Saturday, July 26, 2008

How Do You Cut Down On Sugar?

This comment was posted by Anonymous to an old post, so I thought I'd bring it forward to current time:

okay, this is somewhat of an old blog, but i'm just catching onto this whole sugar thing...

how do you cut down your sugar? i struggle with eating in general. what type of items do you eat for lunch and dinner?

are we talking replacing cooking oils or actual food items or both.

recipes would be helpful and so would brands of items...

How do you cut down on sugar? First, there's the obvious: cakes, candy, cookies, ice cream (ouch). Then there's the process of learning what other foods have sweeteners hidden in them. Reading labels, being shocked at the prevalence of all those words ending in -ose and -ol, among others.
Kathleen of Radiant Recovery recommends moving sugar to mealtimes first, eating it with protein. After a while of that and some other steps - see her website - you detox from sugar.
Mark Hyman of Ultra-Wellness recommends going cold turkey. Whatever works for you is fine. And if you occasionally make an exception and eat some - well, you're still eating less than you were.

What do I eat for lunch and dinner? That depends. I work days sometimes and nights sometimes and have no truly dependable schedule. But a typical lunch might be a chicken quesadilla on a whole-grain tortilla. Or a salad full of veggies and chicken or salmon or ???. Or a bowl of yogurt with fresh fruit. Careful of the yogurt: only PLAIN is sugar-free. The rest are ALL sweetened with either sugar or artificial sweeteners. My favorite dinners are grilled - say burgers, sweet potatoes, veggies. The above is still rather vegetable-deficient but I'm working on that.

The oil question: I'm told olive oil is healthiest. It also doesn't like high heat, so if I'm cooking in the wok I use peanut oil. Flax oil is good in a breakfast shake: when I put it in, I notice less dandruff kind of stuff. I use olive oil and balsamic vinegar on most of the salads.

Recipes: I'm not really a good one to ask. I'm a "keep it simple" kind of cook. You know, "spray the grill with grill spray, marinate a steak, throw it on the grill along with a couple of sweet potatoes and some chicken strips seasoned with whatever I feel like using and cook over medium flame 'til done." Or, "fill a steamer basket with veggies, put over an inch of simmering water until tender but not mushy". That's my kind of recipe. I have put some Real Recipes on the blog, for chocolate candy and stevia sweetened ice cream, and will continue to as I come up with ideas - and readers, please feel free to share your own favorites too - but the internet is full of recipes already and I'm usually on the searching end of those, rather than the posting end.

Brands change their formulas. The only thing better than reading labels yourself is eating fresh things that don't have labels. I can tell you that Duke's is the only mass-market mayonnaise that doesn't have sugar - and that's only the regular, not the low-fat - but then if they change the recipe, will you notice? (As of the last time I bought mayonnaise, that was true in this part of the country, for products at the stores where I shop. There certainly may be others, but I haven't found them.)

In short, there are no easy answers to the "how to eat" question - but it's an interesting and worthwhile adventure. Enjoy the road.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Oh how I wish I were good at doing book reviews! Because I would so review the book I just read: Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, A Natural History of Four Meals.

In this book, Mr. Pollan follows 4 very different meals ranging from a fast-food burger meal to a meal entirely and personally hunted and gathered. What are we REALLY eating? What are the ramifications? What are the true costs?

It would be a very favorable review. I would begin by telling you how his writing style is such that I couldn't put it down. Although seriously non-fiction, this is not a boring read at all. This is an adventure.

And then there is the subject matter. We are talking serious eye-opening here. Make-you-think stuff. Nitty gritty stuff.

Oh, never mind - just read the book! I'm champing at the bit to read his others.

Chocolate, again!

More ways to enjoy chocolate without sugar or other yucky sweeteners:

Almost Pudding:
Puree ripe bananas, with a soup spoon of cocoa powder for each banana. Chill. This makes a delicious pudding-like dessert. It doesn't gel as gelled as regular pudding, but it will thicken up nicely. I will try it folded into whipped cream sometime soon.

More ice cream flavors:
Making ice cream in individual serving sizes in the plastic bags, I've tried several yummy flavors:

Cherries & Almond flavoring. A special favorite.

Orange flavoring and vanilla. Makes something amazingly Creamsicle-like. Yum.

Cocoa powder and mint flavoring. Also good.