Buy This Not That: Waffles

MY KIDS LOVE WAFFLES. If they could, they would eat waffles for every meal. I was buying Van’s frozen waffles at 6 to a box and my kids were eating 2 at a sitting, so the box lasted three meals. Conventional frozen waffles come 10 to a box, which would have given us a couple extra meals, which might seem like a bargain. But is it?

Not That: Conventional Frozen Waffles

Kellogg’s Eggo Waffles Homestyle in a 10 count box go for $2.99 on Peapod.com. Here are the ingredients:

Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1],  Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil, Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid for Freshness), Eggs, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sugar, Contains 2% or Less of Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Whey, Soy Lecithin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Niacinamide Reduced Iron, Yellow 5, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamin, Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Yellow 6, Vitamin B12

There are a few different reasons why I dislike this product:

1. I don’t like some of the ingredients. I try not to buy foods with dyes because some studies show they are potentially harmful. I try to avoid soy lecithin when I can because it’s in so many things and some studies indicate that too much soy can be problematic. There is also soybean oil – more soy. Because the waffles aren’t organic, they could contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which I also try to limit since there is no way to know the long term effects. I can’t avoid all these things all the time, so I go for moderation.

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes and thinking “This is BS. The FDA says this stuff is safe so why wouldn’t I eat it?” Okay, but keep reading.

2. These waffles aren’t filling or satisfying. They are the Chinese food of frozen waffles: eat them and you’ll be hungry a half hour later. A serving size is two, and has four grams of protein and one gram of fiber – two things I think it’s important for my kids to eat, especially at breakfast to give them energy for the day. My older son could probably chomp his way through at least three waffles at a sitting, which also makes them not very good for the grocery budget.

3. They need dyes to make them palatable. Even if you think dyes are safe, you have to wonder how bad these waffles looked that they needed dye to make them palatable. Plus they need TBHQ, a preservative, to keep them fresh in the freezer. How long are these boxes sitting around? It’s one of those things that makes me go “Hmm” and keep moving down the aisle.

So I started buying:

Buy This? Van’s Organic Waffles

A six count box of Van’s Waffles goes for about $3.79 at Whole Foods. Here are the ingredients:

Water, Organic Whole Wheat Flour, Organic Unbleached Wheat Flour, Organic Soy Bean Oil, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic oat Fiber, Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Organic Corn Starch, Organic Malt Extract, Sea Salt, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Guar Gum, Van’s Vitamin and Mineral Boost (Vitamin A (Palmitate), Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Zinc (Zinc Oxide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine Hydrochloride)), Organic Caramel Color.

I felt better about these because they have no dyes and are organic. They also have more protein (5g) and fiber (6g) per two waffle serving. But they still have the same soy products and they have caramel coloring, which, it turns out, may have it’s own set of issues.

On top of that, we were going through a couple boxes a week.

So now we:

Eat This: Homemade Waffles!

I started making up batches of homemade waffles for Waffle Sunday in our house. There is always some leftover for a few mornings during the week. Here are the ingredients I typically use:

Organic whole wheat flour, organic ground flax seeds, organic rolled oats, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, coconut or olive oil, eggs.

This works for me because:

1. I control the ingredients. I know the quality of the ingredients and I can use what fits my food philosophy and budget. I can add or change the recipe whenever I want based on mood or what’s in the house. For example, sometimes I add fruit or veg (apples, bananas, blueberries, pumpkin, squash, carrots); sometimes I add chocolate chips; sometimes I make them into pancakes not waffles.

2. These waffles are hearty and filling, with a good amount of protein and fiber and no added sugar. I don’t know the exact protein and fiber counts, but based on the nutrition labels on the ingredients, I am certain it’s higher than Eggo and at least equal to Van’s. The recipe I use doesn’t call for added sugar. We don’t need it with the (real) maple syrup on top anyway.

3. Homemade fits in our time and money budgets. Since these are ingredients I use for other baking and cooking throughout the week, buying them works better in our grocery budget. And while it’s a very rare weekday morning that I have time to cook up waffles, I can make a big batch on the weekend to eat through the week – just pop ‘em in the toaster.

4. Having a family waffle breakfast one morning on the weekend gives us some really great time together and improves our food culture. The whole family participates in the meal preparation, we create rituals and traditions, and we get time to sit and talk as a family before the day gets busy. Plus we all look forward to it.

Sure, if you’re used to eating Eggo or Bisquick mix waffles, straight homemade will taste different, but once you go scratch, you never go back.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Conventional frozen waffles are full of stuff we wouldn’t put in homemade waffles, so why eat it? Making homemade gives us control over the ingredients, tastes better, is healthier, and can provide some great family time.

4 comments for “Buy This Not That: Waffles

  1. Amy
    March 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Would you mind sharing your waffle recipe? I’ve been using one that I found online, but it contains sugar.

  2. cat
    March 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Amy, thank you for posting. I started from the waffle recipe that came with my waffle iron, removed the sugar, cut back on the oil, and added some things. Here is my recipe, although I have to warn you that I don’t measure some of the ingredients, just eye-ball it.

    2 cups whole wheat flour
    finely ground flax seeds
    rolled oats
    cinnamon
    2 eggs (slightly beaten)
    1 3/4 cups milk
    1 tbsp baking powder
    2 tbsp olive (or vegetable) oil

    Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add eggs, oil, and milk. Stir until just blended.

    Variations: I also sometimes add 1 or more of the following: pumpkin, acorn or butternut squash, finely shredded apples, carrots, or zucchini, chocolate chips.

    Someone on Facebook suggested using whole wheat pastry flour instead of straight whole wheat to make the waffles a little lighter. I haven’t tried it (yet) but I will!

    Enjoy!

  3. Amy
    May 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks! I will try it this weekend.

  4. cat
    May 13, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Can’t wait to hear how it goes, Amy!

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