Monday, June 6, 2011

Pizza Snack!

My boys love pizza.  Amost as much as their father and I.  We usually do pizza night on Friday or Saturday of every week.  It's a great meal to end a busy week of school and work.  Since we are a TFF, HFCS, MSG free family that means I get to MAKE the pizza.  From scratch, including the sauce (which is very easy.  I have included the recipe below).  This takes some planning and about 3 hrs of my time (not all active cooking, thank goodness for the bread machine that I "borrowed" from my mom about 3 years ago).  Don't get me wrong, it is so very worth it, but sometimes we just want a pizza snack and we want it fast.  So, I came up with super simple recipe for my boys.  They love it and sometimes they get it as their dinner when I didn't get the pizza dough in the bread machine fast enough.  I just add some fruit and milk to round out their meal!

Flatbread from Trader Joe's. 
Very similar to gyro bread.

Pizza Snack
-Middle Eastern Flat Bread (See picture on the left)
-Pizza Sauce (see recipe below)
-Mozzarella Cheese

Turn oven on bake at 425 degrees.  Add a spoonful of pizza sauce onto the flat bread and cover with cheese.  Place additional toppings such as pepperoni, mushrooms, or other veggies on top of cheese, if you wish (Boars Head makes a nice nitrite/nitrate free pepperoni).  Place mini pizza's directly on rack in oven (for a crispy crust).  Bake about 4-5 minutes! 

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes
Dash of Italian Seasoning
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp Olive oil

Simmer above ingredients for 20 min.  I usually make a large batch of this and freeze in ziploc containers, that way I don't have to make it from scratch every time I make the Pizza Snack or homemade pizza for that matter.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

MSG - What is it?!

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

MSG stands for monosodium glutamate and is a sodium salt that is used in certain dishes to enhance the flavor of the food.  You can go here to learn all of the science behind MSG, such as its chemical composition, how it's made, etc, etc....

We choose not to eat foods with MSG in it because my DH (dear husband) and I both get massive headaches when we ingest any food that has it as an ingredient.  Case in point, when I was about 9 years old, I ate a LOT of Nacho Cheese Doritos at a family party and had the worst headache of my life (they were good going down, but I paid the price later!)  Now, it may have been partly due to the fact that I ate so many of those tasty Doritos, but after trial and error, my mom found a direct correlation between me eating MSG and getting headaches shortly thereafter.  

Many research studies have been done and there is no 'conclusive' evidence that MSG is bad for you or causes these symptoms in the majority of the population, but some people definitely have a sensitivity to it and we are two of them.  Because of this reason, we don't eat it and we definitely don't let our kids eat it!! 

Following are foods that are MSG offenders (very high likely hood that they contain MSG):
  • Prepared stocks often known as stock cubes or bouillon cubes
  • Condiments such as BBQ sauce and salad dressings
  • Canned, frozen or dried prepared food
  • Common snack foods such as flavored beef jerky, flavored potato chips (Doritos!!!) and flavored tortilla chips.
  • Dry seasoning/soup mixtures
If you're thinking, "OK,  yeah I have at least one of those foods from EACH category in my pantry right now!!  Forget you lady, I can't give that stuff up...."  then I have good news for YOU!  Each and every  category above has at least one if not MANY alternatives you can use.  I plan on doing many posts about substitutions, but I will give you an easy one right now....

MSG laden chips
(picture courtesy of Google) 
VS.        MSG Free chips (picture courtesy of Google).

Now personally I LOVE the Trader Joe's Spicy Tortilla Chips, but I couldn't find a photo of them online.  The Tostitos are a great and simple switch to start with.  Also, something I love about Tostitos website is it gives you a list of all their chips, with labels for each stating whether or not they are free from gluten, MSG, casein, lactose, onion, trans fat or additives, as well as whether or not they are Kosher.  You can check out that information here.

So, if you seem to have inexplicable headaches that correlate with eating some of the items listed above, I'd check to see if they have MSG in them.  If they do, there are many easy substitutes that you can use that will eliminate the MSG from the foods you eat.  If you don't have an MSG sensitivity, it still wouldn't hurt to cut out this unnecessary additive from  your diet!  Keep posted for more easy swaps from The Additive Free Foodie!!!                    

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Will Work for Chocolate Croissant!

Essence Catering Scottsdale Phoenix Glendale Tempe

Even though we avoid trans fat, HFCS and the like, I still love my pastries and desserts.  So, I was very excited when I found this bakery in Tempe at 825 W University called Essence Bakery and Cafe.  They serve breakfast and lunch (with lots of organic options), as well as offer wonderful pastries. 

The owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos was trained in Paris and you can tell!  I was there just last week and I can attest to the fact that they have the most wonderful pastries.  I had a pumpkin macaroon (yum!), as well as a chocolate filled, almond covered croissant.  Oh. my. Lord.  Delicious!!!  You can check out a link to her bakery website here.    I've also tried many of their other pastries (mint macaroons, croissants, chocolate croissants, raisin rolls, etc) and all have been so very delicate, flaky and delicious. 

I also love the fact that this shop is a local, one of a kind place.  I enjoy frequenting and giving my business to local shops and businesses.  And I love it that this bakery owner is environmentally friendly, through green remodeling and purchasing foods that are raised and grown locally.  You can read more about how Essence Bakery is environmentally responsible here.

Now, if I could just get the owner to read this post, maybe she'll give me a free macaroon?!?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Did you realize that most microwaveable popcorn has partially hydrogenated oil in it?  I find that hard to believe and frankly, hard to understand.  Seriously, why isn't it just popcorn, a little oil and a pinch of salt?!  I used to always make my homemade popcorn in my nifty Stir Crazy popcorn machine, that is until my friend Carrie sent me this amazing recipe for homemade microwave popcorn!   Check out this super simple, healthy and affordable recipe...

Microwave Popcorn

1 brown paper bag
1/3 c. popping corn kernels
1-2 tsp. oil

1.  Put 1/3 c. popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch sack.
2.  Add 1 to 2 tsp oil and a generous pinch of salt.  Fold down the lunch bag twice at the top, no need to seal it.
3.  Use the "Popcorn" button on your microwave or cook it about 2 minutes.  
4.  If sneaking your popcorn into the movie theater, I'd recommend putting it into another bag, as the bottom will be oily :).

The popcorn comes out more "plain" than the packaged variety but you can season with butter & salt, grated parmesan cheese or even cinnamon & sugar.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Need a TFF (trans fat free) Teddy Graham Fix?!?!

Photo Courtesy of Barbara's Bakery (we ate the cookies too fast for me to get a picture :))

I just picked up a package of these Barbara's Bakery Snackimals in Double Chocolate at Sprouts this week.  They were on sale for $2 a bag, so I thought I'd give them a try.  I have one word to describe this kid friendly snack:  YUMMY!  I am not a big fan of Teddy Grahams or other chocolate-y snack crackers, but I have to say, these were good.  I mean really good.  I ate like 10 on the way home from the store!  I also used them as bribery for my two mini-foodies this week while I was getting an eye exam.  It worked - they were quiet, eerily quiet, which was probably due to the fact that they devoured the whole bag in one sitting!  If my eyes hadn't been dilated, I would have SEEN that the cookies were quickly disappearing and I would have put a stop to the madness (by helping them finish off the bag).  When hubby got home later that evening, he asked me where the Snackimals were.  I told him that the kids polished the bag off and he was sad that there were no more Snackimals for him to enjoy.  So, being the good wife that I am, he's getting a bag all to himself the next time I head to the store.  In fact, I think I will buy 4 bags, so we can each have our own!  And the best thing about these Snackimals (besides being TFF) is that they come in 5 other flavors - chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, snickerdoodle and vanilla!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Peanut Butter Taste Test

We love peanut butter around here.  We love it so much, we go through a large container at least once a week.  Even more during the holiday's when I make my famous Peanut Butter Bon Bons (you'll have to wait till December for that recipe :)).   I am so fortunate that no one in the house has nut allergies and  honestly don't know what mom's feed their kids who DO have nut allergies....

When we gave up trans fats, we did it very slowly, trading in one trans fat food item for a comparable item that was trans fat free.  Once we got used to the 'replacement', we'd do it again with th next food.  We decided to start with peanut butter since we consumed so much of it, although we had to sample a few to find one we really liked.  I first tried the super All Natural Laura Scudders Peanut Butter.  Let me just tell you, having to mix the oil into the peanut butter was annoying and difficult, so difficult, I built up some biceps and forearm muscles (ok, ok, not THAT bad).  It aslo had to stay refridgerated, which made it impossible to spread, the bread would tear, it wouldn't go on creamy like old school Skippy or Jif.  After dealing with that for awhile, I was very excited when Skippy and then later, Jif, both came out with All Natural Creamy (and Chunk) Peanut Butters.   We started buying the Skippy because that was our pre-switch peanut butter of choice.  But once Jif came out with their version and I saw it was less expensive, we decided to give it a try as well. 

So, in a totally unscientific survey, I fed my kids PB & J's two days in a row.  The first day was with their favorite, the Skippy.  They ate their sandwiches without a word.  The second day, I fed them the Jif peanut butter on their sandwiches.  I am not kidding you, one bite into it, they both were like, Eww, what peanut butter is THIS, mom?!?  Even my husband thought it was gross.  It was a little more gritty, saltier and not as smooth as the Skippy.  I still keep that jar in my pantry in case we run out (I hate to waste peanut butter!!) but I think I should just toss it, as none of us like it and the kids won't touch it.  Sorry Jif, but this one goes to Skippy (plus the name is cooler).   

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Partially Hydrogenated What?!

I'm just going to tackle the biggie right off the bat.  Partially hydrogenated oils.  What a long word to descibe a type of fat.  So long in fact, its got a nickname, trans fat.  Much easier to say, if you ask me, but no better for your body!  Following, I will explain WHAT trans fats are and WHY they are bad for you. 

What are trans fats? 
Trans fat comes from adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation. Trans fats are more solid than oil is, making them less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of foods helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel (reference Mayo Clinic).  Now I don't know about you, but anything being less greasy sounds good to me.  Unfortunately, when it comes to trans fats, less greasy = less healthy....

What are the health risks? 
1-Coronary Artery Disease.  Coronary artery disease develops when your coronary arteries — the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients — become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaques) on your arteries are usually to blame for coronary artery disease (reference Mayo Clinic).

2-Negative changes in your cholesterol.  Trans fat raises the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers the HDL (cholesterol). A study done in the New England Journal of Medicine found that on a per-calorie basis, trans fats appear to increase the risk of CHD more than any other macronutrient, conferring a substantially increased risk at low levels of consumption (reference Mayo Clinic).

3-Other possible health risks that are under scientific review include links to Alzheimers disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes, infertility, obesity, liver disfunction and depression (reference Mayo Clinic).

Who invented this stuff?  That honor goes to a German chemist named Wilhelm Normann.  He was able to partially hygrogenate oils in 1901 and patented the process in 1902, where he then built a fat hardening facility (that just doesn't sound right).  In 1909 he sold the patent rights to Proctor and Gamble who in turn began making and marketing the first hydrogenated shortening called Crisco (ever heard of it?!)  Further success came from the marketing technique of giving away free cookbooks in which every recipe called for Crisco (reference Wikipedia).  I gotta say, great marketing tool to give away free cookbooks calling for your ingredient in every recipe....

What products have trans fats in them?  Well, pretty much everything that can be boxed or bagged.  Chips, bread, cookies, crackers, cakes, pastries, french fries, the list goes on and on.  If you are thinking, Crap!  I LOVE carbs and bread and cookies, I can't give that up, have no fear, the Additive Free Foodie is here!  That's where this blog will come along side you, sharing recipes, food swaps and other tips to help you.  I will be sharing LOTS of substitution ideas, mostly mainstream stuff you can find at any grocrey store, even *gasp* Wal-Mart.  I promise you, there is a substitution for everything! 

Finally, I know it may sound overwhelming for those of you who have never thought about eliminating this from your diet, but with so many people choosing to go trans-fat free these days, you really can make it work, on a budget, with young kids at home!