My Dad’s Thing About Ketchup

My dad is on a mission to get people to eat less ketchup. But it’s not because of the ketchup. It’s because of the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). He has an especially hard time wrapping his brain around the fact that most national brands of of ketchup list HFCS either first or second in the ingredient list. Yuk. So he asked if I would post an entry about this. And here it is, Dad! Continue reading

Sugar: Fructose and More

I recently read an article about high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the inexpensive sweetener that is used extensively in highly processed products, like ketchup, barbecue sauce, breakfast “cereals,” soft drinks and sports drinks, muffins, cookies, cakes, and tons of other products that you might not even think of as sweet, like bread and baked beans. This week, a few random musings about sugar, mainly fructose. Continue reading

Ratchet Up Your Breakfast to a New Level

This week I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about the typical American breakfast, namely toast bagels muffins waffles pancakes “cereal” biscuits bread. Basically just white flour and sugar. Stripped carb. I put “cereal” in quotes because the word cereal really means grain (like oatmeal, millet, kasha, bulgur wheat), and not boxes of sweetened, dyed, highly processed products of limited nutritional value.

Something I’ve noticed just in the past few months is that EVEN friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have made the switch to real food, and who have rid their kitchens of items from that list of typical American breakfast foods above (at least most of the time) can still be strongly influenced by the list. Continue reading

Eat the Orange, Skip the Juice

Juice is not a great choice unless you need to raise your sugars rapidly. Do you want to spike your blood sugars? Probably not. Not if you want to conserve your insulin and reduce your risk of developing diabetes. When I was a kid, my doctor used to keep orange juice in the office to treat patients with low blood sugar.  Continue reading

Breakfast Candy

Let’s talk about breakfast cereals, shall we? Developed by a couple of enterprising health spa owners from Battle Creek, Michigan, they originally provided an economical use for the crumbs that fell to the bottom of the bread ovens. The word “cereal,” which simply means grain, comes from Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. Breakfast cereal? That’s a marketing term. Continue reading

Can I Eat Fruit?

Recently I’ve been asked by a number of people whether it’s okay to eat fruit. You know it’s relatively high in sugar; they’re worried about whether they should be eating a food that contains a lot of sugar. It’s fine. As long as the sugar is enclosed in a fiber matrix, and as long as you don’t already have a blood sugar problem (like uncontrolled diabetes), feel free to eat fruit. You can trust me when I say that apples and oranges are absolutely not what’s driving up our collective weight. The obesity epidemic is not being caused by fruit. Continue reading

Take Back Your Sugar Bowl

Did you know that most sodas are sweetened with a teaspoon of sugar per ounce? That means the average 12-oz. can of soda (pop) contains the equivalent of 12 teaspoons of sugar. Excessive, to say the least.

Would you ever consider adding 12 teaspoons of sugar to your glass of iced tea? It seems absurd when asked this way, but people do it all the time when they choose a can of soda. So what’s the issue? We’re talking here about the crazy amounts of hidden sugar in processed items.

To me, it’s not necessarily the amount of sugar that people add themselves to the foods they eat, but rather the amount of sugar consumed inadvertently when eating something prepared by someone else, in this case something else, that something being the soft drink arm of the beverage industry. It appears that your sugar bowl has gotten into somebody else’s hands. Continue reading

Are You Kidding Me?

Is it me or is it April first? Processed food-like items seem like they’re getting stranger and stranger. I have to assume that the recipe down below seemed like a more-or-less reasonable recipe to somebody at some point, but the attempts of the processed-edibles industry to keep people eating nonsense seem to be getting desperate. Continue reading

Beverages to Spike Your Blood Sugar

Many people wrote to me about my recent post on soda and juice, so I thought it would be worth talking about the various kinds of drinks that are marketed to us right here in Ohio, the middle of America.  Remember my vignette about the diabetic character on TV?  Suddenly the character begins to act a little strangely, but she’s not too confused to murmur to her friend, “Help me check my blood sugar.  I think it’s too low.”   Sure enough. Now everyone on the set starts to run. What are they getting?  Something with loads of sugar, something she will absorb very quickly.  Like orange juice.  Or a fruit drink, or maybe a coke.

So…sweet beverages like juices and sodas (many with 12 teaspoons of sugar per can) are good choices if you want to spike your blood sugar.  None for me, thanks.

I decided to visit the “beverage center” at our local Walmart to see what’s in stock.  I especially wanted to look at the names of some of these beverages.  My hypothesis, borne out of experiences with margarine and breakfast cereals, is that the more manufactured the product type, the more creative the brand names.  

Here’s what I found in the beverage aisles:  Excluding carbonated drinks entirely, there was Sunny D, Powerade, Gatorade (11 flavors), Juicy Juice, Country Time, Tahitian Treat, Hawaiian Punch (many flavors), “Propel vitamin enhanced water beverage mix” (raspberry lemonade naturally and artificially flavored, and berry naturally flavored), and “Dasani Natural Lemon Flavored Water Beverage.”  V8 Splash (not the well known V8 tomato juice) was available in mango peach, fruit medley, berry blend, and tropical blend, which also has a “diet” version.

Caffeinated or coffee-flavored beverages included Red Bull energy drink (original and sugar free), Monster (regular, mega and lo-carb), Starbucks Frappucino coffee drink in 3 flavors (coffee, mocha, vanilla), and Starbucks doubleshot espresso & cream premium coffee drink (regular and light).

Country Time Lemonade Drink Mix gets consumed in quantity around these parts, so I thought I’d check it out online. According to the official website, Country Time’s name is “reminiscent of a time when it was easier to get good old-fashioned lemonade.”  The powdered mix was first marketed in 1975 by a TV character named “Grandpa.”  Cans and bottles hit the market in 1982.  Then came Pink Lemonade (1995), Iced Tea with Lemon (2003), Strawberry Lemonade (2004), and Country Time Light Lemonade (2005).  The Strawberry Lemonade is “the perfect blend of two favorite flavors:  sweet, sun-ripened strawberries and the classic taste of lemonade.”  Or, you could buy strawberries and lemons, and mix them with sugar and water.

In addition to V8 and V8Splash, V8 makes a fruit juice product called “V8 Vfusion.”  No matter which V8 Vfusion you buy, the first ingredient is sweet potato juice.  The flavors at Walmart included acai-mixed berry, strawberry-banana, pomegranate-blueberry, goji-raspberry,and passionfruit-tangerine.  The acai was listed 6th, the strawberry 7th, and the banana 8th in the list of ingredients.  You’re not really eating tangerines, passionfruit or berries; you’re just eating the names.  You’re not even eating sweet potatoes.  And you’re paying a price that is much higher than the one marked on the bottle.

Among the powdered mixes, Crystal Light took the cake.  The juxtaposition of the words “natural,” “flavor,” and “artificial” was curious.  I didn’t even know about Crystal Light live active (with 3g of fiber), Crystal Light energy, Crystal Light focus, or Crystal Light sunrise prior to my Walmart excursion. Wouldn’t it be better just to get some sleep and exercise?

I also found Crystal Light natural lemonade flavor, natural pink lemonade flavor, peach artificial flavor, raspberry lemonade flavor, white grape artificial flavor, crystal light red tea, crystal light white tea and, believe it or not, “crystal light green tea natural honeylemon flavor with other natural flavor.” You can’t get a whole lot more creative than that.  The word “natural,” which appears twice, describes not the product itself, but its flavor.  It surely took a lot of work to figure out how to make those eleven words sound so natural.

So what else is there to drink?  If you don’t care for a glass of cool water, right from the tap, or a glass of milk, or unsweetened iced tea, then try this recipe:  Dissolve ¼ c. sugar with ¼ c. water in a saucepan over low heat.  Set aside.  Mix 2 cups of water and 1 + 1/2 c. lemon juice (fresh squeezed if you’d like) together in a large pitcher filled halfway with ice while you allow the syrup to cool.  Stir the syrup into the contents of the pitcher. Add lemon slices, strawberry slices or mint leaves, slightly bruised, to garnish.  Serves 4-6.  To your good health!