I have been reading Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the food giants hooked us and it is pretty alarming. Basically, in a never-ending quest to make their products taste delicious, flavor busting in your mouth while they score more and more market shares, the food giants have loaded the convenience food we it with salt, sugar and fat.
The author says he visited the Cheez-Its factory and was given a taste of Cheez-Its without salt, which he found disgusting, while he can eat the normal stuff forever. Every day, chemists and scientists try to develop foods that will trigger an eating reaction similar to what the stoners experiment when they smoke pot.
You probably love a dozen of those products or more. I know I enjoy my Pringles, a Coke once in a while, and some Nutella in family size jar. But those are occasional treats. The food industry is trying to turn prepared meals and convenience snacks into daily habits, the same way your bottle of shampoo says “daily use” when washing hair daily makes for a greasier scalp. They do not have your best interest at heart. And by presenting food that is super cute and all ready to be eaten, they lead you to believe that you will never be able to make something similar at home.
(quick side note, have you seen the “Pinterest… nailed it!” series where people try to do recipes they saw on Pinterest and totally fail? It’s hilarious).
Anyway, I get that carrot sticks are boring after a while, and completely understand you want to have junk food here and then. What if you try to make your own? It will be much healthier, tastier, even cheaper and it is easier than you think.
Make your own burger
Burgers are fairly easy to make, although if you put lots of ingredients inside, they may be more complicated to eat than BK or McD’s, who barely put anything inside a bun. You can buy the buns for starters, then check my bread recipe and make your own, like the pizza dough, you can batch freeze them.
Toast the bun, and put the bun hat upside down on the table. That is where you start filling your burger. I know, I worked at McD’s. Put the sauce, the onions, the lettuce, tomato, and last the patty, cheese on top if you like, then the flat part of the bun, and flip it back on the right side. Buy beef patties as lean as you can afford, or just minced meat to which you can add garlic, onion and spices.
Make your own fries
It is worth investing in a deep fryer if you love fries. I don’t have one so I just keep the oil in a glass jar for 2-3 uses, then throw it. I fry little squares so it is faster (i.e. saves energy and impatience waiting for the greasy treat!) and leave the potato skin, so that is less work. They won’t look like perfect McCains but they will be tasty.
Make your own chips
You just need to slice potatoes really thin and put them in the oven with a little oil brushed over. You can add salt, thyme and whatever you like.
Make your own soda
There are soda makers like soda stream that will carbonate your water, although they are pretty expensive to run, and get new gas bottles is a hassle. I enjoy sparkling water with a squeezed lemon. It takes time getting used to a non sugary drink when a can of soda has something like six spoonful of sugar, so you can start by adding a spoonful or two to the mix, that is still better than nothing.
You can also buy flavored syrups, with cola flavor, orange or lime, that are sugar free.
Here is a natural way to make soda without a soda maker.
Make your own mayo, ketchup and sauce
Another disgusting thing from the food industry are all the sauces, like ranch, 1,000 islands and the like. How can a sauce last for 6 months in the fridge? Because it is full of weird components. Your homemade mayo will last 2-3 days, so don’t make too much. You need an egg yolk, some mustard and a bit of salt. Then get your hand mixer, and mix the yolk and mustard while incorporated a bit of vegetable oil, one spoonful at a time. The mayo will harden as you mix. It is long and tedious to do it by hand.
Ketchup is full of sugar in its industrial version, as sugar takes more space than tomato so they use it as a filler. Mustard is quite decent. You can make your own salad dressing with just olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or with mustard, vinegar and oil. I like lemon juice and oil as well.
That’s it for now, a list of easy to make, not-so-unhealthy foods.