Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No Sugar Please

Of all of the many opinions I have about food, by far and away my biggest and most passionate opinion – one that often slips into outright fury – is my INSANE AGGRIVATION over how much unnecessary sugar is added to foods produced in America. B and I rail on this topic frequently, which is sort of funny since there’s really not much to say about the issue other than how infuriating it is.

Foods that require absolutely NO sugar (pasta sauce, etc.) have tons of it, and foods that require some sugar have WAY too much of it (peanut butter, yogurt, cereal, ketchup, I could go on for days…). And I’m sure that I’m more aware of this issue than most people because of my hypoglycemia, but if you’ve never paid attention to what foods have added sugar or how much, you should absolutely start looking at the packages and educate yourself.

As a very small example, I CAN’T eat regular yogurt. It’s not that I don’t like it, I love it, but it has so much sugar that my body physically can’t process it unless I’ve had a meal first, or unless I add large amounts of granola or wheat germ to it. As I result, I eat plain yogurt, which is quite bitter, and add honey for flavor and sweetness.

In addition to the fact that this phenomenon affects me personally and makes me search out alternative sweeteners with a lower glycemic index (agave syrup), buy the “lower sugar” versions of products (which are becoming more prevalent), buy organic (which often has much less sugar than the non-organic versions), and make my own food at home (pasta sauce, etc.), it angers me that our child will be subjected to this as well. It’s unfair that our kids are becoming addicted to sugar through almost no fault of their own. If the only food they sell is loaded with sugar, is it any wonder why people become addicted?

One of the many small things we do to combat this problem is to make our own pasta sauce. Being Italian, both B and I grew up exclusively on homemade sauce and we’ve continued that tradition. Every few months we load up on groceries and B spends a Sunday afternoon blanching tomatoes, cutting fresh herbs, opening cans, doing tastings, and making our own sauce. After about 4 hours, the big huge vat of sauce and homemade meatballs gets divided into 8 containers and hits the freezer.

I realize that most people don’t have the inclination to do this, but sauce is one of those foods that has tons of unnecessary sugar so I was excited when I ran across this super simple sauce recipe in this month’s issue of Everyday Food. I haven’t tried it, but it sounds like a good place to start even if you need to add some extra herbs to pump up the flavor. As a general tip, you can’t go wrong with basil, parsley, and oregano.

Rustic Marinara Sauce

In a large pot, heat 2T of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes over medium until fragrant (2 minutes). Add two 28-oz cans while tomatoes with juice, crushed. Season with salt and pepper. Cook at a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.


Yum said...

HA! I always mean to make my own sauce but never seem to get around to it. This DOES look like an easy place to start. Thanks! Though I'd also be interested to know how you guys make it from scratch...

die Frau said...

Yes, thanks! I'd also like to know of your homemade recipe. I have one but I'd like to compare. We really could use it--anything with fewer points (Weight Watchers) will help.

Two points: 1) This month's Natural Health has a whole article about eliminating sugar from your diet. I think you'd find it quite helpful. 2) I eat plain yogurt with a wee bit of sugar and vanilla extract, or I swirl in No-Sugar Smuckers jam. I love the marmalade, myself. It's the same idea: most other yogurt has a ton of sugar in it and that's not what I'm after.

Thanks for reminding me!

Ouiser said...

i read some article about kids' diets recently, and one mom, who thought she was doing a pretty good job by giving her kids eggos with jam instead of syrup and some orange juice, was SHOCKED to learn that she was giving her 3 year old something like 12 tablespoons worth of sugar before 10am. it's insane.

feather nester said...

My husband won't eat pasta sauce unless it has sugar in it, so I just buy the organic stuff. He can truly taste the difference.

My child is such a cookie monster already. I don't even keep junk food in the house. You're lucky if you can find a cracker these days. So I'm pretty sure that her tactic is to just refuse to eat at home, then go to Ouiser's house and claim that I starve her.

Whatever. I'm holding out. No juice for you!!!

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