There are a few food combinations that are truly repellent. Unsweetened almond milk in coffee is one of them. It not only turns the coffee a putrid orange, but it enhances the coffee’s bitterness such that if you’re ever trying to give up coffee, I highly recommend swapping cream for almond milk for a day.
I was trying to cut back on dairy so thought I’d go the almond milk route for a while. And I was nearly willing to put up with the unpleasantness in my coffee mug, until I started taking a closer look at the ingredient list.
The brand I bought was organic and one of the more respected names in the business, but the almonds themselves had a full entourage propping them up and ensuring that they performed the way the audience was expecting them to. (That is, having a “mouth-feel” as close to cow’s milk as possible.) There were the usual faces in the list such as “natural flavors” (which I avoid since “flavor” but definition is not “natural” but derived in mass quantities in a lab) but there was one ingredient that stopped me – carrageenan. It’s used as a thickening agent as well as an emulsifier (to keep everything together). But the more reading I did, the more I came to believe that it may not be good for us, and probably should be avoided.
Carrageenan is made from seaweed. It is used in many foods (including many organic foods) and is generally considered safe except that in large quantities there is a very strong correlation with inflammation of the gut and a depressed immune system. So if you consume it in very low levels you’re probably not going to suffer from these symptoms, but I always get a little suspect of an additive when I learn that at high levels it can have severely adverse effects.
Almond milk, by the way, is not meant to feel like cows milk in your mouth. Almond milk is naturally more watery because almonds are not cows. So I’m staying away from almond milk with carrageen. In other words, I’m staying away from packaged almond milk.
There are so many foods out there faking it – pretending they are tastier, thicker, less fattening, less sweet…The fakes that I now routinely avoid include:
- Fake sugar (Equal and it’s evil friends, as well as Stevia, which though an herb, has a horrible aftertaste)
- Fake thickeners (Pectin and other substances are routinely used in yogurt and soups)
- Fake flavors (Anything that says “Natural Flavors” would, without this flavor, not taste like you’re expecting it to. Natural flavors are in so many foods that we’ve actually come to believe they’re natural.)
- Fake oils and butter (I always splurge on the extra 20 calories and use pure butter or olive oil)
- Fake “meat” (The major player here is TVP (textured vegetable protein) which is extremely highly processed and made from soy, which if organic (and in low quantities is) is fine, but if it is not organic it is almost certainly GMO)
Over to you … any imposters you’d like to report?
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