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    Healthy Eating Blog — desserts

    Sugar Facts - 9 Sweet Tricks

    Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love coming up with a great costume and all the activities that come with the fall season. I also dread it a bit because it seems that the next three months are a challenging part of a healthy lifestyle with all the treats that follow: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and back to New Years and resolutions.


    It starts with a snack size snickers and then turns into a scary looking 15 lbs on the scale. What is the common factor with all of these holidays? SUGAR piled with more SUGAR! Want something scarier than witches and ghost on Halloween? Google sugar.  Sugar=toxic, addicting, and deadly. YIKES! That will make you drop that snickers quick.


    Let's learn the sugar basics:


    Sugar is a natural ingredient that has been part of our diet for thousands of years. Sugars are carbohydrates that provide energy for the body. The most common sugar in the body is glucose which your brain, major organs and muscles need to function properly. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year.  


    If you eat 2,000 calories per day, your goal is to eat less than 200 calories (50 grams) of added sugar. The American Heart Association is even stricter: It recommends women consume no more than 100 calories (24 grams) of added sugar per day; men, no more than 150 calories (36 grams). According to the USDA, sweetened fruit drinks account for 10% of the total added sugars we consume. Candy and cake come in at 5% each. Ready-to-eat cereal comprises 4% of the total. So do each of these categories: table sugar and honey; cookies and brownies; and syrups and toppings. The biggest chunk, making up 26% of added sugars, comes from a variety of prepared foods like ketchup, canned vegetables and fruits, and peanut butter.


    The body does not distinguish between the different types of sugar and breaks them down in exactly the same way. For example, the sucrose in an apple is broken down in exactly the same way as the sucrose in the snack size snickers. All sugars are carbohydrates, known as "simple" carbs, since they're composed of just one sugar molecule. The label on a can of Pepsi reads 41 grams of carbs and 41 grams of sugar. This means that every single carbohydrate comes from sugar. The label on a package of plain oatmeal will read 18 grams of carbs and only one gram of sugar. Almost all of the carbs in oatmeal are made up of long chains of sugar molecules called "complex" carbs. Oatmeal, along with sweet potatoes, wheat breads, rice and corn, is a complex carb, also known as a starch.


    We have so many sweet foods available that it is hard not to eat too much sugar. Too much sugar (which often comes with too much fat) can cause you to gain weight. Any excess calories will lead to overweight and sugar is one of the easiest things to eat in excess. We need to learn moderation.  

    Here's  some sweet tricks to help:

    1. Pick low sugar produce. If you’re aiming to eat less sugar overall, pick the fruits and veggies with the lowest sugar load like lemons, limes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, mushrooms, green beans, and zucchini. Essentially all veggies are low in sugar. To compare, 1 cup raspberries contains 5 grams of sugar, 1 cup black beans contains less than 1 gram of sugar, and a medium red potato contains less than 3 grams of sugar. Keep in mind, low sugar intake doesn’t necessarily mean low carbohydrate.
    1. Know your portions. Following a low sugar diet requires some diligence in knowing how much you should be eating. In general, most people should consume 2 fruits (or 2 cups) and at least 3 cups of veggies per day. On average 1 serving of fruit contains 15 grams of sugar. Ideally, try to space out your servings so that you aren’t getting a big sugar rush all at once.
    1. Eat whole and fresh. Limit fruit juices and dried fruit if you are watching the sugar intake. Generally speaking, just 4 fluid ounces (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice and ÂĽ cup unsweetened dried fruit is equivalent to 1 piece or 1 cup of fresh, whole fruit.
    1. Learn the label lingo. The food label doesn’t differentiate between added and natural sugars (though it may in the future), instead it lumps them all together. To get natural sugar sources check the ingredient list to know if there are any added sugars in the product. Sugar lurks behind these words in the ingredient list: molasses, organic cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, malt sugar, corn syrup, honey, syrup, and words ending in “ose” dextrose, lactose, maltose, fructose, glucose, sucrose.
    1. Compare products. Looking for the lowest sugar foods? Check the nutrition label to see which product is lowest in sugar. Don’t be fooled by “low sugar” or “diet foods” as they are often packed with artificial sugars, which is another blog for another day. Bottom line: eat real “natural” convenience foods lowest in added sugar.
    1. Track it! Logging your food in MyFitnessPal can help with staying on top of your sugar intake and goals so that you become aware of how much sugar you are really ingesting since they can sure add up fast.
    1. Set boundaries on the sweet tooth. Do you have a mean sweet tooth? Set limits on when and how you’re going to enjoy your sweets. Maybe you have ice cream once per week or possibly you’ll include a dark chocolate square after dinner nightly? Setting boundaries around what sweet treats are worth the indulgence, when is appropriate to enjoy them and how much you can enjoy will keep you from reaching in the office candy jar out of habit.
    1. Lower it gradually. Instead of cutting sugar cold turkey, lower your intakes slowly. If you usually eat sweets after lunch and dinner, start by taking it down to one meal a day.
    1. Clean out the pantry. If you have tempting foods in the kitchen, you might need to do a little pantry detox. Go out for the ice cream sundae instead of bringing a carton it into the house.

    Keep your hand out of the snickers bag and Live Life Fitter!

    Healthy Halloween Quiz

    No matter how religiously you swear off Halloween candy, this time of year makes even the most pure of heart feel a little... wicked. But don't despair. Give into your cravings without suffering any evil consequences with this handy guide to healthier treats.

     Healthy Halloween Quiz: 

    Q: There are three mini versions that are low in calories and fat- which is the best candy? Milky Way Miniatures, 3 Musketeers Miniatures, or Snickers Miniatures?
    A: 3 Musketeers Miniatures, at 24 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per piece. Milky Way Minis contain 38 calories and 1.6 g fat per piece. Snickers Minis rank highest, at 42.5 calories, and 2.25 grams of fat per piece. 

    Q: Which has fewer calories 2 Twix (Fun Size) or 1 Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin?
    A: Believe it or not, the 2 Twix bars have fewer: They have 80 calories per cookie, so two Twix bars have 160 calories. One little Peanut Butter Pumpkin has 180 calories! Be careful with these small treats -- they pack a lot of fat and calories (11 grams of fat total; 3.5 g saturated fat). Note: the saturated fat is higher for the Twix: 6 grams for the 2 cookies. The point is not that Twix are good, it's just that the single treats can pack a lot of fat and calories. 

    Q: Which is highest in calories and saturated fat: Mounds, Almond Joy, or 2 packs of Fun-Size M&Ms?
    A: Almond Joy and Mounds tie for highest calories (200 each, for 3 Miniatures, compared to 180 calories for 2 packs of fun size M&Ms). Mounds and Almond Joy also tie for highest in saturated fat (8 grams per serving each), which is more fattening than a Quarter Pounder (7 grams of saturated fat). Two packs of Fun Size M&Ms have 180 calories and 8 grams total fat, 5 grams of which are saturated fat. 

    Q: Which has more calories: 5 mini Kit-Kats or 35 pieces of candy corn? 
    A: Believe it or not, 35 pieces of candy corn have 12 MORE calories than 5 mini Kit-Kat bars. But the Kit-Kats have 8 grams of saturated fat per serving. If you like them, limit your serving to 1 mini-size bar.
    5 mini kit-kats is 210 calories; 12 grams of fat; 8 grams saturated fat
    35 candy corn = 222 calories
    (1 candy corn = 6.36 calories) 

    Q: Which has more calories 20 Peanut M&Ms or 7 Hershey Kisses? 
    A: If you are calorie-conscious, you are better off going with the Hershey Kisses. Each one has 22 calories, so 7 Kisses adds up to about 155 total calories. Twenty Peanut M&Ms have 220 calories. That said, the peanut M&Ms have a little more nutritional value (4 grams of protein and less saturated fat) so if you are craving these treats, don't worry. It's only Halloween once a year. 

    Why Sugar-Free Candy Doesn't Mean Healthy
    And now a look at a healthy option that really isn't so healthy after all...
    Sugar-free Hershey's Chocolate Candy: 5 pieces contain 160 calories, 8 g of saturated fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 25 g of fat 1 g of protein
    vs.Hershey's Miniatures: 5 pieces contain 210 calories, 13 g of fat, 7 g of saturated fat, 5 mg of cholesterol, 25 g of carbs, 22 g of sugar, 3 g of protein.Sugar-free has 50 fewer calories, but an equal amount of fat and one gram MORE gram of saturated fat. Also, it has an equal amount of carbohydrates, 5mg MORE of cholesterol, and has 2g LESS of protein.Note: Many low-carb and sugar-free versions contain higher amounts of fat and have similar calorie counts -- something to consider if you're watching your weight or health. You may as well indulge in the regular chocolate, preferably dark chocolate, or candy versus the sugar-free/low-carb version.
    So stop tricking yourself and...LIVE LIFE FITTER...... 
    with a healthy lifestyle today.

    "Making Choices for a Better Version of You!"

    Healthy Cookie Recipes


    It's cookie time. Tradition of leaving cookies for Santa started back in the Great Depression. It wasn’t standard practice to leave cookies and milk out for Santa Claus until the 1930s. Historians posit that it was something parents encouraged children to do in order to teach them how to share and be charitable during a time of economic depression. The tradition stuck and Santa’s pants have never fit the same. He visits over  500 million homes where he encounters about billion cookies. If you hypothesize that he takes about two bites of each cookie he is given, it means he eats a total of 336,150,386 cookies and too many calories to count!  Help lean out Santa with these baking tips.

    1. Bananas for fats: The creamy, thickening-power of mashed (ripe!) banana acts the same as avocado in terms of replacing fat in baking recipes. The consistency is ideal, and the bananas add nutrients like potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6. One cup of mashed banana works perfectly in place of 1 cup or butter or oil!
    2. Nut flours for flour: A word of caution: Nut flours don’t rise the same way as wheat flour so an additional rising agent might be needed when replacing more than ¼ cup of wheat. Many gluten-free blogs detail how to streamline nut flour-based baking. And while these flours are typically higher in calories and fat, they also have more fiber and protein. Nut flours do tend to be heavier than classic wheat, so make sure to up the amount of baking powder and baking soda in the recipe so the dough can rise as normal. Another option is to replace only part of the flour in a recipe with nut flour!
    3. Vanilla for sugar: Cutting sugar in half and adding a teaspoon of vanilla as a replacement can give just as much flavor with significantly fewer calories. Assuming the recipe originally calls for one cup of sugar, that’s already almost 400 calories cut out! You can't sub this one in equal ratios, but next time you're whipping up some cookies, try cutting 2 tablespoons of sugar and adding an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
    4. Avocado puree for butter: They’re both fats and have nearly the same consistency at room temperature. The creaminess and subtle flavor of the avocado lends itself well to the texture of fudge brownies and dark chocolate flavorings. It can take some experimenting to get this swap perfect, but generally, using 1 cup of avocado puree per cup of butter works.
    5. Two egg whites for one whole egg:  One egg yolk holds more than half the recommended daily cholesterol for the average adult. Trading out the yolk for a second white will cut out the cholesterol while doubling the protein. If making a dish that requires more eggs, keep one to two yolks for their rich vitamins A, E, D, and K content, but consider swapping out the rest.
    6. Skim milk for whole or 2% milk: Fewer calories and fat with the same amount of protein makes this switch well worth it.
    7. Unsweetened applesauce for oil or butter: Don’t knock this one till you’ve tried it. The applesauce gives the right consistency and a hint of sweetness without all the fat of oil or butter. This works well in any sweet bread, like banana or zucchini, or in muffins—and even with pre-boxed mixes! On your first try, only try swapping out half the fat (so a recipe using 1 cup of oil would use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce). If you can't tell the difference with that swap, try swapping a bit more of the fat next time around.
    8. Stevia for sugar: The natural sweetener stevia is lower in calories and up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. But watch the grocery bill—this fashionable sweetener can also cost up to 5 times as much as granulated sugar. Since it's so much sweeter, swap with caution: A recipe calling for 1 cup of sugar should be swapped for 1 teaspoon liquid stevia (or about 2 tablespoons stevia powder).
    9. Natural peanut butter for reduced-fat peanut butter:  While they may appear better than traditional Skippy or Jiff, reduced fat versions of peanut butter can actually have more sugar—and an extra-long list of artificial additives—than the classics. Natural peanut butter (preferably unsalted) provides the same sweetness without call the extra junk.