Welcome to My Year Without

On January 1, 2008, I made a New Year's resolution to cut out refined sugar for one year. I cut out white refined sugar and corn syrups. My quest to be sugar-free evolved into political interest, public health, and letter writing to food manufacturers. Join me in sugar sleuthing, and learn more about the psychological aspects of sugar addiction, and those who push sugar on us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Food Companies Transition from Naturally Sweet to Refined Sugar?

In my going-on-five years of sugar sleuthing I've come to understand one thing really well: Food manufacturers know and capitalize on our lust for the white stuff. That is why it is getting increasingly difficult to find naturally sweetened (or non-sweetened) packaged foods. When I started out giving up sugar in 2008, I could verifiably count on a number of companies to provide naturally-sweetened products. Since then some companies have begun to use refined sugar. The horror!

Pamela's cookies The lemon shortbread cookies were to die for. Some (most?) flavors had honey or molasses as the only sweetener. Now Pamela's uses evaporated cane juice and agave. When I wrote to find out why, here was the response:
"I’m sorry to hear that you do not care for the Lemon Shortbread cookies because we had to change the recipe from honey and molasses to sugar. The reason for this is because all of our honey plants were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and the crops have not been replanted. We had to switch over to using sugar, and it is unclear if Pamela is going to switch the recipe back. I will certainly pass along your suggestions to her, but as of this moment, we will be continuing using the sugar."

Izze beverages I love Izze drinks. Yes, fruit juice is full of sugar, but it is naturally-occurring from fruit. I was horrified one day when I grabbed a Birch-flavored Izze from my fridge and glanced at the nutrition facts/ingredients out of habit and found SUGAR in the ingredients. I thought I could count on Izze to provide a no-added-sugar beverage. In my outrage I wrote to the company asking about this. Here is the response:

"You'll notice that Sparkling Birch and Ginger are not listed on the website, this is because these are not fruit-flavored beverages and not part of our permanent line extension. Because there are no naturally-occurring sugars from fruit, we needed to add sugar to achieve the desired flavor profile."  

Uncle Sam's cereal  My favorite healthy packaged cereals. Attune foods has sent me several boxes of cereal to try since I started my blog. In 2011, I discovered added refined sugars which was very disappointing. The Uncle Sam Strawberry cereal has evaporated cane juice added, which I tasted anyway, at 7 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup cereal. It was too sweet for me. But for most people used to super-sweet, this may be the perfect transition cereal. When I questioned the company about this they responded:

"Our intention in releasing these newer flavors (Strawberry and Honey Almond) to the Uncle Sam cereal line-up was to appeal to the vast majority of Americans used to very sweet cereals and we felt that allowing a small amount of sugar might be a good bridge to get them to try the cereal and eventually transition to Uncle Sam Original. We are considering modifying those particular flavors further and with our Skinner's Raisin Bran, we recently adjusted the recipe and removed 1g of sugar per serving (barley malt as the sweetener)." 

 Attune foods They are wonderful at answering questions and they take feedback very seriously. It sounds like they are working towards more/all naturally-sweetened cereals. Also note, most boxes of cereals include a coupon ($1 off or 75 cents off) on the inside panel of the box. Uncle Sam's original cereal is usually $2.25 or so a box, so with the coupon, it's well under $2 per box.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

High on Juice

Freshly juiced fruit and vegetables do not taste how I anticipated.

The first time I juiced I got nauseous. And I don't get sick like that. However, my husband drank his tall glass of juice and asked for more, so I tried a different blend of fruit and veggies and tried a sip. It was a little better. Since then, it's only gotten better. I can drink almost any blend and I love it. Not sure why my taste buds/stomach rejected it at first.

With amazon credit, I was able to get this fantastic juicer by Breville. The crazy thing is that in January it was $149.00, and now a used one is $200?! Apparently everyone and their uncle is juicing. I LOVE this juicer (we got it based on customer reviews) because it is easy to use and clean and it can take hard veggies like beets, sweet potatoes, ginger, etc. I didn't realize that I would have to clean the parts every time I juiced, but that is a small price to pay (5 minutes) for a glass of frothy, delicious nutrition. Not to mention now my husband gets numerous fruits and vegetables in his diet, too.

I have so many favorite blends, where do I begin?

Pineapple, Carrot & Ginger

The Sour Apple: Granny Smith Apples, Kiwi & Green Grapes (It is our favorite.)

The Beeting Heart: Pineapple & Red Beets (If you juice the pineapple first, then pour beet juice on top, you can pour the beet juice in the shape of a heart onto the pineapple froth and it is adorable. Sorry, no pic of this yet.)

Kale, Pineapple & Ginger

Tomato, Celery, Parsley & Cucumber (no need to add salt. celery is plenty salty. who knew?)

Apple & Ginger

Pineapple, Jalapeno, Celery, Kale & Parsley

Carrot, Tumeric (stains everything but totally worth it. can find it at some health food stores and most asian markets.) Ginger, Lime & Beet

Pineapple, Spinach & Mango (very thick and frothy)

Orange, Red Apples & Spinach

Now my goal is to find a good use for the fibrous material left behind (besides composting). I imagine that the bits left over from a carrot-ginger juice would be fabulous in a stir fry. I haven't researched ideas but that is my next endeavor.

I tried eating only fresh juice for three days and that was okay. It required a lot of food prep and washing the juicer parts every time I was hungry enough to juice. Three days was a good start. I thought after watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead that I would go two months on juice, but come to find out that if you plan to go longer than 10 days on fresh juice alone, it should be done under medical supervision. If I had the money to pay a naturopath right now, I would consider it, but alas....

For now Jeff and I use juice as a sweets substitute, sometimes a meal substitute and sometimes when friends are over we experiment with whatever they bring over.

Ginger is by far our favorite ingredient. We can't seem to get enough of the spicy, internally warming stuff!

More juicing ideas?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ice Cream, Sugar and Cocaine

Am I the only one who has a problem with ice cream? Apparently not.

Check out this news story claiming that ice cream may be as addictive as cocaine. Hilariously sad.

Juicing recipes, pictures and my thoughts coming very soon!!