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MSG – The Dirty Truth

Here’s the story of an ingredient named MSG

A cooking rut. Have you ever been in one of those? You know, where you are uninspired to make anything, let alone something new, in the kitchen? I just got out of one. And I’m here today to tell you all about the recipe that has me fired up again. Want to know what the game changer was? You’ll never guess. A homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup. One to replace the red and white and gold Campbell’s version that rolls around in your cart. Why would you want to make that when it’s so easy to purchase, you ask? Well, let me tell you why this simple recipe is far superior to the one at your local grocery store.

Pre-made grocery items like a condensed soup have a lot of ingredients in them. Ever try to read labels? I have years (and years and years) of chemistry in my background, and I still struggle to pronounce the many ingredients. We’re talking fillers, stabilizers, preservatives and three nasty letters – M. S. G. And that right there, my friends, is why I choose the hard road to make my own food.

It might help make food taste better, but MSG is a scary ingredient. MSG is an excitotoxin. Long story short – it causes so much excitement in the neurons in your brain that it kills them. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to keep my brain cells. One mentor of mine has connected the dots and links MSG and aspartame (we’ll discuss fake sugars more some other time) to neurodegenerative disorders. These disorders include Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s and more.  Serious business.

If MSG were only in a few, not so common products we eat, I wouldn’t be so concerned. The problem lies in how universally abundant it is. You probably remember the signs hung proudly at Chinese restaurants that state “our food contains no MSG”. They might be right. But they’re probably wrong. That’s because MSG has dozens of aliases. Here are a few:

-Glutamate -Monosodium Glutamate -Monopotassium Glutamate -Yeast extract -Hydrolyzed protein (any protein that is hydrolyzed) -Glutamic Acid -Calcium Caseinate -Sodium Caseinate -Gelatin -Textured Protein -Yeast Nutrient -Autolyzed Yeast -Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten

And even more these “often contain MSG or create MSG during processing”:

-Carrageenan -Natural Pork Flavor -Bouillon and Broth -Soy sauce extract -Maltodextrin -Citric Acid -Protease -Natural Flavor & Flavorings -even the vague word Seasonings and many, many more.

My homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup didn’t contain any ingredients like that. It might have been a bit tedious in terms of the number of steps, but it was really pretty simple and utilized my Vitamix (which always makes me happy). I used it to make a homemade green bean casserole for when my parents came over for dinner on Sunday. I made up the recipe for the GBC as I went, using the homemade soup, some sautéed shallots, fresh steamed green beans and a few other ingredients. It was the most complimented dish on the table. The whole pan was gone, nearly licked clean. The key to the recipe? The soup. No MSG or other questionable ingredients. No worries of health concerns, long term or short. Only pure, delicious, nutritious goodness in whole food form.

So now that I’m out of my cooking rut, it’s time to make another batch of condensed soup and use it to recreate some healthier versions of casseroles and whatnot that I had as a kid. First up: a tator tot casserole using grass fed beef, tons of added veggies and topped off with veggie tots. I’m excited.

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