Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Deceptive Marketing - No Sugar Added

It really gets me upset the way corporations purposely mislead the public to sell their products.  I discussed one example a while back in my post about Disney Princesses and Marvel Superhero children's multivitamins. The was a specific example, but with this article I wanted to discuss a form of misleading marketing that is more wide-spread: The use of "No Sugar Added." or "Sugar Free" on product labels. With so much of the public trying to maintain healthy lifestyles, companies have tried to alter or re-market their products as healthy while giving people the flavor (i.e. sweetness) they secretly crave. It's all about sales, baby. And while supply meeting demand is a good thing in theory, when you add unscrupulousness corporations into the mix, you end up with deceptively marketed products. That is why so many products you find labeled as "no sugar added" contains one of the following sugar substitutes: 

  • Aspartame - Equal or NutraSweet
  • Acesulfame K, also known as acesulfame potassium - Sunett and Sweet One.
  • Sugar alcohols - sorbitol, xylitol or maltitol
  • Saccharin  - Sweet'N Low
  • Sucralose  - Splenda
  • Neotame
(You don't see Stevia in many products right now, but as it gains popularity I'm sure you will).

I am not about to start debating with you about whether these items are good, bad or the devil incarnate. Conspiracy theories abound, and no one really trusts what the FDA says so getting to the truth of the matter is nearly impossible. What I will say is that, as a parent, I try to avoid giving my children unnatural (i.e. chemically produced) products, and it irritates the hell out of me when companies deceptively market products such as these to kids. I cannot tell you how many people I know who have gotten fooled by this marketing, and even though so many of us do know what's happening, no one seems to want to call the corporations out for it. Why? Because of the ingredients list on the back of the package, but most of us don't have the time to check the packaging of everything we eat, and the corporations know it.  That's where I come in. :)

For the sake of journalism, I took a walk around my local grocery store and photographed some examples to illustrate my point. Yes, I looked like a fool and people stared. That's how committed I am, or should be committed... whatever.

So here goes...

Sugar Free Jello Pudding - Contains xylitol,  acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

Del Monte  - Mandarin Oranges (No sugar added) - Contains sorbitol,  acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

Del Monte - No Sugar Added Sliced Pears  - Contains acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

Nesquick -  Chocolate (No sugar added) - Contains acesulfame potassium, and sucralose

 Sugar Free Syrups - Mrs. Butterworths - Contains neotame,  acesulfame potassium, and aspartame


So kids, the moral of our story is... CHECK THE LABELS!

Always, always, always check the labels of the products you buy. It's a pain in the neck, but totally worth it in the long run. I hope some of you have found this helpful. If you know anyone who might benefit from this information, please pass it along.  Thanks!

Tell me what you think or add to the discussion in the comments section below.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Easy and Delicious - BBQ Ribs

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to cook. Back in my pre-children days, I would spend hours concocting wonderfully elaborate and delicious meals (and somehow stayed skinny, but that's another post).  As a mother, I have had to whittle my recipes down to their simplest forms so I could manage cooking and childcare at the same time. So I thought I would share a few of my favorites with other busy moms. This first recipe is for barbeque ribs. It is simple to make and delicious!

Just an fyi...
For me, simple doesn't mean fast (though I have a few of those), it means quick and easy preparation without five hundred, freshly purchased, chopped, diced, and petrified- blah, blah - ingredients. I also don't do much in the way of measuring since this is the real world, and in the real world we don't really measure crap. So I will give you a basic idea of how much seasoning to use, but if you want exact measurements, I'm not your girl.

So on to my recipe for Barbeque Ribs.

BBQ Ribs
  • One full rack St. Louis style pork ribs (you can use baby back, but St. Louis style are cheaper)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Oregano
  • Garlic salt (I use Lawry's coarse garlic sat)
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper (optional)
  • BBQ sauce (whatever you like)
  • Large, sturdy pan
  • Aluminum foil
1. So here's the trick to making really good - fall off the bone ribs - without smoking them for 2 days. Boil them. That's right! Take your (completely thawed) ribs, cut them in half if necessary, place them in a large pot and fill it with enough water to completely cover the ribs. Bring the water to a boil and lower temperature slightly to keep it at a rolling boil, for 30 minutes to 1 hour. 30 Minutes is the minimum, but the longer the better. You can add a little salt to the water if you like.

This is what it will look like:


Okay, so this looks gross, but it's normal. What you're seeing is all of the fat and icky stuff (yes- that is a professional term) coming out of the meat and floating to the top of the pot.

2. While you're waiting for the ribs to boil, line a large sturdy pan with aluminum foil. Trust me, you don't want to cook this in an unlined pan. Cleaning an unlined pan after the fact is a nightmare. I line it with several sheets because the ribs tend to tear through the foil.

3. Once the ribs are done boiling, remove them from the pot using tongs. Be careful because they have a tendency to fall apart. Position them on the pan however they fit with the underside facing up. Coat it with garlic salt, then flip the ribs over so the meaty side is facing up. 

4. Placing your thumb (or two fingers if you have small thumbs like me) over the lip of the bottle, lightly sprinkle apple cider vinegar all over the ribs - rub it in with a large spoon.

5. Next take a small handful of brown sugar (about a half cup), sprinkle it all over the ribs, and rub it in with your fingers.

6. Now the seasoning. Generously coat the ribs with the garlic salt and paprika. Lightly sprinkle it with a bit of oregano ( about a half tablespoon dried and crushed), and add just a pinch of black pepper and cayenne pepper. A a pinch will only add to the flavor. My kids don't like too much spice so that's all I use. If you want it spicier, add more pepper, but be careful, a little goes a long way.

This picture is kind of ugly, but it's the best I could do with the crappy lighting in my kitchen.

7. You will want to cover the entire pan with foil. Tent it slightly so the foil isn't rubbing against the ribs like so:

8. Cook ribs at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

9. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and spread barbeque sauce all over the ribs with a spoon. (I use a spoon because a brush tends to just pull up the seasoning and doesn't coat as thickly).

10. Place ribs back in the oven - uncovered- and let it cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce firms up into a glaze.

Remove from the oven, cut, serve and enjoy! :)

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