Valentines Day 2013: my husband blew me away! Greeted early by this lovely display, I couldn’t help but swoon all day thinking of how much I love him. Yet, it was the magic Jeff performed in the kitchen the night before that really melted my heart.
Now, definitions of healthy eating vary widely. You may be vegetarian, vegan, paleo, a clean eater, a locavore, a health nut, on a recent health kick, or simply someone who doesn’t want to kill themselves with food. No matter what kind of eater you are, knowing the truth about the contents of this frosting will greatly decrease your appetite and reduce your purchase impulse.
(Pardon in advance for the undercurrent of anger below, but it's hard not to be angry when you learn what companies will put in products to enhance their shelf lives and increase profit margins at the expense of our population, in this case our youngest child.)
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil: This is a trans fat. The same kind of trans fat that is banned in Iceland, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, and New York City restaurants. While trans fats increase the span of a processed product's life, they decrease the span of human life. Largely, trans fats negatively impact heart health. Arteries harden and clog after trans fat intake. Trans fats also cause insulin resistance and contribute to type 2 diabetes. The web is flooded with information as the impact of trans fats have been widely studied. Here's the link to one source that compiles information in an effort to promote trans fat bans.
High Maltose Corn Syrup and Corn Starch: Canned frosting is a highly-processed food. (Read: it contains a lot of corn.) The dangers of corn run broader than our bodies. It's our entire ecology. Michael Pollan writes extensively on the impact of cheap corn sweeteners on the rising obesity epidemic as well as the similarly catastrophic impacts to our environment. Check out his articles or, if you're really curious, read The Omnivore's Dilemma.
Color (Yellow 5 & 6): Just what preschoolers need this Valentine's Day - an added dose of ingredients linked to ADHD. The Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding Yellow 5 & 6 as a preventative measure against the increasing the effects of the disorder. The impacts of artificial food coloring run broader than hyperactivity, too. As reported on Livestrong, Yellow 5 has been associated with allergic reactions, asthma, and is even banned in some countries.
Cellulose Gel and Cellulose Gum: While I'm not aware of any studies linking cellulose byproducts to disease, you should know what it is before you feed it to your children. It's wood. Actually, it is a highly processed form of wood that the industry uses to add fiber, replace fat, alter texture, and generally produce products for less money. You can find out more in this WSJ article.
Polysorbate 80: This delightful addition to the canned frosting concoction has been linked to reproductive issues and anaphylactic shock, according to Dr. Mercola.
Natural and Artifical Flavor: This is a surprise party of potentially harmful guests. Sometimes, it can mean MSG, a chemical widely known to cause brain damage. Giving my kid MSG on Valentine's Day doesn't do much for my heart!
In short, a can of frosting contains ingredients that are known to contribute to heart disease, ADHD, diabetes, asthma, reproductive issues, anaphylactic shock, and brain damage.
Faced with a busy night of dinner, homework, Valentines prep, and packing for a long weekend trip, Jeff stood in the market and made the conscious choice that buying canned frosting is the wrong choice for our family. It would have been much simpler to pay for a product off the shelf, but it didn't sit well with his heart. Instead, he purchased a few simple ingredients to make his own frosting. He did it without complaint and with a heart full of love for his children (and his wife who embarrassingly couldn't stop licking the bowl!).
Before sharing the recipe, we offer that this still isn't a recipe we'd classify as "healthy". It has the major advantages that there are no preservatives or artificial (i.e. unpronounceable) ingredients. It is quick and easy; it took Jeff less than five minutes to make a batch. It is also kid-approved, thumbs up across the board! The cons of this recipe are that it is still a "treat", meaning it includes a lot of sugar. We definitely don't advocate making this (or any) frosting part of your daily diet. Also, there's dairy so it isn't right for those with an intolerance. However, with how quick and delicious this recipe is, we'll never buy canned frosting again! A few minutes of prep on our end is well worth avoiding all the harmful additives the manufacturer includes on its end.
Mere moments in the kitchen can keep your loved ones' hearts happy and healthy. What a heart-loving message to take away from this Valentine's Day!
(Oh-So-Much-Better-For-You-Than-Canned!) Butter Cream Frosting
Adapted from Domino
3 3/4 cups (1 lb box) confectioners sugar
3/4 cup (6 oz) butter, softened
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for approximately 2 minutes until desired consistency is reached.
Voila! In just a few minutes you've rescued your loved ones from loads of potential heart harm. As always, using high-quality ingredients improves taste and enhances health. Jeff used organic dairy from grass-fed cows as well as organic vanilla.