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Not-So-Guilt-Free Zucchini Bread

I’ve always said Penn State could make a small fortune if they sold their “guilt-free zucchini bread” in more places across campus.  I’m not sure what makes that bread so good – maybe it’s the spices, or the gooey top layer, or maybe it’s the fact that it’s “guilt-free.”

It is guilt-free right? I mean, that’s what the label says so it has to be…

Well, that was my understanding before I saw the nutrition label for the first time this year. I’m not sure what Penn State Food Services’ definition of “guilt-free” is, but I’m pretty sure this zucchini bread is nowhere near it.

According to the printed nutrition information, the standard serving size of the zucchini bread has only 0.7 grams of fat and 213 calories. Not bad for a small piece of wrapped bread.

That is, until you visit the online Penn State’s Food Services Menu and see the serving size is 1/20 of a loaf and what you’re holding in your hand is closer to a quarter loaf. That’s nearly five times the fat and more than 1,000 calories. Keep in mind that the average daily intake of calories is between 1,500-2,000. And this is just for the average wrapped piece of bread.

The zucchini bread is also sold with cream cheese smothered in between two bread pieces. This comes to a whopping 11.1 grams of fat (5.8 g saturate and 0.3 transfat) and 60.4 grams of sugar.  That is almost TWICE your daily intake of sugar. How can something this horrible for you be labeled “guilt-free?”

zuchinni bread

Food Services at Penn State does a great job handling the food across campus, yet I can’t help but question why this bread is labeled “guilt-free.” Is it just because it has zucchini, a vegetable, baked into the bread? If we’re going by that logic, carrot cake is healthy and so are blueberry muffins. The zucchini bread is even listed under the food services “Eating Smart” section, next to other foods like oatmeal and fresh fruit. But how can something with 60 grams of sugar be considered healthy?

I’m not saying students should stop eating the zucchini bread, and there are plenty of other foods on campus that are way worse for you. Yet, I’m concerned about what other foods may be mislabeled. Are other nutrition facts cutting down the serving sizes to make the calories, fat content, and sugar seem lower?

Zucchini bread became one of my favorite snacks early in my freshmen year because it was delicious and because of the “GUILT-FREE” feeling I was buying into. Without conducting an independent search, I would have never known my favorite snack was doubling my calorie intake for the day. Because of my newfound knowledge, I’m going to (try to) cut back on the zucchini bread, and question what other labels are misrepresenting the food we’re eating.

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