Wendyl Wants To Know

Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl wants to know: Healthy noodles in a soup of chemicals

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Vietnamese Rice Noodles Beef Flavour. $0.97 per 55g.  Photo / Supplied
Vietnamese Rice Noodles Beef Flavour. $0.97 per 55g. Photo / Supplied

Vietnamese Rice Noodles Beef Flavour, $0.97 per 55g

Instant noodles are a great standby for busy people. Easy and quick to prepare, they make a great lunch or snack. These rice noodles caught my eye because they offer an alternative to wheat-based noodles. This is great for people who avoid wheat because they are gluten-free, but what else are they buying?


Ingredients

Noodles (81.8 per cent): rice flour, water - Rice flour is a great substitute for wheat in noodles if you are avoiding gluten. Rice noodles are often used in Asian cuisines and are also known as glass noodles because they are almost translucent when cooked. Rice flour is basically husked rice ground into a flour.

Powder soup sachet

Salt - This product is high in salt, giving you 1160mg of sodium per serve. That is close to the daily recommended intake of 920mg to 1600mg per person so you wouldn't want to be consuming any more salt that day.

Sugar - You will get 2g of sugar per serve, about half a teaspoon, not too bad.

Flavour enhancer (621,631,627) - The first flavour enhancer is MSG or monosodium glutamate, which is a salt of glutamic acid. Some people have reactions to this and the NZ Food Standards Authority accepts that some people experience symptoms such as burning sensations, numbness, chest pain, headache, nausea and asthma. But, it says it is okay to have in our food, as long as it is labelled. The other flavour enhancers are disodium inosinate (631) and disodium guanylate, which work in synergy with MSG and are often together in foods.

Artificial beef flavour

It is impossible to find out what goes into a flavour mix to make it taste like beef. This tells us there is no real beef in here and the flavour is likely to be made up of chemicals designed to make your tongue think it is tasting something meaty.

Pepper powder - This is finely ground pepper.

Seasoning oil sachet: Palm oil - As with many Asian-style noodle products the oil in here is palm oil. Some palm oil is now produced from renewable sources but three-quarters of all palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia where rainforests, housing the Bornean and Sumatran orang-utans and other flora and fauna, are being destroyed. Some people like to avoid eating it.


My recommendations

The only thing I can really recommend in this packet is the rice noodles because, by the time you've mixed these up with the powder sachet, you are basically soaking the noodles in a chemical soup of artificial flavours. Many healthy eaters avoid MSG and most people like to think something calling itself "beef" would have beef in it instead of chemicals designed to make you think you are eating beef. These would be a wonderful alternative to wheat-based instant noodles for people who are trying to avoid gluten but I would take them out of the packet, soak in boiling water for three minutes as per the instructions, and then cover them in your own sauce made from natural ingredients.

And if you have cooked beef or chicken throw that in with finely sliced spring onion, cabbage and grated carrot.


Make your own

This is my favourite sauce recipe, which you can use for wheat noodles as well:

• 1/2 cup low salt soy sauce (Kikkoman is naturally brewed and additive free.)
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed.
• 2tsp chilli sauce (find one without artificial additives - Select does a good one) or chilli finely chopped.
• 1/2 tsp sesame oil.
• Mix all the ingredients together and keep in the fridge. Pour 2tbsp of sauce per noodle cake.


Highlights

• Rice noodles make a great alternative to wheat-based noodles.
• Contains MSG and artificial beef flavour.
• Uses palm oil.


Do you have a food product you would like to feature?
Email wendylwantstoknow@gmail.com with suggestions. Unfortunately, Wendyl cannot correspond with readers.

- NZ Herald

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