...same as it ever was, and of course, Cuisinicity is right in line with him!
Put sugar in its place! …and I mean that quite literally! One of the key governing principles for good cooking and healthy eating is the idea of a place for everything and everything in its place.
For centuries, there has long been a place for sugar in the human diet and there wasn’t a problem with obesity or diabetes. Added sugar occupied a very specific place: It was in “sweets” and it was in “treats” and it was in limited quantities.
Nowadays, sugar is ubiquitous in our food supply and it really is the dose that makes the poison! Sugar does not need to be a “poison” to be toxic to health at the high doses that prevail these days. There is nothing intrinsically toxic or poisonous about sugar but, in excess, it is indeed harmful to us.
So, if you drink sugar all day long from soda, and if you eat sugar in foods that are not even supposed to be sweet, like salad dressings and pasta sauces, and chips and crackers where you don’t even know it’s hiding (for example, I talk about choosing a marinara sauce without added sugar on my Cooking class video here)
if, even when you DO expect a product to be a little sweet, like a cereal, for example, there is an inordinately high amount of sugar in it, then, you wind up getting way too much sugar in your overall diet.
Let me show you what I mean with that cereal example: You expect some sugar in that product but you certainly wouldn’t expect sugar to be the main ingredient in that cereal, right ?
First, let me digress for a moment and give you an easy clue to remember about the rules for the order in which ingredients are listed on a food label:
THE FIRST INGREDIENT ON A FOOD LABEL IS THE MOST ABUNDANT!
This slide was taken from our Nutrition Detectives Program teaching kids that the Mama duck in the front who leads all her ducklings is always the BIGGEST, much in the same way that the first ingredient in a food label is always THE BIGGEST!
So, would you expect this food label, where sugar is listed as the first ingredient, hence the most abundant, to be in the back of a box of cereal or….. in the back of a candy bar?
I would say… Candy bar, right? After all, we all know that sugar is mostly what you get and expect in candy, no surprise there….
BUT, in fact, it appears in the back of a cereal box, masquerading as part of a complete breakfast for our kids!
So, leave it, there are much better choices of cereal out there!
I highly recommend you read an exposé by Pulitzer prize winner journalist Michael Moss, entitled: “The extraordinary science of addictive junk food” that will give you a reality check on how the food industry willfully engineers its products to be cravable, a euphemism for addictive!
Take this little test (click HERE) designed by www.healthyfoodamerica.org to estimate how much stealth sugar you could be consuming each day!
if, when you are eating bread, crackers and chips, and salad dressings and pasta sauces and entrees, you choose the ones that are not made with added sugar which DOES NOT NEED TO BE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE;
then, you have left the opportunity to put a bit of sugar where it does belong and where it can confer the greatest pleasure: in desserts!
Mind you, this is NOT to say you should have dessert every night, unless it is in the form of simple fresh fruit! Dessert is a treat, so keep that in mind!
I show you just what I mean, in this cooking class video, albeit in a little more babbling lengthy way than I could have (I have gotten better at talking in front of the camera since I filmed this, but I think I get my point across nonetheless). I did cringe a little watching it again, so if you don’t have 7 minutes to spare, by all means, skip it (HAHAHA!)
Moreover, as you trade up your choices and cut out all that superfluous sugar, you will find that you actually also put your taste buds through rehab (my husband has written about it extensively!) and those desserts you used to crave become almost sickeningly too sweet for your taste!
That really is part of the intent with good cooking. YES- we want food to be good for us but an EMPHATIC YES- we also want food to BE good!
Cuisinicity puts all ingredients in their proper place and, in so doing, it leaves a place for sugar, salt and cooking oils. I have written about these in other posts here, here and here! Because the emphasis is on the most wholesome foods in always sensible combinations, the place for these things tends to be a small place, so that we get maximal benefit and pleasure with minimal dose: a scientific-minded “equation” of sorts–oh, my Princeton neuroscientist days do come back to haunt me!
So, it is with that “equation” in mind that I create all my desserts:
I use regular sugar–I never use artifical sweeteners— my husband explains why in a great article he wrote entitled “too sweet for the sweet spot” here— and I always titrate it to the least amount that I can “get away” with so that my dessert is perfectly sweet, but not too much.
Amazingly enough, another way that I am able to cut down on the amount of sugar in my baked goods is by taking out the salt or baking soda that all such recipes usually call for (I elaborate more on this in my Cookie Makeover post here).
I sometimes use the natural lactose found in fat-free powdered milk as a sweetener to replace some of the sugar content, when it doesn’t affect the texture of the cookie or the cake. This little trick applies to my older recipes as my baking has become more vegan.
I also often replace the sugar altogether with ripe fruit such as bananas, apple sauce or pureed pumpkin, or unsweetened dried fruit such as dates, figs, raisins, or even nuts as a natural source of sweetness. Here are some delicious examples of perfectly sweet desserts and smoothies with NO ADDED SUGAR–NO HONEY, NO SYRUP, NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS…N-O-N-E!
So, with this prelude, I invite you to explore my desserts, starting with the ones that I featured on my home page today, so you can see first-hand how I am able to titrate down the sugar to a minimal amount for a perfectly sweet-tasting result! Try some and you be the judge of that and let me know, OK?!
It never ceases to amaze me how much less sugar I end up using when I compare my dessert recipes to the “norms” out there. Who needs all that extra sugar? I certainly don’t, and I think your tastebuds will agree too!
That really is the sweet spot: maximal pleasure from minimal sugar in your diet, because that sugar is kept strictly…in its place!