TOTW Tuesday: Healthier Alternative for the Same Price

by Ashley on July 23, 2013

Why hello friends!

It’s story time, only for a minute though.

This past weekend, Dustin was eating an afternoon snack and asked me the question that I dread the most when someone is eating, “Hey Ashley, is this healthy?”

What am I supposed to say after you have already downed half the bag or container? “No, it’s actually horrible for you and you shouldn’t have even taken the first bite.”

Come on, I’m not that harsh.

In his case, the product he was eating was Trader Joe’s Fat-free Cottage Cheese.


Dustin and I have a very respectful attitude toward each other when it comes to food and the things we both choose to eat. I’m sure he thinks I’m crazy (more often than not) when I text him things like, “Hey, can you pick me up some tahini on your way home tonight? We’re out.”

He doesn’t reply, “What. is. that. Ashley?” Instead he says, “Sure,” while probably thinking, “Oh no. What are we having for dinner tonight?”

And he never tires to push meat on me, “not even one bite?”

He doesn’t pressure me and I don’t pressure him. (Although his story might be told a little bit differently.) I really try to let him make his own decisions when it comes to the food he eats. I still cook (although much less frequently) chicken for him (no beef, he choose to give that up on his own), and respect that he will give it up when he’s ready (per his words, not mine!). Which is exactly how it should be.

So back to that cottage cheese. As he’s halfway through the container asking me the dreaded question, the polite side of me quickly responded, “Umm. I’m not too sure. Let me take a look at the container,” even though I really wanted to say, “That is highly processed garbage from hormone pumped cows, with enough sodium in one serving for an entire meal (and half the container doesn’t equal one serving).”

Hush, Ashley. Hush.

So what did I really say?

“Well, Dust. I really prefer that any dairy products that you (or anyone) consume be organic to ensure that the cows used to create the product aren’t pumped with antibiotics, steroids, etc. And really because they removed the fat, they had to add quite a bit of salt in order to make the product still taste good. And actually, the ingredient list is not my favorite: natural flavors can mean ANYTHING, phosphoric acid can actually lower our bone density (so much for thinking this product helps us build strong bones) and carrageenan. Well, I don’t remember what exactly that is but I do remember reading that it’s not good.”

How Miss America was that? Not at all? Oh, okay. ;-)

I know it wasn’t the nicest answer but at least an improvement from what was going through my head.

According to Fooducate, this product received a C grading too.



At least I’m not the only one.

But back to that last ingredient that I didn’t know too much much about: carrageenan. Following my response to him, I went straight to my computer to start researching the ingredient carrageenan and was very saddened by what I found.

Carrageenan is a vegetarian/vegan alternative to gelatin extracted from red seaweeds, therefore, it is used very often in “health foods.” It is used as a thickener and stabilizer in things like juice, ice cream, jelly, chocolate milk, INFANT formula, cottage cheese, meat and NON-DAIRY MILK. Not too bad, right?

So why do I care about this?

Apparently, like MSG, there is controversy among researchers regarding carrageenans safety. In the lab, carrageenan has been linked to inflammation in the colon, however, most importantly, industry-funded studies have too linked food-grade carrageenan to inflammation of the colon and to colon cancer in animals. Scary stuff. We have enough in this world that promotes inflammation, we don’t need to be adding anything else! Especially the things we consume

And guess what else? Europe actually prohibits the use of carrageenan in infant formula and organic products, but nope, not here.

Get on with it, Ashley!

So what’s my Tip of The Week Tuesday, you ask?


PA_UnsweetVan_HG_496X1130      365 AlmondMilk

As I was looking through a list of products that contained carrageenan, I was sad to see one of my favorites (and maybe one of yours too!) listed. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond Milk contains carrageenan whereas Whole Foods 365 Brand and Silk PureAlmond Milk do not. Because many of you have told me that you have made the switch from dairy milk to almond milk, I felt that I really needed to share this information with you. For close to the same price (sometimes even cheaper!), I will definitely be making the switch and I hope that you will too! And just to note, these aren’t the only non-dairy milks that don’t contain carrageenan, so do your research, read your labels and chose the best one for you. Or you could also make your own, but we’ll save that for another day!

I have really only covered the very basics when it comes to carrageenan in our food supply. If you want more information check out what the Food Babe has to say about the ingredient, or Angela’s stance over at OhSheGlows, or to go straight to the research, check out this review article from The Cornucopia Institute titled Food Grade Carrageenan: Reviewing Potential Harmful Effects on Human Health.

I hope you have a great rest of the day!

Good health!




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