Sweet Potato Cheese Straws and Obnoxious Food Labels

I hate labels.

All labels.

Prada, Chanel, Astin Martin, “healthy”, “skinny”, “toned”, “phat” (yes phat, not fat, I actually like “fat”!). Bottom line they all suck.

But what really grinds my gears are food labels. Marketers will do anything and everything for you to buy a particular product. Here are my favorite examples of the the labels that make me want to boycott food (but I won’t because that’s kind of eating disordered).

“All Natural”

After a lifetime of eating, no food label means less to me than “all natural.” A bottle of SmartWater claims to be 100% NATURAL* CALORIE-FREE.

Hmm…why would I assume that water comes from somewhere else and that its highly caloric? SmartWater, are you implying that your competitors get their product from gremlin toilets? Because that’s fucking crazy, SmartWater!

On that same bottle of what I assume was non-gremlin toilet water, I searched for the asterisk referred to by “100% NATURAL*” and it led to the explanation, “*100% Natural Ingredients.” Oh well, that clears it up! Dude, its WATER!

“Fat Free”

Nothing pisses me off more than the “fat free” label. And its usually on boxes of lemon heads and rice cakes. I don’t know what food marketers are trying to get at! Do they think I’m looking at a lemon head thinking, “Oh man, all the love handles!” that they have to reassure me that its “fat free”.  

And nothing’s worse than vegetables that are proud of themselves for not having fat. Way to go, fat free refried beans or fat free carrots!


Alright, so your turn? Any labels out there piss you off?

I have no label for today’s recipe. I entered it in a recipe contest so just cross your fingers it will win!

3/4 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 large)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or any other cheese you like)
2 tbs softened butter
3/4 cup AP flour (or potato flour for a gluten free version)
1/2  salt
2 tablespoon half-and-half or whole milk
Preheat oven to 350°F.Combine the cheese, butter, sweet potato flour, and salt in a stand mixer. Mix on a medium speed until the mixture forms a sandy consistency. Add the half-and-half and knead into a ball. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. Cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide. Gently transfer the strips to a parchment paper lined cookie with a 1/4-inch between them.
Bake the straws for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.


43 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Cheese Straws and Obnoxious Food Labels

      • dittoing (is that a word? it is now!) what suki wrote about beans.
        i’m also going to add that labeling vegetarian on cereal and fruit cups in somewhat helpful because sometimes they contain gelatin like frosted shredded mini-wheats and the dole fruit cup gels. also, twinkies and some random brands of mini fruit filled pies, things one would think are vegetarian, aren’t (they contain beef lard)

  1. It kinda amuses me that bags of nuts say “contains nuts” under allergy advice. That’s bonkers!

    To defend the vegetarian label though, a lot of the time, things you’d *think* are vegetarian might not be. There could be some kind of beef derivative snuck in for flavour; a non-vegetarian cheese could’ve been used; there could be gelatin for thickening… All the vegetarians I know are pretty proficient ingredients readers, but it does make it a lot easier if there’s a vegetarian approved label in the corner somewhere. Not just for us, but for our poor omni friends who have to shop for us when we come over for dinner 😉

    The water thing though? No excuse. They need to feck off!

  2. I’m with you on the “all natural” thing. I’m pretty good when it comes to label reading, but I’ve been bitten by that one in the past. The “made with organic ingredients” ticks me off too.

    I hope your recipe wins, because the straws look flaky & delicious, and I need to make & eat those like now.

  3. People over label EVERYTHING. I feel the same way just when people ask me how I eat. Am I a vegetarian? Vegan? Do I eat only organic foods? Gluten? I just eat food!

  4. eden, you’re so funny. I’m not sure whether this is a health/food blog, or is it a health/food/comedy one. Keep the funny spirit, anyway. You entertain me very well :))

  5. ha! This made me laugh. The fat free label always makes me laugh. I love the “whole grain” label on junk food too. Nice. Oh and the “Low sugar” label on boxes of like fruit loops. Really?? Ugh..so annoying!

  6. I love sweet potatoes.

    I love cheese straws.

    I’m pretty sure I’d love them together.

    And I hope you are not my competition in the NC Sweet Potato contest…but if you are, at least you are a fun competitor. [PS My second recipe entry was inspired by YOU…so check that post out later today.]

  7. I hate the whole grain or good source of fiber one! Especially in cereals and crackers and that sort of foods. Because if you compare the original version and the “improved” one, you realize that there is no real difference! But I do wish someone would label the vegetarian cheeses more prominently. And maybe beer? I still don’t ask at the bars if the beers are vegetarian or not and every time I did ask the waiters stared at me blankly. So, I kind of remain blissfully ignorant of that label and drink my stouts happily..

  8. Gah! Labels like that are so annoying! :/ My favorite hate label is “light” – promises everything, holds nothing. Eek.

  9. They wouldn’t use those dumb labels if consumers didn’t buy into them. Unfortunately most of the public IS duped by hearing the words “fat free” or “no added sugar”. My favorite is “no cholesterol”….on a bag of pretzels!

  10. oh forget labels, I’m drooling over those cheese straws!! Can I dip them in ketchup? I have a weird obsession with those two combos.
    okay but for real, labels- I hate it when they say light too, that should include flavorless and chemical ridden!

  11. All natural makes me laugh. Arsenic is perfectly natural.

    To to reply to the pork rind/gluten free comment– a lot of pork products use rusk, which is wheat-derived. It’s why a lot of sausages aren’t gluten free. Gawd I love me some pork rinds!

  12. I find the “smart check” or “american heart association approved” labels annoying…it’s a marketing technique to get people to buy sugar free jell-o pudding that tastes like crap. Just because something meets the standard for being low calorie or whatever, that doesn’t mean that it’s good for you or that it tastes good. I think that if people want to eat something full of artificial ingredients, trans fats, and food dyes then they should go ahead and do it, but hopefully they recognize it for what it is and they damn well enjoy it.

  13. Oh I feel your pain. I love seeing the “0 grams of trans fat!” splayed across bags of Cheetos, Doritos, or any other bag of chips. I want to see them write “This product has no nutritional value, is made of old styrofoam and covered in dehydrated cheese, but you’ll eat the whole bag anyways. Enjoy!”

  14. I have more of a problem with people who read labels inappropriately than with the labels themselves. True, some labels are silly or ridic, but others do serve a legitimate function in informing consumers. Here’s a perfect example of one that is often legit but just as often abused: vegan. Some people, usually non-vegans, tend to put on the health-halo googles and fancy that something that is vegan must therefore , by that sole virtue alone, also be healthy. Vegan things will often be healthy, but it’s more of a correlation thing than a causation thing. Plus, just because something is healthy does not mean it’s not a calorie bomb. On the other hand, I’m not saying that something is bad because it’s a calorically dense. That density could be a godsend for some individuals, all the more so if its both calorically dense and healthy and weight gain is a goal. Just like everything else, there’s no good or bad in absolute terms, just what is the better choice for a particular individual.

  15. OMG, I havn’t laughed so hard in a long time! You’re almost as crazy as I am… in a cute loveable way of course. 😉
    I am a big time label hater too. Especially the “non-fat” one. Want to have a fun-filled Friday night? Hang out next to the checkout registers at any market and watch the boxes and pre-packaged crap people buy full of “healthy” touting lables like ‘Fat-Free, Sugar Free, Made with ‘Real’ Fruit, Farm Fresh (my personal pet peeve) and Whole Grain. These are the people with diet soda, Lean Cuisines and ‘Baked’ Potatoe chips in their cart. No Produce. Just crap.

    Oh, the Smart Water and Vitamin Water thing irks me too, big time.

  16. Regarding the ‘non-fat’ refried beans…..you’d be surprised – lard or at least an oil is traditionally used when preparing them, they are NOT just mashed up beans. I looked at the canned refried bean in the ethnic aisle of my local supermarket – there were several different manufacturers – three of them did indeed include lard as an ingredient – only the variations labeled vegetarian (used oil) and fat-free didn’t. I don’t think that you chose the correct food to pick on – ‘non-fat’ on the label of refried beans is actually worth putting there.

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