Do you like cornbread? Our family loves it! But what about those boxes and bags of cornbread mix? How “processed” are they? To better answer that question, I took a closer look at “America’s Favorite” cornbread mix, Jiffy:
At first glance, not only is this ingredient list pretty long, but it also contains plenty of stuff that’s not really very good for you. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Wheat flour: Since the label doesn’t indicate “whole wheat flour” you can pretty much assume it contains highly processed white flour that’s been stripped of most of its fiber and nutritional content.
- Trans fats: Whenever you see “partially hydrogenated” as a descriptor for any oil on a label, put the package down since there’s most likely some level of trans fats in that product. Although the FDA currently only requires food manufacturers to label trans fats on the nutrition facts panel if there is 0.5 grams or more per serving, research shows trans fats at any level are bad news. Although the FDA is finally making moves to completely phase out trans fats from our food supply, the timeline to complete this transition is unclear. Therefore, trans fats will likely be around for at least another year or so.
- Ingredients sourced from genetically modified crops (GMOs): If you’re looking to avoid GMO ingredients then don’t buy any of your standard cornbread mixes since the corn and sugar are most likely from GMO crops. Other GMO-derived ingredients may include the animal shortening (since most animals are fed GMO grains) and citric acid.
- Potentially dangerous preservatives: BHA and BHT are used to keep foods from going rancid, but both are potentially dangerous. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Of course, the FDA has failed to act on this and still permits BHA’s use in foods.
- Lots of phosphates: While the phosphates in our food are not dangerous per se, their rampant use in processed foods has resulted in consumers ingesting concerning amounts that ultimately may be taking its toll on our bodies.
- Lard certainly isn’t a “health” food in my book, but it probably doesn’t deserve the unduly bad rap it’s received over the past several decades. That said, the lard in this corn muffin mix is most likely sourced from animals raised on a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation). The very nature of this type of industrial animal farming typically includes use of antibiotics, growth hormones, GMO fed, unsustainable farming practices, and the inhumane treatment of animals.
So does this mean cornbread is off limits? No! It just means I try to avoid making it from a premixed box or bag. Yes, it takes a little more time, but I think it’s totally worth it!
Ironically, the origins of my homemade recipe come from a community cookbook that featured Flako cornbread mix. The recipe called for a box of Flako, oil, a can of creamed corn, some eggs, and sour cream. My entire family really liked this recipe because the pieces of corn from the creamed corn were a great, tasty addition to the cornbread. So when Flako cornbread was discontinued by Quaker Foods many years ago, I decided to substitute Jiffy cornbread mix. And then when I began working to eliminate processed foods from my diet several years ago, I came up with my own homemade version of cornbread.
The resulting recipe still keeps the extra, flavorful punch of whole kernel corn, replaces added processed sugars with just a little bit of honey, and also features real, whole grain ingredients like whole grain pastry flour and cornmeal to deliver more taste, texture, fiber, and flavor!
Sound delicious? Then get out your cast iron skillet, and whip up a batch of cornbread with me. I promise you—it will be a special treat your entire family will enjoy!
- 1¼ cups fine or medium yellow cornmeal
- 1¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup corn (fresh or frozen)
- ⅓ cup buttermilk (or milk)
- 2 tablespoons honey (see notes)
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place 10¼ inch cast iron skillet in it to get hot.
- Whisk dry ingredients together.
- In a small saucepan warm corn, honey, butter, and buttermilk over low heat.
- Beat eggs.
- Lightly mix the eggs and warmed corn mixture into the dry ingredients.
- Fold in the sour cream, being careful to not over mix.
- Remove piping hot skillet from oven carefully. Add oil and swirl in pan and return to oven for one minute until oil is sizzling hot.
- Pour cornbread batter into the skillet. Batter should sizzle when it hits the pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.
Raw, organic honey that has been melted is what we use for this recipe. You may also substitute organic maple syrup if you choose. And if you're still adjusting to a low sugar lifestyle, you can increase the honey/maple syrup from 2 to 3 tablespoons for a little bit sweeter cornbread.
We always make fresh baking powder at home. It's super easy and avoids the aluminum that's in many store-bought varieties. To make your own just mix two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda. Make just enough for the recipe or store any extra for up to four weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.
Kitchen Tips and Resources:
- A pre-seasoned, cast iron skillet is a must-have for any kitchen. For this cornbread recipe I use Lodge’s 10 1/4 inch skillet and it’s available at Target, Amazon, and many other retailers of household kitchen products.
- For this recipe we choose Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Organic Medium Grind Cornmeal to make a delicious, whole grain cornbread.