“Natural Flavorings” You Should Avoid Unless You Want To Eat Beaver Butt

“Natural Flavorings” You Should Avoid Unless You Want To Eat Beaver Butt

Did you know natural colors and flavorings found in everyday foods are derived from nature (from some…interesting sources, which we’ll get into) but are so over processed they’re actually only slightly different than their artificial counterparts?


Just the other day, I purchased a drink. Of course, I read the label, which listed “natural flavors” as one of the ingredients.


The drink was mango flavored, and it tasted…..very mangoey. There HAD to have been a “natural” over-processed ingredient that enhanced the mango flavor.


I’d always heard that “natural flavors” weren’t too natural, and were derived from some pretty weird sources.


In this article, I’m going to tell you about 7 “natural ingredients” you want to avoid – some of them are even carcinogens (might cause cancer).


By now, you probably think I’m over exaggerating – but just keep reading about what these “natural ingredients” are AND how they’re sourced.


You’ll start reading labels MUCH closer and start making different choices, I promise.


If you find this article useful, I suggest you print it out and carry it with you the next time you buy groceries to make sure you don’t accidentally ingest any of them. I know I’ll be looking harder from now on!


  1. L-Cysteine Made From Human Hair Or Duck Feathers

When we ate out a couple weeks ago, there was a hair in my daughter’s quesadilla. Gross, right? Well, apparently, it’s in a lot of breads too.


L-Cysteine is an amino acid used to extend the shelf-life of bread products and soften them (yet another strong reason to bake your own bread – get my recipe here).


While it IS derived from a natural source, that natural source happens to be human hair harvested in China from hair salons.


About 80 percent of the L-Cysteine created is from human hair, and the 20 percent is from duck feathers.


Mass-produced products AND lots of fast food joints use bread products with L-Cysteine in them – so skip the McDonald’s and go for the homemade version instead.


  1. Carmine Made From Boiled Beetles

We all know bugs have a lot of protein in them, and are even a delicacy in some cultures, but I still don’t want a mouthful of them.


A “natural coloring” called carmine is derived from boiled beetles as well as their eggs. Tasty, right?


Apparently, the little buggers can create purple, pink, orange, and red food coloring. Popular candies, certain ice creams, grapefruit juice, and more potentially contain carmine.


So, the next time you pick up a bottle of juice and see “natural colors added,” you now know you’re likely in for a big swig of over-processed boiled beetles.


  1. Castoreum Made From Beaver Anal Glands

Yes, you read that right. Strawberry, raspberry, and vanilla flavors are derived from beaver anal glands, which I guess taste like strawberry.  


This “natural ingredient” is very common in raspberry-flavored foods. So, the next time you pick up raspberry yogurt that has “natural flavoring” on the label – you’ll know to put it down, and back away slowly.


Want to make your own yogurt then add fresh, whole (aka unprocessed) raspberries? Here’s how.


Castoreum is also found in gelatin, pudding, candies, and gum (and gum also might contain lanolin – yes, the same lanolin sourced from sheep and you put on your baby’s bum – double yum).


  1. Carrageenan Derived From Seaweed

Carrageenan is found in different dairy products (milk, cottage cheese, cream, etc) and is used to bind ingredients together or to thicken them.


While seaweed by itself isn’t gross (I love nori), carrageenan is linked to bowel inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, and thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries.


Even all-natural, organic products can contain carrageenan – so read the labels of your organic milk, and if you see “natural ingredients” without a list of what those ingredients actually ARE, you might want to think twice about giving it to your kids (nobody needs irritated bowels).


  1. Yellow #5 Derived From Coal Tar

You probably know by now that the color additive Yellow #5 is something you don’t want in your system. But do you know how Yellow 5 is actually produced?


Turns out, Yellow #5 is derived from coal tar, which is little more than industrial waste.


Aside from it’s disgusting origins, this decidedly NOT natural food additive is linked to hyperactivity in children in some studies. To make it even more appealing, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has said that products containing 5 percent crude coal are considered a group 1 carcinogens (aka, ingest at your own risk).


  1. Shellac Made From Insect Poop

Here’s another “natural food additive” that will get your stomach churning. Shellac is used as a colorant and food glaze….and it’s what makes candy so shiny (you’re putting down the jelly beans, aren’t you?).


You know how those oranges look so nice and shiny in the grocery store? You guessed it – they’re covered in shellac.


Shellac is created from an insect found in Thailand. The excretions (aka poop) of the Kerria Iacca insect are used to make a resin, which is then dunked in ethanol (yum yum) to dissolve it.


Then at some point, it’s apparently brushed on the candy and citrus you plan to eat for lunch. When you buy candy, look for “confectioner’s glaze” on the ingredients list – it’s a sure sign the sweets have been dunked in shellac.


  1. Cellulose Derived From Wood

When you look at the label of the shredded cheese you just bought, you might notice “cellulose.” It’s not from green plants….it’s from sawdust.


In mass-produced shredded cheese, cellulose is used to keep the cheese from clumping. You can also find it in breakfast syrups, ice cream, chicken nugget products, and waffles. Here’s a list of companies and products that use cellulose in their products.


Interestingly enough, cellulose can’t be digested by humans, so it’s literally just taking up space and not providing any nutritional benefit.

Easy White Bread Recipe: Secrets To Great Bread Anyone Can Learn

Easy White Bread Recipe: Secrets To Great Bread Anyone Can Learn

Baking great bread isn’t a talent I was born with, but I’ve learned by trying easy recipe after recipe.


But, as I took homesteading more seriously, and because I wanted to avoid all the preservatives and “what the heck is that?!” ingredients in store bought bread, it was time to get off the pot, and learn a to make homemade bread.


So I started learning, but was intimidated by all those recipes that show a gorgeous loaf, perfectly prepared.


It’s insane! I never felt like I could be that good.


So, I started developing a recipe so I could make healthy bread, in my own kitchen, without having to worry about chemicals and the like.


It wasn’t that hard, really!


While my bread is still hardly Pinterest-worthy, it’s a good example of the kind of bread you can bake, easily, in your own home.


And the best part?


It doesn’t take much time or kitchen-savvy.


Just a half hour or so, and a desire to learn.


There’s some secrets I’ve learned to baking good bread consistently, which I’ll share with you in this easy bread recipe. 


I developed this recipe for people like me in mind, who don’t have much time, but want to avoid buying bread at the store.


You can make my easy bread recipe for pennies on the dollar, and you’ll have a healthier, preservative-free product in the end.


I also want fast results, and a recipe I can turn to time and again.


This is that recipe.


My easy bread recipe yields one loaf of versatile bread that you can eat simply, with butter, or as part of a larger meal.

easy bread dough recipe

I like to eat it under homemade chili to make the meal heartier.


With my bread recipe, you’ll know your family is getting nourishing, healthy bread.


But first…


I’ll let you in on my bread secrets


So far, I only have a few bread secrets, but they’re big ones, and are important to this recipe.


For me, they’ve meant the difference between hard lumps of something that resembles bread, and a light loaf of crumb.


So, what are these secrets?


Secret 1: Always, always, always use bread flour


The all purpose stuff will work, but a good bread flour is essential.


You can find it in the same grocery store aisle.



Secret 2: Use warm water, 110 – 120 degrees to let your yeast activate. No warmer, no colder.


Warmer water might kill the yeast, and cooler water might prevent them from activating. Both mistakes can kill your bread making attempts.


The yeasts are freeze-dried, remember, but they’re living organisms, and they need to be activated to do their job in your bread recipe.


I’ve made the mistake of using 100 degree water, and the bread in this recipe came out very dense, and not at all light. 


So, the temp does make a difference.


I do use a thermometer, which you can easily find at any store selling baking materials (suggestions at the end of this article).


You can either microwave the water for 1:30 minutes, making sure to test the temperature after to make sure it’s right for the recipe.


You can also heat water on the stove until it’s risen to the right temperature.


Give our yeasty friends a warm bath, and they’ll help you out in this bread recipe.


Secret 3: Let the yeast activate until you see a lot of foam.


Following secret 2 is this secret.


Yeast are living creatures, and their job is to produce a gas that will make your bread light and fluffy. 


The longer they’re allowed to activate and do their thing (within reason), the better your bread will be, and it’s more likely you will have success with this recipe.


I let mine activate for 1/2 hour to 1 hour before dumping them into the other recipe ingredients. 


Seriously, this step will change your bread making.     But don’t skip the next step either….


Secret 4: Allow the dough to sit overnight before baking

Ok, I know this step kind of sucks because you need to wait.


But giving those yeast an extra few hours to do their thing yields incredible results.


If you want to bake right away, your bread will still be good.


But wait a few hours, putting your dough in a warm place…


Makes GREAT bread.


You’ll thank me.


Alright, now that we have that out of the way….


2 cups water (110 – 120 degrees)

1 cup white sugar

1 tbsp plus

1 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing

6 cups bread flour

1 tbsp butter, for brushing


In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.


In a separate bowl, combine the water and yeast, and stir to incorporate the yeast into the water.


Allow to sit for 30 – 60 minutes, or until you see a lot of foam.


This lets you know the yeast is doing its thing.


Right before adding the yeast, add the 1/4 cup of olive oil to the flour mixture.


Once the yeast is established, incorporate it with the flour mixture.


With your hands, start mixing the dough together, incorporating the yeast water and the oil to create the bread dough.


wet dough bread recipe


This only takes a few minutes, and you’ll know it’s done when the dough is fully incorporated and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.


To mix everything together, I like to mash the dough through my fingers, folding a couple times.


Once you’ve made your bread dough, brush some olive oil onto each side to prevent it from sticking.


This also gives it a nice flavor.


Cover the bread dough, and let it sit for 1 hour.


After 1 hour, return, and fold the dough in half once.


Allow to sit over night to let the yeast develop.


If you make your dough at night, you can allow it to sit until the following night, when you get home from work.


You can also simply pop it into the oven in the morning if you’ll be home all day.


Once the dough has risen, and it should have risen a lot, pour the dough into a non-stick loaf pan.


Make sure to smooth down the top of the dough so you don’t get any lumps in the crust.


Make one vertical slice lengthwise on the top of the dough, it does not have to be deep.


Then make two horizontal slices width wise.


These slices are to allow the dough to rise evenly in the oven without creating any weird lumps in the crust.


Cover the top of your dough with aluminum foil. This will allow the bread to bake consistently in the pan.


Preheat your oven 400 degrees, and wait for the correct temperature before putting the dough into the oven.


Bake for 30 minutes.


After 30 minutes, the dough should have risen and look like bread.


Now, remove the aluminum foil and brush the top of the bread dough with butter.


Place under the broiler, uncovered, for 10 minutes to darken the crust.


If it does not darken evenly, don’t worry – that’s part of the fun of making homemade bread in this recipe!


After the crust has darkened, remove the bread and allow it to cool for 30 minutes to an hour before cutting. This allows you to make even cuts without destroying the soft interior of the bread.


There’s a lot of steps, but after you make this recipe a few times, it will go like clockwork.


I’ve found this bread recipe to be pretty fool-proof, and if I can make it, so can you!


I’d like to hear from you!

What’s your favorite part of baking bread? Do you have a favorite recipe? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!