"Healthy" Foods Not Necessarily Healthier than Their Regular Counterparts [Read The Fine Print]

ABC7 News compared "healthy" (and more expensive) Campbell's tomato soup with their regular offering and discovered some very misleading health claims. It's a good reminder to read food label fine print to make sure you get what you pay for.

The news channel's investigation discovered that the "low sodium" and standard versions of Campbell's tomato soup contain exactly the same levels of sodium—480 mg. The nutritional value of the "healthy" and standard versions of tomato soup were likewise exactly the same except the "healthy" soup contains more fat.

In fact, the only discernible difference between regular Campbell's tomato soup and the ones being touted as better for you was the price—you'll pay a 50% markup for the healthy soups.

It's a lame move by Campbell's, but it also serves as a good reminder to compare food labels and read the fine print before assuming that the healthier version of the foods you love are, in fact, better for you. In some cases they may not be, and you'll just be burning money without the health benefits. To get the nutritional scoop on food before you even get to the store, check out previously mentioned Foodsel.

Have you ever run into food labeled as "healthy" when it really wasn't after all? Tell us about it in the comments.

Know How Much Caffeine Is in the Food and Drinks You Love [Health]

If you're trying to cut back on or give up caffeine, then you already know to avoid coffee. But the eye-opening stimulant is found in lots of other beverages, and even some food and medications.

Photo by emdot.

Life management blog Wise Bread takes a look at where caffeine is hiding in various popular foods and drinks we encounter every day, comparing caffeine levels in various coffees, teas, sodas, energy drinks, foods, and medications. It comes as no surprise that a Starbucks Grande double-brewed coffee packs a whopping 380 mgs of the jitterbug (a 12-ounce can of iced tea has 17 mg, as a point of reference), but some other places you'll find caffeine lurking include:

  • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, 1.55 oz: 9mg
  • Excedrin Extra Strength, 2 tablets: 130 mg
  • Decaffeinated black tea, 8 oz: 2 mg

Hit up the post for Wise Bread's full rundown on the caffeine dosages in an assortment of foods and drinks. (Did you know Diet Coke has 12mg more caffeine than Coke? [47 vs. 35]) Are you a confirmed caffeine junkie, or are you trying to cut back on caffeine? What's the hardest part? Share your coping tips in the comments.

Keep Car Windows From Fogging with a Potato [Clever Uses]

If you'd like a clever and cheap way to keep windows, goggles, and other glass and plastic surfaces from fogging up, you can use a potato to keep the vision-blocking condensation at bay.

Photo by jimmihomeschoolmom.

We're almost out of the so-cold-your-breath-fogs-the-windshield weather in most of the US but this trick works for everything from windshields to swim goggles. Over at the how-to site wikiHow they've shared a guide to using a cut potato to keep your windows fog-free.

1. Cut a raw potato in half. Be sure to use a clean potato, so wash it first if it is coated in soil. This is a good opportunity to use up an old potato that has started to sprout and is past its best.
2. Rub the cut part of one half potato on the window. This will clean it and leave a layer that will prevent fog from forming on the window.
3. Use the other half if needed. You can also cut off dirtied slices and keep using the existing half if wished.
4. Leave to dry without touching.

We thought it sounded too cheap and easy to actually work so we grabbed a potato and went and rubbed a raw slice on the shower door, window, and mirror in the bathroom. After a few minutes of steamy hot water the surfaces did in fact remain fog free. How well it lasts over time and how it compares to a $7 bottle of anti-fog spray from your local sporting goods store is open for debate.

Have a clever use to share? Let's hear about it in the comments.

Expand Your Secret Fast Food Menu Knowledge [Fast Food Hacks]

We've previously gawked at an inspiring list of "secret" items you can order just by asking at restaurant chains. Coupon Sherpa expands on that list of semi-hidden items with its own discoveries.

Photo by Sklathill.

Some of these items have been covered in the afore-linked mental_floss post, and in Consumerist's really big guide to secret menu items, and some are more under-advertised than secret. Still, some items look unique, intriguing, and rather tasty. In some cases, you might be explaining the item to an unknowing employee, while some chains, like In-n-Out Burger and Jamba Juice, actually train their staff on these subtle goodies. If someone orders a "Sour Patch Kid" at Jamba Juice and reports back on its tastiness, you'll be earning major points with at least one Lifehacker editor.

You are, as always, welcome to divulge your own secret menu findings in the comments.

Make Scrambled Eggs and Bacon in the Oven [Recipes]

Scrambled eggs and bacon are a hearty, heart-warming way to start a day, but they require a bit too much stove-top work and dish dirtying for a typical morning. Not so if you follow this oven technique, which keeps your eggs fluffy.

The TipNut blog's recipe calls for 12 eggs, but that's a number you can easily break down into smaller portions. Add a good bit of milk and a bit of butter, add the mixture to a greased pan, place in an oven warmed to 350 degrees, and then:

When eggs begin to set (after cooking for about 10 minutes), take a spatula and push the eggs from side to side to scramble them (you'll notice the edges are where the eggs first start cooking), make sure to scrape the bottom and sides well. Continue cooking for approximately another 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to scramble as the eggs really start setting up.

The full post describes a method for also cooking bacon alongside the eggs. The advantage of the oven is not having to worry about the direct heat drying out the bottom of your eggs, and cooking bacon in the oven certainly condenses the clean-up.

If you've got a simplified morning breakfast recipe, we'll certainly take your tips in the comments.

Turn Left Over Mustard into No-Waste Salad Dressing [Food Hacks]

If you hate waste and it seems a shame to throw away a jar of spicy or exotic mustard without getting the last bit of flavor out of it, this clever trick will turn that left over mustard into salad dressing.

At MarthaStewart.com they're big fans of lists and galleries of clever and trendy things you can do around the house. In this week's "40 Good Things" list they share a great tip for using the mustard left after the last sandwich is made, to create home made dressing:

Have a tiny bit of mustard left in the jar? Toss in a few ingredients, and shake a tangy Dijon vinaigrette right in the container. A crushed garlic clove, some chopped fresh herbs and minced shallot will add the right flavor. Pour in balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper, then close the lid and shake. Add olive oil; shake again to emulsify the dressing, and then drizzle over your favorite salad. With a tightly sealed lid, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Sounds delicious and a perfect "after life" for the jar of Dijon mustard I've just about polished off. Check out the link below to browse through some of the other clever tips in their roundup. Have a frugal tip of your own to share? Let's hear about it in the comments.

Make 17 Meals from One Chicken [Cooking]

Food blog Cheap, Healthy, Good is all about stretching food frugality very, very far, while keeping the meals tasty and leftover-friendly. An older post illustrates how one roast chicken can make 17 meals for a total of $26.

Blogger and serious home economist Kristen Swensson bought a 7-pound Purdue roaster chicken for $6.92, less than $20 worth of other supplies over a week, and gave herself some rules for cooking dinners and lunches. Swensson went for no repeats or very similar dishes on the menu, used as many pantry goods as possible, and tried to add as little fat as possible to the plates. How'd it turn out?

Victory, for the most part. I ended up cooking five distinct, delicious, largely healthy dinners with PLENTY of leftovers. And miracle of miracles, there were no duds in the group. (Thanks, online reviewers!)

However, I did go $0.86 over budget. I'm okay with that, though. Between what we consumed each night and ate for lunch the next day, that $25.86 made 17 full meals, which works out to $1.52 each. That's less than a cup of Starbucks coffee, so … aces.

You can grab all of Swensson's recipes, her full shopping list, and read her notes on every recipe at the post, helpfully dug up by Boing Boing. If you've found your own miracle budget-stretching food, tell us how you work it in the comments.

Avoid Overindulging by Knowing Your Fast Food Fries [Fast Food]

When you're indulging in chain restaurant or fast food meals, fries can seem like just a drop in the calorie bucket. The creators of the worst foods in America list beg to differ, pointing out some fries that sit like entire meals.

For those who read these kinds of listicles only to skip right to the heavyweight champ (and we're that type, too), it's the Texas Cheese Fries with Jalapeno Ranch from Chili's, which drops 1,920 calories, 147 grams of fat, and 3,580 milligrams sodium onto your table. That's basically your calories for one day, saturated fat for three, and sodium allotment for a day and a half. Men's Health follows its formula of detailing the excesses of corporate food and suggesting alternative sides on the same menu. The odd bit of actual surprise, though, is that McDonald's fries can turn out not that bad for you—if you constrain the portion:

Out of the big three fast food joints (Mickey D's, Wendy's, and BK), you'll find the least caloric, least salty fries underneath the golden arches. The key to ordering a smart side dish is portion sizing-and McDonald's has that under control.

How do you avoid indulging on fries when, on occasion, they're so, so good? Share your secrets, or simple willpower tales, in the comments.