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Stay Healthy while Eating Sweet!
By: Lianda Swain
Pumpkin Pie smothered in rich whip cream, and Grandma's famous chocolate cake, it's no wonder why the holidays knock our bodies into a sugar coma! As a former sug-o-holic, I loved the three months that embodied Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. All my favorite sugar fixes were perfectly "accepted" for three whole months. Little did I know that these sweet treats were actually sending my blood sugar skyrocketing and my body into toxic over-load!
Did you know that the average person consumes about 180 pounds of sugar a year? And that's only on average! That means that some are eating OVER 180 lbs a year, and I bet most of that intake is right around the holidays.
Too many sweet foods and refined white sugar can cause sever blood sugar imbalances, a lower resistance to infection (remember, winter is at our doorstep), hyperactivity, mood swings and impeded functioning of the spleen, liver, pancreas, and intestines. Even sugar from sodas and fruit juices is most likely the culprit for many mental and physical imbalances you may be experiencing.
When you eat sugar, you unconsciously trigger sugar cravings, increase insulin production, and increase your appetite, which then leads to more sugar intake, more insulin production, and so on, until you're in a vicious cycle that causes you to binge and crash all day long! The worst kinds of sugar are the white refined sugars found in many of the desserts we gobble down over the holidays. Who knew something so sweet could be so deadly?
What's even worse is that sugar, though sweet, can be very deceptive. Here are a few of its' disguises: corn syrup, sucrose, glucose, lactose, fructose, maple sugar, natural cane sugar, cane juice, brown sugar, and honey. That's just to name a few!
But don't worry, all of this doesn't mean that you have to spend your favorite holidays sugar-free. Here are two alternative sugars that'll keep your sweet tooth happy, your belly healthy, and those extra inches OFF of your waistline!
First up, we have my favorite alternative sweetener, Agave Nectar. Agave Nectar is a natural juice extracted from agave, the same plant that's processed into tequila. It is a little over 40% percent sweeter than white sugar, has the same caloric value, but has an extraordinarily low glycemic index (a measurement of the ability of a carbohydrate to raise blood glucose levels). Agave is metabolized slower than sugar, and has almost no affect on blood sugar at all. It is ideal for diabetics and those who are sensitive to sugars.
Agave Nectar is great for baking. As a substitute for honey, you can use about equal parts. As a substitute for sugar, use 3/4 cup agave nectar for 1 cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid content by 1/4 cup.
Coming in close second we have Stevia. Stevia is extracted from a South American herb that is sweet, sweet, sweet -100 to 400 times sweeter than conventional white sugar. Unlike sugar, stevia can regulate your blood sugar levels, suppress sweet cravings, and kill hunger pangs! And the best part is, it's calorie free!
But remember, it is significantly sweeter than conventional sugar, so when baking, one teaspoon of stevia is equal to about one cup of sugar. Use it carefully, too much can leave a bitter aftertaste. Stevia is available in both powder and liquid extracts in the supplement section of Whole Foods and other natural health food stores. It is helpful to diabetics, hypoglycemic, and contains protein, fiber, complex carbs, and vitamins.
You will fall in love with these sweeteners so much that you'll want to use these in your everyday life. You can add these sweeteners to your coffee and tea in the morning, and use them to sweeten oatmeal and cereals too!
If you're really looking for a way to curb your sweet tooth, but don't want to indulge in the traditional pumpkin pies this year, here are some great alternatives that will add the perfect ending to your holiday meal.
Berries and fruits are nutrient-rich and a great source of live enzymes and antioxidants to boost your immune system and energy levels. These are the best sugars you can have. A great dessert is the classic, 1 cup of berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries) and 1tbsp. of whip cream. This yummy and colorful display is satisfying, abundant in natural sugars, and only 100 calories!
Another great dessert (or snack) is a Berry Parfait, which consists of berries, agave nectar, and yogurt. It is so delicious, no one will think of it as a health food! (See the Recipe below)
And, for the chocolate lovers, don't worry I didn't forget about you! If you need a fix that'll satisfy your chocolate cravings, instead of using chocolate, use Carob Powder as a substitute. Carob Powder is slightly sweeter than chocolate. I use this to make Hot Cocoa on cold winter nights. Carob Powder helps with the Chocoholic cravings but eliminates the caffeine. Any recipe calling for cocoa powder can use carob powder instead. It looks like Grandma's famous chocolate cake just got a whole lot healthier!
Your health is unbelievably important, especially at a time when your energy is in demand and the excitement and joy of the holidays keep you busier than ever, so why not ensure that you feel great this season and make some healthy adjustments to your favorite recipes. We are entering a new year, so why not start with some new traditions that'll keep you radiant, energized, and comfortable in your healthy skin!
Remember, everything in moderation and drink at least 64 ounces of water a day to keep your cravings suppressed and your energy levels sky-high!
Lianda Swain, a graduate from Fordham University, has recently become very involved with spreading the word about the power of nutrition and homeopathy after a personal experience with a dangerous parasitic infection that was healed this way. After educating herself about the unlimited ways that nutrition and natural supplements affect and heal the body, she has become very passionate about educating her age group and all people, about what is available to them. She is currently developing an online broadcast discussing easy changes for a healthier diet and a clear, fully functioning mind and body. Sign up for her updates at www.liandaswain.com!
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1 ¼ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 container ( 8 ounces) goat yogurt ( Very YUMMY, and much better for you than Cow)
1 ½ tablespoons of agave nectar
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut or chopped pecans
1. Rinse the berries. Hull the strawberries and remove any stems from the blueberries
2. In a blender or food processor, combine the yogurt, agave nectar, 1 cup of the strawberries, and ½ cup raspberries. Puree until smooth.
3. Slice or quarter the remaining strawberries.Toss them with the remaining raspberries and the blueberries. In 4 tall parfait glasses, wine glasses, or glass dessert dished. Layer the berries and berry yogurt alternately. Sprinkle the pecans or coconut on top!
Recipe from Dr. Rau's The Swiss Secret
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