Today, one of my most favoritest posts. This post crystalizes how parents and other caretakers must work together to offer their children a better diet.
Let me start off by saying that I cleared this post with DH before even starting it. My blog is not an opportunity to bash my hubs in any way, he is such a great guy and a great father. So before you get the impression that I am just pointing fingers or being judgemental, I did make sure he was cool with this before I put it out on the internet. In fact, one could say he did a good thing by sparking my interest in the right direction!
The other day I asked DH to pick up some tortillas on the way home (mmmm, that was a good taco night). He texted me 'did you buy ice cream this week' and I said no. I think my husband is made of about 50% ice cream. I wasn't shocked by his text, he loves ice cream. I figured he would bring home some Breyer's. When I got home he was talking to Thing 1 about the awesome treat he got at the store: watermelon italian ice!! Whoa, that is a super special treat for Thing 1. After dinner he usually gets fruit, because who wants a two year old bouncing off the wall on a sugar high at bedtime. I am way more down with ice cream or sugar at 3pm than 8pm.
So after a somewhat pleasant dinner, DH got out the individually packaged watermelon ice and gave it to Thing 1. Of course Thing 1 loved it. My hubby has many fond memories of eating italian ice in the summertime on Long Island and wants to have our children to share the same great memories.
Then he asked me to try it.
It was seriously gross. And I am not just channeling my mother here, whose hatred of watermelon bubble gum was legendary. It was pure sugar, I didn't even hardly taste the watermelon flavor. And it had this syrupy consistency like something you couldn't quite get off the roof of your mouth. Then it hit me, it was grainy at the end and finished with an overwhelming freezer burn flavor. These things had probably been sitting in the store's freezer unit for 6 months or more. I looked at the ingredients, water, sugar, corn syrup, cellulose gum, soy protein, red food coloring, etc. If there ever was an imitation food, here it was. There was nothing that was at all real about this food. I told DH that this was exactly the kind of garbage I was trying to keep out of our kitchen by writing this blog. He tasted it and agreed it was pretty bad, but then laughed and said he had done me favor because he created a situation for me to write about.
Now cellulose gum sounds like a normal food additive to me. There are gums everywhere, guar gum, locust bean gum, etc. Cellulose gum is slightly different in that it is in no way or shape a food item. I repeat: some gums, like guar gum, are made from food, cellulose gum is not made from food. From Wikipedia I found the following: "CMC [cellulose gum] is used in food science as a viscosity modifier or thickener, and to stabilize emulsions in various products including ice cream....It is used primarily because it has high viscosity, is non-toxic, and is non-allergenic." Wikipedia also mentions that cellulose gum is used in everything from KY jelly to toothpaste, laxatives and diet pills to water based paints. This stuff is not food. I couldn't find a lot of sites that said what it was made from, though Yahoo 'Answers' had some guy saying that it was made from wood pulp and cotton. I find that Yahoo 'Answers' does not always have the most reliable information though so I am not going to stand here and tell you that that is a fact. But I have a strong feeling that this stuff is not derived from a food source. Undoubtedly though, this cellulose gum was responsible for giving the ice that sticky feeling on the roof of my mouth. That, and the corn syrup I am sure. I told DH to come home with some real fresh watermelon the next night and we'd see if we couldn't make something better.
Watermelon Ice or Watermelon Sorbet
4 cups chunked, de-seeded watermelon (I didn't really measure, I just took a quarter of a watermelon and cut as much as would fit into the blender)
1/4 cup sugar (or more if you really want it sweet or none if you like it the way it is)
Place your de-seeded fruit in a blender. Puree a little bit to get it going and then add your sugar. Blend until mixed. Pour the mix into a ready frozen ice cream maker and follow your machine's directions. I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker that is worth every penny. A lot of websites are selling the same one now for $50 so go out and get it! It is a kitchen gadget that can't be substituted by anything else.
So we made the 'watermelon ice cream' and it was a huge hit. I asked Thing 1 which one he liked better, the ice he had the night before? Or the one I had just made, and he said "this one". Now he is not yet three, so I am sure he would always prefer the real one on his spoon to the one in his memory. But even still, I'll take it.
Notes: Carboxymethyl Cellulose. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2 June, 2010.