Friday, March 26, 2010

I can do without: 1. Refined Sugar

In explanation of our daily food lives, I've decided to start with some of the main things we have decided to stay away from. I'll list them here and give my explanations, information and alternatives one day at a time.
I can do without...
1. refined sugar
2. white flour
3. vegetable oils
4. preservatives
5. artificial flavors and colorings
6. grain-fed meat
7. pesticide treated fruits and vegetables

1. Refined Sugar (sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin): Let me start off by saying that of all of the things I have entertained the thought of letting go of over the past couple of years, this one was like the "yeah, it's not gonna happen" one. I like sweets. Always have. Who doesn't? I mean if I had a nickle for every Sweettart or homemade chocolate chip cookie I have eaten in my life...well...I'd be headed for a shopping spree at Target. But when I realized that not only did it not add anything good to me, it is actually hazardous to mine and my family's health, I changed my tune. And it probably made it easier that there are natural sweeteners readily available that I have learned to use in sweets and desserts that are seriously delicious. And since I have not been eating refined sugars, I hardly ever want sugar!

No one is surprised to hear that sugar is not good for you. I think this has past debate and moved over into the fact column. But the question remains just how bad for you is it? We are obviously not convinced of its power because we keep consuming it at the average rate of 53 teaspoons a day! Not only does sugar have no nutritional value whatsoever, it also has many adverse side effects. It robs our bodies of valuable assets such as minerals, enzymes, and vitamins, especially B-vitamins which work in us to promote healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, muscle tone and cardiovascular function. Refined sugar also creates blood-sugar imbalance which effects mental function, physical energy, and emotional stability. Studies have also shown that sugar is effective in weakening the immune system and is a source of fuel for cancer and tumors. So not only does it not make us better, it makes us worse! Some researchers have said that there is no other food that contributes to as many health problems, while others have even classified it as a poison!

The good news! There are sweeteners occurring naturally that can be used in place of refined sugars. They are pure maple syrup, raw unfiltered honey, Rapadura, or molasses. There is also Stevia which is not good for baking, but good to use as a sweetener in coffee or cereals and such. You need proof? Well I have successfully made chocolate chip cookies, muffins, chocolate coffee cake, oatmeal peanut butter cookies, and ice cream all without the use of refined sugar.

Do not turn to artificial sweeteners (as it is pretty clear that nothing artificial is beneficial). They are linked to cancer, weight gain, increased cravings for sweets, diabetes, MS, and migraines among other serious ailments. So read the labels on all of your store bought food. I imagine you will find one or more of these artificial sweeteners. I say chunk it, but it's up to you! Just please don't feed it to my kids :)

I'll post recipes later-if you bug me I might do it sooner :)

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