Chemically Crafted

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There’s a food item out that appears to contain no actual food – a beverage called Orange Cream Soda by a particular manufacturer. I knew it was coming; there is less and less “real” food in purchased food items these days unless one eats organic or all natural. It’s all modified this (such as modified milk ingredients and modified starch) and additive that (such as caramel color).

I rarely drink soda, but, wanting a change, I ordered this soda at dinner. Curious, since it was $4, I looked at the ingredients label, expecting to see it was made from all natural, organic ingredients. What I found was anything but, despite the sales pitch on the label which states:

“A rich, Orange Cream Soda, hand-crafted with the freshest and highest quality ingredients, with the complexity and character of lemon, lime, Chinese Ginger, nutmeg and botanicals. We proudly present our Orange Cream Soda, hand-crafted with only the freshest and highest quality ingredients, including a blend of select oranges, mandarins, and real vanilla. This recipe’s added complexity and character comes from a blend of lemon, lime, Chinese Ginger, nutmeg and botanical extracts including lemon grass and angelica root. Enjoy this truly classic Orange Cream Soda recipe, originally crafted by our master brewers”.

Here are the ingredients:

Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (to Protect Taste)Natural and Artificial Flavor, Modified Food Starch, Erythorbic Acid, Yellow 6, Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin, Brominated Vegetable Oil.
Um, if it contains oranges, mandarins, vanilla, lemon, lime, ginger, nutmeg etc. should it not say that on the ingredient list?

Let’s break this “hand crafted with the finest quality ingredients” beverage down, shall we?

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
According to http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2008/11/19/f-fructosecornsyrup.html:

“High-fructose corn syrup is made from corn. After it’s milled, the resulting starch is processed into a syrup. By adding enzymes, the syrup is converted into fructose. Glucose syrup is then added to the mix to make high-fructose corn syrup. The most common form of the syrup contains 45 per cent glucose and 55 per cent fructose.”
There are some studies, listed on the cbc.ca link, that suggest consumption of HFCS plays a role in elevating triglycerides, as well as contributes to liver disease, diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease.

Modified food starch
According to research done by
http://katieskitchen1.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/what-is-modified-food-starch/
modified food starch is
“prepared by treating the native starch to change the properties of the ingredient in order to enhance their performance in different applications (increase stability against heat, acid, to change texture, etc.)”
Yellow No. 6 is a synthetic (i.e. man-made) food dye.
Citric Acid
is
“manufactured by a submerged fermentation process from a glucose and/or sucrose carbohydrate substrate”.
http://www.cargillfoods.com/wcm/groups/public/@cseg/@food/@all/documents/document/na3014920.pdf
Basically it sounds bacteria (like mold) is added to glucose or sucrose to ferment it. Yum!
Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin
I wonder what glycerol ester of wood rosin is and if I will get a splinter drinking or eating something that contains it. Also known as “ester gum” it is
“an effective weighting agent for adjusting the density of citrus oils and improves stability in beverages.” http://www.ticgums.com/products.html?page=shop.browse&category_id=17
Brominated Vegetable Oil
Finally, there is “brominated vegetable oil” (BVO) which has been “patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant, and banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, BVO has been added to sodas for decades in North America. Now some scientists have a renewed interest in this little-known ingredient, found in 10 percent of sodas in the United States”.

For more info: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2011/brominated-battle-in-sodas

Does that mean by drinking something with this in it, I won’t spontaneously combust?

I’d like to see another label added to commercially prepared foodstuffs:

No real food was harmed in the making of this item.

At least that label would be an accurate one.

(For a delicious, refreshing alternative to this and other sodas, cut up limes, lemons, oranges or cucumber and place in a pitcher of water. Refrigerate overnight.)

Five Things to Do With Instant Coffee (You May Not Have Thought Of)

 

Instant Coffee.  Coffee drinkers the world over cringe at those words and shudder at the thought of drinking it.  Although I daresay Starbucks has revolutionized the  genre with their line of instant coffee.    Here’s some things you can use instant coffee for:

  • Add a tablespoon or so to tomato based stews and chilis to deepen their flavor
  • Combine one tablespoon instant coffee with one teaspoon each of paprika, oregano, garlic and cumin.  Add two tablespoons oil and mix well.  Use as a rub on meat before grilling
  • Add one or two tablespoons (to taste) to a pint of good-quality vanilla ice cream.  Blend well (you may need to use a mixer) for delicious coffee ice cream
  • Make mine a mocha:  add a tablespoon to brownies or other chocolate-based desserts
  • Mocha Dip Or Spread: Mix some finely ground instant coffee or a little bit of brewed coffee or espresso with one tablespoon of brown sugar  into cream cheese

Some tips:

  • Start slow with adding coffee to your cooking as it’s flavor is intense.
  • It may work better to dissolve the coffee in a bit of hot water before adding so there are no undissolved grounds adding a grainy texture to your cooking.

Some information for this post gleaned from:  http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/810001/cooking-with-coffee and http://www.vanhoutte.com/en-ca/c-the-coffee-blog/coffee-tips/cooking-with-coffee

Strawberry Banana Milkshake

"Is one of these for me?"
“Is one of these for me?”

1 banana

1 cup strawberries

1 cup milk

1 cup good quality vanilla ice cream (such as Haagan-Daz)

 

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly.  Serves two. (Since we have a Vitamix, we did not have to slice the banana or chop the strawberries first before placing them in the blender.)

The picture is of our cat, Oreo, checking out the milkshake.

Tropical Almond Smoothie

Using frozen fruit in smoothies results in a creamy texture and look without the addition of dairy.

3/4 c. chopped fresh or frozen pineapple

1 frozen banana

1/2 c. to 3/4 c. orange juice (to preferred thickness)

1 T. honey

1/4 c. sliced almonds

Blend together until smooth.  Makes approximately two 8 ounce, servings.

Anti-Ox, Cholesterol Lowering, Smoothie

I enjoy apples, and my husband eats an apple a day.  Last week, researchers announced that eating an apple a day lowers LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol by as much as 23% in women. http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/health-benefits-of-apples-and-4-other-cholesterol-lowering-foods There’s motivation for me to eat more apples (even though I don’t have high cholesterol.)

1 apple, cored and quartered

1/2 orange, peeled

1/2 c. each blueberries and blackberries (frozen)

1/4 – 1/2 c. ice (depending on whether the berries are frozen)

3/4 c. water or juice

1 t. sugar or honey

Blend in blender until smooth.  (I have a Vitamix, so I don’t need to be as fussy about cutting food into small pieces before placing in the blender.)

Great Start Breakfast Smoothie

Antioxidants in the blueberries, calcium, and “good fats” in the avocado and almonds,  this is quick to prepare (and portable.) Adapted from a recipe in Best Health magazine.

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pit removed and cut into pieces
2 c. low fat plain yogurt
juice from 1/2 lime (optional)
3 T. honey or sugar
1 1/3 c. frozen blueberries
1/4 c. sliced almonds (or almond butter)

1/3 c. milk

Note – I tried it with peanut butter instead of almond or almond butter and found peanut butter to be too strong and it overpowered the smoothie. It tasted like I was drinking peanut butter.

Blend together until smooth. Makes 4, 8 ounce servings.   (Note – one of my “recipe tasters” didn’t think it would be enough by itself for breakfast – see Debbie’s comment below and my reply.)

Mulled Wine

1 lemon
4 c. water
6 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2, 750 ml. bottles red wine
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. whole allspice

Grate and squeeze lemons, then combine with remaining ingredients in a medium size slow cooker. Turn the cooker on low and let it “mull” for at least 4 hours. 12 servings.