Make it homemade

So today I picked up a boxed cake mix to make for my son's birthday treats for preschool - he will obviously get a special cupcake because of his allergies but I wanted something quick and easy for the rest of his class. I have been bringing in homemade treats that my son can eat and share with his classmates but a lot of the kids don't like them because they are different than what they're used to. Quite frankly, the food I make for my family is really expensive so it felt like a decent compromise to buy a boxed mix for this occasion. I am kind of rethinking that now. Anyways, I naturally began reading the label and this is what I found...

Ingredients: Enriched Flour Bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Sugar, Corn Syrup, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate). Contains 2% or less of: Corn Starch, Modified Corn Starch, Nonfat Milk, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Propylene Glycol, Mono and Diesters of Fatty Acids, Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Steroyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavor.

Raise your hand if you have propylene glycol in your cupboard?

Um no. That is a petroleum by-product that is used in paint balls, antifreeze, deodorant, makeup, in smoke machines, and many other non-food substances. It is listed as a toxic substance. Does that really sound like something that belongs in cake? I think not.

I realize it is easy to buy prepackaged cake mixes (hello, I just did it). It cost me $1.22. That is dang cheap. AND!! You can get it even cheaper than that if you're a real deal seeker! Of course we buy it! We love our food to be cheap. But what we are really buying are food-like substances. Packaged food is beyond refined, full of fillers and additives, harmful fats (anything with the word hydrogenated in it is a trans fat, whether listed on the nutritional information or not) and toxic sugar. The bottom line is that while these foods have a tendency to taste very good, they are more than harmful to our bodies. Nobody can argue with that - just look around. We are a sick nation. We are an obese nation. We are dying from diseases that can be eliminated or prevented through a healthy lifestyle. Eating this food once? Probably not going to kill you. But the problem is that we consume these types of ingredients over and over and over throughout the day. You can pretty much bet that if it isn't homemade, it probably has something undesirable in it (granted, there are some packaged foods that are on the better end of the spectrum but they are still usually loaded with sugar).

Making food homemade is more time consuming, yes. But, not by much. There are so many easy, simple cake recipes out there. Even if your homemade cake is full of white flour and white sugar, it is much better for you than the boxed version. Yes, it would be preferable to make it with whole grains and natural sweeteners. But still, using white flour and white sugar and making it homemade saves you from the undesirable ingredients found in so much of our processed food. If you are really in a pinch for time, at least pay more for an organic or gluten free boxed mix. Those processed foods are much less likely to have such harmful ingredients. You'll pay an arm and a leg but at least you won't be ingesting petroleum by-products. I have a few posts planned on what real food means, so until then...just remember, homemade is best!

Here are a few of our favorite cake recipes to get you started. Some are gluten free and what I consider a healthy dessert. Others are totally not in the healthy spectrum but are much better than store-bought. Some take more time and effort than others, some are easier. 

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake (Grain/Gluten free)
Karina's Chocolate Truffle Cake (Grain/Gluten free)
Lemon Yogurt Cake (Gluten free)
Simple White Cake (haven't tried this but it looks very easy and got great reviews)
Two HealthiER Cake Recipes from Kitchen Stewardship (haven't tried them)