Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An Unjunk Your Junk Food Review & Giveaway!

You may remember when I posted about winning a copy of Unjunk Your Junk Food and wrote a short book report on it.   If not, you can read it here.  Now, I've had a chance to really work with the book and was sent a free copy to review by  I have to say, since first getting this book in January, I have learned a lot.

Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks is a book by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer with Lisa Tsakos.  You can read about the book, find links to where you can buy it, learn about the authors and more at

Since doing my elimination diet to check for food intolerances and reactions, I have become much more aware of ingredient labels on my food.  That is only one step because it is still hard to know what to look for or avoid.  With current trends in the food industry, it is also hard to know what brands or products to trust.  Just because a product says it is natural or healthy, doesn't mean it actually is. This handy dandy little book will help with that.

Some great features of this book:
  • The book is small. It is about 6"x6" and less than an inch thick.  It should fit in your bag or be easily stored for access to refer to it when you need to or when you are grocery shopping.  
  • It has a list of the worst ingredients and ingredients to be aware of on a page you can cut out of the book to keep with you or you can go to their site and register to get a copy of the list you can print.  
  • There is good easy to follow information about ingredients, food choices and more.  It makes it really comfortable to read.  The layout keeps your eyes moving around and you don't have to love reading to enjoy the book.  
  • It is chock full of side by side comparisons of different types of junk foods with a bad choice on the left page and a good naturally savvy approved food on the right page.  If you find a food you tend to buy on the bad side, don't worry, just look to the right of it for a great suggested food that is a healthier choice. 
  • I loaned my copy to a friend and she said her boyfriend loves the book and keeps asking where he can find the alternatives to his favorite junk foods! She said this book helped her finally get through to him about all the processed food he eats. I don't know about you but my boyfriend doesn't like being told his favorite foods are bad for him.  This book is a good one for them to look over on their own and make their own decision. 
  • The book covers a variety of junk food groups.  You can find sections on Chips, Dips, & Party Food, Ice Cream & Other Treats, Cookies, Chocolate, Cakes & Other Desserts, Granola Bars & Other On-The-Go Snacks, Candy, Soda & Other Drinks
  • There is a glossary so if you aren't sure what something is, go look in the back of the book for an explanation. 
  • They also include a full listing of brands they have pre-approved for you.  You don't have to do all the work on your own.  It is great to find trusted brands and stick with them.  This has really helped me a lot. 
Their worst ingredients list is broken up into groups that they call, "The Scary Seven." Here is that scary list:
  • HFCS: High-Fructose Corn Syrup (AKA glucose-fructose in Canada)
  • TRANS-FATS: Anything listed as 'partially hydrogenated' or 'hydrogenated' (includes vegetable shortening)
  • MSG: Monosodium Glutamate
  • ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS: Any artificial flavoring
  • ARTIFICIAL COLORS: Any type of artificial dyes
  • ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: Chemical sweeteners including Aspartame, Splenda (sucralose), Ace-K (Acesulfame Potassium), Saccharine, etc
  • PRESERVATIVES: Polysorbate 60, 65 & 80, TBHQ, Sodium Benzoate, BHA, BHT, Sulfur Dioxide (sulfites) 
Looking at this list might be overwhelming at first but the alternatives they give you help you clear out some of this junk from your junk food.  The first one on the list has been a big one for me as I learned during my elimination diet that I am intolerant of corn and corn syrup particularly bothers me.

Foods I kicked to the curb:
  • Regular Potato Chips of most varieties
  • OREOs (this was a dairy free guilty pleasure since it was safe for my lactose intolerance but not so safe overall) 
  • Pre-made refrigerated dough products from Tollhouse & Pillsbury
  •  Packaged Doughnuts
  • Cake & Brownie Mixes from Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker & Pillsbury  (Some of these were a quick easy to grab way to bake dairy free cake but they are way too processed)
  • Canned Frosting from those same brands 
  • Mainstream brand chewing gums
  • Name Brand Soda
  • Most BBQ Sauces
Some great new foods I discovered from reading this book or by picking them up while using the ingredients list and finding the brand listed in the book so I knew I picked something good:
  • Yummy Earth Lollipops (I now keep these in my desk at work) 
  • Glee Gum (the ONLY gum I will chew) 
  • Back to Nature Cookies & Crackers
  • Kettle Brand Potato Chips 
  • Simply Organic Herbs, Seasonings and Mixes (I especially like their Basil Pesto mix) 
  • Kinnikinnik Doughnuts & breads
  • Dr. Oetket cake & brownie mixes
  • Late July Crackers & Cookies
  • Dinosaur BBQ Sauces

Biggest shocker from all this for me, especially since it is something I really need to look out for...CORN SYRUP! Holy cow, this stuff was all over my kitchen. I have cleared out majority of it.

We already avoid artificial sweeteners so paying more attention to artificial flavors and colors is the next step.

The hardest one to spot, in my opinion, when checking labels on your own is preservatives. This is a list I need to keep on hand to help me review ingredient lists.
    Now that I have read this book, I rarely shop in the middle of the grocery store.  I'm not sure if you had heard the tip that the most healthy natural foods are along the border of the grocery store but it seems to hold true.  I tend to stick with the border and luckily my local grocery store, Hannaford, has a great organic & natural section.  I so also shop their international section which is conveniently right next to Organic & Natural. 

    On with the giveaway!  Since I already have my own personal copy of this book, I want to share the brand new copy I was sent for for review.  You can enter below in the Rafflecopter giveaway area.  Please view all giveaway rules in Rafflecopter below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    1. The book seems packed with lots of useful information. We all should read it so we can learn exactly what we put in our bodies.

      I heard about MSG, Corn Syrup and Aspartane from the "Hungry for Change" film, which talked about these same exact things. Scary stuff. Who knew that Diet Cola was worse than Regular Cola. No Cola is best, of course.

      Nice recommendation. And nice idea for the giveaway.

    2. Would love to win because I seem to have a deep love of junk food that is turning into a "cycle of abuse" situation and need the motivation of such a well written book! Lol!

    3. Seems like an awesome book! I would love to own it!

    4. Boy, it would be nice to have all that wonderful information in one place!

    5. I read another book you recommended: No More Dirty Looks. I really enjoyed reading it and continue to use it as a reference. This book looks to be right up my alley, too. I just recently stopped consuming dairy - what an adjustment! On a slightly different note, I'd really love a blog entry about eating out at restaurants with food allergies! Keep up the great work; I always enjoy it!

      1. Thanks for your comment Lisa. I would post about going out to eat with food allergies but if you are allergic to more than gluten, it is almost impossible. Restaurants rarely make a full ingredient list available, chains vary from location to location and it is hard to get answers. You can often find out if foods in restaurants contain gluten, dairy, eggs, fish, etc but an example of my reaction to corn & tomatoes is impossible. I almost always go out to eat and plan to not feel well afterwards.

      2. Aw, you poor thing! I'm glas I lioke my own cooking, but I'd like a break now and then. :) I'm calling my food "3-free:" free of gluten, dairy and almond.

      3. I mostly cook my own food but once in a while you need a break or are out of town. I tend to test foods and see how I do. I have to watch dairy for lactose, then I react to eggs, corn & tomatoes too. Corn is the absolute hardest one since no one really labels it as an allergen and it is used in tons of foods. Luckily I can usually handle a small dose here and there.

    6. I want healthier foods for my family.

    7. This would be a great resource for me both as a dieter and as the mom of a vegan!

    8. Loved reading your review, Heather!


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