Monday, 18 February 2013

Sugar Time

Well it's time I asked. How's it going? Your new reduced-sugar life I mean. Have you given it a go? Are you eating less sugar? Are you convinced that you need to?

Actually, I know quite a lot more than you may think...



I have had SO many conversations with so many of you. In person, on facebook, in emails, even over the phone (remember those?) about sugar and about glucose. I'm so excited that so many of you have worked hard to reduce your sugar intake and, best of all, started baking with glucose. Yesterday I was delighted to go to a friend's birthday party where she baked two cakes with glucose. They were magnificent cakes, and in no way inferior to the sugary versions. While she did all the work and I did not a bit, I couldn't help but feeling a little bit proud that all this sugar-talk did everyone a bit of good yesterday. Or at least, it didn't do them any bad!

To celebrate how far we've come I'd love to hear from you about what changes you have made regarding sugar, and how you are getting on with glucose, if you have used it. If you haven't made any changes, I'd also love to hear from you about what's stopping you. Are you not so sure you need to, are you skeptical about glucose, do you just love your sugar too much..?

I know many of you have already had these conversations with me, particularly those of you who have made changes, but I would love you to write in and and tell us about it here, to encourage others and to bring our little community together. If signing in here is too hard I'll even let you write on our facebook page instead.

Speaking of knowing more than you think, I know how many readers are out there, so come and introduce yourselves!


25 comments:

  1. You have every right to feel a little proud Angela. I remember back last year when you started all this sugar-talk, confessing to you that it was the one thing I was totally freaked out about giving up. So what has happened in our house? Drinks: no juice or fizzy drinks in the house, kids have water or milk only (grandparents do circumvent this sometimes!), hubby now drinks coke zero when he does have one, I don't drink anything but water, tea or wine (fructose-free, yay). Breakfast: researched mueslis, found one with only 6.6 g/100g sugar (Vogels cafe style, nuts and seeds), frequently have oat pancakes, try to choose lowest sugar in sweetened yoghurt for kids, switched to full-fat milk, Snacks: massive reduction in dried fruit and packaged biscuits, eating more nuts, baking with glucose, and finally, lots of reading and conversations. You've had rather a large impact on our family's diet :)

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    1. Wonderful Rachel! And hopefully encouraging to others.
      It's in my best interests that you are well looked after.

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  2. Woah, Rachel!

    (And HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOO!)

    That is an AMAZING list of changes and daily good decisions - I am super impressed.

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  3. I feel almost too embarrassed to comment after that, but you did say you wanted to hear from those of us who have failed as well as those who have succeeded... I feel particularly bad, as I've just spent the morning baking cakes with my children that not only have sugar in them and the icing, but also have sugar sprinkles on top. I'd love to say that having used up the last of our sprinkles I will never buy any more, but I'm not sure it would be true.
    The worst of it is I don't even have any considered or thoughtful reasons for my failure - beyond sheer laziness, I suppose: since discovering UK supermarkets don't stock glucose as a separate ingredient (the only sugar substitutes I've found are either bags of fructose(!) or tiny packets of things to put in your tea or coffee, and we've never added sugar to our hot drinks, so have no need of those) I've sort of just ignored it really.
    Small successes have been in reducing the amount of apple juice my two drink - though I've not cut it out completely, they know now not to expect it at every meal, and they know that top ups will be of water not juice - and generally substituting Sweet Freedom for honey or syrup on toast and porridge.
    I also now have a 4 year old who understands that sugar is "a little treat" and not to be eaten all the time (to the extent that I heard reports of him lecturing his pre-school teacher about the supposed sugar content of an imaginary chocolate!) and who is now quite obsessed with asking whether the food I'm giving him is good for him. Which is, I suppose, a start, and helps to keep me honest. It also helps to highlight just how many "little treats" we do still allow ourselves and them - an example of which being the long-promised baking session to mark the start of the half-term holiday this morning.
    I'm not honestly sure where I'll go from here. I sort of feel I should try harder to find glucose for baking with - because, honestly, I do think my baking is our largest source of sugar - but I also sort of feel that compared to many families (though probably not the rest of your readers!) we're not actually doing too badly with our sugar consumption, so I'm not sure I have sufficient resolve to follow it through.
    Here endeth my confession.

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    1. Any change is good I say Alex. And I am delighted to hear about your little guy educating his teacher! I'm sorry to hear you haven't been able to find glucose/dextrose at your supermarket. I have found that substituting it in my home baking is the easiest and most effective way to reduce our sugar consumption. Glucose is used by athletes and by beer brewers - if that is helpful at all to get you looking in a different kind of shop. If you want to! Forgive me for pushing my luck, but here's a couple of links that may or may not be of interest to you and/or other UK readers:
      http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Food-Grade-Powdered-Glucose-200g-Dextrose-Monohydrate-Supplement-NEW-Premium-/180834345060
      http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dextrose-Monohydrate-25g-25-Kg-Energy-Boost-Glucose-Powder-Sweetener-/300676038067

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    2. Thank you. I do appreciate the push. I have to say though that, instinctively, I recoil a bit from the idea of buying a product sold to athletes to use in my daily baking. They surely need an abnormally high level of energy that I'm not sure I'm comfortable transferring to my diet...
      But I'm - of course - speaking from a position of relative ignorance. I think I either need to do my own reading (not that I'm doubting your research) or just reduce my overall amount of baking (once I've finished investigating sponges, of course!)
      Thanks again for the prompt to do (or consider doing) either.

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    3. Yes I was talking to someone recently about how some will probably feel the need to do their own research rather than just taking it from someone else - I think that I am that way myself. I'm a great believer in research rather than instinct when it come to this kind of thing. "Recoil" is certainly a good word for how I am feeling about fructose after all I have read about it, so much so that I want others to know about it too! I think we have been swayed for a long time by the way products have been marketed, and we need to be equipped with our own knowledge rather than trusting the marketers. Robert Lustig in fact explain that when athletes need a quick-acting hit of energy they go with a fructose-laden beverage. He explains the bio chemistry of how this works in his Bitter Truth seminar.

      I'm putting together some summaries of my own research at the moment which I hope will be helpful to some, and will also be encouraging readers to do their own research if that is helpful.

      Good luck with the sponge investigating, I shall be taking a great interest as I don't feel like I have quite got there yet - particularly given that I haven't nailed a Victoria Sponge! I will still be playing around with some sugar based recipes, but just won't be making them a part of my daily diet. I am delighted that the option of glucose means I don't have to give up on household baking.

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  4. You definitely got me thinking, Angela. I don't really do much baking, but I was doling out a lot of dried fruit, either whole or in bliss balls.
    I've made up some different recipes that don't use dried fruit - like a chocolate "fudge" made from coconut, cashews, cocoa powder and a tiny bit of honey. There's also a great banana ice cream recipe floating about that just has frozen bananas and peanut butter. Obviously bananas have fructose, but only around 1 teaspoon per banana or thereabouts, so I'm not too worried about them.
    I drink kefir and kombucha, and I've been leaving them for longer to reduce the fructose levels. I've also been doing secondary ferments with juice, so that reduces the sugar levels a lot in the juice, and can be an alternative treat - it's fizzy and yummy, although people used to drinking fizzy drinks or diet drinks probably wouldn't think they are sweet enough!
    I bought some dextrose to use, but haven't tried it yet - only because I haven't done any baking at all recently!
    My next task is to reduce the amount of sugar laden baking that is made at Playcentre. Any tips?

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    1. GREAT question Frank! How DO you change the world?! I guess start talking about it. Take along some glucose baking, tell people what's in it, and get talking. I'm going to write a summary of all I have been talking about and put it up on a separate page so you can send your friends here to read about all this stuff and have a quick but comprehensive lesson. I would love to see more and more people learning, and the communities that we are all in starting to change their approach to sugar.

      Regarding Playcentre etc, I must say it is particularly difficult when there is so much else to consider - many food allergies and people wanting to avoid gluten. Introducing another food no-no might be more than people can cope with! Though certainly baking with glucose instead of sugar takes no thought or effort once you understand it.

      Great to hear about your small changes. The news on dried fruit was certainly a blow to many but it sounds like you have taken it in your stride!

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    2. Well I tried using my dextrose for some baking. Hmmm can't say it was an unbridled success. I used a recipe for grain free chocolate muffins from the internet that had 1/2 cup of maple syrup in it, so I put in 1/2 cup of dextrose and an extra egg for the liquid. You couldn't taste the sweetness at all, I ended up having to treat it like chocolate flavoured bread and cut them in half with jam on top! Kind of defeats the purpose of using the glucose really...
      So I guess that maple syrup is super sweet and I should have upped the quantity of glucose. And maybe tasted the mixture before putting into the pans.

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    3. Yes substituting a dry ingredient for a wet one sounds very difficult and is not something I've been brave enough to pursue, so I can't give you much advice. If you want a higher chance of success you may like to try substituting it in a recipe with sugar. And yes maple syrup is very sweet so you would need to up the glucose. Don't give up!

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  5. I'm feeling the pressure to confess my inability to try it out. I love a crunchy biscuit and would feel very sad if they were cakey. Cake is cake though so I really should have used glucose in my last one. the only change i can really say i've made is not offering raisins so often as a tiny snack. i think about not having my watered down juice with dinner but i just really like it. so, beer is made with glucose and could be an option instead of juice?

    oh, i have told others about this brilliant research you've done.

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    1. Yes glucose is a great option for cakes, and yes a biscuit without crunch is no good at all, though I seem to be living happily without biscuits. I am certainly finding the less I eat of sugary things, the less I want them, and I am glad to be rid even of my morning sugary lemon juice - I don't miss it at all. Beer and wine are indeed fructose-free options thought they may not be the solution to everything!
      So glad to hear you are spreading the word.

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    2. i've made biscuits with glucose! to be fair, they also have condensed milk in them. and chocolate chips. but it was a pretty easy substitute for the sugar. what would you use in place of condensed milk? i wonder if you could make your own with glucose? anyway, the biscuits are crunchy enough - they are not super crunchy ones anyway which is why i thought i would give it a go. next time i will make afghans because they have nice crunchy cornflakes in them.

      i was wondering if you would share the recipe for your delicious hot cross buns? i'd love to make some =0)

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    3. Yay! Great progress! Yes interesting question about the condensed milk - it's that whole swapping wet and dry ingredients problem. I expect you could make a reasonable substitute using glucose and milk, whether the lack of stickiness would be a problem I'm not sure, but would be worth trying. Let us know how the afghans go. I tend to find my cornflakes go a bit soft once they've been baked - do let me know what you think.

      Yes, I can share my hot cross bun recipe. Have you had them here?

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    4. Yes, we did have them at yours and they were delicious. Just right! I didn't get around to making afghans yet. Have you made your sugar biscuits with glucose? I want to make some animal shape biscuits but i do feel a bit guilty using sugar.

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    5. Yes I have. The plain vanilla ones? They are fairly dull compared to when you have sugar in them. Just because there's not a lot else to them. You could add cocoa or cinnamon or something to get some flavour. Or do half sugar half glucose. That will help you get a wee bit of crunch too. I put hundreds and thousands on top (just a little but of sugariness!) to make them look more exciting and I think kids would go for them. Actually even Reuben does.

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  6. You have made converts of us with the glucose. I bake only with glucose now and have had just one incident where I have noticed a significant difference, but I had tweaked the recipe in a number of ways so can't blame it solely on the glucose. I'm so excited to hear that glucose can be used as a substitute in jam making. I'm yet to find the time to have a jammy session in the kitchen but I'm looking forward to some experimenting.
    We consume a lot less dried fruit and have replaced with un sweet snacks like nuts, cheese, unsweetened yoghurt and frozen berries. There has been a lot of talk in our house around these issues and I'm slowly chipping away at the hubby who has started doing some research himself and has even started having conversations with his workmates about it!
    We drink kefir in our house too and I have reduced the amount of sugar that goes in that. It is the only thing I buy sugar for now and there is just a tiny bit in the pantry for that.
    I have to confess that my nightly 2 (4 if I'm honest!) squares of dark chocolate has not been replaced with a better option and I can't even say I'm working on that one.
    Thanks Angela. You have been the catalyst for some healthy changes in our house. Let's get together soon for a chat and some cake (made with glucose of course!).

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    1. Great news Hannah and would love a chat and come cake. Delighted to hear J is sharing the news with his colleagues, and would love to hear more about what he has been reading.

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  7. Well, you have been a huge encourager on my recent during and life time changes. I have had some really strong addictions and cravings for sugar since breastfeeding my two boys. I had started to feel the cravings lessen, but needed a real change. I have now been on a Liver Cleansing Diet for 4 weeks and haven't had any sugar, fat, dairy or red meat.
    I can honestly say that I felt the difference immediately. I have way more energy, no bloating, weight reduction. better sense of smell and very little cravings. I have been having some dried fruit like organic figs and apricots. I made a carrot cake with glucose and pineapple yum.
    Thanks for your research and dedication. It has been just the kick in the derrier that I needed.

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    1. Wow, so exciting! You are inspiring me!

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  8. You have definately had an impact on our household Angela, mostly I will use dextrose in my baking - though usually mixed with a little bit of sugar, but just a little bit :) I was on morning tea at playgroup the other day and I made your delish scone recipe (date and orange this time) and those yummy cinnamon oat biscuits - I told everyone how they were made with glucose instead of sugar as I have been following this great blog that is researching how bad sugar is for us. I love to bake, so I like to think I am providing a healthy alternative. Thanks for your hard work and keep up the yummy recipes!

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    1. Hooray, this is great news. I'm so pleased. Glad you are spreading the news too.

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  9. Hi Angela! love reading your blog.. and I'm actually attempting to comment now (hope it works!). As you know I have always been a big advocate on limiting sugar intake. I have enjoyed reading and listening about the lastest findings - thanks so much for the recommendation! two changes I have made are thinking more carefully about the quantity and quality of the fruits (esp dried fruits) I give as snacks to Max and being more balanced eg, if he eats raisens throwing a handful of nuts in with them! My philosophy is always better "natural" sugars than refined but that isn't the whole story... Also I have finally got around to ordering some glucose /dextrose powder to try in baking. When I do bake I often do sugar-free but I'm sure this addition to my kitchen will make me more popular with the rest of the family and tastier, healthy goodies :) I will let you know how it goes.

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    1. So exciting to have you on board! Not that I can tell much about eating healthily! Looking forward to hearing about it. x

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