{New Year} Cutting Back on Refined Sugar

“The Clock” and writing New Year’s Resolutions: a Sheehan tradition.  This, however, was a tradition that was FORCED upon me and one I never liked to embrace until last year.  I am so thrilled that I embraced this family tradition, it only took 34 years.   Here’s how writing New Year’s Resolutions works in my family.

On New Year’s Day, for my entire life, our family has gathered around my parent’s kitchen table to open up the previous year’s resolutions and write new ones. Once they are written the resolution goes into an envelope with your name on it and it is sealed and kept in “the clock” until New Years Day.  Yes, that means I still have each and every New Year’s Resolution since I was born.  I must say I was not a fan of this tradition and often slacked and didn’t really spend much time considering goals or expectations for the year.  Like many others I always felt like I would forget what I wrote and would feel let down when I opened the envelope up in a year and nothing had changed.  I always wondered too why they need to be “locked up”, shouldn’t they be posted so it could be a daily reminder to oneself.   So in the summer of 2009 when healthy eating and exercise became top priority in our family’s lives I wrote down my 2010 New Years Resolutions with great pride.

It is January 1st 2011.  I walk into my Mom’s house to drop the kiddos off for the day as Eric and I are off to run in the Hangover Half Marathon in Albany and she hands me my envelope.  Yes, I must read and submit my resolutions before I leave!  Two resolutions related to running on the paper were:  1) to run in a 5K and 2) to be able to run 6 miles.  I am certainly glad that I had these resolution to reflect back on as I did not log any of my runs this year.  Now I was really able to see how far I have come.  Run a 5K, I ran a Marathon and was a starting out the New Year running 13.1 miles, like it was nothing!  Yahoo!

Well, none of this has to do with food…so I was thinking what food related resolution can I make for 2011?  2010 was a year of great change in our household when it comes to how we eat and how we shop for our food.  This year just like Sarah and Alexis we are trying to cut down on our meat consumption and buy local when we can (remember Tom the Turkey?).  Also, by going to the farmers market and joining Denison Farm Co Op we are buying local and organic produce as much as possible.  So what about my sweet tooth, one of things I have been thinking about it how to cut down on refined sugar.  Many healthy recipes are now calling for these natural sweeteners.  But what do you do with your favorite bake goods when you want to try and make them healthy and cut down on the refined sugar.  These conversions are simple and easy to understand.

I came across this information in the December 2010 edition of Food Network Magazine. Ellie Krieger, Dietitian and Healthy Appetite host talks about how to cut back on refined sugar when baking.

Honey, maple syrup and agave nectar are all natural unrefined sweeteners that can be substituted for refined sugar.   The health benefit for using these natural sweeteners is that they raise your blood sugar more slowly than white sugar.  Agave nectar is more neutral while maple syrup and honey have a more distinct flavor so you will need to choose the natural sweetener that best fits your recipe when making the swap.

Ellie Krieger has done the conversions for you in her “Ask Ellie” column in the magazine.

Use these as a general rule:

For all recipes, reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees.

Honey: Use ¾ cup honey for 1 cup sugar.  Reduce the recipe’s liquid by 3 tablespoons or add an extra ¼ cup dry ingredients.  Add a pinch of baking soda.

Maple Syrup: Use ¾ cup maple syrup for 1 cup sugar.  Reduce the recipe’s liquid by 3 tablespoons or add an extra ¼ cup dry ingredients.

Agave Nectar: Use ¾ cup agave nectar for 1 cup of sugar.  Reduce the recipe’s liquid by ¼ cup or add an extra 1/3 cup dry ingredients.

Do you have any great recipes that will satisfy my sweet tooth and use natural sweeteners?

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