I am in such a love/hate relationship with food right now. It’s not for losing weight, this time it’s for trying to eat REAL food. No HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), NO GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), No BVO (Brominated Vegetable Oil aka CANCER), no Hormones, no chemicals – no —– PHEW! I fell like I am writing a chapter for a science fiction novel. But I am not. Sadly, that’s just an average day at the grocery store.
I know you laugh and make fun of me for being so ‘organic,’ since I never used to be – but I am just having a hard time understanding why it is SO HARD TO FIND AND EAT REAL FOOD THESE DAYS.
Yes, I grew up on a farm. We ate real butter, milk and eggs. Our cows were happy and our Amish neighbor’s had ‘happy chickens.’ But back then, that just meant they clucked and pecked in the front yard all day. The cows grazed in the fields and were chill. I mean, there really wasn’t any other way to ‘harvest them.’
So when Diana, http://www.ladydeelg.com, asked me to take this 2-day challenge of no HFCS, I totally agreed to see how I could also eliminate this from my diet.
Results of my 2-day No High Fructose Corn Syrup Challenge:
I am proud and amazed to say – I didn’t eat anything – without even changing my food habits! We as a family have come a long way since Maximo was born – that we really HAVE cut a lot of junk from our diets, so much – that I didn’t even realize how well we were eating until I watched what I was eating. So here is my daily routine, so you too can easily cut HFCS form your diet as well, and maybe not even notice!
Hidden HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup):
Maple Syrup. Give it up. Or go tap a maple tree and eat it right out of the bucket. That stuff is like HFCS SLUDGE on your pancakes.
Margarine. What is it anyways? A bunch of man-made chemicals and ‘oils.’ Gross. Why is HFCS in it anyways??? Why is sugar in butter? Natural Butter is already sweet! It’s easy to find organic “real” butter in the stores – and I usually go for the no salt added while I’m at it. Anything that screams “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER!” should be tied up and dropped off in the middle of the ocean. I mean, what’s so BAD about butter that we had to go and create some nasty chemicals in place of it to begin with???
Cereal. Just walk away from the cereal and say no. There is absolutely nothing nutritious in cereal – including HFCS (ummm say what?), artificial dyes and sugar sugar sugar. If you want something sweet, just go for the real thing – fruit!
Yogurt. Yeah I hate to break it to you – but all those yogurts that you think are ‘good for you’ only taste sooooooo good because they’re loaded in HFCS and sugar.
1. Fruit. Maximo loves pancakes – if I don’t make them myself, we get the Organic Silver-dollar pancakes from Trader Joe’s. Delicious. Sometimes we have banana pancakes, sometimes we have peach, or strawberry or even fig. Yes FIGS! Maximo loves them. Trader Joe’s is awesome for fresh, natural fruits – no sugar added, no HFCS added.
2. REAL Yogurt. So how can you get your yogurt fix? Not all yogurts have HFCS – lots of organic or Greek Yogurts are natural – BUT you have to read the labels to be sure! And I agree, plain Greek Yogurt might not taste delicious on it’s own – but add some honey, sliced almonds and fruit and you have a party in your mouth.
3. Eggs. Real, cage-free eggs. Add lots of fun stuff to them for protein. Maximo loves spinach and tomatoes. In fact, we add Spinach to almost everything we eat – probably at least once a day! Scrambled eggs with spinach, pasta with sauteed spinach, a smoothie – you can’t even taste it and you’re getting so many nutrients its redic that it’s so simple.
Bonus – Listen up people – don’t be afraid of whole milk and real butter. I have actually lost weight since switching from skim milk and margarine. Why? Because it tastes so good – you don’t need as much – and it’s rich and creamy without adding anything like sugar to your coffee and pancakes. So you actually eat LESS as well. Who would’ve thought real food actually made sense?
HIDDEN High Fructose Corn Syrup:
Mayonaise. Another gross item. It’s full of lots of fake oils, HFCS and other delicious chemicals to just ruin your day.
Salad Dressing. You think you’re being all healthy with that salad until you slop on all those delicious fake ingredients and toxic chemicals.
SHOCKER ALERT: Nature Valley Granola Bars. So much for being ‘natural’ – with HFCS??? UGH! Is anything safe anymore???
1. How do we eat salads? We make our own dressing – using olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice (and salt and pepper). Claudio actually started this one – his family does it a lot and coming from Pittsburgh where Ranch is a food group, it was a difficult change – but now I LOVE it – I think it just tastes fresh and lets the flavors of the food you’re eating shine through.
2. Opt for real granola – like Bear Naked, or from your local organic eatery. They always have fresh homemade granola. Which also goes great with fresh organic yogurt and fruit. Yum. Or make your own – I mean, dry out some fruits, get some oats, some raisins – let your inner Pinterest Goddess shine through.
3. Hummus. Max LOVES hummus – like, right by the spoonful – and it’s just CHICKPEAS! I also opt to use it instead of mayo a lot of the time on sandwiches. Give it a try!
Secret: You know where I like to get my granola? IKEA. YEP -those Sweeds have some serious delicious, fresh granola with lots of nuts and fruits and deliciousness to jazz up your plain REAL yogurt.
Another Secret: BTW – the granola bars at Trader Joe’s don’t have HFCS as an ingredient. Boom. You’re welcome. (they use Brown Rice Syrup which is better, yet has been rumored to have trances of Arsenic. I mean, sigh, I guess it’s the better of the two evils – but if you really want to be safe – cut out mass produced granola bars completely).
HIDDEN High Fructose Corn Syrup:
Marinades and Sauces. So you went and bought organic chicken, lots of spinach and then dump some sort of pre-made Sweet and Sour Sauce all over it. Fail. You might as well go and take a bath in HFCS now.
SODA: I mean if you really thing drinking something that is black and fizzy and can dissolve PENNIES is safe – just stop reading.
MAC AND CHEESE. Sigh. My favorite food. I could probably eat it everyday. But those boxes of Kraft and easy mac? Yep – LOADED WITH HFCS. But have no fear – there is HFCS FREE options (see below).- I mean, remember you can always make your own too – try my Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese Recipe!
THE NUMBER ONE HARDEST THING FOR ME TO GIVE UP: KETCHUP. I come from Pittsburgh. We LIVE for ketchup so when I found out how bad it really is for you, it was HEART BREAKING!
Ok – so I have to draw the line somewhere. I can’t ALWAYS give up my ketchup and being a Pittsburgher, I just CAN”T eat that organic stuff. Sooooo while I didn’t eat any ketchup for this challenge, I will have a little here and there.
But that’s where I say – IN MODERATION. I am not saying well, okay go ahead and eat HFCS – just not every day. I am saying, if there is ONE thing you just can’t give up – it’s okay to have a little here and there. As long as you are AWARE what’s in it – and you avoid it in everything else you eat.
1. Homemade sauces. Have you ever made your own spaghetti sauce? SO EASY! REALLY! Just chop up a few tomatoes, garlic, butter, water (and any other veggies you want!) and place in a sautee pan. Another version? Crazy water – I haven’t wrote up my own recipe yet (now I’m inspired!) but click here to see how to switch up your dinner tonight!
2. Carbonated Naturally Flavored Waters from La Criox. I LOVE LA CROIX. It comes in tons of flavors and there is nothing artificial or gross in it – just water, carbonated with natural fruit flavors – NOT juice. Not sugar. Real fruit.
Trust me, you’ll be addicted to the coconut. And the cranberry, and the peach —— read my blog about it here.
3. Annie’s Homegrown. I LOVE Annie’s – it’s REAL CHEESE ONLY! They pride themselves on being organic and not using artificial colors or – you guessed it – HFCS. So you can finally have your MAC AND CHEESE AND EAT IT TOO! Oh, and they make cheddar bunnies (say NO to Goldfish crackers!) and trust me they are WAY BETTER! I usually end up eating more than Maximo…
Trader Joe’s – Your Knight in Shining Armor
Now, I can’t say that EVERYTHING in the store is HFCS free cause I haven’t eaten EVERYTHING in the store- BUT a lot of their items are. I recommend shopping here because:
1 – it’s SUPER affordable. You can get a bag of ORGANIC spinach for $1.99 (in NYC!)
2 – pretty much everything is organic so it makes your life a lot easier (but be careful – not everything – so don’t go wild, still be aware).
3 – check out this photo. Here I am making cookies – you can see the Blondie’s Brownie Mix – is actually WOW real ingredients! The butter is real, the eggs are ‘cage free’ the milk is organic – viola! So don’t think it’s IMPOSSIBLE to cut out FOOD altogether – just the BAD THINGS IN FOOD- you don’t have to give up delicious treats either – these cookies are ALL NATURAL and taste delicious.They’re so good in fact (and affordable) it makes you wonder why companies put HFCS in food in the first place?
Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm…..
Author: Stephanie Barnhart
Stephanie is a published author—featured in the New York Times, NY Metro Parents Magazine, PARENTGUIDE NEWS, as well as an #expertmom for MommyNearest.com, and contributing author to KidzCentralStation.com and Kidville.com’s Voices of the ‘Ville — author and speaker/consultant on motherhood and the importance of marketing and research in a business arena, specifically online. She also owns her own social media company, www.socialmindedmediagroup.com