Item the first: Turns out your gut instinct was right – scientists (at Princeton, no less!) have discovered via our favorite furry rodent test subjects that high fructose corn syrup actually does make you gain more weight than the same caloric amount of table sugar. Not only that, but HFCS causes scarring on your liver, childhood obesity and early death. But don’t worry, you still have to show ID to buy a single box of Sudafed! So we may die early with scarred livers from all that unregulated Coca Cola but if we’re over 18 at least our noses won’t be stuffy.
Item the second: Jelly beans are made 100% out of high fructose corn syrup.
Now you see why I’m bitter. I adore research if it tells me do something I’m already doing – like the research this week that found that women need an hour a day of exercise to maintain their weight – it’s an exercise addict’s dream come true! But: IT’S JELLY BEAN SEASON, PEOPLE. How do I love jelly beans? Let me count the ways:
1. SweeTart jelly beans – the gold standard of chewy sour deliciousness and they are only sold now. Also only sold now, their HFCS-laden sister in crime, Gummy Bunnies.
2. Mike N Ike jelly beans – regular Mike-n-Ikes ain’t bad but for some reason the jelly bean version is 100 times better.
3. Sour Starburst jelly beans – yummy but they make my tongue hurt if I eat too many. It’s like a little tongue seizure.
4. Nerds jelly beans – they have this amazing bumpy crispy sour outer shell and a gooey tangy middle. Weird to look at but man they go down easy!
5. “Spice” jelly beans – are disgusting. I wouldn’t touch them with a pair of Lindsay Lohan’s leggings much less eat them. They’re cheap and the black ones taste like fake black licorice. That’s just wrong.
I had to throw #5 in there in case you thought I unabashedly love all jelly beans. While we’re on the subject, I’m not a fan of the much-ballyhooed Jelly Bellies. Some of them are yummy (ripe pear!) but then you accidentally get a popcorn or cappuccino one and you realize that Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans are a concept that only works in the fictionalized halls of Hogwarts and is horrendous in practice. (And “top banana”? Retch.) My point: I’m a connoisseur of HFCS.
Clearly I am in need of a snack intervention.
Like manna from above Fruit Not Fat’s Galaxy Granola* showed up on my doorstep. I don’t know about you but granola is one of the very first things I eliminated when I started healthifying my diet. I haven’t had a bowl of granola in probably 6 years. Which is sad because I really do like granola – all those crunchy rolled oats and nuts and fruit! It seems like it would be good for you, right? But then most companies (even my beloved Kashi) smother all that whole grain goodness with buckets of oil and sugar and, yes, often HFCS thereby turning a healthful breakfast into a nutritional horror show.
I am not a fan of horror shows, nutritional or otherwise. (Just ask my students in Seattle. They discovered they could actually get me to run screaming from my own classroom by the merest hint of telling me the plot line to any of the Saw movies. Gah. I just got a full body shiver. There – again! Okay, must stop writing about it now. Back to granola. Ack – another shiver!! Stop it!) Fruit Not Fat’s concept is simple: they took out most of the sugar and all of the oil and replaced it with apple puree. It’s delicious. And not just in a I-can’t-have-real-granola-so-this-substitute-is-decent kind of way. In all honesty I like this granola – especially the raspberry flavor – better than any “real” granola I’ve ever had. They sent me three bags to try and they were gone in as many days. I couldn’t walk past the cupboard without sneaking a handful.
The nutritional profile is pretty impressive. Just 115 calories per 1/4 cup serving, 1g of fat, 5g of sugar (compared to Kashi Go Lean Crunch’s eye-popping 12g – that’s the same as Cap’n Crunch), and 4g of protein. The ingredient list is so simple it’s a work of art. Whole rolled oats, barley flakes, spelt flakes, evaporated cane juice (yes, that’s sugar), wildflower honey, apples, raspberries, crisp rice, oat flour, oat bran and vitamin E. No weird stuff! The only downside is the price. At $5.29 a bag (that’s from their website – I don’t know how much it costs in stores as there aren’t any near me that sell it), that’s a bit steep for cereal. Especially cereal that I may or may not have eaten an entire bag in one sitting. Ahem.
Want to try some yourself? Fruit Not Fat wants to give one of you a free bag – you can choose your flavor but I heartily recommend the raspberry (it has little freeze-dried raspberries in it!). Everyone else is not left out in the cold – you can order a free sample off their website.
What’s your favorite kind of jelly bean? (And if you say the black licorice ones, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. Sorry, mom!) What do you think about the HFCS study??
*FTC disclaimer: Fruit Not Fat provided me with free samples of their granola. I was not paid for this review.