19 Oct Sweet stand-ins for a spoonful of sugar
Cut the fat, cut the salt, cut the sugar, too? The more you read about the damage excess sugar does to your body, the more you want to seek out healthy stand-ins for a spoonful of sugar. It’s a hard fact to swallow, but Americans, on average, consume over 2 pounds of sugar each week, largely due to our reliance on processed foods. Sugar, in the form of sucrose, glucose or high fructose corn syrup is the hidden culprit in many manufactured foods, added for flavor, texture, color or bulk.
The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body produces which promotes fat storage and rapid weight gain. Beyond contributing to the obesity epidemic and increased incidence of Type 2 diabetes in our nation, our overconsumption of sugar can lead to a host of other health problems. An excessive intake of sugar can boost the triglycerides in your body, raising your risk of heart disease, for example.
Skimping on sugar makes good sense for your health. Benefits of cutting back on sugar consumption include increased fat burning, improved immune system function, decreased destructive aging and increased mental clarity and concentration.
Reducing the amount of added sugar in your diet is getting easier all the time. Label-reading is one of the best ways to become aware of sugar content in the food we eat. Reading the back of a Coke can will tell you that 12 ounces of the Real Thing delivers no less than 41 grams of sugars, equivalent to about 10 teaspoons. Skipping sugar-loaded sodas and switching to water would be a giant step forward in sinking sugar intake.
Noticing the added sugars, listed right on the label, in ready-made foods like condiments, salad dressings, soups and snacks can be educational as well.
This is not to say that all sugar is bad. Your body needs the carbohydrate sugar to convert to energy, but it’s healthier to get it in its original packaging, in the form of fruits, vegetables, milk and some grains. And added sugar in moderation is fine, too.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories a day in added sugar for most women (about 6 teaspoons) and no more than 150 calories of added sugar for men (about 9 teaspoons).
And as far as added sugar is concerned, there are a growing number of natural sugar substitutes available to us that do the job of sweetening our foods safely. Alternatives to refined white sugar (which has been processed and depleted of its nutritional properties) that have a lower glycemic index include maple sugar, date sugar, agave nectar, barley malt syrup, black strap molasses, brown rice syrup and raw honey (in moderation), many of which are available at 2Js Fresh Market (105 Smelter Avenue Northeast, 761-0134).
This week’s Special of the day: Sweet Stand-ins for a Spoonful of Sugar with especially easy recipes for Roasted Acorn Squash with Glazed Pecans, using brown rice syrup, and Maple Sugar Apple Crisp. Happy cooking!
Roasted Acorn Squash with Glazed Pecans Serves 4 1 acorn squash, washed and dried 4 tablespoons butter, cut in 1 tablespoon pats 4 tablespoons brown rice syrup ¼ cup pecans, chopped Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut an acorn squash in fourths and arrange sections on baking sheet. Place a pat of butter in each squash slice cavity and and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, basting with the melted butter halfway through. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Drizzle 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup over each squash slice, cover with foil and continue baking for 10 minutes. Sprinkle pecans over squash slices and bake for another 5 minutes to toast pecans. Enjoy! Maple Sugar Apple Crisp Serves 6 2 tablespoons pure maple sugar 5 cups apples, sliced ½ cup rolled oats ¼ cup flour ¼ cup pure maple sugar ½ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ cup butter Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons maple sugar and apples. Pour apples into 9-inch square glass baking dish. In large bowl, combine oats, flour, maple sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter with pastry blender until well blended. Sprinkle topping over apples and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until topping is nicely browned. Enjoy!
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sydne’s “Special of the day” columns and recipes are archived at: http://sydnegeorge.com/blog.