Monday, May 18, 2009


I seriously love sweets but, unfortunately, I get addicted to them very easily. If I have dessert with sugar more than a couple of days in a row, I’m hooked. It only takes me a couple of days without it to unhook again, but during those days, I’m totally fixated on Kentucky Derby Pie and Raspberry Linzer Tarts. I don’t use the word “addicted” lightly because that’s exactly what happens. The fact that table sugar is so refined makes it into an actual drug that brings a response to a person’s brain chemistry similar to an opiate drug.
Speaking of refined, two other sweeteners come to mind that should be discussed. Splenda (or sucralose) is a non-caloric sweetener that is derived from sugar—they’ve replaced 3 hydrogen-oxygen molecules in the sugar with 3 chlorine molecules. According to a Duke University study, using sucralose causes the beneficial bacteria in our intestines to be diminished greatly, which is a very bad thing. Our intestinal bacteria is an extremely important part of our immune system, protecting us from all kinds of infections as well as cancer. It’s understandable that Whole Foods is refusing to carry products that contain sucralose. Good one, Whole Foods!
Another sweetener that goes on the Really Bad List is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is possibly one of the most destructive “foods” introduced into the system and is likely the main cause of our current obesity epidemic. When you ingest this crazy stuff, it goes directly to your liver and immediately turns into fat. For real. It also increases ghrelin (a hormone your body produces that creates feelings of hunger) and decreases leptin (a hormone that your body produces when you eat food that makes you feel satisfied). That’s insane! It’s like taking a drug where its sole purpose is to keep you addicted. To top it off, recent studies show that samples taken of foods with HFCS have mercury in them! Ewww! Mercury! That’s truly bad stuff.
Some sweeteners that are safe to use (they won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels and they are natural) are brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, and an herb called stevia. The best thing, though, is fruit—not juice, not fruit rollups, definitely not Froot Loops, just real fruit.

Here’s something for when you want a sweet/slightly salty/crunchy dessert:

Crunchy Snack

1 corn tortilla (much better for you than flour tortilla)
1 tablespoon natural, unsweetened peanut or almond butter
2 big, fat fresh strawberries, sliced

Toast the tortilla just until it’s crunchy (not brown) in a toaster oven. Let it cool until you can handle it, then spread the peanut or almond butter on top. Top with the strawberries. Please eat this over a plate or you’ll be decorating the floor with it.


  1. I have the same unfortunate addiction to sugar. Especially when it arrives in chocolate.Thanks for starting this blog. Its a great idea.

  2. That snack sounds delicious Julie!

    I had some weird experiences with Splenda when it first hit the market. I had been invited to a friend's home three months in a row and each time was served pie for dessert. Several hours later I would come down with something that felt like a nasty 24 hour flu-I just couldn't figure that out! I wondered if I was allergic to something in their home. Then they mentioned that the pies were baked with Splenda. As an experiment I picked up a can of Hansen's diet soda, which is sweetened with Splenda. Sure enough; a few hours later the "flu" hit. So weird! And after watching the documentary "sweet misery" I gave up all artificial sweeteners for good!

    Interestingly enough, high fructose corn syrup has a much more severe effect on those of us with hypoglycemia than regular refined sugar does. I didn't know the specifics of how it effects our systems, but now that you've laid those out it all makes sense! Have you ever tried baking with Stevia? I honestly don't know if I've ever had anything that was sweetened with it, but it seems promising.

  3. I'm glad you're visiting the blog, Penumbra!

    Jen, I'm actually working on some Stevia experiments and will hopefully have something good to share soon. I do know that, from everything I've read about it, it's a totally safe herb to use and it supposedly even helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

  4. My mother has been using Stevia for years to sweeten coffee or tea, but I have never asked her if she has baked or cooked with it. I will ask and check back in...

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