Thursday, March 29, 2012
Monday, March 5, 2012
So where does white, refined, granulated sugar come from?
First there is a rod of sugar cane, that is crushed to release green cane juice. Then to make it totally white it is treated with granular carbon (???) which draws the "impurities" out. Then the remaining juice is recrystallized to make little grains of sugar.
I used to use this form of sugar for nearly everything I sweetened. Now I'm not so sure I like that. With all the heating and "refining" that's being done to that poor little cane of sugar the result is "empty calories." Those "impurities" that are taken away from the sugar cane are actually nutrients and vitamins (organic acids, protein, nitrogen elements, enzymes). You aren't going to believe this, but that means that when I eat refined sugar, my body has to steal from the nutrients already in my body to metabolize the sugar. Which means my body doesn't have any left over to metabolize the fat I eat. So it just hangs out in my bloodstream and pooch causing grief for my heart and waistline. Ho ho! So that's how sugar causes weight gain! I never knew. But now that I do, I can do something about it.
Code words for refined sugar: cane crystals, cane sugar, brown sugar, evaporated cane juice, fructose, glucose, invert sugar, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup.
Now before to get into the good news I have some more bad news. Artificial sugar.
Super controversial. I've found articles who call them cancer-causing-poison, to others who find them to be natural-health-improving-happiness. Since the studies being done right now are almost all funded by soda companies (totally unbiased don'cha think.) I'm guessing things are going to clear up anytime soon. So instead, I looked up what they are and how they work. That gave me all the info I needed.
Here's what I learned.
All artificial sweeteners have been chemically altered so they send a signal to our brain that something is sweet without adding calories or energy to our bodies. There's my first red flag. Since many forms are extra processed refined sugar I am losing the only good thing refined sugar had to offer: energy. Plus I am confusing my body. Naturally my body has a stop eating mechanism that says "all done!" when I've eaten enough calories to power my day. With artificial sweeteners my body will be unable to regulate calories and I end up eating more than I need to.
Oh, and newsflash! Anything labeled "sugar free" is LYING TO YOU! Food companies are businesses. If they can get you to eat junk because it's cheaper for them to make and keeps you coming back for more they will do it. If it says "sugar free" look for these code words in the label:
Code Words: Saccarin, aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose, tagatose, invert sugar
Oh my... so I was going to do a whole paragraph on high-fructose corn syrup as it's own kind of sugar, but, by golly, I just found out its been chemically altered too. So, I'll call it an artificial sweetener. Corn is a whole lot cheaper than sugar beets and sugar cane so back in the day scientists decided to try to make it sweet enough to use as a sugar sub. They ground down corn to produce corn starch, processed that to get corn syrup, then adding enzymes to change the molecular structure from glucose to fructose. And there we have high-fructose corn syrup. In that process there is all kinds of scary like: alpha-amylase treatment, fermentation, and carbon adsorption. Which means we have more code words to avoid:
Code Words: Corn sweetener, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, high-fructose corn syrup.
sad day...even agave nectar is super processed and refined. ouch.
Wow if you read this whole thing so far you are a champ.
I'm not dead yet. Which means continuing to eat my way through my half year supply of white sugar isn't going to be the end of the world. Here are my baby steps to choose more wisely when it comes to the sweet stuff.
-sweeten things naturally with honey, dates, raisins, grapes, and apples.
-watch my labels for the code words.
-ask about products labeled "sugar free" (asked at Baskin Robin's and sure enough their "sugar free" ice cream is sweetened with artificial sugar.)
-buy raw honey and use it instead of white sugar when ever I can.
-satisfy my sweet tooth with apricots, bananas, peaches, pears, pineapple, carrots, beets, or sweet potatoes.
In A Nut Shell
Orphan sugar (coined by moi) that has been taken from it's natural home and separated out to be more concentrated or refined will be missing it's nutrients, steal from my body to metabolize it, and cause weight gain. Chemically altered sugar messes with my brain. Try to use honey in it's complete natural form or fruit as sweetener.
Success! Honey in smoothies is delicious!
plus honey is antibacterial so it will help disinfect owies and soothe sore throats. Sweeeeet!
Friday, March 2, 2012
You know all those people who eat REALLY healthfully?
I'm talking like Sarah B at My New Roots, Lauren at The Holy Kale Amy at Coconut and Quinoa…my Gram Gram...
organic, wild, whole, aluminum-free, vegan, gluten-free crazies.
You know the type.
The first time I happened upon their kind I was inspired.
Yes! I will completely eradicate white sugar and white flour from my diet. Bean flour, sprouted wheat berries, and goat’s milk? New BFFs!
That was the sound of failure. One look at the ingredient list for Crusted Jerusalem Artichokes with Beluga Lentils, Kale and Harissa--I had a whopping 2 out of 14 of the ingredients in my possession and one of them was pepper. ouch.
Don’t get me wrong. I pride myself in being a pretty healthy gal. Half my grains are whole, fruits and veggies are a must at every meal, we rarely eat out, and I know the name of most every piece of produce available for purchase at Days Market. For crying out loud, people poke fun at my childhood wheat grinding chores and oatmeal pancakes!
Props. Serious props.
So once I was feeling pretty good about my butter-not-margarine, soda-avoiding self, I thought I’d just call it good.
Folks, there was a problem. I’d already read all hippie, earth-loving info about not putting bad stuff in my beautifully functioning body.
So what’s a girl to do?
I’ve decided to make tiny changes, one at a time. That way it’s not overwhelming.
If you’ve felt the urge to improve your eating habits, however awesome or scary they are now, feel free to check in and see how I’m doing.
BY THE WAY: You are not allowed to feel weird about food around me. I don't want to turn into a stress-inducing, oh-she-doesn't-eat-that, health nut. Just keep thinking of me as the nut I've always been. I'm exploring food, not judging it.
Are you hungry for adventure? Join me!
My first achievement: Quinoa.
Who knew there were hundreds of different grains I was missing out on! My first new friend is Quinoa. At first I pronounced it “Kwi-no-ah.” After an embarrassing experience at the Sunflower Farmers market I discovered it is actually “Keen-wa.”
This is the plant Quinoa is harvested from. ----->
Quinoa isn't actually a grain. It's a seed! However, since it is so grain-like and cooks like a grain it was allowed to join the grain club.
Here's the best part. It comes in cute colors!
Just kidding, that isn't the best part.
This is: Quinoa is actually a complete protein because it has all 9 essential amino acids. It's high in iron and magnesium. Learn more about this happy little seed here.
Rinse these guys really well they will taste a little bitter. They are tiny so you need a stainer to keep them from escaping down the drain-I didn't have one the first time and things got a little messy with the swishing and holding-back-the-quinoa-with-my-hand party.
Bring to boil 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water.
Cover and Simmer for 15 minutes or so.
That's an important consideration isn't is. Since he is an unbiased Dr. Pepper drinking, toaster strudel lover, but also a conscious veggie muncher and health enthusiast, he is a good reality check.
According to Austin: Big points for nutrition. The flavor was fine, but the size of each grain makes it feel like you're eating bird food.
Easy fix for this, mix some rice (brown or white) into the pot and voila! This is a health improvement success!