Summertime…..and the livin’ is easy. Except when it’s time to don shorts, tank tops and bathing suits, and you wish maybe just a little less flesh was jiggling around. But help is on the way! A new FDA rule requires that added sugars (as opposed to naturally occurring sugars) must be labeled clearly on ingredients of packaged foods. This may not seem like a big deal, but, in fact, foods that are routinely considered healthy and good for you often contain a lot of added sugar. This regularly contributes to cravings and weight gain. Take yogurt, fruit juices, sauces and soups, for example. Researchers found that about 68% of packaged food and drinks have added sugars.
As Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name, is still a rose.” So is sugar, and it has lots of names. Here’s a list of sugars that might as well be wearing a Groucho Marx disguise:
- any agave products
- beet sugar
- brown rice syrup
- brown sugar
- any cane products (juice, sugar, syrup)
- any corn products (syrup, sweetener, glucose)
- date sugar
- any drimol product
- any drisweet product
- any product with “sweetener” added
- edible lactose
- any flo malt product
- any fructose product
- any product with sugar in the name
- any product with syrup in the name
- any honibake or honiflake product
- any kona ame product
- any product with malt in the name
- any product with maple in the name
- any mizu ame product
- sugar beet
- tru sweet
As many of you know, I’m a big advocate for eating food that you prepare at home. The more packaged food you consume, the more preservatives, added sugars, and many unidentified toxic ingredients go into your digestive system, thus throwing off your natural gut bacteria. Sugar has been shown to be a major culprit in the obvious effects of weight gain, as well as the lesser known effects of poor digestion and yeast overgrowth in the intestines. The concept is not new, but the potential damage is sobering. Studies have shown that, ultimately, excess sugar consumption can lead to Type 2 diabetes, heart problems and cancer.
So, what to do?
- Try to limit consumption of prepared foods to just the essentials that are not overly time consuming. Many of us will not make our own bread or pasta, but know that these foods are not particularly nutrient dense. They may add calories, but not needed vitamins and minerals.
- Find easy ways to prepare foods that don’t require a lot of fussing. Why not get some fish, or chicken legs or breasts, and just marinate them in some herbs and spices and throw them on the grill? Add some veggies grilled with olive oil, and you have yourself a complete meal with nothing packaged, but with very little effort and time.
- When you make dinner, be sure to make enough for another meal. These leftovers are much healthier than a quick burger you would grab for takeout.
- Even foods not thought to be health foods, like pizza, can be made into great flatbreads with many excellent, healthy toppings. We grill our pizza from pre-made dough balls you can buy at any grocery store to keep the prep easy and foolproof. Scroll down for our easy, healthy, grilled pizza recipe.
- Think of meals as ways to take care of your fuel needs for the day. After a good workout, a protein and carb combination is a good way to keep you satiated. Some easy lunch fixes are omelettes with veggies, house roasted turkey on whole grain bread, yogurt with fruit, and hummus and pita with tomatoes and cucumbers. None of these meals take time, but they are nutritious and will provide you with the combinations of protein and carbs you need to fuel your day.
- Prepare veggies by cutting them up on the weekend, roasting them with some olive oil, and then having them as snacks when you’re hungry during the day, or as side dishes in the evening with your protein. Eggplant, sweet potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, parsnips, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower are all some of my go-to veggies for snacking during the day.
Jeff and Ellen’s easy grilled pizza recipe:
Basic ingredients: dough ball, flour, corn meal, olive oil,
Optional ingredients: pick as many as you want from column A, B, or C
Cover a surface with flour, roll out the dough to desired thinness. Add a bit of olive oil, then corn starch on a paddle or flat tray. Use enough flour so the rolled out dough does not stick to the surface of the paddle, then slide the rolled out dough onto the grill, which should be clean and slightly oiled. After the dough is cooked on one side, turn it over, and add toppings. Watch until toppings are sufficiently melted, but not overdone. Cut and enjoy!
Column A Column B (middle layer) Column C (toppings)
dough mozzarella basil
tomato sauce parmesan mushrooms
ricotta eggplant, asparagus,
provolone peppers, zucchini
ground beef broccoli, onions
chicken any other veggies
basil pesto with clams and shrimp
Whatever you prepare, it will usually be healthier and have fewer ingredients and definitely fewer preservatives than packaged foods. So, eat, drink and be healthy, and try to limit the added sugar! Bon appetit !