WOW!! I have just put into google ‘hidden sugar’ and 18,400,000 results came up!! Where does one start? Perhaps a definition – hidden sugars are ingredients in food and drink and that are not seen or labeled as ‘sugar’. Hidden sugars are best uncovered by looking at the ingredients list on the back of products. If they don’t list sugar, they may list other ingredients that are sweeteners, and the closer to to the top of the list of ingredients the more is in the product.
I have read that there are up to 56 different names for ‘sugar’ that can be added into the things we buy. Here are some –
So if we look back in time, the average person in the 1800’s used to consume about 1 – 2 teaspoons of sugar a day. Today the average person is consuming a scary 35 – 45 teaspoons a day! No wonder there is a push for people to ‘eat as our grandparents did’! I believe that a lot of this intake is from ‘hidden sugars’ and hence why it is so important to read labels and have an awareness of different sugar names. As I have mentioned before it is the fructose part of the sugar that our bodies don’t cope well with and is now being linked to many health issues. Once you have this awareness, reading labels can be quite eye-opening.
Here are a couple of interesting images to help explain what fructose is and the difference between fructose and glucose.
It was when I was watching the ‘I Quit Sugar’ film that I realised how easy it can be to think you’re eating healthy when you really are not. A mum who gives their child a bowl of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, low fat milk and a glass of juice thinking it is a healthy start to their day, has probably just fed their child their entire daily quota of sugar! Many experts in this area suggest that breakfast is the hardest meal to keep sugar levels low, so I thought I should look into this and share a couple of brekky ideas. Some will be quick for those school mornings and others may take a little longer, perfect for the weekend.
Quick Breaky Ideas
Eggs- I believe these are the key! They can be prepared in so many ways – fried, scrambled, poached, boiled or as an omelette. It really is up to your imagination. I usually have a green leaf salad with mine, tomatoes, avocado, and a sprinkle of goat’s cheese. A quick google will inspire you! Below are some images to get you started. (Better Homes And Gardens, The Gouda Life, Cooking Light)
Quick Banana Pancakes– 2 eggs,and 2 bananas – whizz them up together and fry them up! We added some fresh berries and yoghurt to ours.
3. Cereal- Cereal and fruit are always a quick, healthy, breakfast option- just check the label before it goes in the trolley! Follow this link to David Gillespie‘s top 10 breakfast cereals.
Longer Breaky Ideas
Vegetable Fritters– Just like my mum use to make! I love this recipe and so does my family; it’s a great way to get a lot of veggies into the kids, and you can use a wide range of veggies – whatever is in the fridge. I must admit, we also have these for dinner if we are in a hurry or I forget to buy meat! My daughter thought that these would be good for when she moves out of home, so a third generation will be making them!
Potatoes are the base of this simple recipe, but as I mentioned any other veg can be added in. For mine today, I’m putting in mushrooms, beans, zucchini and onions. All you need to do is peel and prepare your veg then grate it all and place it in a bowl. Add in 1 egg, 1/4 cup milk, some cheese if you like, salt, pepper, and enough plain flour to bring it all together, it needs to be the consistency of a thick pancake mixture. Put some oil in a frypan, a bit of butter if you like, and cook on a medium heat until golden brown. Don’t cook them too quickly as you need the veg to cook. I usually serve mine with a salad.
2. Healthier Pancakes – This is my take on sugar free pancakes. You will still need to watch what goes on top but they are a good once in a while breakfast treat.
1 cup of SR Flour
1 cup of milk
65g melted butter
pinch of salt
Place flour in a bowl with salt. Whisk the egg and milk together then add melted butter. Add wet mixture to the flour and mix together to make a thick batter. In a frying pan add some oil or butter, and when hot, add tablespoonfuls of mixture and cook until golden. If you like a thiner mixture, add more milk.
We often add blueberries or raspberries to the mixture then top them with yoghurt. We have also cut apple thinly and coated them in the batter, cooked them and then sprinkle cinnamon over them, one of our favourites is caramelised banana with yoghurt. Because the pancakes are not sweet, you can also put savoury things on top.
Here are a couple of image for ideas –
(images from https://rustickitchenaffairs.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/healthy-pancakes.jpg, https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/d0/e0/91/d0e0912063224988ba385aa8b0467646.jpg, http://notyouraveragecollegefood.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/PC260178-768×1024.jpg)
Nothing beats starting your day with a healthy breakfast with no hidden sugar!
This week I have been trying a few recipes to replace a couple of the well loved items that needed to go due to their hidden sugar content. I think that if you are going to succeed in consuming less sugar then it is necessary to find low sugar or sugar free replacements for some of the things you loved.
My family loves pasta, so my aim this week was to make a quick and easy red sauce that was versatile for all pasta needs. This recipe is based on how my mum made her red sauce, except she used to put it into preserving jars and add sugar. Mine is sugar free and is done on the cooktop. Pasta sauce is a good example of a food that can contain “hidden sugar”; we may think that we are providing our family with a healthy option by using a red pasta sauce instead of a creamy one, but there could be up to 6 teaspoons of sugar in a single jar of red pasta sauce –“For example, a 500g jar of Dolmio bolognaise sauce contains more than six cubes of sugar – the same as a Mars bar.”(read more at ) So this is what is known as hidden sugar; you think something is a ‘healthy’ food option, but really, it contains large amounts of sugar. Once again, label reading is the key if you are buying pre-made items.
So here’s my take on a quick sugar free red sauce which I use for pasta, bolognese, shepherds pie and some Indian meals. I usually make a double batch and put one in the freezer.
Tomatoes – I used 2 big ‘beef’ tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
Herbs of your choice – I used rosemary and thyme
In a saucepan, place a small amount of oil add chopped garlic, onion, and herbs (I put mine in whole). Let this heat through until you have chopped your tomatoes into chunks. Add tomatoes into the saucepan and let it all cook for no more than 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
At this point you can put a stick blender through it if you don’t like the chunky tomato or you can put it in containers to freeze. If you’re going to use the sauce now you can add in extra bits like mushrooms, red wine, basil, capsicum, etc to make it suit your dish.
My second challenge was to find something sweet for my son to put on his bread, as has quite the sweet tooth. As I was looking through my Facebook pages, I found a recipe by Sarah Wilson for hazelnut chocolate spread – a substitute for Nutella. It’s a fructose free recipe and Sarah states that “the processed version of this spread is a dire sugar explosion. This one, though, will fool even the most sceptical child.” So here is Sarah’s recipe with my photos.
Hazelnut and chocolate spread
1/2 cupcoconut milk.
1 tablespoonrice malt syrup.
1 tablespooncoconut oil.
1/4 cupraw cacao powder.
1 tablespoonvanilla powder.
1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
2. Bake the hazelnuts for 8-10 minutes, until browned. Rub most of the skins off as they can be a bit bitter. Grind the nuts in a food processor until smooth.3. Add the remaining ingredients and process until well mixed. Add extra coconut milk if you want more of a ‘sauce’ consistency.
4. It can be stored in the fridge for several weeks. I placed mine in my recycled jam jars. Thanks Sarah for this yummy recipe.
It is always great to find quick and simple low sugar or sugar free replacements for favourite cupboard or pantry items.
So last week I set out to clear my cupboards and fridge of high sugar items. I just wanted to share one unexpected high sugar item I discovered in my fridge – it made me smile as here I thought was a fairly ‘natural’ item. Hiding in my fridge was a Thai stir fry sauce that I had purchased here in Jakarta. When I checked the label it had 48 grams of sugar in it!!! To convert grams into teaspoons you divide it by 4, making it 12 teaspoons of sugar in a bottle of which you were to use the whole contents for one meal. Nothing like sugar coated vegetables – so glad it was unopened. It did remind me again how important it is to slow down in the supermarket and take the time to read labels. The above conversion also helps me to visualise the amount of sugar in items and whether it stays on the shelf or if it has the right to go in my trolley.
Now my cupboards are almost clear and I am ready to begin replacing some key items….
This week its mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise can be dated back to 1756 where it was made up of mainly eggs and oil. If you investigate the labels of some of the mayonnaises on the supermarket shelves you will see how much this has changed. So I was determined to find out more. After reading David Gillespie’s web page and his section about mayonnaise in his book ‘Eat Real Food’ (The Book Depository ) I confirmed that lots of sugar can be hidden in mayonnaise as well as ‘bad oils’, which made it necessary for me to take control and make my own mayo. I loved this quote from Gillespie’s website –
“You know the world has gone mad when coke has less sugar than mayo.”
This recipe comes from Gillespie book ‘Eat Real Food’ (The Book Depository ) and it is titled – Anthony’s mayonnaise. I have made this recipe twice. The first time I halved it, to make sure I liked it, but today I am making the full batch. It appeals to me not only because it is sugar free and uses good oils but because it only has 6 common ingredients, meaning I can go to my fridge and make it on any given day. Here is the yummy recipe –
2 eggs (I prefer organic ones if possible)
1 tablespoon dijion mustard
2tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor, place eggs, mustard and lemon juice – pulse to mix
While food processor is on slow, slowly add the oil until it thickens
Taste, and add seasoning if required
Place in an air tight container and refrigerate – I like to put my into recycled jam jars
So why is reducing sugar so important? Please take the time to watch this short clip from the ABC Australia – Watch the video here
This is where my journey begins.
My personal aim is to lower my sugar intake, not go totally sugar free. I am hoping for an intake of about 3 teaspoons a day – not sure how accurately I can measure this but I think as long as I have this goal in mind I will be able to achieve it. Now some of the books I have read suggest going totally sugar free to begin with to get rid of all of the cravings, but I am going to see how I go on this path. If I feel I need to change methods, I can, as this is a new approach to food for life: no need to rush, no need to have a set path. There will be potholes and crossroads; after all, it is a journey!
“It’s your road, and yours alone. others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”
Quote – Rumi
I have recognised that I would like to lower my and my family’s sugar intake. My first step is to use up or get rid of things in my cupboards and fridge that are high in sugar. I will hopefully replace them all with sugar free options instead or question if I really need them at all. When I first arrived in Jakarta, it was a matter of survival as we all coped with the initial cultural shock. Putting some kind of healthy food on a plate for my family was an obstacle, and facing the supermarket where I could barely read any of the product labels or what was in them, was another challenge. Now that we have been here for a while, I am feeling much more settled and the time has come to face this challenge.
I know I should probably just throw all these things out, but I don’t want to be wasteful, so some will go but others I will use up instead. I don’t have too much to remove as I have been aware of my sugar intake for close to a year, although it seems that as we began down this new path of living in Jakarta, some of things have snuck back into my cupboards and fridge as a matter of survival and a source of familiarity.
Some of the things that are in my ‘use or remove’ list are ….
Premade sauces – tomato, bbq, stir fry sauces etc
Chocolate and sweet treats (lollies, biscuits)
Flavoured yoghurt and ice-cream
Milo and Quick
Soon the road will be clear for re-fueling and restocking and I will share with you what I find to replace things that are high in sugar, where if find them and even what I have a go at making.