What the Heck is “Hexametaphosphate” Doing on Your Pancakes?!

Raise your hand if you like pancakes and syrup! Now, leave your hand up if you can name the ingredients in your syrup without grabbing the bottle from your cupboard….

What?! Ingredients in pancake syrup?! Isn’t syrup just syrup…like from a tree? Well, it should be, but most syrups available at typical grocers are far from it!!! In fact, if you take a look, chances are that your “syrup” says something like “pancake syrup” on the front of the bottle, not “maple syrup”…and that’s because there’s no real maple syrup in there!

Why? Because it’s cheaper for the manufacturer (and the consumer) to make fake syrups from corn syrup, fake coloring and additives, than to harvest the real thing! (Did you know that it takes about 43 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup!)

Alright, so here are some examples of various syrup choices you might find at your typical grocer (click images to enlarge and read the ingredients for yourself)…

First, the example from above. See how it says “syrup” on the front with no mention of maple? That’s your first clue. But ALWAYS check the back for an ingredients list. Ah, there’s the “Hexametaphosphate” (and lots of other goodies like carmel color, etc.) Yum!?
Next we have good ol’ Mrs. Butterworth – a staple in my family’s pantry when I was growing up. (Although, I never ate it – I always hated even the smell of syrup so I stuck with just butter on my pancakes. Hmm…maybe my taste buds were just smart!). No wonder she talks in those commercials…it distracts us from asking about her component parts which happen to include High Fructose Corn Syrup, Flavorings, Colorings and our good buddy Hexametaphosphate!

Getting hungry, yet?! Alright, so maybe you’re convinced about the dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup, so you select this brand which brags about not containing it! But wait….better check the ingredients! Just because a company brags about one thing on the front doesn’t mean there aren’t other things to worry about on the back. And this one doesn’t look much better than the others, really.

Speaking of ignoring claims on the front of packages….this one is a great example. It screams at you from the shelf that it’s “All Natural,” so that’s a good thing, right?! Yes, natural = good (but only when something is truly natural). The word “natural” is not regulated by the FDA, so any manufacturer can use the claim to mean whatever they like. A truly “all natural” syrup would be pure maple syrup from a tree in nature. But a quick read of the ingredients list on this product reveals that’s only 4% of what’s in here!

Alright, so pure maple syurp is what we’re looking for, but before we get there…I have to show you this last one that truly takes the cake. I was laughing out loud in the grocery aisle when I saw this one! This brand actually brags on the front label that it contains a whopping 2% pure maple syrup!!! OH….MY…GOSH!!! I am absolutely stunned at this marketing tactic! If anything, I would think it just draws to people’s attention that 98% of the product is….well, something else. And, from my experience, most folks already incorrectly assume that any syrup is pure maple syrup, so this company may be doing itself a disservice (don’t get me wrong….that’s fine with me!).

Whew! Anyone else exhausted?! Ok, so here’s an example of what you do want, and it’s likely sitting on the top shelf of the syrup section at your regular grocer. It says “pure maple syrup” on the front, and when you double-check the ingredients on the back (as I always require), it reveals the same. Just one ingredient, as it should be. Is it more expensive? Yes, of course! Does it taste better? Absolutely! Better for you? You guessed it!!

Here are a couple money-saving tips to help you offset the cost of your new real maple syrup expenditures:

1. Only use what you need! Don’t let the kids pour 2 cups of syrup all over their plates and then dump 1 1/2 cups down the sink drain 😉

2. Don’t eat syrup foods very often. Most breakfasts that require syrup (e.g., pancakes) really aren’t good for you anyway, so start serving them more as a special treat rather than standard breakfast fare. 🙂

3. Buy in bulk. This picture is a pretty small container, but larger containers are available at lower (per ounce) prices.

For more great additive-free shopping and cooking tips, be sure to SUBSCRIBE  to my blog!

And check out my book (and e-book), “Eating Additive-Free” – Natural Cookbook & Grocery Shopping Guide, too!

Happy shopping!!!


3 FREE Sample Recipes from My Cookbook

brochure cover

Wondering if you’d enjoy the recipes in my “Eating Additive-Free” natural cookbook & grocery shopping guide??

Here’s your chance to take my cookbook for a “test drive” and try a few of them for free! Let me know how you like the recipes below; there are over 150 more waiting for you in my cookbook…enjoy! Click here for pricing info, ordering instructions and the complete Table of Contents!

(sweetened with raw honey!)

-¾ cup raw honey (or less, to taste)
-1 cup lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
-6 cups water or carbonated water
-ice cubes (optional)

Mix the honey with lemon juice until the honey dissolves, using a whisk or shaking in a jar or other tightly-sealed container (we just use a half-gallon glass jar). Add the water and refrigerate until cold or serve immediately over ice, if you prefer.


100% Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a Bundt pan or mini loaves pan.
**Tip – Just use the inside of the wrapper from the butter stick to grease the pan. It works great!

Combine with a hand mixer in a large bowl:
-2 eggs
-3/4 cup honey
-1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
-2 or 3 VERY ripe bananas, smashed (enough to yield about 1 1/4 cups once smashed).
-1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Then mix in:
-1/4 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
-1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking soda (like Bob’s Red Mill brand)

Then mix in:
-2 cups 100% whole-wheat flour

Mix well. (This batter will be lumpy, due to the small chunks of banana and, possibly, some chunks of butter….that’s fine.)

If using a Bundt pan, bake 40-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle of the loaf.

If using mini loaves pans, cut time back to 37 minutes. Ovens vary, so keep checking with toothpick.


Smothered Chicken

Serves 4

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-1 TBSP olive oil
-1 green pepper, sliced
-1 red pepper, sliced
-1 onion, sliced
-1/2 cup each: shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses

-1 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp garlic granules
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

*Check out our Grocery Shopping Guide for our tips on selecting the most additive-free versions of every ingredient used in our recipes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a large casserole dish. Thin/flatten breasts: place on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and beat gently with a meat mallet. Mix all spices together and spread over chicken breasts. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.

While chicken is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet. Add veggies and sauté until tender. When chicken is done, spoon vegetables over chicken and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven until cheese melts. Enjoy!

(Psst….If you enjoy these recipes,  be sure to get yourself a copy of our additive-free cookbook & grocery shopping guide, “Eating Additive-Free“! It’s stuffed with 150+ more tasty recipes!! Your satisfaction is guaranteed…or your money back!)