Pacific Natural Foods Soups – Why All the Sugar?

When I visited Whole Foods Grocery last week, I was planning to purchase a carton or two of soups from Pacific Natural Foods. They were on sale for $2.79 and Whole Foods was offering a $1 coupon.

pacific natural foods creamy tomato has lots of added sugar

Personally, I like Pacific Natural Foods as a company. They are independently owned, unlike Imagine Foods, which is owned by Hain. I try to choose chicken broth from Pacific, but I have purchased Imagine brand when it’s a better bargain.

So, I thought this will be a great opportunity to try another soup flavor, and I thought the creamy tomato would be a good choice. When I saw the stack at the Whole Foods store, I casually glanced at the list of ingredients and was shocked to see evaporated cane juice was added, making the total sugar 12 grams.

List of Ingredients:
Organic Reduced fat milk
Filtered water
Organic tomato paste
Organic evaporated cane juice
Sodium citrate
Sea salt
Organic rice flour
Organic cheese flavor
Organic garlic powder
Organic onion powder
Organic white pepper

I initially thought it was only that particular soup, but nope, I checked every single blend, and they ALL had evaporated cane juice.


Aren’t tomatoes and/or butternut squash sweet enough without adding more sugar to their recipe? Even the French Onion had added sugar!

Are we THAT addicted to sugar, that we can’t even get away from it in our natural soups? Do we really need extra sugar and salt to make our food taste better? sigh. :(

The worst part is that a lot of healthy eaters probably trust Pacific to produce a quality healthy product, and probably don’t even bother to check the list of ingredients. I know I don’t always check, but I’m glad I did this time!

Needless to say, I was very disappointed and did not buy any Pacific Natural soups. Bummer.

Better Homes & Gardens the Ultimate Slow Cooker Book

Better Homes and Gardens the Ultimate Slow Cooker book

I found a copy of the Better Homes & Gardens The Ultimate Slow Cooker Book at the local library.

The book includes 400 recipes, and 200+ great photos. Each recipe contains prep time, cook time, & serving information, along with nutritional data, which I really appreciate.

The book is paperback, but does not easily lie flat on a counter if you need to read the recipe while cooking. The binding seemed weak as well. I can imagine with usage, some pages actually might fall out.

There are good slow cooker tips at the beginning of the book, but one of the most important tips was missing – how to convert the size of your crock to accommodate a smaller recipe or desserts. I would have liked to learn the best way to use a small baking dish inside the larger crock? Do you add water in the outer crock? Do you keep it dry?

One tip I don’t agree with is their recommendation for plastic liners for messier recipes, stating that they eliminate the need for harsh cleaning chemicals. Which is worse? Harsh cleaners or plastics that leeches toxins?! I’d rather apply a tbsp or two of olive oil on the inside walls of the crock than use a plastic liner. Or better yet if a recipe is that messy, it might be a better option to just bake it normally in a regular oven.

On that same note, some recipes do seem a bit excessive to cook in a slow cooker like nuts or dips but there are recipes for just about every conceivable food idea from appetizers to desserts.

A lot of the recipes are made with fresh ingredients, but unfortunately a large percentage utilize processed food short cuts like frozen meatballs, jelly, salad dressings, jarred sauces, and the ever popular canned cream soup. How hard is it to create a recipe using half/half or milk instead of cream soup?

I would have enjoyed more fresh and less processed ingredients in recipes such as Mexican meatball stew (pg 118). I don’t need a book to tell me to add canned Mexican stewed tomatoes, frozen meatballs, canned black beans, chicken broth, and frozen corn. I want to how to create a real Mexican stew using real spices and fresh ground beef. But that’s not what this cook book is about!

By the time I arrived at the Poultry chapter, I was discouraged and ended up skipping past most of the recipes. I was hoping to find something interesting in the last chapter for desserts, but as soon as I read the recipe ingredients for Fruity Rice Pudding on page 450, I knew I was doomed. Two packages of rice pudding mix with raisins and spices? Come on, how hard is it to put together rice pudding from scratch?

Of course, I understand the need for books that offer recipes that can be prepared in minutes. The majority of home cooks in the USA don’t mind using canned soup or jarred tomato sauce (hence the reason why this country is so unhealthy). So, this book is a good match for them. Some would argue that any kind of home cooking, even with processed foods, is still better than take out or TV dinners.

So all the “from scratch” home cooks, like me, can take a pass on this book, or better yet, find a copy at the library and pick and choose a few special recipes. I mean, they were not ALL bad. There were a scattered few recipes that I found in the breakfast and soup chapters that sparked my creativity:

Pg 78 Morning casserole
Pg 80 Ham Gouda potato bake – this one includes canned cream of potato soup, but I think it could be replaced by additional milk or cream.
Pg 105 Cha cha corn chowder
Ph 108 Soy ginger soup with chicken
Pg 120 Asian turkey and rice soup

I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.