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Self Serve Sweetness!

I am still on the sugar topic because I think that sugar has been vilified in the news recently. My opinion for what it's worth, is that sugar is only part of the problem. The average American eats 130 lbs of sugar a year... overconsumption of sugar is the real culprit. Times have changed and we all eat on the go, including our kids! We are eating more sugar because often it's not an obvious ingredient and because sugary drinks and snacks are the norm with grab and go foods.
Most food and beverage companies use sugar in excess to increase shelf life and enhance flavor and palatability, whether intended or unintended the result is that our bodies get hooked on it. Recent scientific studies at the University of San Francisco and UC Davis found that sugar when eaten in excess is addictive, the more we consume the more we need to feel that lovin feeling. These studies showed that after two weeks of "excess" high fructose corn syrup consumption patients showed increased bad "LDL" cholesterol in the blood stream and increased risk factors for heart disease (too many factors to list here). What is "excess" consumption? Again, average yearly sugar consumption is 130 lbs... which breaks down to 650g of sugar or 36 teaspoons a day... this is the average... where are you?
There are food companies out there like mine who use sugar but we balance it with whole grains, lean protein, unsaturated fats and soluble fiber. The Breakfast Cookie is a great example of utilizing sugar while balancing with other whole food nutrients slowing digestion and the "sugar burn."
I have cut my sugar consumption in half as a result of a few simple rules I live by:
  1. I don't eat anything when sugar is the first ingredient... and this cuts out A LOT!
  2. Any baked good or candy I eat that has sugar also has seeds, nuts or grains adding fat, fiber and protein which will facilitate a much slower burn of the sugar.
  3. I don't buy anything sweetened... I use a plethora of natural slow burning sugars I have on hand in my kitchen to self sweeten.
  4. I don't drink soda or coffee drinks sweetened with syrups.
At home sweeteners and ideas to REDUCE:
    • Molasses - Molasses is called an "energizing mineral dense sweetener" boasting a good source of calcium and iron. We use molasses in our Breakfast Cookies and Granola and I also use it at home in baking and to sweeten my yogurt, smoothies and kefir. Keep molasses in a squeeze bottle that you can administer in drops. My typical serving of yogurt or kefir is 1/2 cup and to sweeten I add 3-5 drops of molasses adding about 5-8g of sugar calories.
    • Fruit Puree - We use a TON of pureed prunes in our Breakfast Cookies for sweetness... it's the 3rd largest ingredient in our cookies! Prunes are not just sugar... they are loaded with bone-building vitamin k and boast a good source of heart-healthy fiber and potassium. Prunes also are high in "phenols" which are antioxidants that are cell damage-preventing substances. Fruit puree, especially those made from dried fruits, are excellent alternatives to refined sugar for baked goods. Make your own puree out of any dried fruit = put fruit in a food processor, add a small amount of hot water and puree until a paste, then keep in the fridge. How much you use is up to you depending on your desired taste and consistency. Baking with fruit purees will be a great video topic for instruction!
    • Coconut Sugar - I LOVE Coconut Sugar but its not that readily available as it's new to the market. It's considered a "low glycemic" sweetener, meaning the lower the glycemic index the slower your body will burn it. You can find Coconut Sugar at most natural food stores or online... be prepared though, it's expensive.
    • REDUCE! Most baked goods recipes are TOO SWEET! Take 20% off the top of all your recipes at home. For example, a typical "Toll House" Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe calls for 1/2 C Brown Sugar and 1/2 C White Sugar, cut this down to 1/3 - 1/4 C. Use less sugar and more nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dark chocolate... the dough doesn't need to be very sweet.
I could go on and on but this is a blog not a book! I bake a lot in my journey to make healthier products for you... when I start filming I will definitely hit the topic of baking with less sugar because it's one that I am very familiar with! Spend a little time this week reading about sugar... just Google it! A little knowledge goes a long way...

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