7 Unhealthy Old-Fashioned Ingredients That No One Uses Anymore
When it comes to cooking, our kitchens are often filled with history, whether it's the soup ladle passed down from the previous generation or a stained family cookbook nestled on the shelf. After all, when it comes to cooking, old-fashioned cooking tips and old wives' tales, such as 'salt makes water boil quicker,' are etched into our minds right alongside grandma's famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. And while grandma's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies call for timeless ingredients such as rolled oats and vanilla, some once-popular pantry staples have long outlived their expiration date.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND award-winning nutrition expert, and member of the Eat This Not That! Medical Expert Board, weighs in on seven unhealthy old-fashioned ingredients no one is cooking with anymore, or shouldn't be, for good reason.
"Many of these foods are extremely high in saturated fat which we now recognize is associated with an increased risk for heart disease" says Amidor. "Some other foods may be high in added sugar or provide empty calories which aren't beneficial to consume nutritionally since they don't provide many needed nutrients for all those calories," says Amidor.
"There has been lots of evolution in the food industry where some of these foods can be made with better-for-you or fewer ingredients or fewer preservatives. Plus, today there are many healthy swaps that can be made for these ingredients."
Take a look at these seven unhealthy old-fashioned ingredients that no one uses anymore.
When you think of the word lard you think of fat, as lard is condensed and clarified pork fat. It used to be used for greasing baking pans, as a butter alternative, for roasting chickens, and for sautéing. The migration away from lard started in the 1950s as cardiologists linked saturated fats to cardiovascular disease as well as other heart issues. To replace this dated form of fat in your modern-day kitchen, seek out healthier cooking oils like avocado and olive oil.
In the past, duck fat was also used as a cooking medium to enhance food's flavor, potatoes being one of the most popular dishes cooked with duck fat. Again, as modern-day research tells us, it's best not to overuse ingredients high in saturated fat.
Chicken fat adds a deep flavor to foods and can be used for a variety of dishes that need fat, like cornbread, biscuits, and general sauteing. But rendered chicken fat is another ingredient that has high amounts of saturated fat which have been linked to increasing LDL (bad cholesterol). While it's tasty, the high saturated fat contents make chicken fat a dated ingredient.
Grape jelly may have been the classic partner to peanut butter in your middle school sandwich, but old-school grape jelly was often loaded with added sugars. For example, Smucker's classic grape jelly has 12 grams of added sugar per tablespoon, that's more than a Krispy Kreme glazed donut!
"Grape jellies used to have a ton of sugar but have had a makeover by some companies so they are produced using the fruit with less added sugar," says Amidor. If you still have an appetite for PB&J sandwiches, seek out grape jellies that have little to no added sugar.
Cool-Whip has been used to make everything from fruit salads to the topping on your winter hot chocolate. But Cool-Whip is a highly processed alternative to whipped cream, made up of mainly hydrogenated vegetable oils and high fructose corn syrup. Amidor recommends making your own topping out of heavy whipping cream. Or, as a quick alternative, try Truwhip, a healthier form of Cool-Whip made with all-natural ingredients.
In the 70s and 80s, busy cooks turned to condensed soups as a quick meal or as a thickener for casseroles. However, those who are health conscious now steer away from condensed soups as they have high levels of sodium which can increase blood pressure.
Today, if you're seeking to quench your canned soup craving or want to make an old-school casserole, read the nutrition label. "Many soup companies have reformulated their canned soups to lower the sodium. Instead of condensed soup, you can use a low sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable broth and mix it with a slurry (cornstarch and water or flour and water) which will help thicken the soup to be used in the recipe" says Amidor.
Corn syrup is another one of those ingredients that doesn't provide any nutritional value. High fructose corn syrup has been linked to weight gain, type-2 diabetes, and other issues. Corn syrup can be found in just about any processed food, but likely culprits containing this dated ingredient are salad dressings, bread, pop, candy, sweetened yogurt, and juice. It is also used to make pecan pie which is one of the worst pies in terms of nutritional value.
Luckily, there are many healthy alternatives. When food shopping, being mindful of the nutrition labels, and reading the added ingredients is the first step to eliminating corn syrup from your diet. In your home baking, healthy swaps like molasses, honey, or maple syrup are good replacements for corn syrup.