I always lay my geek cards on the table. So it probably comes as no surprise that I’m excited about the return of the X-Files, the story of a marginalized FBI special agent and his skeptical partner as they pursue cold cases that are somehow related to paranormal conspiracies. Often, whatever batshit crazy thing was going on in the show could be tied back to the mysterious recurring character known alternatively as “The Smoking Man” or “Cancer Man.” Our heroes would find him behind anything.
Most recently I see the HIC shaking the foundations of The Karma Sense Eating Plan’s mantra #2, Eat Protein in Every Meal. Wandering through the supermarket, I find products that are as frightening as what Scully and Mulder encountered in the episode “Home,” (an episode so disturbing, Fox banned it for rebroadcast soon after its original airing). Think I’m just paranoid? Let’s check out the K-Files.
Case #1 – Oscar Mayer P3
Oscar Mayer bills P3 as a “Portable Protein Pack.” Their pitch is “Before there were powders, bars, and goos, there was meat cheese and nuts.” On its own, that statement makes Karma Sense. It’s always best when your nutrition comes from real food. As you can see from the package, the Turkey/Cheddar/Peanut variety has a respectable 14 grams of protein. There are a few questionable parts to the label (e.g., “Turkey Breast browned with caramelized sugars”), but when you look at the Nutrition Facts and the Ingredient List, it’s not as worrisome as it could be.
Then what’s my beef <heh heh> with P3? I could easily show you how to put together a better tasting and healthier snack also consisting of meat, cheese, and nuts with the added benefits of:
- Real meat instead of processed
- Fewer grams of salt, sugar, and yes, natamycin
- Less landfill-destined packaging
- ¼ the price of what Oscar wants for his snacks.
And you get all that without having to give up your day job to make it. Although there are worse varieties of the P3 snack than the sample I chose here, overall I give P3 a solid “Meh” for nutrition. I wouldn’t eat it, but there’s no smoking gun or smoking man here.
Case #2 – Cracker Jack’D
People are smart enough to recognize that a snack brought to you by a brand whose iconic slogan is “candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize” is not all it’s crack’D up to be <heh heh>. How good can a snack be when its biggest draw is something you’re not supposed to eat (e.g., decoder rings, temporary tats, stickers)?
Examining the label, we see it touts 7 gram of protein per serving. That’s respectable for a sweetened snack food. The label also tells us that this stuff is packed with flavor. After all, the Peanut Butter Crunch Flavored variety includes Peanut Butter Flavored Coated Peanuts AND Marshmallow Flavored Coated Peanuts. The word Flavored on a label should set off your bullcrap detector.
And Granola? It’s a term that’s often just a synonym for bad-fat-and-sugar-infused-junk-carbs. Let’s see what’s really inside.
And what do we find? We find that Peanut Butter Flavored Coated Peanuts don’t have any actual peanut butter. In all fairness, the manufacturer makes up for that with the Marshmallow Flavored Coated Peanuts because marshmallows are nothing but sugar and there’s plenty of sugar present. Meanwhile, the granola is the bad-fat-and-sugar-infused-junk-carb source that we expected. Rounding out this horror show we find plenty of cheap inflammatory vegetable oils and significant sources of the inflammatory GMO soy and corn that many people want to avoid.
Most people don’t buy Cracker Jack products thinking that it’s a health food so if you can sneak in a little protein, that’s OK, isn’t it? Sure, but the Nutrition Facts label has even more surprises. Each serving of Cracker Jack’ds is 160 calories. Not bad for a sweet snack. But a serving is only 2 tablespoons (28 grams). Do you think you’re going to eat two measly tablespoons of this stuff and stop or are you going to eat all 440 calories worth in one sitting? And how will you feel after eating that? If it’s protein you want you could eat 4 belly-filling hard-boiled eggs and end up with 20% more protein, 20% fewer calories and no added sugar. On the other hand, if you want a sweet-crunchy-salty-protein-rich snack, I can show you how to do that for less money, using better quality ingredients and the only tools you need are a bowl, a plastic bag, and a microwave.
Cracker Jack’ds are just too in your face to be a conspiracy. No smoking man here.
Case #3 – Cheerios Protein
As breakfast cereals go, Cheerios is tops on my list. It only has seven ingredients, is very low in sugar and is a great source of fiber. But as a standalone meal, it doesn’t honor mantra #2’s protein guidelines in that a serving has only 3 grams. So I was highly encouraged when this wholesome product of my youth introduced a protein-fortified version.
Oh, General Mills! How you break my heart. To get the full story let’s look at the label of original Cheerios.
Dammit! There goes the bullcrap detector again (I should remember to put it on vibrate). The serving size of original Cheerios is 28 grams but the serving size of Cheerios Protein is 55 grams. In order to compare apples to apples (not to be confused with Apple Cinnamon Cheerios <heh heh>), I need to double the stats on the Nutrition Facts label of my beloved originals. When I do, I see that Cheerios Protein has only 1 gram more of protein than the original. Meanwhile, original Cheerios has just 2 grams of sugar while the protein version has a whopping 16 grams. Now we have a bona fide conspiracy and it’s one that drove the Karma Sensible Revolutionaries at the Center for Science in the Public Interest to file a lawsuit against General Mills for misleading customers.
Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that Cheerios Protein costs 33% more than original Cheerios. Well, guess what? If you want to have a nutritious, high protein cereal for breakfast with better ingredients, more protein, more fiber, less sugar and at a lower cost, I can show you how and it won’t make you a minute later for work.
Meanwhile, in the case of Cheerios Protein, I’m getting a strong whiff of burning tobacco.
We Are Not Alone
When it comes to the Healthcare Industrial Complex, maybe I am paranoid. But just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Together we can fight them. Don’t buy what they’re selling. And if you want to learn any of the techniques to create your own high protein treats, contact me. You’re not alone.