Several months ago I was in the car listening to NPR. The news program was mid-stream by the time I tuned in, but the topic was food additives, specifically an additive called sodium aluminum phosphate. What I derived from the tail-end of the show was that a study had been done that showed a link between aluminum consumption and Alzheimer’s. This additive is found in many easy-to-use products found on most of our pantry shelves – particularly, pancake mix, cake mixes and cookies mixes. The additive, so they said, helped prevent “clumping” of the dry ingredients. I wish I’d heard the program in its entirety, because I don’t like making judgments on partial information. My intention was to go home immediately and log on to the NPR website, but that didn’t happen (I must have forgotten because I’ve ingested too much SAP!), and it wasn’t until several days later that it occurred to me that I needed to find the link for the program. I searched the entire NPR website without success. I then Googled it and hit upon thousands of links to Alzheimer’s and SAP. I didn’t have the time to read every article, but it did make me curious to see what I had on my shelves that contained SAP that I feed my kids. I was shocked to notice that EVERY cookie mix, cake mix and the big bag of pancake mix I had contained SAP. Yikes!! On my next trip to the grocery store (without kids) I stood in the baking aisle and tried to read the labels of all the products I use and others to compare their ingredient list. This is what I’ve discovered and wanted to pass along.
(Now, I think I’m a mom that does her best to feed her kids healthy food, read food labels and cook from “scratch” when I can. I wish I could buy more “organic” food – but the reality is we just can’t afford groceries at Whole Foods. I’m also a mom that uses plastic and other things deemed deadly. I think I’m middle of the road – does her best to make smart purchases and decisions – but knows there are things lurking in our modern day food supply and home products that have shown to be dangerous that we use and consume. Like I said, I do my best.)
Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes:
They contain SAP. This was my cookie mix of choice. We loved them – they tasted just like homemade. I’ve been making cookies from this brand for years, primarily because they have the BOX TOP tag on the package that my kids collect for their elementary school. However, I now use either the Kroger brand cookie mix or the Target brand – neither one contain SAP and they both make delicious cookies! Preferably, we use Target brand because they are cheaper – usually $1.52 a bag. The sugar cookie mix makes AWESOME Snickerdoodles!
I haven’t done as much label reading on cake mixes as much as cookie, because we don’t eat cake that often (birthday only kinda thing). I know Pillsbury DOES add SAP – because it was our brand of choice. I’ve checked all the websites for these products, and unfortunately, none of them have ingredient lists. Very disappointing. I haven’t made a cake from scratch in years (probably, because they are terrible!) and I’m not sure I’m ready to abandon cake mixes altogether. My advice is to read the label.
I use to buy my pancake mix in the BIG bag at Sam’s – Krusteaz – and it too contains SAP. As does Bisquick. I haven’t checked Aunt Jemima, but Hungry Jack DOES contain SAP and surprisingly, they have their ingredients listed on their website.
So, out of all of these products, pancakes are the most consumed in our household. Pancakes are a Saturday morning staple – buttermilk, chocolate chip, banana, pumpkin, peanut butter – you name it, we make pancakes out of it – and use pancake molds for fun! I thought the best change I could implement was to start making pancakes from scratch. I pulled out an old copy of Make-a-Mix Cookery
(a Mormon housewife staple back in the ‘70s -- didn’t every Utah mom have one of these – and tons of big plastic tubs full of mixes for every use imaginable??!!) I’ve adapted one of their mix recipes for our standard Saturday pancake mix. I bought a big plastic tub and keep it in the pantry. These pancakes are wonderful and hearty. They are especially good with buttermilk. I recommend keeping buttermilk in the refrigerator just for these.
Gerbera Daisy Mom’s Saturday Morning Pancakes:
5 cups whole wheat flour
5 cups all purpose, non bleached, white flour
2 ½ cups instant non-fat dry milk
½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. brown sugar
¼ c. baking powder
¼ c. baking soda
2 tbsps. salt
2 tbsps cinnamon
Sift all ingredients together into large plastic container with an air tight lid.
1 ½ c. pancake mix
1 egg, beaten
1 c water/milk/buttermilk (adjust liquid accordingly for thicker/thinner pancakes)
3 tbsp canola oil
Blend all ingredients together (add mashed bananas/pumpkin/blueberries if you like); Let stand 5 minutes (sometimes I make mine overnight so the batter is ready first thing in the morning); Cook on hot oiled/sprayed griddle. Makes 10-12 pancakes.
Enjoy your pancakes – and next time you are in the baking aisle, try to read the label, and use wisely.