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: Sugar takes shine off a healthy meal

Watties Wok Creations Sweet Chilli & Lime - $3.75 for 210g, serves 2

Watties Wok Creations
Watties Wok Creations

The thing that puts me off preparing a stir fry is the chopping.

First you've got to chop up the meat, then there's all those vegetables.

There is no denying a stir fry is a very healthy choice for a family dinner, but it is no time-saver.

So commercially prepared stir-fry sauces have always intrigued me. Why not just throw some soy sauce on and be done with it?

This flavour is from a range with many different flavours and rather unusually is enough for just two, not four meals.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):

Sugar - It's not often I stand in the supermarket aisle and say "honestly!" but I did while I was reading the sugar content of this little pouch. Per serving, you will get 26.5g, or just over six teaspoons, of sugar.

That takes the shine off a healthy meal choice.


Red capsicums - These will be in here for flavour as well as colour.

Lime juice (5 per cent) [contains preservative (220)] - A squeeze of fresh lime juice does wonders for any meal, but in this case it has a preservative added which is sulphur dioxide. Our Food Standards Agency says that sulphites may cause asthma-like symptoms in those who have asthma or chronic allergic conditions. They encourage people to take care to read the label on products so you can avoid consuming them.

Usually sulphur dioxide is a concern in wine as it is commonly used as a preservative. It is in such a small amount here that it might not be an issue.

Salt - You'll get quite a bit of salt in this product. One serving has 1060mg of sodium. The recommended daily intake of sodium for an adult is between 920 and 2,300 a day.

Ginger paste - This will be ground up root ginger which provides flavour.

Garlic - In here for flavour as well

Lemongrass - More flavour.

Tapioca thickener (1442) - This is hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate which is a treated starch, in this case from tapioca.

Chillies (0.6 per cent) - These will be providing flavour.

Flavour - This will be artificial as no natural flavour is mentioned. I'm not sure why extra flavour is needed with so many other natural flavours such as chilli, garlic, ginger and lemongrass.

Food acid (260) - This is acetic acid which is basically vinegar.

Stabiliser (415 from soy) - This is xanthan gum which is a fermented sugar.


My recommendations

So you want a bit of chilli and lime in your stir fry? Here's an idea, chop up a chilli and squeeze over a lime. It's quite simple really.

But you might want more of a sauce and that's where you're going to run into sugar. Even if you substituted this sauce for a dash of sweet chilli sauce - which we all keep in our fridge - you'll get 14.9g of sugar per 30ml which is 3.5 teaspoons, which is a bit better than the six teaspoons you get in this sauce.

If you're going to be chopping and dicing anyway, why not add some garlic, ginger and lemongrass while you're at it. Then splash over some soy sauce, a little sweet chilli sauce and a squeeze of lime and your dinner stir fry will have less sugar and fewer additives.

Or read the ingredients on the other flavours of these pouches as some have less sugar than this one.


• Just over six teaspoons of sugar per serve.
• Contains sulphur dioxide which may cause asthma-like symptoms.
• Uses artificial flavours.

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

Read Wendyl's columns on other food products.

- NZ Herald

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