Friday, September 5, 2008

Red Robin Restaurant and a Little Known Sugar Fact

I love gardenburgers. My husband loves Red Robin. It's a treat for him to go, so I found something that I like there, too. In highschool and college I used to go with friends to eat their gigantic mud pie. It has peanut butter and chocolate and an oreo cookie crust. It has been years since I have eaten one of those, and it was years that I had eaten at a Red Robin at all until I met my meat-eating husband. Since, I have found a healthy, sugar-free menu item and I order it every time. I get the gardenburger in a lettuce wrap with tomato, instead of a bun. Who ever enjoys the bun? It is simply a handy delivery system, but is made with white flours and sugars. My husband and I agreed that if people got the "burger" wrapped in lettuce, or just plain, no one would miss the bun or ask for it afterward. It is simply a "refined" (pun intended) way to eat the burger.

Recently, we were eating at a Red Robin in Coeur D'Alene and we ordered our bunless burgers. They of course always come with big fat french fries. I don't care for their fries because they are too big, not greasy enough, and for some reason hard to swallow. If I do eat some, I usually choke a little. This particular afternoon I felt like eating a couple of fries, and so I grabbed the famous Red Robin shaker of spicy salt. I completely covered my fries with it and my husband sat across the table staring at me.

"I need more salt in my diet," I said.

"Have you checked the ingredients?" he said with major emphasis on the word ingredients.

"Why should I? It's salt!" I said, feeling my palms starting to sweat.

"But you check the ingredients of everything!" he said, looking at me surprised.

"Okay, I'll check. It just didn't cross my mind to check this. It's salt..." My palms were sweating and I was fearing the very worst. What if I was eating sugar? How could they add sugar to the spicy salt?

"Please, oh please, oh please..." I said to myself as I grabbed the salt shaker and began reading ingredients.

"Whaaaaat?! No way!!" My palms stopped sweating but I felt my insides sinking. "I can't believe this. Why would they do this?!"

There it was, in black, bold letters, "dextrose", another word for sugar. It is very similar to table sugar, and is absorbed into the bloodstream at the same dangerous speed as table sugar. It is an ingredient on my No-No list, because it is basically the same thing as sugar.

"Bummer...." was all I could say. It's not like I really wanted to eat those chokingly thick fries anyway. They were just sitting there and I was still a little hungry. "Well, now I know," I told myself.


Methuselah said...

I sympathise. Sugar gets put into all kinds of unlikely foods - the one that drives me nuts is roasted chicken that can be bought in supermarkets. I recently wrote a letter of complaint to a UK supermarket asking them to explain why their roast chicken product contained salt AND brown sugar. Their response? For an authentic taste. Go figure.

I have a post brewing on this subject - should be up this week...

Pay Now Live Later

Almost Vegetarian said...

Oh, they hide sugar (and a whole parade of chemicals and preservatives) in all sorts of food. That's the good news. The bad news is what doesn't even make it to the ingredient list, either because the company didn't include it (I know, I know, they are supposed to, but, really, who can police all those products) or because it is a hidden product (like using bone char to refine sugar - bone char never makes it to the list).

To deal with this, we are trying to buy foods without ingredient lists. Like, say, apples. Food manufacturers can't hide anything in there (although, I know, there are other issue such as genetic modification - it never ends, does it?). Still, it is a step in the right direction.


Gord H. said...

hi my year,

thank you for visiting It Strikes Me Funny.

I noticed Sugar Blues on your book list. It's on my shelf too, and was recommended to me in the '70s by my mother, then a librarian, who was suspicious of just about everything - and good for her.

Sugar and salt have such fascinating histories, but are like bad accidents to our health.

While on a motorcycle trip last year, camping along north shore of Lake Superior, I took only one small container of sweetener - a plastic film roll container of maple syrup. Lovely.

I'll come back to see how your own journey is going.


gord h.

ps bottled lemon juice contains sugar.

sour plus sweet = ?

My Year Without said...

Love the creativity of taking maple syrup with you on trips! I go on plenty of road trips and inevitably I get a strong hankering for something sweet. What I would have done for a film container of syrup!