Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

Life Is Short. Eat The Damn Cookies

December 2, 2018

These chocolate chippers were a winner with chunks of hand-cut chocolate and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt

This week, I devoted a few days to recipe development for cookies and muffins that did not contain any refined sugars or gluten. After spending a full day baking, tasting and tweaking, I stumbled upon a few conclusions.

Although it is possible to create really good items despite the restrictions, I’m not sure they are actually healthier than their conventional alternatives. Although I only used natural ingredients and avoided artificial sweeteners, including Stevia ( which is naturally derived and then processed making its purity questionable) my stomach has been bloated and gurgling ever since.

Gluten-free flour blends are high in carbs. Most include various rice flours, tapioca flour, sorghum, and potato starch, and require something binding to replace the gluten. This is usually the addition of Xanthan gum, which is derived from a fermented, inactive bacteria. For those looking to follow a low-carb lifestyle for weight loss and energy, removing the gluten doesn’t lower the carb count.

These cinnamon streusel muffins could be a good base for add-ins and held moisture better than the loaf cake version

Store-bought gluten-free flour blends have varied calorie counts, ranging from 400 calories to 587 calories per cup depending on the contents. White, all-purpose wheat flour comes in at about 455 calories per cup.

Coconut nectar sugar is the sweetener of choice. Purported to have a lower glycemic index than white or brown sugars, it still is loaded with fructose and is similar in calories to refined white sugar. Honey and pure maple syrup have more nutritional value, but also are high in fructose, and can weigh in at a greater calorie count than conventional sugar.

Maybe some apples would help these keep moist and fresh for a longer period of time

While many people have health issues that prevent them from enjoying foods containing gluten, for the rest of us, there may be no value in avoiding it. I am guilty of eliminating foods from my diet, whether for vanity or perceived good health, but I try not to replace them with faux versions. Diet soda is actually worse for your health than the real deal, although I would strongly advocate for passing up soda in general. If you are eliminating food groups ( i.e. gluten or refined sugar) and eating a lot of replacement foods, especially those with processed and fabricated ingredients, it might be affecting your health in a negative way. In my case, too many cookies were simply too many cookies, regardless of what might be in them.

These were a winner. RIch and fudgy!

The moral of the story: Life is short. Eat the damn cookies.

Advertisements

Unrecipe of the Week: Cappuccino Ice Pops

May 28, 2015

As the weather gets warmer, and the days get longer, its time to rethink your afternoon coffee run. Instead of heading out for an over priced, sugary calorie bomb in a cup, why not make these easy “cappuccino” pops at home?  We love the old school look of these ice-pops, made from coffee, cream and sugar, with just a touch of cinnamon. The recipe can be customized to suit your taste. A little sweeter? More cream? Dairy free? No problem. We even made ours decaf!

ZC8X5034 Coffeesicles_Fi_Crop_Blog

Cappuccino Ice Pops:

Brew 3 or 4 cups of strong coffee, and cool to room temperature. (If you make a little extra in the morning, it will be cool when you get home in the evening.)

Using the ice pop molds of your choice, or paper cups if you don’t have a mold, freeze about 1/2″ of cream until it is solid. You can substitute the milk of your choice; coconut, almond or soy would work just fine. We don’t recommend using skim milk , as it might be a bit watery and lack substance once its frozen.

Once the coffee is cool, add cream (or the milk of your choice) to taste, about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of sugar to taste, and a little cinnamon. Mix well and pour into the molds or paper cups. If your mold has sticks and a cover, insert them now. If not, let the coffee start to freeze up a little before inserting the sticks. We covered our mold with foil, and popped the sticks through so that they would stand upright while freezing. Leave them in the freezer until they are fully frozen, remove from the molds and enjoy!

Tips: Dip the mold in warm water to loosen the pop so it slides out easily.

Once frozen, the sweetness in the coffee subsides a bit. Use a little more sugar than you normally would, to get the correct sweetness in the ice pop.

You can make the coffee and refrigerate it until you are ready to freeze it. The colder the coffee when you start, the less ice crystals your pops will have.

Photo: Spencer Jones for Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

 

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Brown Sugar 101

February 17, 2015

4270200416_comp

We love the taste of brown sugar. It has a rich, mellow flavor that adds depth to our homemade graham crackers and deliocous cheesecake crusts. Recipes generally specify which type of sugar should be used: light or dark brown, confectioner’s or refined white sugar, which is usually just listed as sugar. So what’s the difference?

To make sugar, fructose is combined with glucose. The juice is filtered to extract the plant matter and is boiled down, forming a thick syrup.
The syrup is then spun in a centrifuge to separate out the crystals, which become what is commonly referred to as raw sugar. The rest is molasses.

If the molasses are boiled again to remove the next level of crystalized sucrose, it becomes second molasses, and if done again, it creates third molasses, or “blackstrap molasses.”

If the sugar crystals are not refined further, they will become brown sugar. Continued refinement will result in pure, white sugar.

Commercial brown sugar is often made by adding back molasses to refined white sugar.

If you are baking and discover you are out of brown sugar, it is possible to create your own at home. You may even find it superior enough in flavor to get into the habit of making it yourself.

All you need is plain, white granulated sugar and molasses. It’s best to use pure, dark, unsulphured molasses, which are free of additives. Blackstrap molasses can tend to be a bit bitter for this use.

Start with a cup of plain, granulated white sugar. For light brown sugar, pour 1 tablespoon of molasses over the top of it, and for dark brown sugar add 2 tablespoons of molasses. Mash this together with a fork, until it is fully combined. Use your fingers to break up any lumps that appear. If you are mixing large quantities, you can use the paddle attachment of your stand mixer to do this.

It’s best to use it right away, but you can store it in a tightly sealed container as you would store bought brown sugar.

photo: glasshouse images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Challenging Math and Science

September 29, 2014

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a doctor, or a nutritionist. I am not good in science and I absolutely suck at math. Therefore, please take this post with a grain of salt, or better yet, skip the extra salt completely and just keep reading.

Conventional wisdom states that 3500 calories make a pound. A pound is a pound, whether it is fat, muscle, butter or carrots. It is presumed, that if you reduce your calorie intake by 3500 calories over a period of time, you will lose 1 pound. If you over-consume by that much, you will gain. Makes sense,right? Well, not so fast…

What you eat, and how you burn it off is as important as the elimination of those 3500 calories. Case in point:

I am admittedly obsessive about food and fitness, hence the premise of this blog. I keep a food and activity journal, and try to be as accurate as possible. Based on my current size, if I only consume 1,110 calories per day, I will lost 1 pound per week. Before you all go crazy and think I starve myself, when I enter activity, it adds those calories burned back to my daily food quota. Because I am so active, I am able to eat more than that and still be on target to lose a pound per week.
I take hardcore cycling classes four times per week, I weight train, do weight circuits and toss in a Pilates class when I can for good measure. I also walk 1-1/2 hours per day on average, as transportation. In most people’s eyes, that should be a free pass for the all-you-can-eat fish fry, with extra dessert, right? WRONG!

IMG_3117

According to my Lose It app, I have saved 5369 calories over the last 4 weeks, over and above the 3500 per week deficit built in. That would mean I lost 5.5 pounds. According to the scale in my bathroom, I have gained almost that much. Say WHAT?

The big differential for me these last few weeks is not the amount of food I am eating, but the type of food I am eating.  Based on my personal experience, here are the cold, hard realities of healthy eating and exercise, according to me:

Just because it came from Whole Foods, or is organic, low fat, gluten free or whatever else the package says, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Sorry, but real healthy food does not come in a package, and therefore does not state it’s virtures.

I do not have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, and gluten does not make me sick. Foods that contain it however (with the exception of french fries, that would be all the really delicous ones!) make me fat. And by fat, I mean bloated, and thick around the middle. Maybe it’s not the case for you, but for me, if I want a flat belly, I need to lay off the white stuff, most of the time. And while we’re at it, the whole grain goodness of whole wheat isn’t any better on my middle.

For many, many years, I avidly avoided sugar. Not even a bite of a cookie, or a lick of ice-cream. Now, if I have a little sweet something, it makes me want more. Like a junkie, that bite becomes the whole thing. And then I have a stomach ache. My body is trying to tell me something. Why don’t I listen to it? Do you listen to yours? You really should.

Protein is the building block of muscle or something like that. (See disclosure above.) I am clearly not eating enough of it lately. I don’t like meat, so getting to the fish market has to be a priority, otherwise I just eat fruit and vegetables, and later become ravenous and down half a bag of  trail mix or something else masquerading as “healthy” in a  package in my pantry. It’s important to fuel properly during the day to avoid the ravenous binge, especially post workout.

My exercise routine is intense, followed by long stretches of sitting on my butt in front of a computer or drawing table all day. I get out of my chair sometimes and can barely move I’m so stiff. Studies show that even a couple of  hours a day of physical activity cannot offset being sedentary for the rest of the day. I need to get up and move around every few hours, to rev my metabolism and stretch my sore limbs. Perhaps a stroll to the nearest fish market would solve multiple issues?

While we are on the subject of walking, I regret to inform you that walking does not burn very many calories. For those of you that think walking for 30 minutes per day a few times a week is exercising, you are wrong. It is better than not moving at all, but it doesn’t do much for increasing your heart rate or decreasing your fat rate. Lose It says that I burned 69 calories during a 30 minute walk, or the equivalent of  1-1/2 tablespoons of trail mix. And that’s not the kind with M&M’s in it. Bummer, right?

This is the calorie equivalent of a 30 minute brisk walk.

This is the calorie equivalent of a 30 minute brisk walk.

The media touts salt as an enemy. It’s not the salt that we sprinkle on our home cooked meals that is the problem. It’s the huge amounts lurking in those bags and tetra packs, and glass jars (no plastic please! ) that is the issue. That organic, gluten free, low fat, high fiber soup my be a BPA free sodium bomb. Making soup is so easy and tastes so much better. It’s time to get off my duff and make a few different kinds to put in the freezer in individual containers so that I can have homemade convenience foods at the ready. While salt doesn’t cause fat gain, that jump in the scale after consuming large quantities of it is due to good old bloat. Drinking a lot of water can help to eliminate the retained water in a day or two.

4093602688

The bottom line is that whole foods; the kind that are produced by nature, not factories, are the best for us. There is no debate there. Eating the freshest, highest quality foods, without added chemicals, additives and flavorings will produce the best results in terms of health, fuel and weight management.

Moving throughout the day is important for your health, but adding bouts of high intensity activity ( intervals for example,) will yield you better results.

It’s true what they say: You can’t out train a bad diet, and abs really are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.

Where’s The Pumpkin in My Pumpkin Spice Latte?

August 28, 2014

 

As the summer starts to wind down and the days begin to get just a little bit shorter, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are just around the corner. This seasonal treat has a cult like following, with over 200 million of them sold to date! Starbucks recently announced it would start offering the drink extra early this year, to feed the frenzy.  I’ve never actually had one, (really!) so I am interested in what makes this so special.
Food Babe, an investigative food blogger was interested too, and what she uncovered may change your mind about ordering another one!

gourds_kiyoshi_togashi

Starbucks defines the drink as “[made of] pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors, combined with espresso and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.”

What Food Babe discovered, is that while it contains way more ingredients than anticipated, it doesn’t contain any pumpkin.

The base of the drink is espresso; just coffee beans and water. No surprise there.

4093601039

Next up on the list: pumpkin spice flavored sauce. Operative word: flavored. Contents:
sugar( and lots of it,) non-fat condensed milk, high fructose corn syrup, annatto ( for color), natural and artificial flavors, caramel color(class IV), salt and potassium sorbate.

Annatto is derived from a seed. It is considered safe, but can possibly effect blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Class IV caramel color is a laboratory creation, made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperature, creating a by-product that has been linked to cancer, even in small doses, and is under investigation by the FDA.  Do you really want to risk your life to make sure the syrup in your latte is brown?

Potassium sorbate is a preservative made from the salt of sorbic acid. Although it has been found to be toxic to human DNA cells, the World Health Organization has deemed it safe in small quantities.

The “latte” part is made from steamed milk. The dairy option uses what is affectionately referred to as “Monsanto Milk”, which comes from cows raised with antibiotics, and fed GMO corn, soy and cottonseed.

While vegans and lactose intolerant can order a soy milk option, it is most likely that they won’t be informed that there is milk in the pumpkin sauce. Oops!

The whipped cream topping contains cream, and vanilla syrup which is made from more sugar, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and caramel color class IV.

Finish it off by sprinkling it with pumpkin spice topping, containing cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and sulfites, another potentially dangerous food substance.

A non-fat grande pumpkin spice latte contains 50 grams of sugar and 330 calories, among other things, none of which are actually pumpkin. And while the $4.55 price tag may seem steep, the health risks are even more staggering.

For those who crave the drink, no worries. You can make a healthy version of it at home!

4116100183

Mix a shot of espresso with warm or steamed milk, a teaspoon of honey or pure maple syrup ( no Aunt Jemima’s please!) and a healthy sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

To read Food Babe’s post in it’s entirety, click HERE.

photos: Glasshouse Images

UPDATE: Starbucks has issued a statement regarding the ingredients in their popular drink:

“The standard recipe for Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte at company-operated and licensed stores does not contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and is sweetened with sugar. We are actively looking at phasing out caramel coloring. In any instances where it is used in our beverages, the level is well below the No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) and safe to consume.

As a company, we take pride in providing full ingredient transparency to our customers so they can make whatever choice is right for them on their beverage selection. The high level of personalization of Starbucks beverages available allows customers to enjoy a unique Starbucks Experience and tailor their drink to match their own personal taste preferences – including the selection from a variety of fresh dairy selections and soy milk, a combination of syrups, and coffee/espresso options and toppings. If customers have questions about any of the items offered in our stores, they can ask their barista for a list of ingredients. We’re also working on listing core beverage recipes online via Starbucks.com and hope to have an update in the near future.”

 

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Substituting Chocolates

December 17, 2013

4093600151

When baking, different recipes call for different types of chocolate. Recipes that call for unsweetened chocolate for example,require more sugar, than those calling for bittersweet chocolate. Substituting chocolates requires tweaking other ingredients to compensate for the change in consistency or sweetness. Below of a few basic substitutions for those days when you have the urge to bake and the wrong type of chocolate in the pantry.

1 ounce of semisweet chocolate=1/2 oz. of unsweetened chocolate + 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon of butter

6 oz. of semisweet chocolate chips = 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder +1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar + 3 tablespoons of butter 

Happy Baking!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Like us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterTumblr, Instagram and Pinterest too!

Unrecipe of the Week: Pumpkin Bread

November 4, 2013

Screen shot 2013-11-03 at 2.55.52 PM

It’s pumpkin season, and it seems like everything from lattes to Oreos wants in on the action. This pumpkin bread recipe is full of “sugar and spice and everything nice,”  and is a cinch to make.

Pumpkin Bread

In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 cup of vegetable oil. (used sunflower oil). Stir in 1 16 oz. can of unsweetened pumpkin, and 4 eggs, slightly beaten.

In a separate bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups of flour (the recipe called for white flour but I used whole wheat ) with 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves.

Blend dry ingredients with pumpkin mixture, and 2/3 cup water. Mix well and divide between 2 greased loaf pans, or one sheet pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing. Slice and enjoy!

photo: Spencer Jones /Glasshouse Images

Like us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterTumblr, Instagram and Pinterest too!

Scary Facts About Halloween Treats

October 30, 2013

4557100236

Halloween is coming and with it, an onslaught of candy and sugary treats. The statistics surrounding the sugar intake of the average American are scarier than a haunted house.

According to The American Dental Association, Americans consume 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Teenage boys are the biggest culprits, averaging 34 teaspoons per day, or a whopping 550 calories worth! Most of this comes from sweetened beverages.

The recommended “dosage” for sugar, is no more than 9 teaspoons per day for males, and 6 teaspoons for females.

1635400268

While the health risks longterm can include obesity, diabetes and cancer, but the most obvious concern is dental health. While one big Halloween binge will not cause cavities, the there are other risks to consider. Sticky, gooey candies, such as taffy and caramel get wedged between teeth and are more difficult to remove through brushing. They can also stick to dental appliances and cause breakage of fillings and braces.

Many dentists have offered a buy back program to incentivize  kids to give up their candy in the name of oral health. Consider charities that send the excess candy to soldiers serving overseas, or to those less fortunate. Below are some suggestions:

Operation Gratitude (military support)

Operation Shoebox (military support)

Contact  your local nursing homes and homeless shelters to find out if they are accepting donations.

Much of the fun of Halloween is dressing up, carving Jack-O-Lanterns and going trick or treating. Sharing the fun with lose less fortunate will have a positive impact on your family’s health, and bring joy to others who cannot share the experience.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

photo: Glasshouse Images

Like us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterTumblr, Instagram and Pinterest too!

Unrecipe of the Week: Fresh Lemonade

July 1, 2013

It’s officially summer, and that means lemonade season. Fresh, homemade lemonade is delicious, and adding just a little bit to a glass of water, or iced tea is a great way to get extra flavor without a lot of added calories, or the dreaded high fructose corn syrup present in many store bought brands.

It’s easy to make and well worth the trouble.

1635400227

Fresh Lemonade:

Make simple syrup by combining 1 cup of water and 1-½ cups of sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to allow sugar to dissolve. Set aside to cool.

Squeeze the juice of about 8 lemons. This should yield you about 1-½ cups of juice.

In a large pitcher, mix the lemon juice, about 6 cups of cold water, and the simple syrup. Taste the mixture as you go. You may not need all the syrup if you like your lemonade on the tart side. You may wish to add more water, if it tastes too strong.

Add ice cubes to the pitcher, and enjoy!

Personalize it:

You can add fresh raspberries, blueberries or strawberries to give the lemonade a flavorful twist.  If you want to get fancy, freeze the berries with water to make festive, fruity ice cubes. Garnish with fresh mint leaves, or lemon slices for added zest.

photo: Glasshouse Images 

Like us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterTumblr and Pinterest too!

Unrecipe of the Week: Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 12, 2013

IMG_1674

Sometimes simple things are best.  Every time I make Toll House chocolate chip cookies, they get gobbled up. The recipe has been around forever, and it never disappoints. The rich buttery dough with almost melted chocolate chips is so easy to make, that there really isn’t a good reason to buy packaged cookies. The dough actually improves if left in the refrigerator for a few hours, or even overnight. It can also be frozen in a log, and a few cookies can be sliced off and baked so that you can have a fresh out of the oven experience at a moment’s notice.

Trust me, these are so easy, you can make them with one hand. I did!

IMG_1672

Toll House Cookies

Beat together 2 sticks of butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar and ¾ cup brown sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Add 2 eggs and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl mix 2 ¼ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. With the mixer running, slowly add it to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Stir in 12 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips. **

IMG_1673

Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, using a tablespoon* and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes, until they are golden brown. Allow them to sit for a minute or two in the pan before transferring them to a rack to cool. Enjoy!

* I use a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the pan. It is so much neater, and the cookies tend to be more uniform in size.

** If you want to experiment with variations, try using white chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips in place of the chocolate chips, or use a combination.

Replace the chips with M&M’s for a fun look. If you like nuts, add a cup of the chopped nuts of your choice to the batter.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on TwitterTumblr and Pinterest too!


%d bloggers like this: