Posts Tagged ‘processed foods’

Are Frozen Dinners Worth the Convenience?

We live in a busy, fast-paced society where taking the time to prepare a delicious and healthy meal is not always possible.  Pre-prepared foods and frozen dinners offer a quick and easy alternative, but at what price?

Typical frozen dinner

Most frozen meals are loaded with sugar, sodium, and preservatives with low vegetable and fiber content.  Though we need sodium in our diet, about one teaspoon a day or 2300 milligrams, for fluid balance, muscle strength and nerve function, most of us get far more than that with our consumption of frozen and processed foods.  We are all well aware of the dangers of too much salt and sugar!  The right kind of salt is important too.  Click here for more information about salts.

Certain frozen dinner brands, and specific meals produced by those brands, are worse than others.  Hot pockets, chicken potpies, and turkey and gravy dinners are among the worst.  Usually organic frozen meals are better, but it’s important to take the time to read the labels carefully, as with all processed foods.  Just because a product says “natural” doesn’t mean it is, even with frozen veggie burgers. Be on the lookout for salt’s various disguises like sodium alginate, sodium ascorbate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and sodium benzoate, as well as added sugars under the name of high fructose corn syrup or natural cane sugar and unhealthy fats.

As Oscar Wilde said, “everything in moderation including moderation”, so the occasional frozen dinner won’t hurt you.  There is no substitute however, for a fresh, home cooked meal seasoned properly with healthy herbs, enhanced with a small amount sea salt, and prepared with love.

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Information compiled from:,

Silica Gel Packets

Here is an unlikely green tip – reusing those silica gel packets found in the packaging of some processed foods, particularly organic ones, vitamin bottles, shoes, and electronics used to absorb moisture.  What you say? Why not simply throw them away?  They certainly don’t take up much space in the landfill!  If you think about the number of silica packets in your packaging, however, multiplied by all the packaging used around the world, then it’s a different story.


Silicia is an important drying agent where excessive moisture could encourage the growth of mold and spoilage.  Excess moisture can also damage electronics or break down the chemicals in vitamins. Silica is usually non-toxic to humans, pets and the environment. Some forms of silica gel have been proven to cause cancer in laboratory settings however, specifically the blue ones that contain the chemical cobalt chloride, often added to indicate the presence of humidity.  The packet that the silica is often encased in is made from high-density plastic that won’t tear or break and even keeps the smallest particulates from entering the packet.  While that is a really good thing, it is not biodegradable.

English: Silica gel Nederlands: Silicagel

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


So, what do you do with all those packets?  You use your imagination and reuse them to help preserve other things in your house.  For example, I tape one on the lid of my 50-pound tin of dog food to keep it fresh.  Other suggestions?  Put some in a box of old photos or important papers to keep them from molding.   Put some in your jewelry box or in with your flatware to help keep them from tarnishing so quickly.  Add them to your seed packets and seed jars you are storing for planting next year to keep them mold and moisture free.  And, you can use the packets over and over – simply “reactivate” them by placing them in a warm oven (176-200 degrees) for 15 minutes.


Reusing silica gel packets, now that’s a good eco-citizen!


Happy Labor Day, readers!  Make it an eco-safe holiday this year.  Click here for ideas….




Information compiled from Natural Health, September/October 2012, “Ask the Experts” by Mike Yukizky, public health education manager, North Texas Poison Center and













Processed foods are foods that have been altered from their natural states in order to extend their shelf life.  Foods that come in a box, can, bag or carton are processed.  They are often poor quality and usually cheap.  About 90% of the money Americans spend on food is used to buy “edible foodlike substances” as Michael Pollan, well-known author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and professor, calls them.

Processed foods have been implicated in most of today’s chronic diseases and health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  What makes processed foods so bad?  Many processed foods contain trans fats (or hydrogenated) a dangerous type of fat, which raises the bad cholesterol and lowers the good.  Most processed foods are extremely high in salt, also not good for the heart, and addictive.  Have you ever tried to eat just one potato chip?!  Another addictive ingredient you’ll find in processed foods is high fructose corn syrup, which is linked to obesity and diabetes.  Sugar is burned and turned into energy; high fructose corn syrup turns into fat. Potato chips and French fries often contain Acrylamide, a carcinogenic substance that forms when foods are heated at high temperatures, such as during baking or frying.

Processed foods also contain a lot of additives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of over 3,000 chemicals that are added to the processed food supply to add color, stabilize, texturize, preserve, sweeten, thicken, etc.  Some of these additives have never been tested for safety and require no government approval.  They belong to the FDA’s “Generally Recognized as Safe” list.

So what should we eat?  As Michael Pollan says, keep it simple. “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food”.  “Eat only foods that will eventually rot.”  Always read the label and choose wisely.  And, everything in moderation.

Information compiled from; report by Lorie Johnson, CBN News Medical Reporter and Food Rules by Michael Pollan.