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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cut Out Sugar With These Cut-Out Sugar Cookies!

I love cookies, don't you? Just saying the word cookie makes me happy.

Buttery, rich and chewy describe these insanely delectable cut-outs. I find them fascinating because they are truly sweet and have an excellent texture but only four ingredients.

I posted a similar recipe a long time ago, but now seems like the perfect time of year to share this recipe again. Krista uses a little almond extract in this recipe, and it's also delicious with a dollop of jam on top or a few sliced almonds. Feel free to experiment with different flavored extracts: vanilla, lemon, cinnamon, etc.

It's simple: flour, butter, extract and honey.

I will be trying it with my new favorite flour, white whole wheat flour, and we'll see how it turns out. It seems like the only modification you need when using this flour as a substitute to white flour, is to increase liquids by a little bit. For me, this means honey of course.

Visit Nourishing Apron's blog for more mouth-watering, no refined sugar recipes.

(I "borrowed" the sugar cookie picture until I have one of my own. This one contains sugar but looks similar to the sugar-free cookie.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

I hope this finds you warm and well.

I thought I would put together a consortium of blogs, recipes and ideas for the upcoming day of feasting--now only two days away. Thanksgiving has always been exciting in my family because of the foods, desserts and ultimate relaxation. I have to admit that this year, though, I am doing something quite non-traditional--homemade pizza--but for the masses seeking ideas for a more traditional Thanksgiving fare, I hope you can use something here:

The Nourishing Apron offers a sugar-free pumpkin bread recipe using honey, maple syrup and orange juice concentrate to sweeten with.

Treat yourself to a delectable, dessert-like cranberry salad, brought to you by the Nourishing Gourmet.

The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen couple have several Thanksgiving recipes, beginning with the Butternut Squash & Bean Casserole with Sage and Shallots. Scroll down for a nice list of T-Day recipes, including desserts.

Over at the Spunky Coconut you will find a mouth-watering recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cake, made with white beans! What I like about this particular post is that all her Thanksgiving recipes are gluten-free, caesin-free and sugar-free.

Still not enough ideas? Over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs, Ricki has provided quite an exhausting list of recipe ideas that look incredible.

For the morning after, try this applesauce-inspired French toast recipe with maple syrup or sauteed apples.

Whatever you do, I hope it turns out wonderful. One little piece of advice in case a cooking experiment goes awry, is always have a nice box of tea and jar of honey ready to give your host if all else fails. When it comes time for dessert, there will then be something sugar-free for you to have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Fascinating Blog: Crazy Sexy Life

I have just stumbled upon an incredible blog called Crazy Sexy Life. It appeared with a list of other blogs mentioning "refined sugar" in my Google alerts. Just when I thought the fog and gray sky were going to get the best of me today, I happened upon this great find.

Today's article focuses on inflammation; what it is, diseases it's linked to, and an "Anti-Inflammatory Plan" to help you get started. One of the steps to reducing inflammation is giving sugar the boot, of course. "Reduce or eliminate refined sugars and carbohydrates. Refined sugar disrupts immune and digestive function, which contributes to inflammation."

I'd also like to note that the "blog posse" is totally worth reading. These are the contributors, with short, very interesting bios on each person. This is a fascinating, well-rounded blog worth your time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trader Joe's: A Great Source for Sugar-Free

During my latest trip to Trader Joe's, I had an epiphany. I hadn't realized it until then, but most of my sugar-free foods come from this wonderful grocery store. It's a million times less expensive than Whole Foods, and it's easier to find what I'm looking for as long as it's not a total zoo (hint: early morning is least crowded.)

Not to pick on other grocery stores, but TJ's seems to really know and care who their customers are--not who they imagine them to be.

Here are some examples of sugar-free groceries I've been able to get at TJ's over the last few years: crackers, chips, bread, muffins, cereal, salad dressings and other sauces, marinara sauce, pasta, peanut butters, etc. (Albeit, you must check labels.) I've been able to get more sugarless foods here than most any other health food store (which seem to think that if their sugar is organic, it's okay). TJ's has a plethora of natural sweeteners, also: 100% fruit juices, a great selection of honeys, dried fruit (you must check these labels), molasses, etc. Their organic selection has grown considerably, also, since I first began shopping here years ago. Within the last year or so I noticed they also started carrying sprouted wheat bread, in their bakery section, fresh.

I was able to buy a box of Barbara's cereal for about $3.50 at TJ's....at WF a box half the size was over $4 if I'm remembering correctly. TJ's also has an interesting variety of non-dairy milks. There are several with no added sugars, organic and cheap. Also, TJ's is where I first discovered white whole wheat flour, and cheap. This flour is great in baking and more wholesome than white flour. I found packages of organic tempeh for $1.50, which go for over $3 at most health food stores. To really treat my sweet tooth, I load up on dried fruit leathers and keep my pantry stocked. They are delicious and just fruit!

Not to mention the fabulous wine selection, decadent foreign chocolates for my husband and guests (don't get the sugar-free versions.....maltitol!) and even affordable dog treats. (I should be making my own...)

I'm probably leaving out plenty of other groceries, but I just wanted to emphasize that TJ's has quite an impressive selection, somehow tucked in their little stores, and very affordable.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tofu In Cookies?

I've had a 1982 Tofu Cookbook for probably 10 years and have never used it until today.

I have no idea why one would use tofu in cookies, but I thought I'd see what it was all about. I thought I would bring this strange goody to a potluck tonight. As it turns out, the recipe is completely vegan and I turned it into sugar-free.

I had to delete the entire recipe after the first batch came out of the oven. These are not potluck-worthy. Shoot! I wonder if by substituting white whole wheat flour for regular flour they got heavier? They are okay, but really not very sweet and kind of cakey and dry. If anything, by substituting honey for sugar, I expected them to be quite moist.

I enjoy using organic tofu once in a while, but I'm going to use it as a main ingredient for now on, not a cookie ingredient.

If you are interested in an 80's tofu cookbook, this one seems to have some pretty interesting recipes, many of which I would like to try sometime. I just wouldn't recommend tofu cookies.

(I would love it if someone out there proved me wrong and provided a delicious tofu cookie recipe!)

Cookbook: Tofu Cookery, by Louise Hagler

Center For Consumer Deceit

What do you think of when you read the following title: Center for Consumer Freedom?

I was sitting at a restaurant the other day and an interesting commercial came on the big, annoying screen above the bar. Click here for the link to the commercial. It was another silly skit defending high fructose corn syrup. First of all, I could care less whether HFCS is exactly the same or different from white table sugar! Does that in any way excuse it from wreaking havoc on our health? Ironically, the only thing the corn people can say about their beloved HFCS is that it's the same as sugar--as if that solves the problem. The problem is that it exists in the first place, is needlessly but highly prevalent in foods and beverages and is linked to obesity. But I am getting off subject.

As I watched the commercial, I noticed this in the lower part of the screen: PAID FOR BY THE CENTER FOR CONSUMER FREEDOM. I thought to myself, Hm. That sounds legitimate. Perhaps we are blowing this HFCS-thing out of proportion?

The next thing I know, Jeff is busy Googling the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) on his iPhone. Annoying!

But I'm glad he did, because he shared with me what this Center is all about, and we laughed like little kids. What an appealing, creative, deceitful title. What a load of @!!#.

After looking at their website, I have to say that I probably disagree with EVERYTHING they say. It's not that surprising when you learn that the Center is supported by over 100 companies, including "the restaurant industry, food companies and individual donors. The forerunner to the CCF was the Guest Choice Network, which was organized in 1995 by Richard Berman, executive director of the public affairs firm Berman and Company, with $600,000 from the Philip Morris tobacco company, 'to unite the restaurant and hospitality industries in a campaign to defend their consumers and marketing programs against attacks from anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-meat, etc. activists ...'"

Do you know what a "front group" is? It's an "organization that purports to represent one agenda while in reality it serves some other party or interest whose sponsorship is hidden or rarely mentioned. The front group is perhaps the most easily recognized use of the third party technique."

Beware of the CCF: "For example, Rick Berman's Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) claims that its mission is to defend the rights of consumers to choose to eat, drink and smoke as they please. In reality, CCF is a front group for the tobacco, restaurant and alcoholic beverage industries, which provide all or most of its funding." (sourcewatch.org)

Go to the CCF website and see for yourself all the incredible health and wellness groups and activites they speak against! They attack preventative medicine, treating animals with respect, organic food, eating healthy and more. I went to their "About Us" section and almost choked on my tongue.

Here are some snippets:
  • "Consumer freedom is the right of adults and parents to choose how they live their lives, what they eat and drink, how they manage their finances, and how they enjoy themselves.
  • Unfortunately, Americans have been force-fed a diet of bloated statistics hyping the problem of obesity. Those statistics have been used by Big Brother government bureaucrats and greedy trial lawyers to justify a host of noxious "solutions," like extra taxes on certain foods and lawsuits against anyone who grows, makes, or serves anything tasty.
  • A growing cabal of activists has meddled in Americans’ lives in recent years. They include self-anointed "food police," health campaigners, trial lawyers, personal-finance do-gooders, animal-rights misanthropes, and meddling bureaucrats."
Down with those who campaign for health! Darned those crazy food police and do-gooders! Can you imagine the nerve of CCF saying these things?! Who could possibly be their audience, besides each other?

The name of their HFCS commercial is "sweetscam.com". The real scam is that when people see the commercial, they may make the same mistake I did, but without investigating who the Center for Consumer Freedom really is--a front group who wants us to throw away our money and health on their food.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Outrageous Physicians' Alliance With Coca-Cola

I'm livid.

Imagine running an animal rights organization, and having slaughterhouses fund your research. Seriously, that would be absurd.

"But wait, if they are offering money for research, why not take it?"

It seems like some of the worst decisions ever made are because of money. But in this case (see below), I can't help but wonder if there is more on the line.

"The American Academy of Family Physicians has a new six-figure alliance with the Coca-Cola Co.

Academy CEO Dr. Douglas Henley said Wednesday that the deal won't influence the group's public health messages, and that the company will have no control over editorial content. He said the new online information will include research linking soft drinks with obesity and will focus on sugar-free alternatives.

But critics say the Coke deal will water down the advice.

'Coca-Cola, like other sodas, causes enormous suffering and premature death by increasing the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, gout, and cavities,' Harvard University nutrition expert Dr. Walter Willett said in an e-mail.

He said the academy 'should be a loud critic of these products and practices, but by signing with Coke their voice has almost surely been muzzled.'

Dr. William Walker, public health officer for Contra Costa County near San Francisco, likened the alliance with ads decades ago in which physicians said mild cigarettes are safe,

Walker has been a member of the academy for 25 years but quit last week. He said 20 other doctors who work with his local medical practice also quit because of the Coke deal."

I discovered this disappointing information in several articles, the original source being the Associated Press. The above quote was found in the Topeka Capital-Journal online.

(However, the most thorough article I've found is Huffington Post. Posted after my initial post!)

I had to check out the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). AAFP website

The AAFP claims to represent "more than 94,600 physicians and medical students nationwide." Does this mean Coca-Cola Co. just hired 94,600 physicians and medical students?

I will repeat the words of world-renowned researcher, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health, Dr. Walter Willett, "Coca-Cola, like other sodas, causes enormous suffering and premature death by increasing the risks of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, gout, and cavities."

By Coke's dangerous nature and the fact that it provides us with nothing but health risks, these physicians have no business making alliances with Coca-Cola. These physicians are the very people who have the science to know better. What new information about Coke could we possibly benefit from? It's never going to be a product with nutrients we need.

Contact Information for AAFP

Contact Information for Coca-Cola Co.