Avoid These Ingredients in Deli Meat
- Mel’s weekly food pick: True Story Deli Meats
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick: Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili
In a perfect world (assuming you’re a carnivore) you would be eating only fresh meat and seafood, preparing it from scratch with tender loving care.
But let’s be honest, most of us work full-time jobs and can’t afford the luxury of preparing all of our meals from scratch. Although, I must give props to crockpot cooking, as it’s a phenomenal way to support more wholesome meals for you and your family. That’s another post altogether…but be sure to check out this week’s recipe pick below for a sinfully delicious recipe for Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili.
Sometimes deli meats make their way into our lunch box because, well, it’s easy. My goal is to ease your worries with this post because as it turns out, they aren’t so bad after all– but only if you follow a few simple guidelines.
Avoid deli meats with the following ingredients…
- Sodium nitrite (a preservative used to cure meats) and sodium nitrate (a preservative): both can raise the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene): preservatives with potential carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties
- MSG: additive that can cause various adverse reactions—from headaches and migraines to endocrine disruption
- Added hormones
- Sugar in any form (cane sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc.)
- Smoked/naturally smoked/smoke flavor– may contain toxic chemicals
So in a nutshell, when you look at the ingredient list on deli meat, it should only contain the meat (i.e. turkey, beef, chicken, ham, etc.), salt, and possibly herbs or spices. Deli departments often carry whole meat that is sliced right off the bone, without any additional ingredients. Of course this would be your best bet.
Enjoy deli meat a maximum of 1-2 times per week (a few slices…not a half-pound!)
Yes, taking care to avoid the above ingredients is a sure step in the right direction, but understand that even though a deli meat may not have added sodium nitrites and nitrates, they still most likely contain celery juice or celery powder, which act as naturally-occurring nitrates/nitrates and likely behave similarly in the body.
Eat it without bread (don’t hate me until you give it a try!)
No, I’m not calling bread evil. But the fact of the matter is, we eat too much of the starchy stuff and then sit wondering why we can’t lower our blood sugar and cholesterol numbers (not to mention that extra stubborn “roll” around the midsection that won’t budge). You can turn this around if you open your mind to new ideas. For the record, wraps are no better and actually may be worse due to the presence of trans fats.
Try one of these ideas on for size:
- Roll a couple pieces of deli meat (see below for my favorite brands and varieties) and slice into chunks. Serve on top of a leafy green salad, or with a side of raw veggies dipped in hummus or guacamole.
- Serve it in a lettuce wrap! Bibb/butter, Boston, and green leaf lettuce are the best for lettuce wraps. FYI…butter lettuce does NOT taste like butter. Life is so unfair! ?
- Make your own wheat-free wrap using this easy recipe for 5-Minute Flax Wrap!
- Dice it up and fold into omelets (there’s no rule against packing an omelet for lunch you know!)
- Eat it with crackers and a little natural cheese (see below for the best cracker brands out there).
- Chop into small pieces and mix with avocado oil mayonnaise, pumpkin seeds, chopped peppers, onions and carrots, and stuff inside of a pitted avocado!
If you love bread and aren’t willing to entertain this idea, at least cut the amount in half and switch to sprouted bread, such as Angelic Bakehouse, Alvarado Street, or (my personal favorite) Ezekiel.
Sprouting— which involves soaking grains, seeds, beans, legumes or nuts in water until a sprout forms— can reduce the gluten content by almost 50%. Studies also show that sprouted grains become easier to digest and breakdown for those with diabetes because of changes in the amount of enzymes available, which is needed to properly digest glucose.
Try one of these deli meat-alternatives for lunch
- Tuna salad or egg salad made with avocado oil mayonnaise or mashed avocado and served over a beautiful leafy green salad.
- Roasted chicken or pulled rotisserie chicken rolled up in a 5-Minute Flax Wrap. Most grocery stores sell whole roasted rotisserie chicken that you can purchase and deconstruct yourself!
- Natural nut or seed butter (almond, cashew, walnut, peanut, sunflower seed) with the only ingredient being the nut or seed and maybe salt, spread on gluten-free crackers such as Jilz, Flackers, or Hu brands. Top each cracker with a sliced banana “coin” for a real treat.
- Veggie wrap: sprouts, raw veggies, avocados, sunflower seeds and greens wrapped in a hummus-spread 5-Minute Flax Wrap.
- Leftover soup or chili. Try my Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili.
There are two brands of deli meat that I feel comfortable recommending– the first is Two Brothers, which is sold in a Northeast Ohio grocery store chain called Heinen’s. My favorites in this line are:
- Two Brothers No Salt Turkey Breast. It has one single ingredient: turkey. Any questions?
- Two Brothers Organic Oven Roasted Turkey Breast: organic turkey, water, salt
- Two Brothers Organic Roast Beef: organic beef, sea salt, pepper
The second brand is True Story, featured in this week’s food pick below.
Mel’s weekly food pick:
True Story Deli Meat
True Story is a third generation company based in Northern California. They practice fair trade with farmers, ensuring animals are raised humanely and without antibiotics or hormones. In fact, 100% of their animals are third party certified for animal welfare.
True Story’s ingredients are organic, non-GMO, and free of: nitrites/nitrates; MSG; hormones; fillers; artificial colors, flavors and preservatives; gluten; and carrageenan (a thickener that can cause digestive destruction and inflammation).
Three of their best products are:
- Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
- Smoked Turkey Breast
- Thick Cut Oven Roasted Chicken Breast
True Story also makes a line of chicken sausage with a pretty darn clean list of ingredients.
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili