“Cakes are healthy too – you just eat a small slice!” ~ Mary Berry
So recently I have been trying to reduce the amount of “ultra-processed” foods that myself and my family eats.
What are ultra-processed foods? The NOVA classification, developed by Brazilian scientist Montero in 2009, classifies foods based on the amount of processing they undergo in their development. This system denotes 4 categories of foods:
- Unprocessed or minimally processed foods
- Processed culinary ingredients
- Processed foods
- Ultra processed foods
Ultra-processed foods are typically convenience type foods that include long ingredient lists and additives including artificial flavors, added sugars, stabilizers, preservatives and more. These foods are typically located in the aisles of the grocery store and require very little prep work before eating them. They also tend to be low in cost.
Some common ultra-processed foods:
- Breads you buy in the shelf
- Store-bought ice cream
- Boxed cake mix
- Breakfast cereal
- Flavored yogurt
- Chicken nuggets
- Fast food burgers
So why does it matter if foods are ultra-processed? Well recent studies have found links to the amount a food is processed and chronic disease risk including cardiovascular diseases, cancer and even early mortality. In addition, new findings are showing that not all calories are created equally, with diets higher in ultra-processed foods being linked to overeating and weight gain.
So that leads me to where we are today. I realize it is almost impossible to completely eliminate ultra-processed foods from my family’s diets. However, I have been making small steps to try and reduce the amount of ultra-processed foods we eat, especially when it comes to “staples” that we eat on a regular or daily basis. I started the process last year when I began making all of our pasta from scratch. Not only does it taste better – it is one of small child’s favorite foods to make. Then this summer I started making all of our sandwich bread from scratch. (Leave me a comment on this blog if you are interested in our sandwich bread recipe). Again small child loves to help make the bread and watch the yeast make it rise during the different steps. That leads me to this fall. Small child started school, which like many parents, I started looking more closely at the snacks he was eating and bringing to school. Did you know you can make a lot of them from scratch as well! By making his snacks from scratch, I am not only reducing the amount of processing in the snacks, I am also able to control the amounts of fat, sodium and sugar I put in them. #Dietitianmomwin!
Homemade cheese crackers. If you child is like mine, a staple of his diet includes cheese crackers. So this weekend I set to try out a recipe and make them from scratch. It was a hit! Not only did small child like the crackers, there were serious concerns that either myself or Mike was going to eat them all before small child had a chance to take them to school!!! I found the recipe we used here on the Sally’s Baking Addiction Blog (one of my favorites).
I give this recipe 6 enthusiastic thumbs up!!!! With only 6 ingredients it was easy and fun to make. And there is nothing quite like fresh cheese crackers still warm straight from the oven.
Happy planting and eating!
~ THe Gardening Dietitian