health

Sugar Coating the Truth

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The average American consumes around 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day.

Wow. That’s nearly 1/2 a cup! Imagine sitting down for breakfast to a bowl of refined sugar and a spoon. Eat up! You don’t want to miss the most important meal of the day! The truth is, we don’t have a clue how much sugar we’re eating on a daily basis nor where it’s hidden.

As my diet changed, I became a label reading machine. I was absolutely astounded to discover sugar hidden in foods that I’d always perceived as healthy and normal:

  • oatmeal
  • protein bars
  • ketchup
  • salad dressing
  • pasta sauce
  • yogurt
  • granola
  • dried fruit
  • peanut butter

Then there are the obvious contenders like:

  • soda
  • ice cream
  • donuts
  • sweeteners
  • pies
  • jelly
  • candy
  • cake

To be honest, we are already getting (or should be getting) our daily amount of natural sugar through our fruits and vegetables long before we’ve gotten to anything else. Oh, dear…

Sugar is a sweet carbohydrate that can be found in both processed and natural foods. Natural sugars (found in our fruits, veggies and grains) are important in fueling our body with energy (along with protein). However, processed and refined sugars serve no benefit to our health. Period. Now, I don’t want to sound like I’m docking dessert and all that is sweet. I love me some rich, decadent dessert! It’s good for the soul!  But, we have to get real about what we’re eating. A mountain dew and apple Danish are not the answers to healthy living (call me crazy, but it’s true!)

The list of sugar pseudonyms runs long. To name a few undercover agents:

  • corn syrup
  • glucose
  • cellulose
  • cane juice
  • caramel
  • cane sugar
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • castor sugar
  • sorbitol
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • sucrose
  • maltose (pretty much anything ending in -ose), etc..

While you may not know all the hidden names for sugar, it is important to be aware of what’s going into your body. It’s worth learning and it’s worth doing. Your body will thank you!

So, does this mean I can never eat dessert again? Absolutely not. The beautiful thing is, you can still enjoy sweet foods! The key here, for those simply cutting back on sugar, is moderation.

If you’re completely cutting out all refined sugars (like I have had to do) all hope is not lost! There are some incredible recipes using honey, stevia and agave to concoct some pretty delicious alternatives. (Lately, I have been playing with a new brownie recipe. Look for it in the near future!) Before you know it, the alternative becomes the norm! This is a GOOD thing.

Our bodies (though we’d like to think so) cannot handle the crazy amount of processed sugar we get each day. Whether or not we feel the effects now, we will later on. For some of us, sugar is already causing us a world of hurt through inflammation, arthritic joint pain, diabetes, acne and weight gain. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Remember: We have one body and one life to live. Live it well, by eating well.

Part of This Complete Dessert… I Mean, Breakfast.

Sweet Potato "Scramble" with Cinnamon Apple Topping.
Sweet Potato “Scramble” with Cinnamon Apple Topping.

The air today is crisp and clean with the breath of winter. This made it the perfect morning to warm up the kitchen and experiment with one of my favorite foods: the sweet potato. Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, but they are incredibly good for you! Filled with Vitamin A and C, beta carotene, fiber and antioxidants, sweet potatoes play an important role in preventing inflammation and keeping your body safe from free-radicals (which can cause cancer, among other health related issues).

Now that you know the beautiful benefits of this sweet treasure, let’s take it up a notch!  Add a few key ingredients and you’ve got yourself a delicious and nutritious way to start your day.

SWEET POTATO “SCRAMBLE” WITH CINNAMON APPLE TOPPING

Serves 4

You will need:

  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. of Honey
  • 1 tsp. of Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp. of Baking Powder
  • 1 1/3 C. of Almond Milk
  • 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance Butter or Coconut Oil (for greasing)
  • 2 Chopped Apples (I used Macintosh, but any apple will do)
  • 2 Tbsp. of Honey
  • 1 tsp. of Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance Butter (or Coconut Oil)
  • 1 tsp. of Cinnamon
  1. Begin by poking holes in your sweet potatoes. Place in the microwave for about 6 minutes, or until softened. Cut down the center of each potato (careful! They will be hot.) Allow them to cool if need be.
  2. Carve out the middles into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Using a fork, mash the potatoes until most of the lumps have disappeared.
  3. Add in the egg, vanilla, honey, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and almond milk. Whisk together.
  4. Turn your stove to Med/High heat. Liberally grease your skillet with Earth Balance butter or coconut oil. When the butter/oil begins to bubble, pour your batter into the skillet.
  5. Leave it until you see the edges begin to cook. Using a spatula, “scramble” the batter like you’re making eggs. It will take several minutes before it is ready to eat.
  6. Heat another skillet on Med/High heat. Add 2 Tbsp. of Earth Balance butter (or coconut oil) and let it begin to bubble. Add in your cut apples, honey, vanilla and cinnamon.
  7. A glaze will begin to form in the pan, so be sure to coat your apples in it! This will only take a few minutes.
  8. Plate your Sweet Potato Scramble, topping it with the cinnamon apples. For a special touch, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with coconut flakes.

And Voila! You have successfully made a delicious and satisfying breakfast (that feels more like a dessert!) I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. My husband and brother-in-law certainly didn’t mind being guinea pigs this morning! Perhaps you have a guinea pig or two of your own who’d like to try?

You and Me

Berry GoodMy goal is to make useful information about healthy living simple to find. When I learned that my health wouldn’t allow me to eat many things I loved, I had to completely rethink my life.  This was a daunting endeavor!

Where in the world do you start? How do you know where to shop and what to shop for? What brands are best? Which products are healthy and which products claim to be? When something reads ‘gluten free’, does that automatically make it good for you?

Suddenly, I became a label reading maniac. (My husband can attest to this!) I now know the ingredients of every product on every shelf in Earth Fare. Well, this might not be entirely accurate, but you know what I mean!

My particular diet restrictions are sugar, gluten, dairy, corn, peanuts, crustaceans and soy (and meat and tomatoes for a season.) What?! That’s crazy! Yes. It really is. But I can honestly say I am so close to being completely pain free because of it. Whether you are just gluten free eaters, lactose intolerant, or simply want to eat healthy and delicious food – welcome!

Anyone who is allergic or unable to have a particular food can understand how difficult it can be, as well as how much time and effort it takes to change.  This is the inspiration behind Jessica Jo’s Kitchen: to make the answers to the above questions readily available for you. This blog is created for you. Be interactive. Share your thoughts, recipes, and experiences with me. Who knows?  You may meet a new food-friend along the way.

Be on the lookout for weekly recipes, tips, food lessons, healthy restaurant finds, best brands, good deals, etc.. Let’s get started!

The Ticket

When faced with a challenge, what do you do? If something is ruining your life and you know there is a solution– do you do what it takes to fix it? For me, the SOLUTION was in my FOOD. The food I was eating was putting my body in a world of hurt and the only way to change it was to alter my diet 360 degrees, putting aside everything I had ever known about the common American diet. Is it a challenge? Everyday. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Seven months ago I set out on a journey that would make everything in my world, simply better. Simple being the key word. Simple. Basic. Clean. Not simple as in it doesn’t take any work, but simple as in going back to the fundamentals of genuinely good, wholesome fare. What we eat helps to determine how we live. Our attitudes. Our physical energy and wellness. It literally has the ability to create and diminish pain. Who knew there was so much power in our food!? I didn’t until I had no other choice but to get down to the nitty-gritty and better understand this amazing truth. My health was bad, thus making my life “bad.” Twenty-one and feeling eighty-one had to end. FOOD was the ticket.

I want to continue learning and sharing with you this incredible discovery that has changed my life. Food is an exciting, passionate part of this world. It is meant to be enjoyed! Come with me– let us pursue good eating together! And maybe. Just maybe— your life will be impacted, too.