Monday, March 26, 2012

Surprises in the Grocery Store

If you're a regular here, you know I love Fooducate (the iPhone app that lets you scan products and get a score, reviews and key ingredients). Tonight as I was grocery shopping, I decided to put some of my favorites to the test and got a few surprises I thought I'd share.

Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding—reading the ingredients, I thought it sounded better than Jell-O, since it was made with lowfat milk and only a few other ingredients, all generally recognized. On this one, I was right. It scored a B-, while Original Chocolate Jell-O Pudding scored a C-. I also checked out the Kozy Shack Tapioca, which was a little surprising, only a C+, because it had more sugar (and more calories per serving). Still not terrible for an occasional treat.

Boca Burgers. While I realize some people are not soy supporters (as food anyway), the Original Boca Burger is one of the few meatless burgers that tastes good and doesn't have a nasty consistency. So while trying to really watch my caloric intake (spring training for my June beach trip), I thought one would make a nice, quick, high-protein meal. Indeed, it scored a B+, Best in Category, but Fooducate also noted that they contain MSG or equivalent. That's a nonstarter for me, as it's a migraine trigger. Bummed to cross that one off the list.

Terra Sweets & Carrots and Sweets & Beets. The Terra chips have always been a favorite of mine, and I thought they were "better" since they were cut from sweet potatoes and other fibrous starches. Both scored great reviews but only C+ because Fooducate deems chips and puffs as having too "little nutritional value for the amount of fat and sodium they carry." I get that, but in moderation, I think these are a good choice and very satisfying for a crunchy, salty snack. Probably too harsh a rating.

Buitoni 100% Whole Wheat Four Cheese Ravioli. My kids love these, as well as the whole wheat tortellini and I thought they were getting something reasonably wholesome. Then I scanned it into Fooducate for my rude awakening. The C- score is for many good reasons, the first four being: contains trans-fats even though the label says "0"; it's not actually 100% whole grain; contains MSG or equivalent; and has more than 25% of the daily recommended sodium intake. What!?! This one kind of pisses me off. No more Buitoni anything for me. Lesson on this one: it's got more than 35 ingredients. That should've been a huge red flag that I missed.

Quaker Whole Hearts, Lightly Sweetened Cereal. I scanned this, expecting to see a C or so. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was an A-. However it contains BHT, a preservative, which is another migraine trigger for me. Bummer. In this case, Cheerios are a better alternative, with the same score, but no preservatives. Not Honey Nut Cheerios (those are a B- because of the 2.5T of sugar per serving) or Frosted Cheerios (also B-) or Fruity Cheerios (C) or Vanilla Yogurt Burst (C+) or Banana Nut (C+). Who knew there were so many varieties of Cheerios? Of course, you'd expect an organic variety such as Trader Joe's Organic High Fiber O's would be higher, but no, because there's more sugar in them (2.5 tsp). TJ's O's Toasted Whole Grain Oats are actually a better choice, though both are rated A-, because they're lower in sugar. So many choices. If only Trader Joe's weren't an hour away!

Lastly peanut butter. I'm sure you expect me to buy one of those organic, low-sodium, oil-separated varieties. I used to buy it at Costco, but when they discontinued it, I took another look at Jif. I always loved its taste and had tired of trying to mix the oil back into the hard rock of peanutty goodness with the natural brands. Regular Creamy Jif is not so great (C+) thanks to its fully hydrogenated oil. Reduced Fat Jif fares even worse with a C. However, Simply Jif Creamy and Jif Creamy Natural are both Bs, even though Simply again contains hydrogenated oil. Confusing! Since I'm choosy, I choose Jif Natural, which tastes great and is just peanuts, sugar, palm oil and 2% or less of salt and molasses.

What products do you love or hate based on closer inspection of ingredients? I especially love to hear about great tasting products that are also super healthy.

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