Do you remember those onion soup packets that your mom used to throw into a slow cooker with meat and turn on low all day? Well, they are still around. There are a million Pinterest recipes that use them for “fast and easy” dinners and soups and stews and slow cooker meals. But even if they are fast and easy, are they healthy?
Do you know what’s in the most popular brand of onion soup mix? See for yourself:
Onions (deyhydrated), salt, cornstarch, onion powder, sugar, corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy protein, caramel color, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, natural flavors, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate.
As you can see, these are far from whole foods, and some ingredients are downright dangerous. Monosodium glutamate is the full name for MSG, which is a known excitotoxin. MSG is also a component of other ingredients in this list: hydrolyzed soy protein and yeast extract. (source)
As for the last two ingredients: disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate, these are similar to MSG in their chemical makeup and use. Disodium guanylate is almost always used in conjunction with MSG since it is slightly more expensive (source). And disodium inosinate is almost always used with the disodium guanylate. So just consider these two additives as part of a Holy Trinity of Neurotoxins with MSG and avoid them.
We also have “natural flavors” in the onion soup mix. Natural flavors are also problematic, since they are not specifically any one flavor and can mean any number of things. The definition of “natural flavor” under the Code of Federal Regulations is:
the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. (source)
While sometimes this can mean simply the oil from a natural substance, it can also mean the derivation of a specific chemical through the process of enzymolysis, or something even more processed through fermentation in a lab using non-organic yet “natural” ingredients. Definitely not fool-proof.
And if my cynicism is any indication of truth, I just don’t trust food companies to use the best quality ingredients they can find. I trust them to look at their bottom line and use the cheapest ingredients they can still feed us while maintaining a level of safety they are not liable or responsible for.
But back to the ingredient list in the onion soup mix: even if the MSG and natural flavoring don’t scare you, just remember that all the ingredients are not organic, and therefore contain pesticides and most likely genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. The cornstarch in particular is suspect for being a GMO, since a large percentage of non-organic corn crops are genetically modified.
And let’s not forget the partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Soybeans are another highly likely GMO ingredient, on top of which the hydrogenation process increases the likelihood of heart disease and just a general sense of “ew, gross, that’s not really ‘food'”. (source)
SO, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Fortunately, you can mix up a jar of onion soup mix from scratch in about one minute! I’m not even kidding. One “packet” of the commercial stuff is the same as 2 tablespoons of the homemade. Use it just as you would in any recipe that calls for a “packet”, but know that you aren’t giving yourself a chemically-laden meal!
- measuring cups and spoons
- pint glass jar and lid (you could probably fit this into a half pint jar, too)
Onion Soup Mix
2/3 cup dried minced onion
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon coconut sugar or whole cane sugar
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon celery salt (or 2/3 teaspoon sea salt plus 1/3 teaspoon celery seed powder)
(find all organic and non-irradiated spices here)
*2 tablespoons of this homemade mix equals one “packet” of the storebought version
- Put all the ingredients in a pint mason jar, shaking to combine.