Know What's in Your Food

Promoting awareness and change about the food we eat, and where it comes from.


Quinoa And Artichoke Salad

qunioa and artichoke salad

I made this salad on a whim today, and I thought it turned out really well.

1/2 cup cooked quinoa. I use Tru Roots brand

1 can of artichokes

1/8 of tsp of cayenne pepper

1TBS of Annie’s Greek Goddess dressing

1 carrot chopped

1 bunch of green onions chopped

pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together well and serve on a bed of baby arugula.

* I use organic ingredients whenever possible.




Nature’s Path Is On The Right Path…

vegetarian poptarts

Not too long ago I did a post about the unsavory ingredients in Kellogg’s Wild Strawberry pop-tarts. I wanted to show that there are some products, that while they are not whole foods, they can be alright to consume every now and then. Nature’s Path has such a product. Let me say up front, I do not get paid in any way for talking about their product. I reviewed the ingredient list, which is much shorter than Kellogg’s.

Nature's Path Strawberry Ingredients

The first thing I noticed is, Nature’s Path tells you up front their product is vegetarian. It doesn’t contain animal products including insects that are used to make carmine food coloring.  I like the fact that it is also labeled non-gmo and is non-gmo verified.

My concern was the use of palm oil. Palm oil is found in a lot of foods. Food companies use it in place of trans fats. The problem with palm oil is it is harmful to the rainforest.  I contacted customer service to Nature’s Path and asked them about their use of palm oil. They assured me the palm oil they used wasn’t harmful to the environment. Their palm oil comes from a sustainable source. I asked them if they would be willing to put it in writing. They said they would be more than happy too. They sent me  a response in email within a couple of hours. Below a copy of the email.

“Thank you for your comments on Nature’s Path Organic Toaster Pastries. We take each comment seriously and we endeavor to always provide a good quality product. Nature’s Path is committed to producing quality organic foods, using the best ingredients available, while adhering to strict quality control procedures.

At Nature’s Path, we are dedicated to providing consumers with healthy, great tasting organic foods. Our family-owned company is committed to producing products which support the development and sustenance of organic agriculture. We aim to do this in a way that minimizes our ecological footprint while striving to maintain social, environmental and financial integrity.

Nature’s Path uses a variety of organic oils in moderation in our products. Palm oil is a dietary oil of vegetable origin; it is essentially free of cholesterol. It is a healthy, trans-fat free, non-genetically modified oil, high in phytonutrients. It is easily digested, absorbed and utilized in normal metabolic processes. It is a naturally occurring source of the antioxidant Vitamin E constituents, tocopherols and tocotrienols.Our supplier guarantees that our palm oil comes from long established organic palm plantations and small scale farms, located in an agricultural area of the Amazon delta near Belem in Brazil – and that these farms are cultivated in a sustainable & organic manner. Our supplier has re-establish forest on 185,000 acres of previously deforested lands, which consequentially led to the rehabilitation of 7 previously endangered animal species. It is their company policy to never replace forest with plantations. All of the organic production is done in accordance with Brazilian, USDA/NOP, and European standards and is verified by the Brazilian certifier IBD. Additionally, our product supplier is in the final stages of certification with RSPO Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil , is certified as an organic supplier and meets the stringent IBD Certification that has environmental and sustainable requirements: IBD . They have been approved as one of the first EcoSocial projects in Brazil, a seal issued by the IBD Program for fair relations in the trade of socially and environmentally certified products (and governed by rigid standards and requirements that are not easily met). Our supplier has implemented the Integrated Management System, which qualified them for triple certification (ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems and OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series) for all production processes. And they are the only palm oil company in the world that holds all three of these certificates.Because we are an organic company from the outset (going back several decades), we work diligently to increase sustainable agriculture and provide healthy, delicious organic products both locally and globally. We care deeply about our Earth we all share, the communities we operate in, the organic family farmers we provide markets for, and the customers we serve. At Nature’s Path Foods we also donate annually to endangered species, habitat conservation and environmental education. We have donated to groups such as the Amazon Conservation Team , Wildlife Trust , World Wildlife Fund & many others dedicated to environmental and social sustainability.

Your email tells us that you are passionate about your health and wellness. If you would like to get more involved and share your opinion with us, please accept our invitation to join our research panel, The Cereal Bowl .

Please visit Nature’s Path for more information on our company and our products.

Thank you for being a valued Nature’s Path customer.”

Kind regards

Consumer Services
Nature’s Path Foods
9100 Van Horne Way
Richmond BC V6X 1W3
or 2220 Nature’s Path Way
Blaine WA 98230

Wow!! 🙂 They put far more in writing than what I had asked them to do. They did it promptly as well. This tells me this is a company with nothing to hide. They are open with their ingredients list,  they have customer service department that is educated about their products, and willing to follow-up with their customers. The same can’t be said for other food companies I have talked to. Once again, I receive no compensation or gifts in any form from Nature’s Path. I just wanted to show that there are a few decent companies out there.

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Black Bean and Corn Summer Salad

new black bean corn salad

This is a recipe is another quick and easy summer salad. I deal for lunch. I centered this recipe around some fresh organic cucumbers that my friend Jamie gave me straight from her garden. You can truly taste the difference between store-bought and fresh local vegetables.

1 cup of organic corn

1 cup of organic black beans

1 organic cucumber

1 cup of organic cherry tomatoes

4 organic green onions chopped


1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1Tbs olive oil

1/4 tsp of organic maple syrup

Combine corn and black beans in a bowl and stir. Cut cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green onions and add to the corn and black beans.

Mix together ingredients for dressing and pour over salad and stir well. Refrigerate for 2 hours serve immediately.


*I try to use organic ingredients whenever possible.


Carmine Food Coloring

Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt that contains carmine from ground up beetles

Yoplait Yogurt

Would you  eat strawberry yogurt that contained pulverized beetle body parts? Would you consider purchasing a box of Kellogg’s Pop Tarts that contain ground up beetles? Probably not. Food manufacturers are aware this might be a turn off, so they cleverly disguise this very thing by calling it carmine.  Take a look at your ingredient list, for foods that are naturally colored red, they may contain carmine. Carmine is made from the cochineal beetle. The process for making dye from the beetles starts with thousands of cochineal beetles  that are collected and dried.  After drying,  the abdomen and fertilized eggs of the insects are separated from the rest of the body.  The abdomen and fertilized eggs contain the most red color of the beetle. The abdomen and  fertilized eggs are then ground into powder and cooked at a high temperature. The final product contains the settlement of the beetles at the bottom and a red clear liquid. The liquid is used as natural food coloring.

Now for a look at the ingredients of the Yoplait Yogurt box…

Yoplait Yogurt Ingredients that contain carmine from cochineal beetles

Yoplait Yogurt Ingredients

Carmine is listed twice. Once in the strawberry flavor, and again in the banana strawberry flavor. Yoplait and Pop Tarts are not the only food sources for carmine. Carmine is frequently found in ice cream, yogurt, juice drinks, and other foods. Food manufacturers are already aware that people are becoming aware of what carmine is. So they have come up with other clever labels for the same product such as, Crimson Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, Cochineal, and E120. Many people think that yogurt is a healthy source of vegetarian protein, but when carmine is added as food coloring, it is no longer vegetarian.

Here is a picture of the Kellogg’s Wild Strawberry Pop-tarts ingredients…. I guess they consider it “wild” because the beetles they used to make it are found in the wild ?

Ingredients for Kellogg's Wild Poptart Ingredients

Kellogg’s Wild Strawberry Poptarts

What You Can Do To Make A Difference:

  • Take charge and know what’s in your food by reading ingredient lists and don’t purchase products that contain carmine.
  • Contact food manufactures and ask them not to use carmine to color foods(there are plant options that can be used for coloring.)
  • Let others know about the use of carmine in foods.

 Natural flavoring can be just as gross. You can read my previous post here on natural flavoring.

Sources: Natural News and Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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Cucumber Open Faced Sandwich

Vegan and Vegetarian Cucumber Sandwich

Cucumber Sandwich

I love it when foods are simple and straight forward. While I do enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking, sometimes I just want something that is quick and easy.  That is just where I found myself today. I opted to make this quick, easy, and tasty open-faced cucumber sandwich.


1 Slice of Ezekiel toasted bread

1 Tbs of tahini

several  fresh cucumber slices

3 fresh tomato slices

1/2 of an avocado sliced

1/4 cup salad mix

Toast bread and spread with tahini. Add cucumbers and tomato slices . Place sliced avocado on top.

Simple, straightforward, and delicious!!

Vegan organic Tahini

Organic Tahini

I always try to use organic ingredients when I can. Here is a picture of the tahini I used. I like this brand because it is fair trade, organic, one ingredient….. ground sesame seeds.

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What’s in Your Flavor?

Givaudan 0

Natural and artificial flavors are something we commonly see in our processed foods. Where do these natural and artificial flavors come from? Many of them are made a company called Givaudan. Givaudan is a Swiss company that employes about 9000 workers. Their job is to take flavors, found in mother nature, and recreate them in a laboratory… we are talking about chemicals…and lots of them.

The goal is to add flavors to food that have such intense, but short lasting, flavor that leaves you needing more. The chemical food scientist  at Givaudan call themselves flavorist. These flavorist can be seen here, in a 15 minute video by 60 Minutes,  proudly saying they want to create an addiction with the chemicals that they use in our food, so that we continue to want to eat. They then deny that they have any responsibility for America’s obesity problem. Is Givaudan the reason that we can’t eat just one potato chip? 

Former FDA commissioner, Dr. David A. Kessler, says that flavorist are the hired guns of  food companies. They create a product that encourages people to overeat.

I came across this handsome animal (Castor can...

(Castor canadensis) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The words, “natural flavors” on a package label can be alluring for some people to think they are getting something healthy.  However, natural simply means not made from chemicals. It doesn’t say how the natural flavors  are created. Many times these natural ingredients have been heated to high temperatures to achieve their desired taste. Natural flavor labeling doesn’t require the natural flavor, that is used, to have anything to do with the flavor it is trying to mimic. For example, natural strawberry flavor can come from the castor sacs from the anus of a beaver. ….doesn’t that sound appealing? However, I will give credit where credit is due, beavers butt is  all natural.

The FDA recognizes castoreum as, ” generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).  Castoreum is the product that is obtained from the castor sacs around the beaver’s backside.  Because the FDA recognizes  castoreum as GRAS, there is no limit its use. It seems like the easier way to get natural strawberry flavor is from…well…strawberries, but apparently it is more costly than castoreum.

 There are five other natural flavors: grape, caramel, butter, raspberry, and rum are made from the anus of a Civet cat.  The scrapings of the Civet cat’s anus are also recognized by the FDA as GRAS.

Dried Beaver Sacs From Beavers Anus

Dried Beaver Sacs From A Beavers Anus

What you can do to make a difference:

  • Do not purchase foods that have artificial and natural flavors listed on the labels.
  • Contact (phone, email, social media) companies and ask them to make their products without artificial flavors, and  label where their natural flavors come from.
  • Eat whole organic foods whenever possible.

Sources: A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, FDA, 60 Minutes

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Oven roasted purple potatoes

These beautiful potatoes are from Peru. They are jam-packed with antioxidants. About four times more than your average baking potato. They are easy to prepare and delicious.

Purple Potatoes

Ingredients are simple:
4 purple potatoes cut into small pieces
2 Tbs of olive oil
2 Tbs of stone ground mustard
3 fresh sprigs of rosemary
1 chopped white onion

Purple potato ingredients

Mix all ingredients together and spread on a baking sheet.

potatoes on cookie sheet

Bake for about an hour on 425 degrees. They are done when you can easily insert a fork into them.