Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sugar Addict

Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I am a sugar addict. I take my coffee "light 'n sweet", in buffet lines I gravitate towards the dessert table first, and on more than one occasion I have suffered sugar withdrawal when attempting to lower my consumption of the sweet nectar for health's sake. So, you can imagine my dismay when a friend emailed me a newsletter which briefly explains why refined sugar is toxic to the human body. The newsletter focuses on an event that took place several hundred years ago. Five sailors were shipwrecked in 1793. The only provisions on their ship were sugar and water. When the sailors were picked up nine days later they were in terrible condition due to starvation. (Another source claims that all they had was sugar and rum, which is more believable.) This story prompted the French physiologist, Francois Magendie to conduct a series of experiments where he fed dogs a diet that consisted solely of sugar. All of the dogs died. His conclusion: sugar as a steady diet is worse than consuming nothing because sugar is an "anti-nutrient".

Sugar is derived from cane sugar. In order to remove the bacterial contaminants and make sugar safe for human consumption, sugar must be refined. However, this extensive refining process destroys all of the enzymes, fiber, vitamins and mineral that are natural to sugar and help our bodies to digest it and use it for energy. As a result, consuming sugar actually depletes the body of nutrients through the demand its digestion, detoxification and elimination makes upon one's entire system. Hence, why sugar is classified as an "anti-nutrient".

Unfortunately, this information alone doesn't have me swearing off my sweetened morning caffeine jolt. Considering that the average person consumes 175 pounds of sugar each year, it probably isn't convincing you either. However, delving deeper into the dark, addictive world of sugar uncovers more harmful side-effects. Because consuming sugar causes the body to release a rush of insulin, which in turn causes a subsequent blood-sugar drop, it can cause a false sense of hunger - making you eat more. When insulin levels are consistently high as a result of eating too much sugar, advanced glycation end products remain high in the body which promote aging. In order for your body to process sugar, it pulls calcium from your bones and teeth promoting tooth decay and osteoporosis. Sugar in excess is stored as fat in our bodies. Finally, B-vitamin production is depleted with high consumption of sugar, which in turn can impair brain function.

If you aren't convinced enough to give up your secret "candy drawer" consider this: consuming high quantities of sugar has been linked to varicose veins, constipation, hormonal imbalances, ADD and ADHD, increased emotional instability, depressed immune system, increase risk of cancer and degenerative diseases.

What's a girl with a sweet-tooth supposed to do? There are natural alternatives to sugar, most of which can be found at natural or health food stores. Honey, agave nectar, rice syrup, maple syrup and date sugar make up the short list. (I am excluding Stevia from my list, because it is rebaudioside A that is extracted from the plants to be a sweetener and therefore not completely natural.)

Stay strong, sugar addicts. There are alternatives that will allow us to have our cake -- and eat it too!

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Recipes for the week: Soft Chicken Tacos, Bistro Dinner Salad, Macadamia Nut-Pesto Fettucini, Spiced Salmon with Mustard Sauce.

Soft Chicken Tacos (serves 4)

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (such as Tillamook)
  • Low-fat sour cream (optional)

Preparation

Prepare grill.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; rub spice mixture over chicken.

Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes; chop.

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide chicken evenly among tortillas; top each tortilla with 2 tablespoons cabbage and 1 teaspoon cheese. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Source: Elisa Bosley, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2006


Bistro Dinner Salad (serves 4)

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
  • 4 large eggs
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 bacon slices (uncooked)
  • 8 cups gourmet salad greens
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 (1-inch-thick) slices French bread baguette, toasted

Preparation

Place nuts in a small skillet; cook over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan frequently. Remove from heat; set aside.

Break 1 egg into each of 4 (6-ounce) custard cups coated with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave at high for 40 seconds or until set; let stand 1 minute. Remove eggs from cups; drain on paper towels.

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp; cool slightly. Remove bacon from the pan, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings. Crumble bacon. Combine walnuts, bacon, greens, blue cheese, and pear in a large bowl.

Combine 1 teaspoon reserved drippings, vinegar, oil, tarragon, and mustard in small bowl; stir with a whisk. Drizzle over greens mixture; toss gently. Arrange 2 cups salad mixture on each of 4 serving plates; top each serving with 1 egg and 1 toast slice.

Source: Allison Fishman, Cooking Light, MAY 2006


Macadamia Nut-Pesto Fettucini (serves 3)
  • 1 (9-ounce) package fresh fettuccine
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 3 tablespoons roasted macadamia nuts
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

While pasta cooks, place basil and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine basil mixture and pasta in a large bowl, tossing to coat.

Source: Elaine Magee, M.P.H., R.D., Cooking Light, APRIL 2004

Spiced Salmon with Mustard Sauce (serves 4)
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a fork. Rub mustard mixture evenly over each fillet. Place fillets, skin side down, on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Source: Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light





1 comment:

Eila (Chef/Owner of "Mom-a-licious") said...

Too funny! Great minds think alike. Check out my latest post...