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Sneaky tactics to watch out for when buying additive-free stock/bone broth

Sneaky tactics to watch out for when buying additive-free stock/bone broth

Francine Bell | June 24, 2020

 

Additive free stock is a winter essential. The cooler warmer brings a desire for comfort food and warm hearty meals.  You will often find soups, stews and casseroles frequenting the winter menu.  The basis of many of these meals requires stock. 

Have you seen the sheer number of stocks on the supermarket shelves? No wonder I hear that our community members are feeling overwhelmed! I’ve decided to help you navigate these. 

I have reviewed 70 different stocks!

Much more than I expected when I undertook the exercise.  I know that I haven’t got ALL of them either. 

This guide is NOT an exhaustive list of all the stocks on the market.

There are so many different types of stocks depending on your preference.  We enter the world of cubes, powders, concentrates and liquids.   When I was little I only remember Mum using the stock cubes.  I doubt we had the sheer volume of options available to us today.

I would love to know what the ingredients were of the stock cubes back then.  Were they the same as they are now?  Have they progressively removed more real ingredients as time goes on. The pressure to increase profits is always mounting.  Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing.  That information isn’t kept anywhere for the public to see. 

Anyway lets get to it…

I have also included bone broths, powders and concentrates in the review too.

On my search for additive free stock I reviewed 70 different products and examined over 200 different ingredients.  

That is an ENORMOUS amount of ingredients.

Before we get into what stock is better to buy to save you time, I’d like to draw your attention to what should be the typical ingredients of a stock.

Typical ingredients

Water
Meat (and or bones)
Veges
Herbs
Spices
perhaps some oil too. 

Examples of the ingredients I came across in the review

Water 
– water or filtered water

Meat
– Organic meat and / or bones
– meat fat (beef, chicken)
– meat powders
– meat extracts
– meat concentrates

Veges
– Organic or conventional 
– Dehydrated veges 
– Vegetable powders

Herbs and spices
– Fresh
– dehydrated

Acidity regulators
– Apple cider vinegar
– Reconstituted lemon juice / powder

Sugar (not an ingredient you will typically find in home made stocks)
– Organic sugar
– Cane sugar
– Glucose
– Caramelised sugar syrups

Salt
– Himalayan, WA Lake salt, Southern Ocean sea salt
– Iodised salt

Pepper

Oil
– Organic oils
– Extra virgin olive oil
– Sunflower oil
– Canola oil
– Vegetable oil
– Palm fat
– Vegetable fat

Flours

– Organic flours (rice and corn)
– Rice, Wheat
– Wheat fibre
– Potato flour
– Potato starch 
– Corn starch

It’s really interesting when you see the range of ingredients used isn’t it?

Then the sneaky tactics start:

Colours

Caramel colours feature heavily.  You will also see burnt sugar and caramelised sugar (wheat). Does this raise alarm bells for anyone? Since when does caramelised sugar come from wheat?

Burnt sugar is an interesting one too. Burnt sugar is sold by flavour houses. It is generally used for flavour, however it does have a light to dark brown colour. The added bonus? You don’t need to say your product contains colours. For those that have been in the AFK community for some time, we know that natural colours can be just as problematics as synthetic colours.

Stocks made with real ingredients don’t need colours or burnt sugar.

Preservatives

Thankfully very few stocks contained traditional preservatives (ie 220 and 224).  However, Rosemary extract (and its various names) appeared in many of the cleaner products. Rosemary extract was approved by the FSANZ as an additive 392. It is used for its antioxidant properties and as a preservative.

What most people don’t know is how the rosemary extract is extracted. It is usually extracted using acetone or other solvent methods. Reviewing some of FSANZs reasonings when approving this additive was interesting. Rosemary has been used in cooking for hundreds of years with no harm. How about looking at the actual process of extraction? I expect those of us that are highly sensitive to this ingredient are reacting to the method that it has been extracted.

Bonus for manufacturers, the product sounds clean, acts as a preservative and an antioxidant and there is no requirement to list it as a preservative.

Gums

In my review I came across a few gums:

– Vegetable gum
– Xanthan gum
– Locust bean gum 

I urge you to think why are these gums in these products? You will see the products that have been ranked Best have no need for gums. Are these gums there for your benefit or the manufacturers?

Flavours and extracts

This is where its all happening!

Over 23 different flavours, flavour enhancers and extracts were used over the 70 products I reviewed.  We had the industry heavy weights such as MSG and its cousins, Hydrolysed vegetable proteins, Yeast extracts, Natural Flavours, Flavours and Extracts galore. 

Why are all these used?

I can tell you, in some products where they featured heavily, the product contained very few ingredients.  The real ingredients I did find were water, sugar and salt.  The rest were flavour enhancers.  No real meat.  No real vegetables.  Who needs that when you have something that is ‘identical’ in taste for a fraction of the cost?

For those that are long time followers of AFK you will have heard me talk about yeast extracts, MSG, HVP, flavours. For people that are highly sensitive to MSG these are all additives you would want to avoid.

Ok….lets move on…I know you are dying to see the results of the review.

This guide ranks the stocks and broths according to additive impact.  These are NOT all additive free!

In fact, I would suggest that 80% of these have some form of additive in them.   Saying that….some additives are worse than others. 

You will see that the Stocks and Bone Broths are categorised into four categories: Avoid, OK, Better and Best.  

AVOID

These stocks contain some or all of the following ingredients: flavours, extracts, colours, thickeners, emulsifiers, acidity regulators, gums and preservatives. 

OK

These stocks still contain some or all of the following ingredients: extracts, thickeners, emulsifiers, acidity regulators, gums and highly processed ingredients.

BETTER

These stocks / bone broths may still contain rosemary extract (or equivalents), undeclared ingredients or highly processed ingredients. 

BEST

These stocks / bone broths are completely clean and free of additives.

STOCKS / BONE BROTH – AVOID

STOCKS / BONE BROTHS – OK

STOCKS / BONE BROTHS – BETTER

STOCKS / BONE BROTHS – BEST

ADDITIONAL OBSERVATIONS FROM MY REVIEW – LOOKING FOR ADDITIVE FREE STOCK / BONE BROTH

  • Look out for the word “Style” on packaging.

    This should be a red warning to you. What I found is that when you are looking at “Chicken style” usually you will not find any chicken in the product. It will contain flavours and extracts, but not chicken. By saying “Chicken Style” they aren’t misleading anyone. They never said it was “Chicken”
  • Just because a product is organic it doesn’t mean it is additive free or free from ultra processed ingredients

    There were quite a few organic products that still contained yeast extracts and / or flavours. Definitely ingredients we always recommend avoiding for our sensitive AFK community.
  • Look at which order the ingredients appear on the ingredients label

    In conducting this review, I must say sometimes I really felt angry. That customers that don’t know better are being duped. The first ingredient listed first is the biggest quantity of ingredient in that product. In some of the AVOID products, you will see a range of ingredients such as salt, sugar, maltodextrin, yeast extract before you even get to the veges. If you look at the ingredients in the BEST category, you will see that the very first ingredients ARE vegetables!

In short, keep in mind the following tips when buying additive free stocks / bone broths.

  1. KEEP IT SIMPLE – the simpler the better!
  2. Avoid flavourings – flavour enhancers, yeast extracts, extracts, MSG..
  3. Avoid colours – caramels, burnt sugar
  4. Avoid preservatives – usual 200 numbers or rosemary extract

Check out this bone broth powder from The Wholefood Collective to keep in your pantry.

 

Why You Should Avoid Supermarket Cordial

Why You Should Avoid Supermarket Cordial

Francine Bell | May 31, 2020

 

Cordial has been a favourite for Australian families for decades. With over 50 different cordials on the supermarket shelves, it is obvious that this is a popular staple for Australian families.

Why is cordial so popular? Manufacturers push the line that cordial can help consumers drink more water and stay hydrated. Have you thought to check the ingredients of these cordials? Flip the bottle over and have a read!

I can tell you, that there isn’t one cordial for sale in Woolies or Coles that I would want to give to my children!

The cordial on our supermarket shelves is sold in a concentrated form that you mix with water to dilute for consumption. You will see an array of flavours. Some will tell you that they are made with real fruit (it is usually a reconstituted fruit) however most are artificially flavoured. You will see all these lovely pictures on the bottle of fresh fruit….making the consumer think that they are buying something great for their kids. For those that have been following AFK for some time, you will know I always advocate to IGNORE all the marketing on the front of the packet. The truth (most of it) is on the ingredient label.

This wasn’t always the case – how did we get here?

Cordial first became popular in the 1850s. Originally, most cordials originated in Europe and were based on alcohol. They used to steep certain herbs, spices, flowers and fruit and were used for medicinal purposes. By the 18th century, this fast became a recreational drink.

The ingredients for cordial, originally, were very very simple

– Fruit
– Sugar
– Water

That is it!

You would add fruit, water and cook it.  Strain off the fruit, then use the fruit juice together with sugar and cook this until it is thickened and turned glossy. 

That’s it!

Have you checked out the ingredients of the cordials on your supermarket shelves?

They are a far cry from the original simple ingredients.  Let me show you an example: 

Supermarket cordial

Ingredients

Water, Sugar, Food Acids (Citric Acid, Acetic Acid), Flavour, Preservatives (Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Metabisulphite), Stabiliser (466), Colour (122).

So, the largest quantities of ingredients in this product are water and sugar. It has then been flavoured, preserved, stabilised and coloured and sold for a hefty profit.

What’s the issue?

The issue is if your children suffer from any of the following symptoms you would want to start eliminating cordial in the very first instance (or replacing it with a whole food option – more on that later):

– gastrointestinal ailments
– allergic reactions
– eczema
– hives
– rashes
– hyperactivity
– learning difficulties
– asthma
– headaches and migraines

In this one example alone, it really is a cocktail of additives!


Let’s take a brief look at the main additives in this example. Bearing in mind, the ingredients listed here are fairly typical of most supermarket cordials. If you opt for sugar-free alternatives, you will have additional additives such as artificial sweeteners added in.

Citric acid (E330)

Most people believe that citric acid is natural, that it is derived from trusty oranges and lemons. In my experience (after having reviewed tens of thousands of products on supermarket shelves), 99% of the time, citric acid is derived from a bacteria. It is created by fermenting molasses or corn, with a mould (aspergillum niger). Those that are sensitive to MSG should avoid this ingredient. It is known for causing allergic and hypersensitive reactions, including gastrointestinal ailments, eczema, hives and rashes.

Sodium Benzoate (E211)

This preservative is derived from petroleum (is there any wonder our children are reacting to these ingredients?) and also is linked with allergic and hypersensitive reactions, asthma, hyperactivity, learning difficulties, eczema, hives and rashes. There have been multiple studies conducted which show that Sodium Benzoate when present with some food colouring can cause hyperactivity in children. You can find these studies here and here.

Sodium Metabisulphite (E224)

This preservative is also synthetically derived and is linked with asthma, behavioural problems, gastrointestinal ailments, headaches and migraines, hyperactivity, eczema, hives, rashes.

Colour (122) – Azorubine or Carmoisine

This colour is petroleum derived and is linked to allergic and hyper sensitive reactions, asthma, hyperactivity and skin ailments.

In the European Union (EU), foods containing this Colour 122, need to carry the warning:

“may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children”

This colouring has already been banned in USA, Canada and Japan. Yet, it is still permitted in our foods in Australia, with no warning labels.

Flavour

We know that this could represent any number of ingredients and additives with no requirement to be declared. I always recommend avoiding any flavours, natural or otherwise.

When you next look at cordial, you may see it the same way that I do – it is a cocktail of potential symptoms delivered in a sugary syrup.

It is awful that these ingredients are allowed on our supermarket shelves for our little ones to ingest. One glass of this cocktail of additives (diluted in water) will send my kids off with symptoms for days.

I could go into other examples of cordials…but they are all fairly similar.

Please, if your children are suffering with any of the above symptoms, make the switch to a real cordial (or just water)

They are hard to find… I have only found one brand so far that has met all my strict ingredient and processing tests.

Yes, this product will be more expensive than those in the supermarket. The reason being is that it is derived from REAL Fruit!

Let me show you the product, the ingredients and how it is made, and you can compare for yourself.

Roar Cordial - Additive Free Kids - additive free cordial

In this example, from Roar Cordials, these are the ingredients of their Raspberry cordial:

Water, Raw Sugar, Raspberries, Lemon juice

That’s it! The fruit in Roar Cordials are simmered, pressed, sugar added, strained, filtered and bottled.

This is a cordial I would be happy for my Additive Free Kids to have as a treat.


You can find Roar cordial at The Wholefood Collective right now and you can bundle it with your other whole-food needs.

Is it time to look at how many additives are in your diet?

If you or your family members are suffering from health or behavioural issues, perhaps it is time to review the amount of additives in your diet? 

If you would like one on one help with this, feel free to send me an email at francine@additivefreekids.com.au. Or, if you would prefer to learn about additives in a group setting with some personalised fast-tracking from me, check out our RESET course. 

Is Your Almond Milk Laden with Additives? Comparative Product Review

Is Your Almond Milk Laden with Additives? Comparative Product Review

Francine Bell | April 22, 2020

An additive free guide to buying almond milk

This guide was created on the back of an AFK Community members question.

Do you ever ask what milk a cafe uses if you don’t use dairy? More and more cafes (in Queensland) seem to be using Milk Lab. This is the almond milk. Doesn’t look impressive

Based on the conversation that followed I was asked which brands would I recommend. I shared with the AFK Community that I always ask what brand of milk a cafe uses when I am out and about.

Whilst I would prefer to have an almond milk, the reality is that most cafes use almond milks that are laden with additives. I often make the choice to go back to dairy as it is the better alternative in terms of additives! Crazy isn’t it!

Unfortunately, the reality is that these barista blends as you will see have been formulated to ensure the best froth without taking health into account.

AFK Community favourite plant based milk

As you know there are soooooo many different options and products on the supermarket shelves. The AFK Community voted as to which was their preferred plant based milks. The results were:

Almond 51.2%
Coconut 22.5%
Rice 10.0%
Oat 8.3%
Soy 7.6%
Macadamia 0.4%

So with almond milk being the most popular by far, I set out to review over 30 different types of almond milk.

Is your almond milk laden with additives?

Reviewing these ingredients is always so interesting, especially when it initially appears to be a product with very few ingredients. I will tell you that there were over 40 different ingredients used across these 30 different almond milks!!

Across the 30 different almond milks I reviewed, over 40 different ingredients were used!

Please note – this is not an exhaustive list. This list represents the most popular brands as voted by the AFK Community. These rankings are based on my opinion and experience of reviewing ingredient only.


What ingredients should you expect to find in your almond milk?

Typical ingredients:

Water

Almonds

Salt

Sweetener (if its your preference)

These are the ingredients that you would use at home if you were going to make almond milk.

Examples of the ingredients I came across in the review:

Water

Water or filtered water

Almonds

Organic activated almonds
Organic almonds
Pesticide free almonds
Activated almonds
Almonds

Starches

Organic brown rice
Tapioca starch
Maltodextrin

Sweeteners

Organic agave syrup
Organic rice syrup
Organic sugar
Raw sugar
Cane sugar
Medjool dates

Salt

Murray River Salt
Sea salt
Salt

Oils

Organic sunflower oil
Sunflower oil

Anticaking agents

Calcium carbonate
Sodium bicarbonate

Acidity regulators

Ascorbic acid
Lecithin
Potassium citrate
Potassium phosphate
Calcium phosphate

Gums

Carrageenan
Locust bean gum
Xanthan gum
Gellan gum
Cellulose
Sodium carboxymethylcellullose

Flavourings

Natural vanilla flavour
Natural flavour
Natural almond essence
Flavourings

Vitamins

Calcium
Vitamins B12
Vitamins B2
Vitamins B1

What do you think when you see this list of ingredients?

We need to start questioning are these ingredients there for our benefit or the manufacturers?

Are the ingredients there for your benefit of the manufacturers?

 

What do you need to consider when buying almond milk?

Everyone has a ton of different filters and criteria that they shop for. Lets look at some of the main categories in turn:

Water

Given most of the almond milk products are made from water, you may want to consider whether the water they are using is filtered or not.

Safe drinking water requires additives that you can usually taste in the water – such as chlorine, ammonia and fluoride. There is a lot of debate about these additives, however, most of the authorities believe that using the chemicals outweigh potential risks. Filtered water eliminates the contaminations.

Almonds

Normal, pesticide or organic almonds?

Next is the choice of almonds – normal, pesticide free or organic? Organic usually means that they are sustainably grown and processed without the use of any artificial inputs. You would want to check that they have certification. Pesticide free isn’t a strictly defined term. However, it usually means that farmers don’t apply synthetic herbicides, insecticides or their crops. Normal almonds would be grown using pesticides.

Activated or not?

Some almonds used are activated. Activating almonds requires pre soaking the almonds and allows them to be more easily digested.

Percentage of almonds used?

The other important thing to look out for when choosing an almond milk is the percentage of almonds used. In this review we have a range of 2% – 18%. You often get what you pay for. You will usually find the lower the almond percentage is, the higher the additives (gums for example) are to make the product appear thicker than it is.

Sweeteners

When it comes to sweeteners it is important to consider how processed the sweetener is. How close to its original source is it? Some of your sweeteners included in these almond milks are ultra processed.

If we look at organic rice syrup the process is usually: culturing rice with enzymes to breakdown the starches. They then strain off the liquid and reduce it by evaporating heating until the desired consistency is reached. What are these enzymes? Often they will add sprouted barley grains to the rice starch (if using a traditional method) or they will add bacterial or fungal derived purified enzyme isolates (the modern industrial method).

I have tried to find out more information from some of the suppliers regarding how the rice syrup has been made. I received answers such as “we are unable to share any more information around the process, as this is related to our IP”

For those that have followed Additive Free Kids for a while, real ingredients don’t need intellectual property protection. As a result I have classified this ingredient as highly processed in my review.

Gums

So many different types of gums are used in the products with low percentage of almonds! These include Carrageenan, Locust bean gum, Xanthan gum, Gellan gum.

Why are these added to almond milks?

You can see that the products that use a higher percentage of almonds don’t require these ingredients. Carrageenan for example is used to thicken, stabilise or give a gelling consistency. This particular additive should be avoided for those that are sensitive to MSG. You will see manufacturers starting to distinguish their products as carrageenan free. With most of these gums they are a highly processed ingredient.

What you need to remember and consider – are these gums in the product for your benefit or the manufacturer’s?

Flavourings

Whilst most of the flavourings added are natural flavourings or almond essence flavouring sound benign, we know that natural flavourings aren’t any better than artificial flavourings. Read our blog: What are natural flavours and should you avoid them here to learn more about natural flavours.

Again, there is a correlation evident – the lower the percentage of almonds, the higher the presence of gums and flavourings.

Extracts

You need to keep an eye out for extracts – in the case of almond milk, vanilla extract. I’d love to share with you an example of what I discovered whilst reviewing Nuts by Nature Mylk almond milks.

Looking at the ingredients list on first glance looked good. However, I know with all my experience of reviewing tens of thousands of products and ingredients lists that vanilla extract isn’t always what you think it is. There are so many different forms. They aren’t all equal.

When I asked Jason if he could provide me more information on the vanilla extract that was used, he was more than willing and quickly sent it through.

When I dug down to the next level of ingredient review, it uncovered that the vanilla extract had the following ingredients:

Vanilla bean extractives (40%)
Vegetable based glycerin
Sucrose
Xanthan Gum
Natural flavour
Natural caramel colour
Water


As you can see in this one ingredient that is listed on the label, there are another 7 ingredients that sit behind it!! When you read this list, it conjures up very different images to that of a vanilla bean.

Jason was horrified.

Here he was trying to make an amazingly clean product and it was let down by this vanilla bean extract.

The vanilla bean extract was sold as:

“an essential product for any baker, providing a natural and convenient way to flavour your favourite recipes. This versatile extract creates a rich scent of vanilla. Natural, unique and undeniably delicious”

As you will see in the rankings below, Nuts by Nature Mylk is ranked harshly for all these additional ingredients hiding in the vanilla extract. It seems so unfair when Jason was trying to do the right thing!

Not all is lost though!

Jason being such a passionate man about clean ingredients, healthy living and a barista, he was on the phone to me straight away. This vanilla extract will be removed in the near future – and the product will be a 100% Almond Mylk Base, including the barista option (see more below). Once this product is released I will update the rankings below to reflect the change of ingredients.

Vitamins

Some people are basing their purchasing decision based on whether their almond milk contains vitamins.

What I need you to think about is….these vitamins are usually synthetic.

Synthetic vitamins are usually isolated nutrients and are usually made artificially using industrial processes. Ideally if you are wanting to supplement with vitamins you would want to look out for whole food supplements. These are usually concentrated, dehydrated whole foods.

Natural supplements will list food sources or are labelled as 100% plant or animal based. If you see nutrients listed individually such as Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Vitamin B2 etc these are likely to be synthetic. Most of the vitamins listed in this almond milk review are listed individually.

Your body reacts differently depending whether you are using natural or synthetic vitamins. When you are eating whole foods, that whole food comes with a lovely range of vitamins, minerals, co-factors and enzymes. These ensure optimal use by your body. By isolating the nutrients away from these additional compounds they are unlikely to be used by the body in the same was as natural nutrients.

So ideally, you would want to be getting your nutrients from whole food sources. Synthetic vitamins shouldn’t replace a healthy balanced diet.

These are just the considerations I go through when ranking the almond milk ingredients. These rankings are my opinion only. You will need to determine what is most important for you and what you value most. Let’s get ranking….I know you are keen to see the results.

This guide ranks almond milks according to additive impact and the degree of processing of ingredients. These are NOT all additive free.

You will see that I have ranked the almond milks into 4 categories:

AVOID

These almond milks contain some or all of the following ingredients: flavourings, anti caking agents, gums, synthetic vitamins and acidity regulators.

OK

These almond milks contain some of the following ingredients:
anti caking agents, gums, synthetic vitamins and acidity regulators.

BETTER

These almond milks contain some of all of the following ingredients: gums, and highly processed ingredients

BEST

These almond milks are completely clean and free of additives.

How does your almond milk rank?

Almond milks – AVOID

Almond milks – OK

Almond milks – BETTER

Almond milks – BEST

Additional observations from my review

Cleaner labels – Some of brands will try and clean up their ingredients label to sound better than it is and will shy away from using additive numbers.

Manufacturers get caught out too – some times manufacturers are duped too (as we saw with vanilla extract), even when they are trying to do the right thing and create a superbly clean product. They are sold a product and told its all natural. The devil is in the detail!

Fresh is best – when looking at milks in the supermarket – the highest quality product, with the highest concentration of almonds has the shortest shelf life. The lower the concentration of almonds, the higher the amount of additives, the longer the shelf life.

Organic doesn’t equal additive free – just because a product is organic it doesn’t mean it is additive free or free from ultra processed ingredients

The importance of froth – obviously some of these milks will froth better than others. They have been designed to do so. They have added gums and other additives to facilitate this. Just before I was about to publish this blog I became aware of another product that will be 100% almonds and capable of great froth too.

It has been made by a barista for baristas.

Most almond milks will separate in your coffee if they don’t have additives. This product, won’t separate with your typical flat whites or coffees that are mostly milk. I am going to check it out next week and let you know what I think (by the way I’m not a coffee drinker! I will test it out with my chai).

Whilst at the moment this product contains the vanilla extract, when it is removed, I bet its going to be the best new upcoming product for baristas.

It ticks a lot of boxes:
– no almond waste (except the skin) – the whole almond is used.
– reduction in carton wastage (1 container gives 66 serves as opposed to a traditional 1 litre container that may give 4-5).
– use when needed – no extra wastage with milk going off if not used in time, has a one year shelf life.

I will update the blog and let you know when it is released.

In short, keep in mind the following when buying almond milks

Keep it simple….the simpler the better!

Consider how processed the ingredients are.

Would you use these ingredients in your panty?

Have your say:

Chat to your local cafes, ask them if they would consider stocking one of the brands with less additives. Remember they want your repeat business – most will be happy to make their customers happy! Support the cafes that are stocking the products you love.

All the hard work done for you…

As you can see it takes a lot of time and effort to review each ingredient in every product. Something the typical consumer just doesn’t have time to do. Big Food manufacturers are relying on this. They know you are time poor. They know you love convenience. It is hard and time consuming.

Here at Additive Free Kids, we want to empower each consumer to vote with their dollar every day. To help them, we have created an  Additive Free Marketplace Directory where every product has been screened for you. To save you time! To help you vote with your dollar.

The Wholefood Collective’s Option

Ulu Hye have taken ALL the hard work out of homemade almond milk with their low-waste, convenient and delicious mixes! One jar makes 10L of almond milk, saving you cash and waste. 

Which almond milk vote will you be making at the supermarket next time you visit?

How Does Your Yoghurt Compare? Aussie Yoghurt Review

How Does Your Yoghurt Compare? Aussie Yoghurt Review

Francine Bell | February 23, 2020

 

The AFK community were asked what product they would like to have reviewed next. There were a few close contenders, but yoghurt took the lead. The most popular yoghurts were voted for. These are the yoghurts that form the basis of this review.

I have included a few extra yoghurts. These are yoghurts that I am aware of that rank well. I have done this to illustrate the differences across yoghurts.

I have kept this yoghurt very simple, looking only at ‘plain’ yoghurts. It is amazing how many yoghurts there are when looking at the plain versions. The analysis becomes a lot more complicated the minute we start looking into different flavours.

I generally recommend to stick to the plain yoghurts and top them with delicious fresh fruit and amazing wholefood ingredients instead.

I know that many of you consider sweetened vs unsweetened, so I have made sure to include both options for you, so that you can make an informed decision.

Let’s get to the additive free review

It blows my mind every time I undertake a review. There is a lot of work that goes behind the analysis. I thought that by keeping the review to favourite brands and reviewing only plain flavours, it would keep the review small. There were over 70 different ingredients used across the 45+ yoghurts that I reviewed! Imagine how many ingredients there would have been if I had looked at fruit flavoured yoghurts!

No wonder people are so confused and don’t know which options to choose!!

Please note: this is NOT an exhaustive list of yoghurts. The brands that were voted most popular by the AFK community have been reviewed.

What ingredients should you find in your yoghurt?

Yoghurt has a long history and an interesting one too!

Yoghurt is believed to have been discovered by Central Asian herdsman. They stored their extra goat’s milk into containers that were made out of animal stomachs to preserve whilst travelling. They realised that the milk became thick and tart and still edible despite long times in the hot sun.

Yoghurt was always made at home up until 1919.

It wasn’t until 1905 when a Bulgarian microbiologist discovered Lactobacillus balgaricus (the bacteria strain that ferments milk into yoghurt). After this was discovered, yoghurt became commercialised in Barcelona, Spain in 1919.

Moving on to today, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) defines yoghurt to mean:

“A fermented milk where the fermentation has been carried out with lactic acid producing microorganisms.”

fermented milk is defined as:

“A food obtained by fermentation of milk or products derived from milk, where the fermentation involves the action of microorganisms and results in coagulation and a reduction in ph”

We now see a variety of different microorganisms used in our yoghurts and “media” that they are grown on. More on this a little later.

So we know, in the beginning, yoghurt was simply milk and microorganisms.

Your typical ingredients that you will find in your yoghurt should include:

Milk 
Cultures (microorganisms)

What ingredients do we now find in yoghurts?

I will take you through each category of ingredients, so that you get an idea of the range.

Milk and cream

Biodynamic / organic pasteurised milk 
Organic milk 
Jersey cow milk
Pasteurised whole milk
Skim milk
Organic cream
Cream

I understand that some people have allergies and intolerances to dairy – either to the proteins or sensitive to lactose.. That is why I have included non dairy options too (see below).

It appears that there are a lot of people that choose low fat yoghurt or fat free yoghurt. I think many people don’t realise that by choosing fat free or low fat that they may be reducing the amazing benefits that come from yoghurt. Not to mention there is a big difference in taste!

People tend to think that by consuming low fat or fat free yoghurt they are less likely to become obese than people who eat full fat options.

Swedish study says that consumption of full fat dairy product is correlated with a lower risk of developing central obesity. Central obesity being excessive weight gain around the abdomen. A meta analysis of 16 studies in the European Journal of Nutrition echoes the weight-gain link.

US nutritionist Walter Willett of Harvard School of Public Health comments on the debate:

“The idea that all fats are bad still persists in the minds of many people, despite layers of evidence that this is not true. If anything, low fat/high carbohydrate diets seem to be related to greater long-term weight gain.”

Walter Willett’s theory on why obesity risk might be higher for those consuming low – fat dairy products:

“One likely explanation is that the full-fat version provides more satiety, but it is also possible that some of the fatty acids in milk products have an additional effect on weight regulation. Also, unfortunately, in many low fat dairy products the fat is replaced by sugar, and these will almost certainly induce more weight gain than the full fat versions.”

This is a complex area….but something worth considering and investigating further depending on your reasons for choosing low fat / fat free.

I think it is also important to consider that milk contains water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are a type of vitamin that is absorbed into the body through fatty tissue. Fat soluble vitamins absorb best when taken with higher fat foods.

There are 4 types of fat soluble vitamins:

– Vitamin A
– Vitamin D
– Vitamin E
– Vitamin K

“Milk contains the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The content level of fat soluble vitamins in dairy products depends on the fat content of the product”. Your body is actually likely to absorb less nutrients without the fat that accompanies the milk.

Food for thought…..

Plant milks

In the selected vegan yoghurts, I saw the following used as the base for the yoghurt:

Coconut
Coconut milk
Almonds
Coconut water

Cultures

In a lot of the yoghurts I reviewed, I found only “live cultures”, “probiotics” listed in the ingredients. I presume this is because the individual strains are very long names and it can be hard to fit on product labels.

I will say that every manufacturer that I spoke to, they were more than willing to provide which strains were included in their yoghurt. I wanted to make sure that they were all the cultures (and nothing else hidden) in the catch all ‘live cultures”.

Not all manufacturers have replied at this stage. I have waited longer than usual for responses. It is a busy time of year, I will update the findings if I hear back subsequently and the info impacts my ratings.

The types of live cultures and probiotics that were included in the yoghurts:

Probiotics acidophilus
Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Synbio – Lactobacillus.
Lactobacillus Casei L. Bulgaricus
Rhamnosus
Paracasei
Probiotics bifidus
Bifidobacterium
S. Thermophilus


I am not going to attempt to discuss the benefits and advantages of these strains. I recommend having a chat to your naturopath about which strains would be most beneficial for you and your family.

Reviewing the cultures in the vegan yoghurts, labelled as “live vegan cultures” was interesting.

Vegan cultures

Initially I had a hard time getting my head around ‘live vegan cultures’. In the beginning, I assumed that the strains required to make yoghurt needed to be animal derived.

I was informed by vegan yoghurt manufacturers that the cultures are sourced to ensure that they do not come into contact with dairy and are vegan friendly. These cultures are not grown on dairy “media”.

Some manufacturers were happy to discuss what ‘media’ they were grown on. Other manufactures less so. I recommend that you contact the manufacturer if you are concerned about what ‘media’ your vegan culture is grown on. For the purpose of this review, I have made a call, that it is outside the scope of this product review.

Other ingredients

Remembering, traditionally yoghurt comprised only two ingredients, milk and cultures.

Let’s have a look at all the other ingredients that are now included in commercialised yoghurts:

Milk solids

Organic milk solids
Milk solids
Non fat milk solids
Skim milk powder

This is an interesting ingredient that appears in most of the yoghurts I reviewed. Milk solids refers to the dried powder that remains after all the water is removed from the milk. These are often added to yoghurt to give a richer “mouth feel’ to low fat yoghurts, without adding extra fat.

There is debate about the health impact of milk solids. There is a school of thought that believes that during the processing of turning fresh milk into a powder, it results in cholesterol oxidising.

What’s the big deal of oxidised cholesterol?

Oxidised cholesterol is a dangerous form of cholesterol and can be irritating to blood vessels. It is this irritation that triggers the formation of plaque, the precursor to heart disease.

Speaking with one of the most passionate manufactures about the milk solids, their perspective was:

“Studies on dairy milk powders / dairy products have come to no conclusive evidence that oxidised cholesterols are present or at any level to cause any risk.”

I have come across some articles that indicate that oxidised cholesterols are present and can cause risk:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jssc.200301249

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/MV_Calvo/publication/272785201_Presence_of_cholesterol_oxidation_products_in_processed_dairy_foods/links/54edcd690cf272fc6d225551.pdf

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1988.tb10181.x

In my rankings, I have included it as a highly processed ingredient and will leave you to decide if this is an ingredient you choose to avoid in future.

Sweeteners

Organic raw sugar
Organic honey
Honey
Sugar
Fruit juice concentrate
Tapioca syrup
Dextrose

A big range of sweeteners!

I will say in the past I have been very dubious about fruit concentrates.

I was surprised to learn that techniques have improved when looking at fruit juice concentrates. There are now alternative options to use sugars derived from fruits without hydrolysis, chemical products or enzymes. The process is a physical extraction only.

Not all manufacturers have responded or use these techniques. This has been reflected in the ratings. If I haven’t heard back from a manufacturer on how they have processed this ingredient I have classified it a highly processed ingredient.

This is a perfect example of why you can’t see an ingredient on a label and assume every concentrate has been made in the same way.

Tapioca syrup was used in one of the vegan yoghurts to aid the fermentation process. It provides food for the live cultures to feed on. In dairy yoghurt production, the cows milk contain naturally occurring lactose that the cultures feed on.

Usually the syrup is made using enzymatically hydrolysed and hence I classify it an an ultra processed ingredient.

Starches / gums / thickeners / emulsifiers

Organic tapioca starch
Tapioca
Rice starch
Rice flour
Native starch
Corn starch
Modified starch
Pectin

Gelatine
Tara Gum
Agar
Locust bean gum

Emulsifiers

Starch is increasingly used as a functional group in many industrial applications and foods due to its ability to work as a thickener. [1]

Stabilizers are important ingredients in manufactured dairy products because of their capability to improve viscosity and sensory properties, and inhibit or decrease whey separation during storage, as well as enhance the ratio of total solids in manufactured dairy products [2]

There are many sources of stabilizers. Some are synthetic (for example Carboxyl Methyl Cellulose); many of them have a plant origin, which is considered the cheapest and includes the most widely used ones such as corn starch, while a few, like gelatin, are of animal origin.

Starch is also widely used in yogurt manufacturing as a thickener to reduce defects, making the body and texture of manufactured yogurt appealing as well as reducing cracks in the surface of the curd milk [3,4]. Therefore, many plants are used to extract starch.

Again, there is a lot of variance when it comes to starches in terms of how they are processed. Some a created by physical processes, such as grinding rice, others are treated with enzymes to create the starches. I have reflected these differences in the rankings.

Colours

Caramel
Carotene
Paprika extract

Thankfully only a few yoghurts contained colour. If real ingredients are used, there is no need for colour in yoghurt. Often colour is added to make the yoghurt look creamier than it is.

Flavours

Natural vanilla bean flavour
Natural flavours
Flavour

These types of ingredients are what single manufacturers out from the rest of the pack. There really is no need for any of these ingredients in a yoghurt. I would want to see real vanilla bean, not an imitation flavour. Check my blog for topics on flavours to learn more.

Again, you need to question: 

Acidity regulators

Citric acid
Acidity regulator
Malic acid

I found an interesting correlation when looking at these acidity regulators in products. The products that contained acidity regulators also contained the ingredient water. Knowing the two ingredients that are required to make yoghurt are milk and cultures, why would water be included? To cut costs perhaps? For me, this raises the question, if water was excluded from the product, perhaps the acidity regulators could be excluded too?

Let’s get to the rankings

I know that you are eager to see the results. As I have mentioned to the AFK Community already, not all the manufacturers responded to my queries and questions, despite enthusiastic customer service emails initially. Manufacturers that had nothing to hide, were more than happy to field my questions and answer my queries multiple times and quickly!

The following rankings are based on my knowledge and experience with these ingredients and discussions with other manufacturers. 

You will see that I have ranked the yoghurt into 4 categories:

Avoid

These yoghurts contain some or all of the following ingredients: flavourings, gums, thickeners, acidity regulators, food colours and milk solids.

Mundella Greek Vanilla Yoghurt

OK

These yoghurts contain some or all of the following ingredients:
gums, thickeners and acidity regulators.

Nakula Coconut milk yoghurt natural

BETTER

These yoghurts contain milk solids or starch (vegan)

HnH Coconut Yoghurt

BEST

These yoghurts are clean and completely free of additives and highly processed ingredients.

Bondi Coconut yoghurt

How does your yoghurt rank?

I would love to hear your thoughts….what do you think about the above? Will you be voting with your dollar and buying a different yoghurt going forward?

Is it any wonder that consumers have such trouble navigating the supermarket shelves? The average consumer does not have time to do this. Big food manufacturers rely on this. They know you are time poor.  

Here at Additive Free Kids, I want to help empower each consumer to vote with their dollar every day. To help you, I have created the AFK PANTRY RESET coaching course.

This course will remove the overwhelm and fast track your journey to additive free. You can find out more here and join the waitlist.

Which vote will you be making at the supermarket next? If you would like to take a look at other product reviews or blogs, click here.

Mango Macadamia Balls

Mango Macadamia Balls

Francine Bell | August 6, 2018

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Are you looking for quick and easy additive free snacks?

Do you feel that you don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen preparing additive free snacks?

We have a healthy additive free snack for you to try!  Perfect for those hungry little tummies after school!

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These little balls of goodness look naughty but in actual fact are really good for you!

They are so easy and quick to make! Even the kids can make them ?

My kids love getting involved making all different types of bliss balls, balls, anything really!

They love helping to roll these.  Many hands make light work!

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The great thing about these additive free snacks is that you can vary ingredients according to your taste, you can add more dried fruit or nuts or spices.

You can’t go wrong! Just makes sure they stick together enough to roll (add a little extra water if necessary).

A word of warning: these additive free snacks may disappear very quickly!

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Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried preservative free mango
1/2 cup macadamias
2 tbs maple syrup
3 tbs water
coconut (preservative free)

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Method:

Put all ingredients in your food processor or thermomix and blend at high speed until sticking together when pressed.
Roll heaped teaspoons full of the mixture with damp hands then toss in coconut.
Place in fridge to set.

 

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