Smart Sugar Swaps? Not for me

I’m approaching the end of one month without any sugary snacks, cakes, candy — in short I’m eating nothing that I enjoy. This was a challenge from my wife as she realized we’d been going a bit overboard with such treats during our Covid quarantine.

I’m now four days from the end of the challenge. I’ve lost six pounds and am constantly hungry. So I was intrigued by this headline, 5 Smart Swaps to Make the Next Time You’re Craving Sugar.

Counting the hours until I can have one of these again.

Sadly, the swaps left me disappointed, and still craving sugar. Here they are (or you can click on this link to read the full story).

  • Sugar sweetened beverages: Instead of soda or sports drinks, make unsweetened fruit teas (hot or iced), sip sparkling water, or add fresh fruit or herbs to still or bubbly H20 for flavor.
  • Desserts and sweet snacks: Make fruit dessert, whether that’s combining dates with cocoa powder to make a truffle; dipping fresh berries in dark chocolate; making DIY ice cream with frozen bananas; grilling up fresh peaches or plums in summer; or enjoying cooked apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Sweetened coffee and tea: Add flavor by stirring in vanilla, cinnamon, coconut collagen, or cocoa powder.
  • Candy and sugary toppings (like syrup or jam): Use mashed fruit for syrup, DIY your own chia jam, or rely on unsweetened dried fruit like mango to satisfy your need for sweet.
  • Cereals and breakfast bars: Whip up a batch of overnight oats, make your own no-sugar granola, or prep grab-and-go options like protein pancakes so you always have something on hand.

That’s the best they have? I think I’ll wait for my sugar binge day February 1.

Super foods? Maybe think again about these 25

I’ve never been a believer in so-called “super foods,” items that someone or other decides will do amazing things for our bodies. Every body is different which is what makes giving nutrition advice so complex.

So when I see articles like Don’t Spend Your Money on These 25 “Superfoods”, Say Nutritionists in Men’s Health UK, I’m not surprised.

Salt is salt, no matter where it comes from, I avoid it to help control my blood pressure.

The story says such offerings as banana bread, a pandemic favorite, cauliflower, raw spinach, Himalayan salt and turkey bacon aren’t all that some have said they are.

It’s a good reminder, no one food is going to turn your life around. Find what works for you and stick with that.

2021 Food Trends — breakfast is in, so are cookies

The Food Network is predicting that 2021 will be a year of big breakfasts, cookies and easier ways to find “healthy” foods, although what healthy emans depends on who is using the term, as ever.

The pandemic disrupted the usual breakfast routine for 80% of Americans. Less commuting to work and school meant more time for the most important meal of the day and food manufacturers are adapting. Look out for more convenient breakfast foods that are packed with functional ingredients like protein and fiber, such as Jimmy Dean Casserole Bites and Flourish Pancake Mix. Also expect familiar brands to up their breakfast game with tempting offers like Cinnabon’s CinnaBiscuit Chicken Sandwich,” Food Network reports in a piece entitled The Biggest Food Trends We’ll Be Talking About in 2021.

You can read all the predictions by clicking on this link.

Two weeks into my no-sugar challenge — and five pounds lighter

As the year started, my wife challenged me to go for the entire month of January without any added sugar treats. I made it official by blogging about it here. Like a lot of people, we had been eating treats during the pandemic that we normally would not have in the house, such as candy galore from Chicago candy icon Fannie May, or cakes from a local bakery, Tag’s.

The bakery started delivering during the pandemic, even small orders. How could we pass that up? Not well, and you can probably tell that, after 18 days without sugar, I’m now hallucinating about chocolate cake.

The good news, I’ve lost five pounds in the past two weeks or so. The bad news — I’m hungry all the time as I was when I first completely changed my eating habits after a first stent was put in back in 2012.

What would a celebrity trainer say about Drake's Yodels?
Favorites like these haven’t touched my lips yet this year!!!

I also find I’m substituting starchy things — like bagels, English muffins and even whole wheat bread. I had pretty much cut those from my diet in recent years but had some in the freezer this month and so have turned to them.

I did buy some price-reduced after-Christmas candy, M&Ms and chocolate to be specific, which are sitting in our pantry waiting for Feb. 1.

This experiment has reminded me that if you eat healthy, I mean really healthy which means cutting most salt, fat and sugar from your diet, weight loss becomes simple.

You cannot eat enough plain veggies to gain large amounts of weight. Believe me, you should see my broccoli portions these days!

Another Salt-Free Salad Dressing from Farmer Boy: Balsamic Vinaigrette

After I wrote about a great low-salt, low-fat salad dressing find, Farmer Boy Lite Greek, the company was kind enough to send me samples of other dressings it makes. I discovered its Balsamic Vinaigrette has no salt and only four grams of fat per serving.

I’ve been enjoying it since it arrived, so much so I didn’t get to take a picture of the bottle before finishing it all, so the photo here is a stock shot from the company’s site. I’ll also post the nutrition info here.

A good choice for a low-salt, low-fat dressing.

The company also sent its regular Greek dressing, but with seven grams of fat per serving and salt, I passed it on to someone not as worried about salt and fat as I am because of my heart issues.

I found the brand on Healthy Heart Market. It’s also available on the company site and others.

Know what clean eating means? Here’s some help

Clean eating is one of those food terms that has been tossed around so much in recent years it’s almost lost it’s meaning. What does it mean, exactly?

Good question. You could do a Google search and get pages of links to explore. Or you can check this piece I found recently from the Cooking Light diet blog, Ask Our Expert: What Is Clean Eating, And How Can I Eat Clean With This Meal Plan?

Clean eating means sticking to whole foods as opposed to processed ones.

“In its broadest and most agreed-upon sense, clean eating means centering one’s diet around whole and minimally processed foods and ingredients,” the blog expert notes. But also, “it’s important to first note that “clean eating” has no official definition or defined protocol. Because of this, the eating approach can be interpreted and twisted to also include a variety of additional restrictions.”

So beware of food offerings claiming to be “clean,” with no official definition or regulation, the term is open to marketing manipulation.

Love eating local? Then here’s where you should live, according to a new study

I’ve written before about the challenges of eating local. How much locally grown food is available to us is often a function of geography. A new study shows the truth in that, with a few surprising exceptions.

A firm called Lawn Starter looked at the 150 largest U.S, cities and came up with the following rankings of the best cities for eating (and drinking) local:

Continue reading “Love eating local? Then here’s where you should live, according to a new study”

Here’s a January Challenge: No Sugar All Month

My wife presented me with a food challenge as 2020 was drawing to a close — could I go a month without eating foods high in sugar like candy, cake, frozen yogurt — basically all my favorites, and all foods I’d been eating more of last year to cope with the pandemic?

Yes, this blog has no sugar in its name, but I’ve written before that sugar is the toughest of the big three of poor nutrition — salt, fat and sugar — for me to give up. We normally load each other’s Christmas stocking with chocolates of all types.

This year, I asked we go easy, but there was still a lot, along with cookies and cakes. After having lost seven pounds because of illnesses last year, I gained back five pounds in the final month of the year because of sugary treats.

No candy bars for me in January. I’m already freaking out over it.

So I’m up for the challenge. I also have been spurred on by a recent decision by the federal government to ignore scientific guidelines for sugar consumption. Nutrition should not be a political issue but sadly it became one in the Trump years as he tried to undo everything the Obamas did, including their efforts to improve American eating habits.

“A report issued by a scientific advisory committee last summer had recommended that the guidelines encourage Americans to make drastic cuts in their consumption of sugars added to drinks and foods to 6 percent of daily calories, from the currently recommended 10 percent,” the New York Times reported in discussing newly released  Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The new guidelines do no such thing, however.

Continue reading “Here’s a January Challenge: No Sugar All Month”

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