In our fast-paced world of convenience foods we sometimes get so carried away with our busy schedules that we forget what the holiday meal really stands for: home-cooked meals. In my family we love the busy morning getting everything ready and then the anticipation as we start to smell the turkey in the oven and all of the amazing scents of the Thanksgiving feast! When the turkey is finally done and emerges from the oven it’s a beautiful thing! It’s just not the same if it comes from a box.
I am not here to point fingers at specific brands, but to draw awareness to just how unhealthy these foods can be.
Turns out that Grandma was right all along: just eat real home-cooked food!
Here I have listed a few of the common holiday convenience foods and why they might not be the best route to go when preparing your feast.
Why is this not so good? Well, first let me apologize to my fellow Minnesotans because this is a STAPLE in every cupboard throughout our state. Ok, I think the ingredient list speaks for itself: Cream of Mushroom Soup (Homogenized Milk, Water, Sliced Mushrooms, Roux W/ Oil (All Purpose Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Canola Oil), Water, Corn Starch (Derived From Waxy Maize), Roasted Mirapoix (Roasted Vegetables (Carrots, Onions, Celery, Garlic), Water, Dextrose, Salt, Onion Powder, Canola Oil, Maltodextrin, Sugar, Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Disodium Inosinate/Disodium Guanylate, Potassium Sorbate, Soy Lecithin, Caramel Color, Ascorbic Acid, Smoke Flavor. ), Diced Onions, Canola Oil, Kosher Salt (Salt, Yellow Prussiate Of Soda.), Roasted Garlic Flavoring (Roasted Garlic, Water, Vegetables (Onions, Carrots, And Celery), Dextrose, Salt, Garlic Powder, Canola Oil, Onion Powder, Xanthan Gum, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Flavoring, Corn Syrup, and Caramel Color. ), Vegetable Base (Sea Salt, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Dehydrated Vegetables (Parsnip, Carrots, Pumpkin), Dehydrated Parsley, Olive Oil, Spices (Pepper, Thyme, Coriander, Mace).), Ground White Pepper). Waaaaaay too many ingredients to be included in my home-cooked meals.
What you can do instead: Make your own, here is a great recipe: Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup. Or buy this kind (ingredients: water, mushrooms, creme fraiche, rice starch, rice flour, sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder) it’s gluten free too!
Why are these not so good? Well, again I will let the ingredients speak for themselves: Palm oil, wheat flour, onions, soy flour, salt, dextrose, TBHQ, citric acid, propylene glycol to protect color. Sure they add lots of (artificial) flavor to that green bean casserole, but have you ever noticed how they leave an oily coating in your mouth? Ish, no thank you! Plus, who needs all of that wheat and soy? No wonder why we have such a prevalence of leaky guts these days!
What you can do instead: Again, make your own. Here is a great gluten-free recipe: How to Make French Fried Onions
Why this is not so good? Again, the ingredients: Salt, Sugar, Chicken, Potassium Chloride, Corn Syrup Solids, Corn Gluten Hydrolyzed,Onion(s) Powder, Maltodextrin, Chicken Fat, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Starch Modified,Yeast Extract Autolyzed, Garlic Powder, Flavor(s) Natural, Chicken Broth, Taurine, Turmeric,Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Soy Protein Hydrolyzed, Parsley Flakes Dehydrated, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Soy Sauce Powder (Wheat Fermented and, Soy) , Spice(s), BHA, BHT, Propyl Gallate Preservative. Um, no thanks! Plus these are loaded with processed salt which is linked to all kinds of health issues.
What you can do instead: Well, I would go with chicken bone broth for sure….but if you don’t have hours to simmer bones then you can use this instead (ingredients: chicken broth, chicken flavor, sea salt, cane sugar, onion powder, turmeric, rosemary).
Why are they not so good? BPA is used to line food cans, and in the case of tomatoes, which are extremely acidic, this BPA can break down and leech into the food. BPA has been named a hormone disrupter because it mimics estrogen in the body. This can lead to reproductive problems! Might have something to do with our ever-increasing infertility rates?! It has also been linked to problems with the immune system, nervous system, and has been linked to breast and brain cancer.
What can you do instead: Buy fresh tomatoes! Buy tomatoes that are in glass jars or cartons. Easy enough!
Why these are not so good: Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Water, Egg Whites, Artificial Flavor, Cream of Tartar, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Color (Blue 1). Whenever I see corn syrup listed in anything I give it a thumbs down. Corn syrup is a product of GMO corn and has been linked to non-alcohoic fatty liver disease (even in children!). We also don’t eat anything labeled as “artificial flavor” because the food industry can hide anything behind that name and it typically means MSG. Also, no artificial colors thank you very much!
What you can do instead: Make your own, here is a great recipe: Homemade Marshmallows
Why this is not so good: Ingredients: Water, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut and Palm Kernel Oils), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Less than Two Percent of Sodium Caseinate (from Milk), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Xanthan and Guar Gums, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monostearate, Beta Carotene (Color). This should not even be considered to be food! It even tastes chemically!
What you can do instead: Make your own! This could not be easier. HERE is my recipe, and a video showing how I make my own in minutes. If you use coconut cream, you don’t even need to sweeten it. Just pour in the cream/coconut cream, chill, shake and dispense onto your favorite holiday dessert. It tastes way better that cool whip and also provides you with healthy fats! Winning!
Why this is not so good: I don’t really think this needs any explanation. It’s full of soy. I’ll just leave you with this short clip, I think it might convince you just why this is not the best route for your holiday “meat”…
Enjoy your holiday meal. It might take a little more time and elbow grease to make your meal from scratch, but hey it only comes once a year. Enlist help and plan ahead. It will be worth it! Happy holidays!
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Image Credit: Flickr
- Canned tomatoes: Why you should stay away!
- Cream of Mushroom Soup
- French Fried Onions
- Cool Whip, Not Cool