Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cleaning up Our Diet: Chapter 5. Sweet!

posted by Paulette

This is a sticky subject to talk about. Pun intended. My Mom would be so proud of me. Hee hee!
 Sugars are one of those things that suppresses the immune system.
It leads to insulin resistance.
It promotes inflammation in the body.
It can lead to weight gain when ingested.
It contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In fact, our livers process fructose very similarly to the way they process ethanol. Lustig calls fructose “alcohol without the buzz.”
It appears to act like fertilizer for cancer cells.
High fructose diets decrease HDL levels, while reducing the diameter and increasing the density of LDL particles.
Glucose and especially fructose can bond to – glycate – proteins and lipids without proper enzymatic control.

With all of that to think about, why would anyone who was looking to better their health still want to eat the stuff? 
Is it reality to think that you can omit it from your diet all together?
People already think that we're strange for all of the changes that have been made in my family. AND, I have children.
I once knew a family who prohibited their children from having chocolate. Do you know what the children did? Every time there was an opportunity to eat chocolate outside the supervision of their parents, they ate as much as they could.
 Realistically, I want my children to have a normal life. But I want to offer them better choices than what most Americans eat.
Sooo. I will be sharing some of the alternatives I have found to granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup.
There are so many varieties of sweeteners available.
 But, first, we need to unveil the fakers.
Stevia has become a popular no calorie sweetener of choice. Do not be fooled by the labels. Just because something says it's an extract or that it's pure, doesn't mean that it is. Some kind friend recently dropped off a bag of Pure Via at my house. The first ingredient was maltodextrin, not stevia. Truvia pretends to be stevia. It's so processed it's not anymore. Any of the Stevia products that claim that you can use it spoon for spoon like sugar, is not pure stevia.

My first experience with stevia was when as friend of mine brought over a cheesecake made with it. It had a slightly bitter aftertaste. That is true stevia. It's not granulated like sugar is. It's powdery. It is derived from an herb, and was sold as a dietary supplement before it came to the market as a sweetener. And watch out! If you use too much, it's NASTY! It will ruin whatever you put it into. My kids once thought it was powdered sugar, and tried to add it to peanut butter to make a candy. Boy! Were they surprised!
 Speaking about powdered sugar. I don't buy it. It's granulated sugar with cornstarch added. I know it's a main ingredient for making frosting, right? I make my own. Put the organic cane sugar in the blender and grind it to a powder and add either arrowroot or tapioca starch in equal amounts and you have powdered sugar. Just a little precaution to avoid GMO corn.

Please read the following article about the process to get the product they call stevia. Looks like even the white powder and liquid are derived using toxic chemicals.

How about Maple syrup? I'm not talking about Aunt Jemima's or Log Cabin. Those are corn syrup with maple flavoring and caramel coloring (which is a carcinogen, by the way). I'm talking about the stuff that's expensive. Like $6-$8 for less than a pint.

True maple syrup isn't as sweet as sugar. It's derived from the sap of the Maple tree. It has been concentrated into grades. Grade A is what is used for pancakes. Grade B, less common, would be used for glazing a ham. It has a stronger flavor.

Since this sweetener has a distinctive flavor, we use it only when we can let it shine. We love it on sweet potato casserole, and in oatmeal.

Molasses is another syrup with a distinctive flavor. It comes from sugarcane, and actually has the benefits of providing minerals, iron, calcium and potassium, as well as being sweet. I use this for barbeque sauces, and in baking products when I want that molasses taste. By itself, it's not very sweet. I usually use it with another sweetener, like brown sugar.
 I briefly mentioned raw honey in my last post. This is another sweetener that you'll need to vet out. I get my raw honey from a local source. Therefore it has pollens from my area, which help to inoculate me from allergies. Raw honey also has naturally occurring enzymes, which aid in digestion. However, if your honey is not organic, your bees may be dining on high fructose corn syrup, which is nasty for a variety of reasons. First of all it's so processed that it's a concentrated form of sugar that the body doesn't digest well. And then, there's that awful GMO thing, you know I hate.

Back to the good sugars!
Organic evaporated cane juice is the closest to the granulated sugar that everyone is used to. Why use this instead? Because there are no insecticides, herbicides, and it's not bleached. Basically it's the kind of sugar that was used hundreds of years ago, when it was so expensive that people has safes to keep it in. Yes. It's that good.

Organic brown sugar is similar to the above, but has more molasses content, making it a bit moister, and has a bit of that distinctive flavor.  also called turbanado sugar, or sucanat. All have varying degrees of molasses left in them.

This next one is my new favorite sweetener. It's Organic coconut sugar. My kids tease me that my favorite food is the coconut. Our pantries are full of coconut derived products.
Coconut sugar is not very sweet. It has a smokey earthy flavor that is perfect for curries and cooking meats. Think barbeque sauce. 

Since using alternative sugars, I've noticed that our appetite for it has decreased.  We've become very sensitive to sweet stuff. In this case less is more, isn't it?

I am not a healthcare professional. Everything shared in this post is the experience of myself and my family, and is not intended to cure disease. (Take it like you want it.)

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