Thanksgiving ala No Added Sugar

November 20, 2018 § Leave a comment

Forget that stuffing in a box! Re-posting this video from two years ago, so you can follow along to make my favorite stuffing, with No Added Sugar. A holiday without a boatload of added sugar is not only possible but it is delicious and something you don’t have to feel guilty about afterwards!

Important note:Make the stuffing the day before, allowing the flavors to combine nicely.

Link to a post that has the full recipe for the Oyster Stuffing: https://eveschaub.com/2016/11/17/thanksgiving-stuffing-without-all-the-stuff/

Halloween: Deconstructed

November 13, 2018 § 2 Comments

When it comes to Halloween candy, how much is too much?

Halloween is over, but the memory lingers on. You can find it in the form of new residents of kitchen counters across the land: bags, pillowcases and plastic pumpkins full of added sugar. Have you ever looked at one of these bags and wondered: So. How much sugar is in there?

I mean, sure, it’s a lot. A ridiculous lot. But how much of a ridiculous lot?

Hmmmmmmm.

Three pounds of candy

While looking at my daughter Ilsa’s haul soon after it appeared, it suddenly occurred to me to wonder this very thing. So, in the name of questionable, nosy-parent, food-nerd science, I set about to find out. Ilsa’s candy bag weighed in at just over three pounds. I dumped the contents onto a blanket and sorted it just like the kids do after coming home with it, grouping by type… Kit Kats over here, Sour Patch Kids over there, weird off-brand candy no one will trade you for over there.

The real question: does Ilsa realize how nerdy her mom is?

I compiled a list of all the different candies. And then it was time to figure out the sugar content of each and every piece. (After checking many sites, I found this one to be the most useful: https://www.nutritionix.com.) Once I added it all up, Ilsa’s fairly average candy haul turned out to contain approximately: 795 grams of sugar.

To put this in context, on their website, the World Health Organization currently recommends added sugar not exceed 10 percent of daily calories, or 25 grams per day. So, if we divide the amount of sugar in Ilsa’s Halloween bag by the WHO’s recommendation per day— 795/25— Ilsa’s candy is enough to provide her with all her added sugar for 31 days.

Interestingly, though, there’s more. The WHO website then goes on to further recommend that, actually, it would be even better if people restricted added sugar to 5 percent of daily calories, or half the amount they recommended just a minute ago, in the previous sentence. http://www.who.int/elena/titles/guidance_summaries/sugars_intake/en/

By this new and improved standard, of course, Ilsa’s candy lasts twice as long, or about two months. This assumes, of course, that she hasn’t eaten added sugar anywhere else in her diet.

But even if one never eats any dessert at all, we know that most people are getting added sugar from other sources in their diet. From juice. From ketchup. From store-bought chicken broth or salad dressing or crackers or mayonnaise or bread or flavored yogurts… you get the idea. What this means is that having more than one piece of candy per day is extremely likely to make you exceed your recommended daily limit of sugar. So if you can manage to limit your kids candy consumption to one piece per day (dare we hope for every other day?) that’s best. That’s the first take-away.

But there’s another, more important take-away; it starts with the fact that one pound of sugar is equal to approximately 454 grams. If Ilsa had brought home a three pound bag full of sugar- just sugar, without nuts or rice crisps or additives or any other ingredients- it would amount to… 1362 grams. So, working backwards, knowing that her bag actually contains 795 grams of sugar tells us that her bag is just over fifty percent pure sugar.

Caution: feet are not edible

I promise not to ask you what time the two trains will meet. But here’s the kicker: weighing in at three pounds, Ilsa’s bag contains, roughly, a pound and a half of pure sugar, right? As we’ve already concluded, this means that the WHO would recommend she eat her candy over the course of a month or two, but really more like three or four if you include the fact that she will very likely be getting added sugar from some other sources in her diet.

Meanwhile, according to Livestrong.com, the average American eats three pounds of sugar per week. https://www.livestrong.com/article/474832-recommended-grams-of-sugar-per-day/  So what the WHO is recommending Ilsa eat in one or two months, the average American is consuming it’s equivalent in… (wait for it)… three and a half days.

Let me say that once more, because it’s important:

The amount of sugar the WHO recommends we eat in one or two months, the average American eats in three and a half days.

 Try to imagine eating 95 pieces of candy, an entire trick-or-treater’s bag, in three days. That’s about 27 pieces of Halloween candy a day. This level of sugar consumption is not theoretical- this is what the average American already does, Halloween season or not. So. Does the obesity epidemic make a little more sense now? (Not to mention the diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, liver disease, and hypertension epidemics?)

In this light, the statistics bear revisiting:

  • Right now, sixty percent of Americans are overweight or obese; if nothing changes, within two decades it will be ninety percent.
  • Already, being a healthy weight in the United States is the exception, not the rule.
  • Perhaps worst of all, this generation of children will be the first in modern history to live shorter lives than their parents.

We’d like to think that Halloween is a special time of year when we indulge in sugar a little more than we should. The reality— and the real lesson of my nosy-parent science experiment— is that those big bags of added sugar do not represent the exception. They represent the rule. It’s Halloween in America- Every. Single. Day. And the consequences of our unwillingness to recognize this fact are enormous.

Thank U Smarties! The one candy that has no fructose– the bad guy of added sugar

I know no one wants to be the dorky parent who hands out erasers or nickels at Halloween, or the no-fun parent won’t let her kid have more than one piece of their hard-earned candy every day or two, but you know what? I, for one, am embracing my dorkiness. Also, I’m hiding Ilsa’s candy bag in the freezer.

A Year Of No Sugar: Post 85

November 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Sink

Here is what my kitchen looks like today.

No, these isn’t the leftover results of the fact that we hosted Thanskgiving for eleven- we cleaned all that up on Friday. This is the result of the fact that yesterday I had an absolute cooking attack. I made turkey stock. I made banana bread. I made white dinner rolls just for the heck of it. The wonderfully ironic part was that none of this was actual entree material; my husband came in smelling all these wonderful smells and asked what was for dinner and I shrugged.

“Leftovers?” I said.

Why was I baking and cooking like a maniac? Well, believe it or not, I find it relaxing. And as we all know, the holidays can be a little un-relaxing. After a truly crazy week, (did I mention I had an endoscopy on Wednesday?) my kitchen was my own again. I had a whole Sunday stretched out in front of me, and the lower shelf of my fridge was being hogged by an enormous turkey carcass that wasn’t getting any younger. Eve Translation? Time to don an apron and make a big fat mess.

Meanwhile, in the midst of these recipes in various stages of production, I came to the realization that not only had the mice paid a visit to my pantry cupboard (leaving their lovely caraway-seed-poops as incriminating evidence) but so had the flour gnats- who liked it so much they had decided to move in. Ugh. So in between and around all this cooking and baking I began frantically cleaning out my entire kitchen cupboard shelf by shelf. Everything comes out, gets weeded through, and goes back in. Admittedly, I went a little crazy with the Clorox wipes.

The Pantry

It felt good though. I filled a big bag with cans and boxes to go to the local food cupboard, and my shelves are no longer dusty and disorganized. Treasure-hunt style, I found lots of interesting artifacts: five (count ’em) containers of unsweetened cocoa, several packages of powdered milk, a small bottle of Kalua someone had left here at a party, a two year old box of chocolates, lots of jam and sweet pickles that have been simply shoved to the back of the cupboard all this year, and yes, last year’s Halloween candy.

Of course I found all my new tenants too: happily ensconced in the rye flour, the cornmeal and all the dark little crevices buggies love so much. Lucky for me, my twenty-five pounds of white, wheat and bread flours were stored in big plastic bins, or I would’ve had a little gnat Woodstock on my hands.

I spent all day in the kitchen, made a huge mess, cleaned up another one, and still got very little done in the way of actual meal-making. It makes me think about how tied to the kitchen women have been in history, how necessary it was for them to not only make the meals from scratch, but to maintain the fire or the stove, the ice in the icebox, the bins of potatoes and squash in the cellar, all the while keeping things clean and keeping the critters at bay… before they had plastic bins. The kitchen, for so many women, was where they lived.

Seen in this context, the task of simply going for a year without eating sugar seems laughably easy. As contemporary people with all the modern conveniences, we don’t have to spend all day every day making our meals. Instead, what we’re going to eat is all too often an afterthought- something else we have to do too.

The Stock

The other day I watched a YouTube video documenting a contemporary family’s kitchen in which they use a wood-burning cook stove, an ice box, and light the room by kerosene lamp. Even though it was very charming, and even though I normally love that kind of living history jazz- it nonetheless struck me as a little… silly. I have no intentions of giving up my dishwasher… you’ve seen what my kitchen looks like even with it. And even though I’ve been railing against plastic lately, yesterday I was all but worshipping my big plastic flour bins. I don’t cook dinner in the microwave, but I do melt butter in it. And don’t even get me started on my husband’s coffee machine- it rivals the Starship Enterprise.

Each person must find their own happy medium. But the important thing is, that we give it some thought. There’s no easy answer to how to live in the modern world- but for me some part of it involves making turkey stock, homemade dinner rolls and not giving up my dishwasher.

A Year of No Sugar: Post 21

February 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve never been very good at improvising. Despite my established status as a crafty-arty person, I am, I’m afraid, heartbreakingly literal in some ways- especially when it comes to food.

Just ask Katrina. She’s the friend who made me realize it was, perhaps, just a teensy bit rigid of me to time the pasta cooking to the second, just to make a pot of Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Have I made this mom-staple three thousand times? Yes. No matter: it takes an extreme force of will to get me to dump the pasta out a few seconds early, and it would plainly never occur to me to dump the milk in unmeasured. Gasp!

I’ve been known not to make a recipe at all for lack of a single, tangential ingredient, such as ½ tsp of tarragon. After all, I reason, that might make the dish! And why go through all the effort to make something not as good as it is supposed to be?

Over time, I have learned to loosen up somewhat- but it is on the No Sugar Project that my improvising wings have been forced to take flight, for better or worse. It started with me bravely leaving out a teaspoon of sugar here, a tablespoon of honey there. And so far everything had been- fine! I baked baguettes without ¾ of a teaspoon of sugar, cheddar cheese soup without Worcestershire sauce (couldn’t find a no-sugar version), and sweet potato biscuits without 2 tablespoons sugar.

But I’ve been feeling… empty lately: hungry not just for food per-se but for richness and variety in our diet. My older daughter mentioned that she could not eat another hard-boiled egg for breakfast and I know just what she means. So, following a certain degree of success with the somewhat unconventional apple-raisin cookie recipe I found online, I’ve decided to branch out and experiment in the name of enlarging our no-sugar dessert possibilities. After all we’ve given up sugar, not sweet.

So last night I tried making an apricot bar recipe that we have loved in the past, but omitting the ¾ cup of brown sugar called for in the butter and flour crust. Now ¾ cup is a lot more than a tablespoon, and I realized some sort of replacement would be necessary to round out the crust, and provide it with the correct density and stick-together-i-ness.

I ended up deciding to try ¾ cup mushed banana. I felt very adventurous, and half-sure we’d end up with an inedible mess.

Good news! The apricot bars weren’t just edible, they were actually good! I mean, the kids ate them up, which is really the true test. Turns out the banana pulp provided just the right amount of stickiness to form a proper crust and emitted a delicious sweet smell while baking. Of course, the bars weren’t nearly as sweet as before, but they were sweet, primarily due to the cooked apricot filling; despite the smell, the banana taste wasn’t very detectible in the end product. I cooked them a little longer in an attempt to get them to brown on the top in an appetizing way, but in the end I thought maybe adding an egg to the crust next time would do more to help in this regard.

Isn’t that nice? I’m ridiculously proud of myself, and am happy to have sent that empty feeling packing for the moment. I’ll have to remember this moment for times in the future when I’m hacking failed experiments into the trash with an ice pick.

For those of you who’d like to play along at home, here’s the recipe as modified from the original “Lemon Date Bars” found in Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home:

Eve’s No Sugar Apricot Bars

  • 2 cups chopped dried apricots
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup mushed up ripe banana
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350

In a saucepan, combine the apricots, lemon juice and water. Cook, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, cream together butter and banana. Stir in flour, salt and baking soda. Add oats and mix well, using your hands. The dough should be crumbly, but hold together when squeezed. Press two-thirds of the dough into a buttered 8 or 9 inch square pan. Stir the apricot mixture and spread it over the dough. Crumble the remaining dough on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan. Cut into bars.

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