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 couldnâ€™t sell â€œfoodâ€ 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.
Iâ€™M SURE YOUâ€™RE WONDERING, AS I WAS, what the heck is in that magical spice packet. If you arenâ€™t, you should be, because knowledge is power and we should all know what weâ€™re feeding or families.
Okay, letâ€™s take a look whatâ€™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 letâ€™s break it down.
The Real Ingredients
Things youâ€™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 donâ€™t need in pasta salad
Bread crumbs, sugar, corn syrup, buttermilk, whey, soy flour, egg yolk.
The Crap You Donâ€™t Want To Eat
The additives you canâ€™t buy in a store. These are things food scientists use to create â€œfoodâ€ 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 â€œspicesâ€ â€“ who knows what they are.
You CAN make your own pasta salad
YOUâ€™RE NOT AN IDIOT and you donâ€™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 â€“ like red pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, beans, or olives. Hey, pasta salad isnâ€™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!