Label Reading 101

Over the past two weeks, Groceryships groups have been learning tips and tools to help navigate the aisles of their local grocery stores. They've learned how to decode the nutrition label, understand ingredients, and avoid clever food marketing ploys that hock ultra-processed products as the next best health food. 

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When looking at a food product, Groceryships suggests: 

  1. Ignore the front of the package! That's prime real estate for food marketing. Don't let them fool you.  
  2. Check the ingredients! Are there more than five ingredients? Do any of them sound like a science experiment? Are the first three ingredients sugar, salt or oil? 
  3. Check the nutrition! Are there 3 or more grams of fiber? 5 or less grams of sugar? Is the salt content less than the calorie content? What about recommended daily values? 

To practice their label reading skills, group members played a game called, "Should I Eat That?" in which everyday food products were examined with the Groceryships guidelines in mind. In many cases, the outcomes were surprising. Organic Granola failed the test on nearly all counts, while frozen hash browns passed! 

Another example of a seemingly healthy product being packed with unsavory ingredients and imbalanced nutrition is your common veggie burger. Often packed with sodium and filled with processed ingredients, these meat-free alternatives aren't as good for you as they might claim. Which is why Groceryships ambassadors demonstrated how to make your own. 

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Using fork-mashed black beans, garlic, herbs and spices, these quick and delicious bean burgers were a huge hit. One member demonstrated how to make it even better, forgoing the whole wheat bread and using extra lettuce instead. 

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The outcome was refreshing and filling! 

After the first week of our two-part discussion, one member admitted she spent two hours at the grocery store, trying to find foods that passed the test. While it took her longer the first time, she said, "now I know what to look for and what to stay away from. It was eye-opening." 

Black Bean Veggie Burger

(Serves 6-8)

 Ingredients:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion, minced
    • 1/2 cup each, red and green peppers
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 1 tsp paprika
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp hot sauce
    • 1 tsp freshly chopped cilantro leaves
    • 3 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
    • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1/2 Tbsp salt
    • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
    • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
    • 1/4 cup low sodium broth*- add only if needed for texture
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • Toppings: spinach, lettuce, sliced tomato, red onions...etc.

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, finely mash the black beans with a potato masher or a fork.
  2. Add the onion, red and green peppers, red pepper flakes, paprika, Worcestershire sauce,
    hot sauce, cilantro, flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper and cumin. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Form into 6 or 8 patties and arrange on a platter.
  4. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the oil.
  5. Sear patties for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until they have a nice crust.
  6. Remove the patties to a paper towel lined platter.
  7. Assemble the sandwiches with a patty, some spinach, sliced tomatoes and red onion on the thin bun. Top with a good drizzle of homemade ketchup and/or mustard.