Worst Food of the Week: Suddenly Salad

FOOD COMPANIES LIKE BETTY CROCKER WOULD LIKE NOTHING MORE than to perpetuate the myth that cooking is hard and time consuming. Without that myth, they couldn’t sell “food” products like Suddenly Salad.

Suddenly Salad is a boxed pasta salad mix that comes in many flavors, each less healthy than the last. The idea is to have us all think pasta salad is so difficult to make that we need to buy a mix. The box contains pasta and a spice packet which get mixed with oil and tossed over the cooked pasta.

I’M SURE YOU’RE WONDERING, AS I WAS, what the heck is in that magical spice packet. If you aren’t, you should be, because knowledge is power and we should all know what we’re feeding or families.

Okay, let’s take a look what’s inside the spice packet of Suddenly Salad Classic:

Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Bread Crumbs (Bleached Wheat Flour, Sugar, Yeast, Salt), Sugar, Maltodextrin, Dried Red Bell Peppers, Dried Vinegar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Parsley Flakes, Dextrose, Corn Syrup, Dried Parmesan Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Buttermilk, Spice, Whey, Dried Onion, Dried Garlic, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Citrate, Tomato Powder, Citric Acid, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Soy Flour, Egg Yolk.

Whoa. Now let’s break it down.

The Real Ingredients
Things you’d have in your kitchen and would actually put in pasta salad

Salt, red bell peppers, vinegar, parsley flakes, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, tomato. (Note salt is the first ingredient in the spice packet. 860 mg of sodium. 36% of the daily recommended amount per serving size. Yikes!)

The Non-essential Ingredients
Things you could buy in a store, but don’t need in pasta salad

Bread crumbs, sugar, corn syrup, buttermilk, whey, soy flour, egg yolk.

The Crap You Don’t Want To Eat
The additives you can’t buy in a store. These are things food scientists use to create “food” that tastes like real food, but that can sit on a shelf in a box for months (my description in brackets).

Modified Corn Starch [scientifically modified corn starch], Maltodextrin [an fast absorbing sugar], Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil [hydrogenated = trans fat], Dextrose [another sugar], Natural and Artificial Flavor [added flavorings], Monosodium Glutamate [MSG], Sodium Citrate [a salt and preservative], Citric Acid [a preservative], Hydrolyzed Corn Protein [basically another form of MSG], Disodium Guanylate [a flavor enhancer], Disodium Inosinate [another flavor enhancer].

In total, this product contains four different sugars, two types of sodium, and four flavor enhancers. Plus the mysterious “spices” – who knows what they are.

You CAN make your own pasta salad

YOU’RE NOT AN IDIOT and you don’t need to feed your family those unnecessary/unhealthy additives and ingredients.

Pasta salad is cooked pasta tossed with spices and oil. You know, like:

  • Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic
  • Olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, parmesan cheese
  • A container of fresh-made basil pesto

Look! Three ways to make a delicious pasta salad with ingredients you probably already have in your house. If you want, chop up some vegetables while the pasta is cooking – like red pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, beans, or olives. Hey, pasta salad isn’t so hard to make after all!

The bottom line:

Suddenly Salad and products like this try to make us think cooking is hard or time consuming. They have added ingredients that are unhealthy or unnecessary, or both. You can make a similar dish for about the same time and effort. Leave boxed side dishes on the shelf!

4 comments for “Worst Food of the Week: Suddenly Salad

  1. Corey
    August 31, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Maltodextrin is a starch used for texture and other things, it is not a sugar.

  2. cat
    August 31, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Thank you for the correction. Maltodextrin is not a sugar, but a “sweet polysaccharide” that has few calories than sugar, but can be used to sweeten as well as thicken. It can be found in instant puddings, powdered drinks, and artificial sweeteners because of it’s sweetness, but it’s not a sugar. (http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-maltodextrin.htm).

  3. Sparkina
    December 21, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Pasta salad is one of the easiest and quickest dishes to make yourself and there is NO need to buy it made by a faceless company. I make my own pasta salad (with such tasty add-ins as goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and artichoke hearts)all the time and it tastes absolutely divine and it’s REAL FOOD that’s ready in the time it takes to stir up that processed craparoo. TIP. If you need to chill just-cooked pasta for a cold dish, stick it in the freezer for a handful of minutes. Despite what the companies say, it’s easy to prepare real food. You don’t need that Betty Crocker packaged mess.

  4. discordia
    February 12, 2011 at 2:54 am

    You write: [hydrogenated = trans fat]. Correction please- It is PARTIALLY hydrogenated oil that has trans fat. Full hydrogenated oil has no trans fat. Sorry to nit pick, but since this issue is considered important, then so must be the details.

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