Healthy lifestyle, Uncategorized

Sugar, Sugar……

Oh My! What do I know about sugar……a lot! It’s a big topic. I will share with you as much as I know to help you make better choices.

The little wonderful sweet white granules we know as sugar is in many processed foods we consume every day. Salad dressings, tomato sauce, cereals, muffins, breads, and mayonnaise to list a few items. I have learned to read not only the nutrition facts, but the ingredients as well.

Sugar is also disguised under many different names and forms. I don’t know all of them, but here’s a few: dextrose, fructose, lactose, glucose, cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey, corn syrup, turbinado, agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, molasses……….and many many more! Plus there are the replacement natural and artificial sweeteners (like stevia, splenda, etc.)

Most of these have an effect of spiking the blood sugar in our body and then crashing. If the sugar energy is not used up right away, it gets stored as fat on the body. Some of the sugars are better like coconut sugar. It does not spike that sugar level as much. The artificial sweeteners come with some side effects for me like headaches or I just don’t like them.

That’s the stuff I have read and been told. Now, let me tell you about my relationship with sugar.

Sugar and I have had a love, hate relationship. It comforts me when I am stressed; keeps me company when I am bored; and help me brighten my day when I’m sad or angry. Yes, that through all of the cookies, muffins, cupcakes, puddings, etc. that I consumed during these emotional times. It also continued to give me more and more cravings for it( like a drug ), that I needed a “sugar fix”. I remember a time that I was trying very hard to eliminate the sugar from my diet and it was a stressful time in my life, I was feeling shaky (like a withdrawal). As soon as I gave in and ate a cookie, my shaking subsided and I was much more calm. Weird, I know!!!! This leads me to believe some of the talk about sugar being addictive.

I want to mention that I have an A1C of 6.1, which is close to being a type 2 diabetic. That disease runs very strong in my family and comes with many other serious complications. I won’t get into talking about diabetes, because I’m not a medical person. I worked at American Diabetes association for 3 years and have witnessed my family members with diabetes and know a lot about it to be able to tell you that it is one nasty disease that you cannot see.

Many years ago, I gave up all of the artificial sweeteners. More recently, I limited my sweeteners to coconut sugar and stevia. These I’ve been told will keep my blood sugar steady. Keeping my blood sugar steady will also keep my energy steady without causing tiredness.

I did that for about 8 weeks and I have narrowed down that my stomach pain/reflux is still being effected by the coconut sugar. So, most of my “sugar” sources have been eliminated at least for now. If I want to bake and cook, and that is the only way that I can control what I’m consuming……what kind of sugar/sweetener can I add to my foods?

With all of the “out of the normal” cooking I have done in the past decades, I have discovered that my sweeteners come from bananas, prunes, dates, raisins. Here’s the basic way I use them:

  • Bananas – Mash or put them in a blender to mash them and make them smooth. When substituting them for a gradual sugar, remember that this is a “liquid” form now and the other liquid has to be reduced.
  • Dates, Raisins, Prunes -They are dried and most of the moisture is gone from them. I would put a bunch in hot water to steep for a bit (like I would tea) until they are plump and soft. Then blend them til smooth by using a blender.

I am not sure of the specifics yet. I am still in the playing with recipes stage to see what works and what doesn’t.

I want to share with you a breakfast recipe that I have been using and love:

Baked or Slow Cooker Oatmeal

  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups Almond Milk (unsweetened)
  • 1-2 T. Cinnamon
  • 1 T. Vanilla
  • 2 T. Butter (I like Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Sugar (next time I’m gonna try 2 Bananas or 1/4 cup of date puree)
  • 3-4 cups Fruit diced (apples, peaches, berries)

Put all of the ingredients into a large corning ware dish or the slow cooker and give it a stir to mix together.

To bake: Place corning ware dish in oven at 350 degrees for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. I make this early in the morning when I wake and it’s ready when everyone is ready for breakfast.

For the Slow Cooker: Set slow cooker on low for about 6-8 hours. This is great to make before I go to bed and I wake up to the house smelling wonderful and have a nice hot breakfast all ready for me! It’s like having elves in my kitchen!!

This is uncooked. It’s a highly requested breakfast in my house!

Tell me how you like this recipe! Have a wonderful day!

Featured, Healthy lifestyle

Dairy

In my late teens, I started with not being able to tolerate dairy and my stomach started to hurt and show signs of reflux or gurd (I always get them confused). I was told I was lactose intolerant by a doctor and to take the enzyme pills that aid in digesting dairy. They never seemed to work. So, many years ago, I gave up all dairy like cheese, yogurts, milk. I would eat them occasionally and just deal with the issues like stomach pain (and another issue that I don’t want to want to mention because it is just embarrassing and gross).

So, I am totally eliminating dairy from my diet! But, it’s in many processed foods like salad dressings, butter, desserts! Now what do I eat!!!! Instead of getting frustrated, I turned to one of the tools that my mother taught me and I really enjoy doing (and it’s not sewing this time). COOKING!

I had to change many of the recipes that I have been cooking and find alternatives to the wheat and dairy in my recipes. It was harder many years ago when I first started feeling sick because eliminating these foods from my diet was unheard of and not readily accepted.

So, here’s some of the substitutes for dairy that I am using:

  • Almond milk Unsweetened – can use in cooking or drink straight or in a smoothie
  • Coconut milk in a can – can also be used in cooking
  • Dairy free Cheese – American, cheddar, Ricotta, Cream Cheese, Parmesan Cheese…..so many choices!
  • Coconut Cream – (be careful that there’s no added sugar) I’m seeing that this can be used like whipped cream (yummy!).
  • Dairy Free yogurts – Kite Hill is a brand I like even though I cannot eat them any more due to the sugar (which I will talk about next time).

Back to cooking…….I love to cook and altering recipes to see what I can make. Today, I made Chia Pudding. I learned that Chia Seeds are really good for gut health, and the “pudding” made with it is easy to make and yummy! I have made it before and it reminds me of a tapioca pudding.

The recipe I followed had honey or maple syrup in it (which I cannot tolerate), so I altered it and here’s the recipe:

CHIA SEED PUDDING 2 servings

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix all together in a pint size canning jar or other container. Place in refrigerator and let the chia seeds absorb the flavors overnight (or 6-8 hours). Enjoy!

As I’m typing this, there are so many other variations that I can think of and I’m going to try! Like Pumpkin spice chia pudding, lemon pudding, chocolate pudding! This is going to be fun! You’ll see the variations soon!

This is the Chia Seed Pudding I just made! I’ll tell you later how it is!!
This is the brand of dairy free cheese I like. It does not melt like normal cheese, but it tastes good to me.

Featured, Uncategorized

Gluten Free

I have learned that Gluten, Sugar, and Dairy are in many of the processed foods we eat. I have to be a detective because these foods come in all types of forms!

When I was growing up, my mother taught me how to make bread. One of the tasks is to “knead” the dough. This process encourages the gluten to develop and make it stretch. Gluten I found out later is a protein in wheat flour (all purpose flour as well) that I cannot tolerate. Gluten can be found in Rye, Barley, Wheat.

Wheat is in a lot of processed foods and can be hidden with the term “Modified Starch” for one example.

Which leads me to another topic: Modified Starch can be many things like wheat, corn, tapioca, etc. My definition of starch is that all the nutrients have been stripped away and only the part that turns into sugar in my body remains. I have learned that sugar/carbs will give me a short burst of energy and then I crash and feel tired. If I don’t use those sugar/carbs, they will be stored as fat on my body. I need that like I need a hole in my head! So, any of those “Gluten Free” processed foods are mainly made of starch and not good for my body.

I eliminated all starches and glutens, and feeling a little better. Next step…..

Featured, Healthy lifestyle

Getting Healthy!

For a long time, I have been thinking about writing blogs on my getting healthy journey. Today is the day that I decided to start, and the inspiration is that there are other people out there struggling just like I am. Maybe I can make a difference in their life while changing mine.

A little history: I was following the “American diet” of high carbs, refined and processed foods, high sugar, large amounts of food. This lead me to a very unhealthy mind, body and soul. I have tried a lot of diets and paid good money with little or no results. I was feeling exhausted, depressed, anxiety was setting in, not able to concentrate, and no motivation to do anything including excecise. Doctors take one look at me with these symptoms and basically said: loose weight and exercise. I got to the point that I was giving up with myself.

Over the summer I discovered that a friend has been studying to be what she calls a “health coach”. I was excited to start and as always I pray that this time will make a difference. During our initial appointment, she taught me a ton! This is the stuff that I want to share with you as well as recipes that I have tried and adapted to my nutritional needs.

One of the biggest things I have learned is that life style change will happen slowly. It is not all at once and cold turkey. I found that I’m good for a while, then slip into bad habits for a few days, feel my old symptoms creeping in, and then I change back to the good habits. No beating up myself, this is just the process. The good habits will take time to get use to and I’m ok with that.

There’s a lot of basic foods I cannot eat: Gluten, Dairy, and Sugar are the main items. My stomach right now cannot tolerate any type of peppers, eggplant, or tomatoes. That may be for the time being while I’m healing.

When I was eating these foods, my digestive track (esophagus, stomach, intestines) would get all inflamed and cause problems like reflux for example. So, I’d go to the doctor and they told me to take a pill. Even though it stopped the symptoms, it was causing another issue in my body. This would eventually cause my body to not be able to absorb nutrients from the food I eat. Leading to other symptoms, more pills, higher strength of pills because I was not able to absorb them.

So, with Sharron’s help, I have been working through what foods my body needs to function. I will be explaining in my next blogs about my continued journey to health.

Have a great day!