That which we call sugar by any other name would taste as sweet.
Stop by your local library or bookstore and browse the cookbooks section. You’ll find dozens of low sugar, low carb, and diabetes cookbooks. Do your homework beforehand, though. Many cookbooks touting “totally sugar-free” meals actually feature recipes containing Splenda, an artificial sweetener approved by the FDA. Splenda is a popular calorie-free baking alternative to sugar because it provides both sweetness and bulk, but if you have any concerns about ingesting artificial chemicals these cookbooks might disappoint.
Other “sugar-free” cookbooks call for “sugar substitutes” such as fruit juice concentrate and agave nectar, which are in fact……um……sugars. Don’t be fooled. As Coach Stacy says, “Sugar is sugar.” If you’re trying to cut back or eliminate sugars altogether, you’ll want to recognize the many sugar aliases on the market. Just because a recipe doesn’t contain white or brown sugar doesn’t mean it’s sugar-free.
Here are a few cookbooks you might like if you’re trying to reduce or eliminate the amount of sugar in your diet. The right choices for you depends upon what you’re trying to accomplish:
- Everything Sugar-Free Cookbook by Nancy T. Maar; and Eat What You Love: More Than 300 Incredible Recipes Low in Sugar, Fat, and Calories by Marlene Koch
Both cookbooks feature recipes which are, indeed, delicious as well as low in calories and sugar, but do call for Splenda as a sweetener. If you’re not averse to using artificial sweeteners in your food, these cookbooks are good choices.
- Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cooking: Over 200 Delicious Recipes to Help You Live a Healthier, Allergy-free Life by Susan O’Brien.
You’ll find no table sugar in the ingredients for these recipes. Instead, sugar substitutes such as fruit juice concentrate, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, honey and maple syrup are called upon to sweeten the dishes. While many would contend that the recipes might be healthier than those contained in Splenda cookbooks – and certainly suitable for individuals with food allergies — if you’re trying to lose weight or reduce your sugars, this cookbook won’t help you.
- The “I Can’t Believe This Has No Sugar” Cookbook by Deborah E. Buhr.
The cookbook is aptly titled – because you shouldn’t believe it. There’s plenty of sugar in this book’s recipes – just not the refined variety. However, I’ll contend that these recipes are, without doubt, healthier than those found in most “sugar-free” cookbooks because they contain no additives or preservatives. They also feature natural fruit in their ingredients, which add vitamins and fiber. However, most also contain fruit juice concentrate, which essentially falsifies the title. Be that as it may, check out Coach’s Kitchen later this week for Buhr’s delicious Blueberry Muffin recipe. The muffins are easy to make and call for a fresh banana and blueberries (along with unsweetened apple juice concentrate) as its natural sweeteners.
- The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook by Robyn Webb, M.S.
Definitely comfort food, but the recipes contained in this volume are most definitely not sugar-free. The recipes call for table sugar and honey, but less is used than in “normal” recipes because they’re combined with Splenda or stevia, which is an herbal sweetener extracted from a plant that grows in South America and Southeast Asia.
You’ll also want to check out these two web resources:
Sugar Stacks: The home page of this website poses the question, “Would you eat a stack of 16 sugar cubes?” Probably not, right? Wrong! If you drink a 20 oz bottle of Classic Coke, that’s exactly how much sugar you’d be pouring into your body. This is a clever website offering sobering visual representations of how much sugar we ingest when we consume common foods and beverages, including breakfast cereals, sodas, candy bars and snacks as well as various fresh fruits and vegetables. The sugar stack representing a complete Thanksgiving dinner is the real eye opener – over 26 sugar cubes. By the way, did you know that a 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk, which is a staple in many holiday baking recipes, contains 220 grams of sugar? That’s a stack of 55 sugar cubes, or 1,300 calories. Was it any wonder you felt bloated last November 24?
The USDA Database for the Added Sugars Content of Selected Foods: This is a helpful tool in calculating the amount of added sugar in your diet.