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Make it Healthy: Authentic homemade au gratin potatoes

(Lesli J. Neilson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Au gratin potatoes from scratch don't contain any possibly harmful ingredients such as sodium bisulfite, modified food starch, yellow No. 5 and yellow No. 6.

By lesli j. neilson

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 17 2012 02:21PM
Updated Apr 17, 2012 07:09PM

Grocery stores are packed with products that may tout convenience, but contain ingredients that aren’t healthy. Today, we highlight Idahoan Au Gratin Homestyle Casserole.

The Idahoan brand claims it has been serving "authentic homemade taste" for more than 50 years, but uses sodium bisulfite, yellow dyes No. 5 and No. 6, silicon dioxide and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

It takes 27 ingredients to make their au gratin potatoes — my recipe has only seven.

According to the Center for Science in the Public’s Interest, sodium bisulfite prevents discoloration, destroys vitamin B-1 and "can cause severe reactions, especially in asthmatics." The CSPI also says yellow No. 5 dye has been linked to "allergy-like hypersensitivity reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons, and triggers hyperactivity in some children." Further, yellow No. 6 has been known "to cause tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney."

Silicon dioxide is an anti-caking agent akin to sand.

Though the label says 0 grams of trans fat, this product contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which is trans fat. So, each of the four servings contains up to 0.5 grams of trans fat. Trans fat promotes heart disease and is more harmful to the body than saturated fat. The front of the box also says to "add milk and margarine" to its dried potatoes. Stick margarine contains more trans fat.

There’s nothing more "homestyle" than making something from scratch.

If you’d like a healthier substitute for a processed food in your pantry, email your request to

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