Writing a blog on sugar has been on my list for a while now. It’s a sticky issue (no pun intended) because sugar is everywhere, hidden in foods using other names and an ingredient in every special holiday recipe, not to mentioned all processed foods. Should we stop making Auntie Retta’s Christmas cookies, Grandma Betty’s tangerine-lime marmalade, Kay’s pecan balls? Do you take your coffee with milk and sugar? Can you find a bottle of iced tea without it? Or a yogurt? And your favorite cookie or candy bar? Forget it.
Two books you should read if you really want to improve your family’s health are “Salt, Sugar and Fat” by Michael Moss and “Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease” by Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist from the University of California-San Francisco. With the rising incidence of obesity and diabetes, among other health problems related to metabolic syndrome, we are on the path to becoming one of the sickest nations on the planet. And all research points to sugar as one of the biggest culprits.
So, I am on a mission, along with my daughters, to make delicious, slightly sweetened baked treats for our family. I haven’t had white sugar in my house for decades, but the “natural,” less processed variety in my pantry is not a lot better. We’ve already replaced the bad oils and some of the butter with olive and coconut oils and applesauce. Now we’re using date sugar (ground up dates) and a little Grade B maple syrup or honey (from my own bees!) for sweeteners…and less of them! Not bad, especially if you are making a wholesome treat, with dried and fresh fruits, nuts and spices.
Carrot, zucchini or pumpkin breads, oatmeal fruit cookies and even chocolate cakes are delicious without the refined sugars. When you consider that an 8 ounce yogurt and a can of soda each have about 9 teaspoons of sugar, then a whole loaf cake with about the same amount really delivers a lot less in a single serving!
The 22 teaspoons of sugar the average American eats every day come from GMO sugar beets and corn….yet another reason to stay away! Try to eat whole, unprocessed foods (mostly plants), drink water or tea instead of
juice or soda, experiment with using whole fruits to sweeten favorite foods. I had a strawberry shake this morning with plain Greek yogurt and frozen strawberries from last summer’s harvest. Just sweet enough!
And yes, I will revise some of our favorite holiday recipes too. Change is good, especially if it means better health!