A not-so-nice surprise in your kid's graham crackers

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If you have kids, chances are you have a box of graham crackers sitting in your pantry.  If you're a baker, you might have some graham crackers sitting around for a pie crust or maybe even some smores.  Graham crackers seem synonymous with childhood and pies.  Both of my kids' schools keep graham crackers on hand as emergency snacks. 

Know what else seems synonymous with graham crackers?  Trans fat and HFCS.  Yum, yum!

It's been a while since I've bought graham crackers, but I did just that last week.  I had a dessert recipe that called for graham crackers, and the kids thought that they would be a tasty snack as well.  I went to the graham cracker aisle and did my normal box flip to scan the ingredients, and was disgusted to find that every single box of graham crackers in that particular grocery store had partially hydrogenated oils and usually HFCS too.  Keebler graham crackers, Nabisco graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, graham cracker sticks of every sort, the store brand - every single one (and a few others that aren't listed) contained partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient. And yes, those premade graham cracker pie crusts, they generally have partially hydrogenated oils in them too.

What's a mom to do?  We've made a commitment to NOT buy foods containing partially hydrogenated oils (need some reasons to do the same?  Read about trans fat here.), so I went on a search.  Luckily, there are graham crackers without partially hydrogenated oils or HFCS on the market.  Both of the other grocery stores in my small town carry at least one of the two that I know about.

We bought New Morning Organic Honey Grahams.  And you know what?  They tasted just as good as the graham crackers that use partially hydrogenated oils.

Another option that seems to be a common brand is Mi-Del Honey Grahams.

Or you could even go so far as to make your own.  I bought some graham flour a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of trying this recipe for graham crackers

And if you need a pre-made graham cracker crust option, look for Arrowhead Mills pie crusts. Graham cracker pie crusts are incredibly easy to make too.

The moral to this story?  Don't assume that just because something is marketed toward your children that it is trans fat free!  (In fact, these days it seems like if a product is marketed toward children, it's sure to be filled with sugar and less-than-desirable ingredients.)  Flip those boxes over and read the ingredients!  And also remember that just because one brand has an ingredient that you don't like, doesn't mean that they all do.  I can usually find a substitute with an ingredient list that I can stomach with just the smallest amount of work.  Or make it myself!


Amy (super healthy kids) January 27, 2010 at 10:17 AM  

You ruined my day!
Thanks Cathy. ;)

'Drea January 27, 2010 at 12:22 PM  

I love graham crackers and it seems like the better I eat, the more money is coming out of my pocket but, now, I buy Annie's Homegrown Bunny Grahams which can actually be purchased at Target for less than they have them at Whole Paycheck.

I recently stocked up since they had them on sale for $2 dollars.

Sarah January 27, 2010 at 3:07 PM  

We've made the same commitment as you about corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils. Do you know if either of these have alternative names on labels?

I just made homemade graham crackers (and blogged about it) for the reasons you name. I have access to Bunny Grahams but my son doesn't like them.

Kara January 27, 2010 at 3:10 PM  

We discovered this a while ago. Sad! We get the "Teddy Grahams" that are put out by the Wild Harvest line at Shaw's (aka Albertson's, I think). They are crazy tasty, though they wouldn't work for pie crusts and the such!

Chris and Amy January 27, 2010 at 5:15 PM  

I've made the commitment and my husband is there about 75% of the time. It's rough living overseas because we can't read a lot of the labels. We do have access to the base commissary, but they're not that in to health. I've put in requests for greek yogurt and lara bars. Looks like I'll have to put in a request for healthier graham crackers too. :)

Tracy January 28, 2010 at 6:45 AM  

We figured this out as well a while back. We now get the graham sticks made by Back to Nature. We tried the Mi-Del ones but they were AWFUL! The Back to Nature Graham sticks aren't as tasty as Honey Maid, but they're still pretty good. I also like the Annies Graham Bunnies but my kids don't care for them so much.

Stephanie January 28, 2010 at 8:34 AM  

You can guarantee that most things in a box or a bag (ie chips or cookies) contain trans fat. That's because it preserves the food to last longer on the shelf, and it's cheap. Even if a box claims 'no trans fats' it's important to look at the ingredients list. Food can still contain a small amount of trans fat - if it's under a certain amount it's legal to skip it in the nutrition information, but not in the ingredients list.
BODA weight loss

My Year Without January 28, 2010 at 8:51 AM  

I'm glad you found alternatives! I've been eating Midel graham crackers for years. I love that they are whole wheat and sugar free, as well as HFCS free.

Condo Blues January 30, 2010 at 1:27 PM  

I hear you. Crackers are one of those foods I've pretty much given up on because it's so difficult to find them made without trans fats or HFCS. Cereal is another one. At least with cereal I recently learned how to make my own granola so my family can have cereal at breakfast again. But saltine crackers to pair with soup? Sadly gone from our diet. :(

Ken D Berry MD January 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM  

Thank you for being an adult who cares what their children eat! Keep spreading the word.

Anonymous September 29, 2011 at 8:44 PM  

I haven't tried this recipe yet but it looks fabulous and there's a ton of positive feedback on it and lots of healthier suggestions. Will try soon for s'mores at my son's class campout!

xlpharmacy coupons November 8, 2011 at 6:08 AM  

The graham crackers are just too good, my kid love them.

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