Since starting the blog, I’ve been looking even more closely at nutritional labels. Basically, I don’t want to post anything without knowing exactly what it is, and what’s in it!
Mostly, I’ve been on the up-and-up as far as knowing what I’m cooking with and therefore fueling my body with. At least until last week. I was beginning a post on Home-Made Hot Pockets, these delicious little pockets of love that I make for quick suppers or lunches, and as I was writing, I was looking up nutritional information on regular Hot Pockets, as a means of comparison.
As expected, Hot Pockets are full of cholesterol, fat, calories and sodium. This is why I wanted to share my home-made recipe. Well…turns out, home-made doesn’t always mean healthy…or even healthier. Heard that before somewhere? Click, here, to read my story about home-made meals and the importance of knowing what you’re fueling your body with.
When I looked up the individual nutritional labels for all of the ingredients I was using for my home-made version…the finished product, turns out, is worse than the brand-name Hot Pocket.
Moving on…seeing the values for my recipe made me think about everything in my pantry. I’ve cut out a ton of processed foods over the last 5 years…but certainly still use some staple pantry items. I was curious at what their values would show me. So…I went digging…and was astonished.
Here is what I checked out:
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (the wee ones love the stuff)
Prego Spaghetti Sauce (I use it as a base)
Canned Tomato Soup (for dipping grilled cheese sammies)
Seasoned Bread Crumbs
What did I find? Obviously refined carbs, sugars, some cholesterol, calories and fat but the main culprit of concern for me was…sodium content.
I’ve read before that processed (i.e. ready-to-go) foods are the main source of extra sodium in our diets…but until I really went digging, I had no idea how much sodium that actually was.
Here is the sodium content on the above referenced food products:
Grands Biscuits – 1 Biscuit – 580 mg
Pancake Mix – 2 small pancakes – 560mg
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – 1 Serving – 600 mg
Spaghetti Sauce – 1/2 cup – 480 mg
Canned Tomato Soup – 1/2 cup – 530 mg
Cottage Cheese – 1 cup – 918 mg
Seasoned Bread Crumbs – 1/4 cup – 540 mg
Wow right?! These are items I use to cook with or serve my family regularly.
Sodium is a very important part of our daily fuel. We require sodium in our system to maintain a healthy water and mineral balance. The problem is, most of us have way too much…all the time.
The smarties at Mayo Clinic suggests that we consume between 1500 and 2000 of sodium mg per day, to allow our bodies to function properly. Their research shows that the average American actually consumes about 3400 mg per day. (Click, here, for Mayo Clinic’s research.) That’s twice what we should be eating…and with the sodium content in some of our favorite pantry items…it’s no wonder!
The effects on our systems from too much sodium include:
- Elevated risk of heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Kidney damage
Any of those sound familiar? I know I battle the bottom two bullets every now and then! I also know after researching, that I too am consuming way too much sodium. It really surprised me because I rarely put salt on anything I cook. Turns out…it’s hiding…everywhere. Good thing we’re all super smart monkeys though…because all it really takes is a quick look in the pantry! I sure learned a lot!
The bottom line goes right back to what I’ve written about in the past; food is anything that has or had a mother or anything that grows out of the ground. Anything else has man-made properties and (as I’m learning more and more) is full of little surprises…like sodium.
I’ve not recently seen any biscuit trees or pancake farms, let alone a Kraft Mac-n-cheese patch, in a very long time.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to do a series of Processed to Whole posts where I’ll take something that I use weekly (from the above processed food list) and show you how to make it home-made, from scratch, in hopes of greatly reducing the sodium (and fat, calories and cholesterol) content of the food. It’ll be a learning experience for us all…I’m very excited! I promise to only use recipes that are quick and user friendly…I don’t have all day to get pancakes on my table either!
Does anyone have any amazing home-made recipes for any of the processed foods I listed above? Send them my way! I’ll get a better version of my home made Hot Pockets up asap as well!