French Dinner and Snack Food Comparison

You would never be able to guess that there is a great French restaurant right near the base.  Actually, it's not the only one, but it is the closest one.  Boy is it tasty!

This is night!
Ryan and I had been hearing about this place, but never managed to find it.  Turns out it was down a little side street.  Good thing we found it!

I started off with a salad.  The dressing was homemade sesame dressing.
Ryan started with the, onion soup.
Then came the garlic bread, which was probably the one thing about this place that I heard the most about it.  It definitely lived up to the legend.
I ordered the scallops, which came with rice.  That should be no surprise seeing as we are in Japan, and not France.
Ryan ordered a steak.  This was the first time he had an actual steak since arriving in Japan.  We thought the presentation was hilarious.  Check out that plate:
Just wanted to show everyone that there is more to Japan than just Japanese food, even in rural areas, which is where we live.

The next thing I wanted to discuss is a comparison between 2 items I found at the commissary.  I am always wandering around, looking for new products.  One day I spotted these Rice Works chips.  They weren't in the chip aisle, but instead placed with the rice cakes.  Looking at the packages, your first thought may be the same as mine- oh look, it's a healthy looking chip, boy does salsa fresca sound yummy.
Then I spotted the guilt-free indulgence label.  Sounds like it must be healthy, right?
Then I find the list of healthy looking "claims".
Sounds good so far, right?

Now, I must apologize, I tried, and tried, and tried to get these pictures to rotate, but no such luck.  So let me help you out.  The Rice Works chips have in a 1 ounce serving 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 200 mg sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrate (less than 1 from fiber), and 2 grams of protein.
Let's investigate the Doritos chips, something I think all of us can agree is a "sometimes" food or something we should limit in our diets.  In a 1 ounce serving, these have 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 210 mg sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrate (less than 1 gram of fiber), and 2 grams of protein.
Let's look at the labels.  First up is the Dorito package.
Probably what you expected.  Now let's see the Rice Works package.
Hey, they both have whole grains in the label (mind you not much by the way of fiber though), right?  Needless to say, it seems like if Rice Works is labeled as a guilt-free indulgence, Doritos pretty much could be labeled the same, but that would never happen.  What am I getting at?  Labels can be misleading.  I know that is not the best word to use, and recently this came up on a listserv where dietitian working in that area suggested using confusing, but really, in this case, I find it to be clearly misleading.  Everything about the rice works screams healthy, yet it really comes out almost identical to a food (or food category) that is so often made out to the the bad guy.  The calories are almost the same and so is the sodium.  One is not higher in fiber or protein.  The only major difference is the fat, and while this extra gram of saturate fat in the Doritos makes a difference, I don't find it to be that significant. As a result, I find this to be an issue with the liberties food companies can take with their labeling.  I am all for companies being able to sell their products, but when it comes to health and dressing up a product to make it look healthier than it is makes me wonder why food companies can take advantage of nutritionally uneducated consumers.

Ah, I feel better now that I shared this.  You can ask my husband about this one.  I was pretty worked up when I came home with the chips.  So, what does this rice works chip look like?

To bring this to a close, I will say that for someone needing a gluten free diet and looking for the occasional Dorito (or similar), this chip fits the bill.  They are definitely tasty, and I attribute this to the seasonings (and the sodium), but just like the Doritos, these will stay on my "sometimes" list.

QUESTIONS:  Have you seen/tried the Rice Works?  What are your thoughts on misleading labels?  Do you ever compare those foods that look healthy on the labels with similar products to see if they really are a better choice?


Gina; The Candid RD said...

I really want to check out the Nuval score comparisons! We have Nuval score son most of our profucts where I work, and I love showing customers the scores to show them that marketing claims REALLY add health halos to so many foods! I'm writing a note to myself to check it out tomorrow. The other day I found that the Hot Wing Lays potato chips (full of grease) had double the score of "natural doritos)!! HA!

sophia said...

Such is business/marketing. Labels highlight a very, very small part of a product. I rarely pay attention to labels anymore; if I buy a snack I usually just expect it not to be healthful.

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Yes, I do read labels and compare products, and the claims on a lot of products are quite misleading and clearly marketing strategies. What upsets me the most are "healthy foods" marketed towards kids with language that is supposed to convince mothers that the product is healthy...

I think it's important to remember that most processed foods are really "sometimes" foods... But food companies obviously don't want us to do that...

Carole said...

Nice post. You might like to look at how I do cheese snacks.

Roz @ weightingfor50 said...

Hi Melinda, I saw the rice works chips, and we too were shocked at the ingredients and the fact they're marketed at "healthy". I passed on them, and can't see myself buying them any time soon. Thanks for highlighting the label contents. Hope you are doing well!!!!

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