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:

The Sugar Alphabet: 54 Different Names for Sugar

May 12, 2014 § 20 Comments

You’d think there’d be a good online reference for all the Sugar Aliases out there, wouldn’t you? One that’d tell you ALL those different names for Sugar-With-A-Capitol-“S”, (which is to say ingredients that contain extracted fructose, ie: the BAD GUY in sugar). And there are some sugar-name lists, but, I’ll venture to say, perhaps none as comprehensive as this one.

One big problem is that many of the Sugar Name lists out there fail to distinguish between sweeteners that contain fructose and those that do not– thereby committing the unforgivable sin of lumping innocent and lovable brown rice syrup in with such metabolic evils as crystalline fructose! (Can you imagine?)

In compiling this new comprehensive list, many of the terms I already knew, but some I had to research further. I hope you appreciate all the articles I had to read with titles like “The Biological Synthesis of Dextran from Dextrins,“ and the fact that I now – against my will- know what a structural isomer is. Yes! I did that for you.

So, (insert trumpet fanfare here) here is my Up-To-The-Minute, Pretty-Much-Alphabetized, Family-Sized LIST of Sugars-to-Watch-Out-For:

PS- Find a new sugar name? Send it to me!! I’ll add it.

THE SUGAR ALPHABET (54 different names and counting)

  • Agave
  • Barbados Sugar
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Brownulated Sugar
  • Buttered Syrup
  • Cane Juice
  • Cane Sugar
  • Cane Syrup
  • Caramel
  • Carob Syrup
  • Castor/ Caster Sugar
  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Crystalline Fructose
  • Date Sugar
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Dextran
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Evaporated Cane Syrup
  • Evaporated Sugar Cane
  • Florida Crystals
  • Free Flowing Brown Sugar
  • Fructose
  • Fructose Crystals
  • Fruit Juice
  • Fruit Juice Concentrate
  • Glazing Sugar
  • Golden Sugar
  • Golden Syrup
  • Granulated Sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Icing Sugar
  • Invert Sugar
  • King’s Syrup
  • Maple Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado
  • Panocha
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Raw Sugar
  • Refiners’ Syrup
  • Sorghum
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Sucanat
  • Sucrose
  • Superfine Sugar
  • Table Sugar
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • White Sugar
  • Yellow Sugar

Not sugar but if I were you I would also avoid:

Sugar Alcohols:

  • Erythritol
  • Isomalt
  • Maltitol
  • Mannitol
  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol

Artificial Sugar Substitutes:

  • Acesulfame Potassium
  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal)
  • Cyclamate
  • Neotame (Nutrasweet)
  • Saccharin (Sweet n’ Low)
  • Stevia (Truvia)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

The Good News List!

These sound suspicious, but are more or less fine. They aren’t all necessarily health foods mind you, but they are sweetening agents that contain no fructose.

  • Barley Malt
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Corn Syrup
  • Corn Syrup Solids
  • Dextrose
  • Diastatic Malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl Maltol
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Glucose Solids
  • Grape Sugar
  • Isomaltose
  • Lactose
  • Malt Sugar
  • Maltose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Rice Syrup

Foods to Watch Out For:

You’ll find sugars in the strangest places, once you start to look. Here are some of the surprising, but very common offenders of hidden sugar (fructose):

  • Crackers
  • Bread
  • Bacon
  • Vanilla
  • Baby Food
  • Baby Formula
  • Salad Dressing
  • Cold Cuts
  • Marinades and Sauces
  • Tortellini
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Chicken Broth
  • Sausages
  • Cereal
  • Breakfast bars
  • Granola bars
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit

Foods That Are Generally Safe from Fructose: (it’s a short list, isn’t it?)

  • Cheese
  • Non-flavored Pretzels
  • Non-flavored Yogurt
  • Non-flavored potato chips


A Year Of No Sugar: Post 88

December 8, 2011 § 8 Comments

Let me tell you- this whole Christmas in a No Sugar household business? It is not for the faint of heart.

But before I begin, I’d just like to issue a formal declaration to all friends and family members: you may not, repeat NOT use the following information as ammunition to forward your argument that I am off my gourd and have been for the last, oh, say, eleven months or so. If you are helpfully wondering if I would like to talk about this, the answer is no. If you make the ill-advised decision to taunt me with quotes from this essay, I promise to sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” loudly until you cease and desist. Listening to me sing, as many of you already know, does not promise to be a very pleasant experience. You have been warned.

But… the holidays are coming– and I mean this in the most ominous way possible. Sometimes, it feels like we’ve been in training for the month of December this entire year. Christmas– the mother of all sugar holidays, the most fructose-laden of them all: more than Thanksgiving, which is a limited, one-day-only gluttony, more than Halloween, which focuses almost exclusively on the kids, more than birthdays and Easter and Valentine’s Day combined… As the dozens of mail-order catalogs arriving at our house every day clearly confirm, Christmas, for many of us, is about celebrating the birth of Jesus through a month-long marathon of sweets, treats, cookies and cake.

Greta's Journal

But that’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is the dread that my children are already expressing at the prospect of facing a sweet-restricted Christmas. Sure, we’ve discussed that Christmas itself will be the day we have our “special dessert” for the month, and that otherwise we can use dextrose to make versions of our favorite traditional treats… but on this account my daughter Greta refuses all attempts at consolation.

“Oh help me… I feel so helpless like I have know will or say in anything,” she wrote in her journal tonight. “Like my mom’s & Dad’s say & will com(e)s first and overpowers mine.”


Her entry goes on to lay the blame for her situation on David Gillespie, the author of Sweet Poison, from whom I’ve derived so much inspiration. (Sorry David!) As we were getting ready for bed I tried telling her that Mr. Gillespie is actually a very nice man, and remind her that he has six children of his own who also avoid fructose, including one daughter just her age. But Greta isn’t having any of it.

“I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!” she explodes, pounding her fists on her mattress. Her eyes are shining with tears.

Now, you may not be aware of this, but my eleven year old has a bit of a flair for the dramatic. (Perhaps it’s our retribution for naming her Greta- as in Garbo.) But, believe it or not, this is by far the most displeasure she has expressed with our No Sugar Year to date, and I have to admit I was a bit taken aback. Of course, I hate the idea that “my” project is causing them angst, sadness, ridicule at school… but I knew there had to be that side of it, didn’t I? Didn’t I?

While Greta’s outburst worries me, Ilsa worries me more. Ilsa is six. The other day we were buying sandwiches at a local shop when she reached out her hand curiously to touch a bowl of something on the countertop near the coffee carafes. When Greta suddenly warned her “That’s sugar!”, she actually flinched.

Then tonight, as she was using a magazine for a craft project, she showed me an ad for Haagen Daz ice cream. “Mama, I’m glad we’re not keeping this.” she said. “It hurts me.”

Oh. Shit.

Really, honey?” I stopped what I was doing and looked at her closely.

“Yeah.” She looked at me a little seriously, a little incredulously, as if to say, What, you didn’t know?

SO it’s been a busy night around here tonight! (What with me color coding my Mildred Pierce coat hanger collection and everything…) Directly following the “I hate it” episode, I took a de-e-e-e-e-p breath and asked both girls to look at me from where they sat, half-tucked into their comforters in their parallel beds, each with it’s own sizable coral reef of stuffed-animal life-forms.

“Listen. I want you to know. I know this year has been really, really hard. And I want you to know how much I appreciate the fact that you’ve gone along and done this project with me all year long. And it’s almost over- the really strict part. It’s almost over.” I feel like a broken record, even though I mean it. Is there really nothing I can do to assuage this sadness/anger/pain I have willingly invoked in them? Will words- in which I put such complete faith- really fail me?

Suddenly, as if on cue, Greta raises her index finger in the air, in a dramatic professor “Aha!” pose.

“My First Biography!” she declares with an impish grin that has- at least for the moment- erased her tears. “My Terrible Childhood!”

I smile. Now, that’s more like it.

A Year Of No Sugar: Post 41

April 15, 2011 § 5 Comments

Yeah. But what about…?

There are LOTS of “but what about…?”s that have cropped up over the last three-plus months of the No Sugar Project that I keep meaning to address, so here we go…

Medicine: as an obsessive and over-protective mom, medicine is off the table, as far as I’m concerned. Sugar Project or no, if my child is sick I am not, repeat NOT going to quibble about trying to find no-sugar Tylenol to quell their fever or some effective alternative to a tablespoon or two of canned fruit syrup to quiet a seriously upset tummy (did you know about that one? It works.) Nope. Medicine is not food, it’s a whole other category. However, as I’ve mentioned before, we have enjoyed remarkable health these past three months, given the time of year and the fact that we have not one but two children in elementary school, which as we all know is Club Med for germs.

All that being said, I’m still fully prepared to bitch about it. Do you remember the days when taking medicine was just awful? Like, gag-reflex-inducing-awful? I’m not saying we should bring back the bad-old-days, but it is troubling to notice that standard medicine cabinet items such as Children’s Tylenol and cough drops have truly been transformed into candy by the addition of HFCS. Ask any mom: it’s to the point where kids beg to have additional unnecessary doses. Now that kind of scares me.

(Thank you to Kate for bringing up this important subject! PS: Hope you are feeling much better.)

Lastly: what about vitamins? Thank you to Katrina- I think- for pointing out that the children’s chewable vitamins prescribed by our pediatrician almost certainly have sugar in them to make them palatable. This is a tougher one: are vitamins “medicine” or “food”?

Lemon and Lime Juice: Also tricky. Technically, we’re not drinking fruit juice, or consuming anything sweetened with fruit juice. However, what about when you aren’t sweetening, such as when you add lemon or lime juice? Technically, there’s still fructose involved, and technically, as fruit juice, that amount is going to be concentrated and minus the fiber and other micronutrients we’d be getting if we were eating the whole fruit, right?

Currently, I use lemon juice quite a bit: in salad dressing, hummus, and several pasta and vegetable recipes. Because of the lack of sweetness, it took a while for me to remember that it is still “fruit juice,” nonetheless. But can this fruit juice be justified on the No Sugar Project?

So I did some research. According to the handy dandy nutrient calculator found on the USDA National Nutrient Database, there is 0.53 grams of fructose in the 48 grams of juice in an average lemon, and 0.27 grams fructose for 48 grams of lime juice.

So if we try to compare apples to apples (ha ha), by using that same amount (48 grams) how do other fruits measure up? If I am using this nutrient calculator right- of which there is absolutely no guarantee- unsweetened apple juice comes in at 2.75 grams of fructose. For unsweetened grape juice you get a whopping 3.53 grams of fructose. Orange juice, for some reason on this website only lists “sugars” (rather than breaking that down into separate components of fructose, lactose, glucose and so on.) Still, at 4.03 grams “sugars” per 48 grams raw orange juice… wow!

Okay, so I’m not sure how to handle this one. Do we have a “fructose threshold”? I don’t know. I don’t want to give up my hummus, so help me out here people. Comments? Rationalizations? Anyone?

Coconut Water: Just the other day I was in the health food store and picked up a bottle of coconut water to drink. Remember how very many drinks are verboten on No Added Sugar? Practically all of them… we can drink water, milk, and for the grown-ups: coffee and (our no added sugar exception) wine. Hmmmm…. I thought. Does “coconut water” count as “fruit juice?” After doing some research the answer seems to be yes. According to, a serving of coconut water has 5.4 grams of combined simple sugars: glucose and fructose. No matter how you slice it, that’s got to be quite a bit of fructose. Too bad.

Dextrose: Remember my “ose” debate? I consulted with Dr. Robert Lustig, who kindly responded that “dextrose is glucose,” and therefore for our fructose-free purposes, fine. It was nice to have at least one “what about?” question end with a “why, yes, you can have that!” even if it was dextrose and not hot fudge sundaes.

Brown Rice Syrup: I have yet to encounter this ingredient, but I have found some recipes calling for it online, so it seems worth investigating. According to Wikipedia, it is “a sweetener derived by culturing cooked rice with enzymes” which is composed of maltose, glucose and maltotriose. Woo-hoo! No fructose in sight!

On the other hand, my friend Katrina weighed in: “Yeah, too bad it tastes like dog poo.” Oh. Well, then again she also thought our beloved GoRaw raisin granola bars tasted like “bird seed” (like that’s a bad thing!?) so who knows? She’s going to give me some to try out- stay tuned.

Malted Barley: My dear friend Wikipedia informs me that “barley malt syrup” is “produced from sprouted barley” and is made up of maltose, complex carbohydrate and protein. It is described as roughly half as sweet as refined sugar, but with a “malty” taste, “best used in combination with other natural sweeteners.” Yeah, well, so much for that part.

Now I must take a moment to once more explain how NOT SAVVY I am with regard to nutritional matters: full disclosure… science and my brain don’t like one another much. So, honestly, I had to read further to realize why “complex carbohydrate” couldn’t mean “fructose” in disguise. Well, you probably paid attention in health class and already know the answer: fructose is a “simple sugar” aka “monosaccharide,” which is to say not complex. Complex carbohydrates are chains of three or more sugar molecules linked together, which apparently makes all the difference.

Which brings us back to the “-ose” question. The suffix “-ose” refers to simple sugar, again according to Wikipedia: “For example, blood sugar is the monosaccharide glucose, table sugar is the disaccharide sucrose, and milk sugar is the disaccharide lactose.”

So complex carbohydrates are fine. Simple carbohydrates, aka simple sugars, aka mono- and di-saccharides are also fine, as long as we avoid that one nasty, bad seed mono-saccharide: fructose. Well when we put it that way, it doesn’t sound so very hard, does it?

Agave: I had been wondering about agave/ agave nectar/ agave syrup… first of all, what is it? Thanks to Wikipedia I now know that it is a Mexican perennial succulent, similar to ornamental Yucca plants. Yum.

Second of all, terms like “nectar” and “syrup” would seem to indicate the extraction of the sweet “juice” of the plant, leaving behind the fiber and any other beneficial micronutrients. So I wondered- is there a a form of agave which includes the plant fiber? Turns out no, unless you consider razor strops or hand soap (two of the uses for the non-sap parts of the plant) edible. Oh well.

Contains Less Than 2 percent Of The Following”: A friend of ours who is a doctor recently pointed out, and rightly so, that abstaining from products with a vanishingly small amount of sugar doesn’t really do anything nutritionally… meanwhile we are still having wine (my and my husband’s one “exception” item) which has comparatively significant amounts of fructose, being fermented fruit juice, of course. (According to the USDA website listed above an average 5 oz glass of red wine contains .91 grams of total sugars- it is not broken down further into glucose and fructose.)

Well, true. I suppose, in the alternative we could say that we could eat any food for which the sugar falls in the “less than 2 percent” category, and have that be our exception, except that that sounds awfully clinical to me. Plus, I’d sorely miss my nightly glass of wine, and feeling more deprived than I already do now is not very high on my list of things to do. I don’t know. What do you think?

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