Last October I quit consuming artificial sweeteners after several months of drinking way too much Pepsi Max.
No diet pop. No sugar free coffees. No fat-free, sugar-free yogurt for breakfast every morning. I knew that artificial sweeteners weren’t good for me after I had a couple of flare up of my ulcerative colitis while trying an Atkins style diet. Loads of tasty treats, but half of their foods contained sugar alcohols (Xylitol, Sorbitol, Maltitol). Knowing how those fake sugars mess with your body, I figured aspartame, Splenda, Equal couldn’t be much better, Plus, I couldn’t hide from the articles suggesting that our bodies don’t treat fake sugars any differently than real sugars. I figured it was time to just step away from all of them. Now there are just natural sugars in my house.
For me, it wasn’t actually that hard to cut out artificial sweeteners. I wasn’t a diet soda addict. If I want a soft drink, I’ll have a real one – with sugar. I truly savour an icy glass of Coke Life or real Pepsi. Not every day, but maybe as a treat with lunch on Friday. I put a little real sugar and real milk in my coffee or tea every day, and there are a million choices in regular yogurt and ice cream. I just have to eat it in moderation (or at least attempt to!).
So now they’ve added Trans Fats to the list of foods that are verboten. I have read that my microwave popcorn is suspect, as are crackers, cookies and snack/meal replacement bars. We don’t keep a lot of prepared snacks around, but I do have a thing about microwave popcorn. Sometimes when it’s just me for dinner and I’m not starved, I’ll pop a big bag of Orville and that is dinner. Guess I’ll put “hot air popcorn popper” on my birthday wish list.
All I can say is, thank God wine is natural. And if it isn’t, please don’t tell me!
When I was married the first time, a long time ago, my mom wrote out my favourite childhood cookie and cake recipes and wrapped the cards in tea towels as a bridal shower gift. (Remember those days? Tea towels and shower gifts under $25?) I kept the recipes. I think it’s time to bring them out and when we want a treat, I’ll make something scrumptious that was traditionally made with nothing fake.
I do have a great “nothing fake” recipe to share. For several years I’ve made my own granola that happens to be all natural and pretty darned healthy. The only fat is from the almonds, and there isn’t a huge amount of sugar. I can’t remember the original source, but I’ve added an subtracted a few things over the years. This is very easy to make and it keeps really well for several weeks. It’s excellent for a yogurt parfait!
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1+ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
8 cups rolled oats (Old Fashioned Oats)
1 cup slivered almonds – toasted
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
- Combine brown sugar and water in a 4-cup microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on high for 5-minutes, or until sugar is dissolved. Watch carefully for the last minute or so as it can boil over.
- While the sugar and water are cooking, toast your almonds.
- Add vanilla, salt & cinnamon to sugar mix. Stir well (a whisk works best)
- Place oats & almonds in a very large mixing bowl.
- Add sugar/water mix to the oats and almonds. Stir thoroughly.
- Spread parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets. If you don’t have parchment paper, spray sheets with cooking spray (or baking spray).
- Spread mixture evenly on the two sheets.
- Bake at 275 for 60 minutes – stirring and rotating cookie sheets every 15 minutes. Pull out of the oven early if the oats are getting brown – that means they’re done. It’s easy to overcook, so keep an eye on the oven for the last 15-minute segment.
- Allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.
- If you want to add dried fruit, do so after you have baked the granola. Raisins and craisons are especially good! My sister adds some flax seeds to hers, and I have added pumpkin seeds for interest!