He-he-heeeee! No? Nothing? You know, that company with the little doughy mascot who giggles whenever mom tickles his belly? Pillsbury cookies may or may not be a very real guilty pleasure, but they do contain questionable chemicals that are more dangerous than delicious.
In 1869, Charles Pillsbury wished to transform an old flour mill into a thriving company. Three years later, on the banks of the Mississippi River, Charles Alfred Pillsbury and his uncle, John S. Pillsbury founded C.A. Pillsbury and Company. Now named The Pillsbury Company, a subsidiary of General Mills, you still find this family staple in households all over the world.
This year, General Mills celebrated its 150th anniversary and, in addition to this milestone, their fiscal 2016 global sales were $16.6 billion. Although this number was lower than last year’s, General Mills attributes this six percent decline in sales to selling Green Giant (the North American vegetable company).
However, The Pillsbury Company remains in the Top 7 of General Mills’ largest brands, which also includes Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Old El Paso, and Häagen-Dazs.
Some of Pillsbury’s top products include Big and Buttery Crescent Rolls, Ready to Bake Cookies (especially on holidays), Ritz Deep Dish Pie Crusts, and more!
Pillsbury Cookie Ingredients
Many Pillsbury recipes use more or fewer ingredients than those in this list.
- Palm Oil
- Canola Oil
- 2% or Less of Eggs
- Baking Powder (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Baking Soda)
- Artificial Flavour
- Enriched Flour (Bleached)
- Artificial Colour (e.g., Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1, Red 40)
- Sodium Benzoate (Preservative)
Two Main Ingredients to Avoid
1. Enriched Wheat Flour (Bleached)
Reading that ingredient may leave you a bit confused.
On one hand, wheat flour is more beneficial than white flour. It is rich in vitamins, high in fibre, a natural relaxant, has a low glycemic index, and contains unsaturated fat. On the other hand, it is bleached and enriched so while wheat flour sounds healthy enough, it actually seems to counteract many health benefits.
Flour refinement is generally understood to kill nutrients and this lists only some of what we can lose:
- Half of the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids
- Almost all Vitamin E
- Fifty percent of calcium
- Seventy percent of phosphorus
- Eighty percent of iron
- Ninety-eight percent of magnesium
- Fifty to eighty percent of B-vitamins
Pale yellow, unbleached flour goes through an aging process for three months, which helps protein and gluten development. These properties are ideal for baking as well as natural bleaching, however, the flour in this Pillsbury recipe isn’t so natural.
The Chemical Process
When manufacturers bleach flour, uric acid (which is an almost insoluble compound) begins to decompose. It is during this decomposition process that a poisonous byproduct called alloxan is created.
Researchers use this poison to induce diabetes in healthy experimental rodents species in order to explore possible human treatments. Other research has hypothesized that methionine sulfoximine, which is another byproduct of bleached flour, is connected to neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.[8,9]
Enriched flour seems just as bad and it’s ironic that the ingredients we refer to as “enriched” strip the flour of most of its bran and germ (i.e., the natural vitamins and minerals. This process done for both texture and shelf life purposes, but at what cost?
Our bodies absorb enriched flour more quickly than unenriched flour. No thanks to this speedy process, our blood sugar rises and any excess sugar that the liver cannot metabolize gets stored as fat.
2. Artificial Coloring
While researchers have conducted studies with human subjects, most studies use males and females from rodent species. So, varying results found in rodents do not necessarily affect humans.
Thousands of foods contain petroleum-derived dyes. Companies market products like cereals, candies, beverages, and even vitamins to children. They very dye they use to color the food are the same ones that help make the foods so attractive.
For almost fifty years, concerns for the impact of artificial coloring on children have grown. Since then, organizations like the FDA have acknowledged the “rainbow risks” that are present in certain artificial dyes and do affect people – especially children.
Researchers have conducted many studies which reveal that artificial dyes can cause or promote dietary/allergy issues and symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.[12,13]
Other studies have used mice and rats to test the effects of dyes that are included in the recipe above:
- Yellow 5 and 6 both caused allergic reactions and contained a carcinogenic contaminant (i.e., Benzidine, 4-amino-biphenyl.
- Blue 1 caused allergic reactions but contained no carcinogenic contaminants.
- Red 40 caused allergic reactions and a carcinogenic contaminant (i.e., p-Cresidine).
Artificial dyes do not affect us exactly like they do rodents, but some dyes have been banned due their negative effects on them. Whether you want to continue putting these ingredients in your body is ultimately up to you, so in the meantime, here are convenient recipes to encourage your shift away from chemicals.
Quick and Convenient Recipes (Cookies and Pie Crusts)
These recipes are made with unbleached flour and without artificial dyes.
- Wife Mama Foodie’s Coconut Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
- My Heavenly Recipe’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Minimalist Baker’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Fluffy Sugar Cookies
- Minimalist Baker’s Coconut Oil Pie Crust
- King Arthur Flour’s All-Butter Pie Crust Recipe
We hope you enjoy these recipes!
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