As regular readers may know, we don’t rate foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy.” We believe nearly any food eaten in moderation can be part of a sensible, nutritious diet (circus peanuts, Butter-Flavored Crisco, and Slim Jims being among the obvious exceptions. Nonfat cream cheese would also be in that category, but we don’t consider it a food.)
This is a list of the ingredients in Eggo Homestyle Waffles and a list of the ingredients in our favorite waffle recipe, each listed in order of weight:Eggo Homestyle Waffles Fannie Farmer’s Buttermilk Waffles Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid)
eggspartially hydrogenated soybean oil
milk (if needed to thin)leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate)
baking sodaniacinamide reduced iron yellow #5 vitamin A palminate thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1) riboflavin (vitamin B2) pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6) yellow #6 vitamin B12
Discounting the fact that we didn’t know there was such an ingredient as reduced iron, which combination of ingredients would you rather eat? And while we avoid the healthy/unhealthy debate, we do not shy away from discussing taste – our homemade waffles beat Eggo frozen waffles hands down (really, way more than hands down, but we couldn’t think of a better expression).
On the whole, we are not fans of processed, manufactured foods, or “fast food,” either. They contain way more salt, sugar, fat, and additives than you would consume if you were cooking for yourself. We would absolutely encourage you to make waffles from scratch rather than pop a frozen one in the toaster. We would much rather you make dinner for your family tonight than hustling out the door to a fast-food restaurant or even a sit-down chain restaurant.
But we also live in the real world. And even for us, waffles are a once-a-month treat – and almost always on a relatively unhurried Saturday morning. Do you have the time to make waffles from scratch? Do you have the ingredients, time, and energy to make dinner tonight? Is it better for you (or your children) to have a couple of frozen waffles for breakfast than some processed-white-bread toast or a bowl of manufactured cold cereal?
A modest cooking Web site cannot hope to answer such profound rhetorical questions. Our suggestion is to cook for yourself and your family as often as you can, cook from scratch as often as you can, and make continuing efforts to limit processed foods and fast food. Use fresh ingredients as often as possible; buy local ingredients as often as possible. Slip a bowl of oatmeal or non-instant Cream of Wheat in front of your kids once in a while instead of toaster waffles. Try to plan ahead a little more (you have to have buttermilk on hand, for instance, to make our waffle recipe), to dedicate even a little more time to meal preparation, and you may be surprised how many processed foods you can leave behind.
And, while you’re at it, buy a waffle iron – there is no practical alternative to frozen waffles if you don’t have a waffle iron
A question related to yours might be, what (and how much) do you slather on your store-bought or homemade waffles? And that gets into the whole margarine/spread/butter, corn-syrup-based-pretend maple syrup/real maple syrup/honey/strawberries-and-whipped cream/etc. debate. And on that question, we have real opinions. But, as we live in the real world and suddenly have a hankering for waffles, we’re going to heat up the waffle iron and leave that discussion for another time.