, LOL. :)

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  4. Anonymous1/12/2016

    I think it is good that you do this. Yet at the same time I believe food purity becomes a form of 'religion', in that people behave religiously about it. The New Testament tells us that God is a Spirit and the true worshippers worship in spirit and truth. How does one rightly devide that statement with Jesus saying take no thought for your food that which you eat? Well maybe it is true that some things we put into our mouths are not really 'food'. So I guess you are on the right track Ellie, but also watch consider that there are the food purists who are not Christian persay and are into all what you are talking about, etc. When all this becomes a pursuit seeming apart from the gospel what is that to us who are really supposed to seek first the kingdom of God and have everything else be added unto us?

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  5. Anonymous1/13/2016

    Personally what is in my food is not really of high concern for me, i try and cook healthy things but i refuse to go nuts over the chemicals that might be in my food. I also am not a fan of organic produce and vegetables. So if you are a homemaker, does that mean that u stay home all the time?

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    1. Hi there,

      Every woman, regardless of whether she has an outside job or not, is a "homemaker." I have a work-at-home job, but I place more importance on my roles as wife and homemaker. :)

      Blessings,
      Ellie

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  6. Anonymous1/13/2016

    Good work!
    Don't forget farmer's markets if you have access to them.

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  7. Anonymous1/13/2016

    Thanks for the tips Ellie!

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  8. Anonymous1/13/2016

    It should be illegal for food companies to put toxic ingredients like MSG in food! It should also be illegal for farmers to grow GMO crops with harmful pesticides. This is a hot topic for many, yet I'm thankful we have organic non-GMO options out there.

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  9. Anonymous1/14/2016

    1Corinthians 6:14. Thank-you for sharing your life stories.

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  10. Anonymous1/14/2016

    Oops, 1 Corinthians 6:13. Thank-you!

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    1. That's a great verse. And it's my pleasure. Thanks for reading my life stories. :)

      Ellie

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  11. Anonymous1/15/2016

    Whole foods sells organic food.

    Bad things about them is: overcharging, doesn't buy local foods (fruits are grown in South America) and they tend to be a "trend for the wealthy".

    Can't shop there anymore.

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  12. Anonymous8/01/2016

    Please, please do research on organic foods before buying them. Most are a huge waste of money because organic foods are still sprayed with pesticides. These pesticides just have to be organic pesticides (organic chemicals), many of which are as dangerous or more dangerous then conventional pesticides. I researched this topic in college because so many people seem to think that organic foods are just grown with water, good soil and sunlight. But that would not be sustainable for organic farmers; pests would eat up their products! So just be aware of what exactly you're purchasing and consuming.

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