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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Yesterday was a perfect day to experiment in my kitchen. A friend of mine just moved out of the country and gave me the contents of her refrigerator and cupboards. I took home a lot of peanut butter and honey so I didn't feel intimidated to experiment, which sometimes I feel when I think of wasting ingredients.

Nourishing Gourmet has a homemade version of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I tried it out, but instead of using coconut oil, I tried a little bit of organic shortening in the chocolate part, and cocoa instead of hard chocolate, which didn't work out at all. It was worse than terrible. The clumpy mixture had to be chucked. I'm sure Nourishing Gourmet's version was great. The reason I wanted to forgo coconut oil is because it gets so sticky and melty so soon after taking it out of the freezer and I didn't want my peanut butter cups tasting anything like coconut.

I decided to make up my own version of peanut butter cups. Fortunately, mine ended up simple, easy and delicious.

The only problem is that the smell of peanut butter and melting chocolate attracted a small crowd (think teeny, tiny East Coast kitchen apartment). The next thing I know, Jeff is next to me with his Skippy peanut butter and our dog Annie is hanging out giving me her special adorable eyes, patiently waiting for a glob of peanut butter to drop to the floor.

Here is the how-to for these tasty, sweet treats. If you love chocolate and peanut butter together, then you'll love these and never need another Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. If you really want decadence, when these have finished solidifying, cut them into small pieces and add to ice cream-sugarless of course!

Easy Peanut Butter Cups

Peanut Butter
1 C peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tblsp honey - depending on your sweet tooth

2-3 ounces unsweetened chocolate bar, broken up into bits
2-4 tblsp honey - to your sweetness requirement

Mix peanut butter with vanilla and honey. Press spoonfuls into mini cupcake pans, filling each about halfway.

Next, I put the chocolate bits in a glass measuring cup in a small pan of simmering water. Stir in the honey and keep stirring until the chocolate is melted.

Next, have your camera ready for when you catch your partner sneaking peanut butter to the dog.

Lastly, if you have family members who poo-poo your naturally sweetened goodies like I have in my family, save a couple cupcake spots for them. Jeff was quick to fill his spots with peanut butter and chocolate chips when he saw that there was room.

I don't know if I'll ever convert his sweet tooth to naturally sweetened goodies. He seems dead-set against it and I don't push it on him, too much.

I put the cupcake pan in the freezer to get the peanut butter cups to solidify and it worked great. They pop out easily and still manage to melt in your mouth right out of the freezer.

My palate has changed so much over the past year and a half that even the smallest amount of sweetener satisfies. Keep in mind that the honey amount in this recipe can be altered, depending on your sweet tooth. If you are looking to cut down on calories, use a low-fat peanut butter and consider using a different sweetener than honey. It has more calories than white sugar.

This little recipe is incredibly easy, quick, and produces very little mess.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Goodbye Portland!

I've moved!

At some point this past year, having been purposefully unemployed, my husband and I decided to make a big change in our environment. More than a year ago we quit our jobs and sold our house in Portland, Oregon in search of a joint purpose. What we anticipated to include a lot of traveling, did, but our time off included a lot of other experiences as well. We visited a plethora of cities and small towns and it became obvious to both of us that the Washington, D.C. area held the most opportunity for our interests. So we are here successfully pursuing our dreams in this land of opportunity.

This weekend I volunteered at D.C.'s first ever VegFest and it was a blast. The only problem is that my only exposure to anything sugarless were little samples of Larabar's (which the peanut butter flavor really rocked my world). Other than that, I was quite frustrated at the beautiful, delicious-looking pastries because none that I asked about were sweetened naturally. There are a million places I want to explore here in the city, and I know local, naturally sweetened goodies must exist somewhere out here.

So far, my favorite place to grocery shop for naturally sweetened items is MOM's (My Organic Market), which is both more affordable than most health food stores and within two miles of where I live.

Looking forward to exploring and discovering everything this area has to offer, and sharing with you here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is Coca-Cola Hiding Something From Consumers?

I'm not sure how to present some information I stumbled upon this morning.

I don't want to slander or pick on a company, so I am currently trying to decide how to present the info. Coke, if you are reading this, I would love a comment from a representative on this one.

I've given myself some time to think it over, and I think my role as a "sugar" blogger, is to be objective in this case and just share the information. Actually, what I am about to share will speak for itself.

For those of you who are health nuts and are very careful about what you eat and drink, this information may not be meaningful to you, however, I believe the implications are extremely important.

Dare I draw this out and make you wait any longer?

Okay, here is what I discovered accidentally while researching some things online this morning:

Coca-Cola does not list "sugars" or "high fructose corn syrup" in its "Soft Drink Nutrition Information For Carbonated Beverages" pdf. on their home website. I looked elsewhere on their website for information about sugars and found Q&A about sweeteners in general, but I was after finding out how much sugar is in a Coke Classic. (Why I wanted to know is a different story!) Finally, discouraged by their website giving me the run-around without producing information on this, I bought a Coke from the vending machine downstairs in my building, feeling extremely guilty the entire time. I read the nutrition information on the can and left it sitting next to my computer. A few hours later it disappeared. Jeff? Ah well......

Here is what The Coca-Cola Company does list under nutrition information: Calories, Carbohydrates, Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Caffeine, Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame Potassium, and Sucralose [which is generic Splenda].

Sorry, I realized I can't just share this information without commenting on it...

What I find fascinating is that "Phosphorus" is listed, for example, but not "sugars". Why Phosphorus? Who in the world is interested in knowing the amount of Phosphorus in their drink?

Also, I find it quite interesting that they provide a listing of the various artificial sweeteners, yet no "sugars". Now, to be fair, they do list "carbohydrates" and sugar obviously falls under this category, but they do not specifically label this category "sugars". On the can they do list "sugars" but not on their website.

I feel as though The Coca-Cola Company is not being transparent. If I was selling a nutrition-less product, at 39 grams of sugars per 12 ounces, I might not want to share all this information, either.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sugarettes: A Must Read If You Want To Kick The Habit

I am excited to give this book a review.

The title says it all. The author, Naturopathic doctor Scott Olson, compares eating sugar to smoking cigarettes...in the first part of the book. The entire book is full of great information, research, comparisons, reasons to cut out the white stuff, and how to do it.

As you read, you get the idea right away that Dr. Olson is very motivated to help people eat healthier and achieve overall balance and health. It was his patients' struggles with sugar addictions that eventually led him to write Sugarettes.

My favorite chapter is "Let's Talk Carbs" where Dr. Olson describes the differences between simple and complex carbohydrates. He discusses carbs at a molecular level, using simple drawings, which greatly enhances the learning curve. Carbs can be a little confusing, but rest assured you'll feel quite educated by the end of the chapter. You will understand why "white bread and white sugar increase your blood sugar identically." You'll want to read more.

Dr. Olson is passionate about sugar. He is passionate about helping his reader understand all aspects of sugar: history, carbohydrates, addictions, insulin, high blood sugar, glycemic index, artificial sweeteners, sugar and disease and lastly, an entire chapter dedicated to "Surviving in Carbo-Land".

Dr. Olson taps into facts and figures about sugar that are science-based but underestimated in the medical community. He opens a pandora's box of questions, accusations and ultimately what we the consumer can do about our own addiction to sugar.

Although I have remained sugar-free since I gave it up a year and a half ago, I know that if I was still eating sugar and read this book, I would be very motivated to quit.

Sugarettes is an easy read, packed full of important information and motivating tips for how and why to quit eating and drinking sugar.

Thank you Dr. Olson for providing a great book dedicated to the topic of sugar!

To view Dr. Olson's website click here.