Tag Archives: Hydrogenated Oils

GSS: It’s a Frozen Pizza Kind of Night

The other night I was eating dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, and I got to thinking about frozen pizzas and what ingredients are contained in all those varieties in the frozen aisle, and I decided this would make a great Grocery Store Spotlight.  After all, we all have those nights when we’re just too busy or lazy to cook, and frozen pizza is always the go-to dinner for the kids when parents leave them with a babysitter.  I did a lot of babysitting growing up, so I’ve cooked many a frozen pizza in my day, but it wasn’t until now that I wondered what goes into them.

Hint: Your neighborhood pizza joint probably uses healthier ingredients in their pizzas than the big delivery companies like Pizza Hut, Papa John's and Domino's, so go local!

So to keep things simple, I compared the cheese pizzas from some of the most popular frozen pizza brands.  To be honest, I was really discouraged by what I saw.  For example, here are the ingredients in the Digiorno 4 Cheese Pizza (rising crust):

WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SHREDDED LOW-MOISTURE PART-SKIM MOZZARELLA CHEESE (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), TOMATO PASTE, SUGAR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF WHEAT GLUTEN, VEGETABLE (SOYBEAN OIL AND/OR CORN OIL), WHITE CORN MEAL, GRATED PARMESAN, ASIAGO, AND ROMANO CHEESES MADE FROM COW’S MILK (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), SALT, YEAST, BAKING SODA, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, SODIUM ALUMINUM PHOSPHATE, DATEM, SPICE, GARLIC, ASCORBIC ACID, YELLOW CORN MEAL.

Besides the fact that it contains tons of ingredients, many of which I don’t recognize and can’t pronounce, Digiorno uses added sugar, soy and spice (which is label code for MSG).  That earns it The Nutritionista’s thumbs down, which I know is very scary and intimidating to Kraft Foods!

Here is a list of all the brands that do NOT earn my seal of approval.  Click on them to see a complete list of ingredients.

Tombstone: Doesn’t contain a ton of ingredients, but what it does contain is NOT healthy!

Red Baron: Who knew soy came in that many forms?

Tony’s: This brand wins the award for most words I can’t pronounce!

California Pizza Kitchen: I’m so sad to say it, but this brand gets my lowest grade of all!  Too bad because I love CPK’s pizzas!  The cheese pizza contains added sugar, hydrogenated oils, MSG, soy and a whole bunch of other unnecessary ingredients.  Guess I won’t be eating their pizzas anymore!

Ok, so before you start hating me for ruining your frozen pizza experience for good, here are a couple of brands that aren’t too bad by my standards!

Amy’s:  This brand can be found in the natural section of most grocery stores.  It’s a little bit more expensive than the regular brands, but I think it’s worth it to know you’re paying for unbleached flour, all organic ingredients and a high-quality oil and skipping the MSG, hydrogenated and modified foods, soy and added sugars (uses organic honey instead) and preservatives.

Amy's is the nation's leading natural frozen food brand.

Trader Joe’s: Of all the brands I looked at, TJ’s Organic 3 Cheese Pizza gets my ultimate seal of approval.  Like the Amy’s, it is all organic and contains no preservatives, but it also contains very few ingredients (9 ingredients as compared to CPK brand with more than 30 ingredients!) and is reasonably priced ($4.29).

CRUST: ORGANIC WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SALT, ORGANIC SUNFLOWER OIL, YEAST.  TOPPING: ORGANIC TOMATO SAUCE (tomatoes, water, organic EVOO, salt, oregano), ORGANIC FONTAL, MOZZARELLA AND PARMESAN CHEESE

I suggest adding your own veggies to your Amy's or Trader Joe's pizzas to make them more fresh and nutritious.

If you have a few extra minutes, I think making your own pizza is an even better option because you have complete control over what ingredients you use and everything is fresher.  Trader Joe’s carries a ready-made whole wheat pizza dough for 99 cents, and you can take it home and add a healthy tomato sauce and whatever toppings you like.  I love using big chunks of fresh mozzarella and basil or piling it with veggies.  If you buy a ready-made crust, look closely at the label and make sure it doesn’t contain any of the harmful ingredients I’ve discussed.  I took a quick glance at the ingredients in the Boboli ready-made crust, and it contains more than 20 ingredients, many of them additives and chemicals.

There are tons of frozen pizza brands on the market, and each one makes several different varieties of crusts and toppings, so it’s crucial that we read labels and feed our families the highest quality we can find.

Do you know of any other healthy brands of frozen pizza that I may have missed?  Or, do you have a healthy pizza recipe or topping combo?  If so, share the amore!

Make Fats Your Friend!

Everywhere we look we hear about the latest fad diet or low-fat/fat free food.  We’re bombarded with news about celebrities and their “tricks” for looking fabulous before big events and award shows.  But at Longevity, we know that it’s not about a quick fix, but our overall health, vitality and well-being, and it’s not just about how we look, but also about how we feel and how we can best take care of the bodies we’ve been given.

One of the ways we can do that is with HEALTHY FAT.  Yes, fat is our friend everybody, despite what you might read in the magazines or see on television or in the grocery stores!  They are absolutely essential to our health and play the following roles in the body:

  • Provide long-burning energy
  • Important in the makeup of cell membranes
  • Necessary for healthy liver function (building healthy cholesterol and bile)
  • Required for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Required for adequate use of proteins
  • Serve as a protective lining for the organs
  • Help slow the absorption of food for proper energy regulation
  • Imperative to the inflammatory process, therefore reducing healing time
  • MAKES FOOD TASTE GOOD (If we’re more satisfied, we won’t eat as much!)

All fats and oils are some combination of three types of fatty acids:

SATURATED: Found in animal fats and tropical oils; highly stable, does not go rancid easily, solid or semi-solid at room temperature, non-essential because the body can make them

MONOUNSATURATED: Found in olive oils and oils from almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts and avocados; relatively stable, do not go rancid easily, liquid at room temperature, non-essential because the body can make them

POLYUNSATURATED: Found in flax, nuts, seeds and fish oil (the omega 3/6 oils); relatively unstable, go rancid easily, always liquid, two are essential (linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid), NEVER heat or use for cooking

It’s important to know the properties of these different types of fatty acids so we know when and how to use them.  For instance, many people know that olive oil is really healthy for them, but they may not know that it loses it’s nutritional properties when heated to high temperatures.  That’s why it’s best to use olive oil for things like salad dressings and marinades and cook with more stable saturated fats like butter or coconut oil.  It’s also important to be aware of which oils are unstable and store them in dark containers in a nice cool place so they don’t go rancid.  Supermarket oils in clear, plastic bottles and shelved under bright lights and not refrigerated are not supporting the nutritional properties found in them!    We want to make sure we soak up all the great nutritional benefits of the fats we’re eating.

Make sure you buy cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in a dark container and store it in a cool place!

Finally, we can’t talk about fats without pointing out the villain of all fats: genetically modified hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils. As time passes, more and more negative things are uncovered about hydrogenated oils from fried foods.  Hydrogenation is the food industry’s way of turning a liquid oil into a solid fat.  It changes the chemistry of the oil so that it is unusable to the body.  It also gives packaged foods a longer shelf-life than if they were made with natural oils. (Fun fact: The process of hydrogenation started during World War II, when we needed to preserve the shelf-life of foods in order to send them overseas to the troops!) Hydrogenation produces trans fats, which have been linked to a number of health problems.  Here are just a few of them:

  • Women with higher levels of trans fats in their cells are much more likely to develop breast cancer than those with low levels.
  • Trans fats are incorporated into the cells and make them less resistant to bacteria and viruses.  They are a source of immune system problems.
  • There may be a link between trans fats and ADD, depression and fatigue.  Brain and nerve tissue have a high content of fat, and some researchers believe that when trans fats are incorporated into the nerve cells, they affect certain functions and create problems.
  • Muscle fatigue and skin problems are also linked to hydrogenated oils.
  • Pain and inflammation become much worse for clients who consume hydrogenated oils.  They chemically prevent the formation of natural and anti-inflammatory substances that are normally produced in the body.

Most chips and fried snacks contain hydrogenated oils.  They are found in many packaged foods like crackers, cereals and bread and condiments like margarine, mayonnaise, bottled dressings and marinades.  It’s so important that we READ LABELS and avoid giving these foods to our kids.  We should also avoid cooking and baking with highly unstable vegetable oils.

Make sure you eat some healthy fats every day!  You’ll find that not only are you more satisfied at meals, but you look and feel better.  You may even lose weight!