Monday, July 30, 2012

How Do You Feel About Sugar?

As I peruse the special diet books on amazon (where the food allergy books are located), I am surprised at the number of sugar-free diet books – and especially the number of gluten-free and sugar-free diet books available.

I completely understand why those who need to avoid sugar for medical reasons do so. I liken it to those with food allergies avoiding the foods they are allergic to.

As a baker, I like to use sugar. In Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, I discuss sweeteners in detail. In short, sugar is rarely a concern for those with food allergies, and it’s one of the few traditional baking ingredients most of us don’t need to substitute for.

I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners. Saccharine, aspartame, sucralose… they aren’t for me.

I love natural sweeteners, including honey and maple syrup – and use them – but they tend to be very expensive. (And we’re already paying a lot more for other specialty ingredients.)

I also like to use agave nectar. It tends to be very smooth and blends extremely well (more so than honey).

But there are things you can do with sugar that you just can’t do with these natural sweeteners, such as make a sugared topping on a muffin or pie crust, or cream the sugar and shortening together to make a fluffier cake.

I do like to use sugar, but in moderation. I never (ever) buy an off-the-shelf mix where sugar is the first ingredient. It’s simply not necessary to use that much sugar. When I make my own jams, I use about half the sugar of what is typically called for, and when baking, I like to keep the sugar low – so that the finished product is just sweet enough.

Now you tell me – how do you feel about sugar? Do you use it? Would you like more recipes without it?


h said...

I used to not worry about sugar until I started counting calories to attempt losing weight. I have only baked two or three times in three months as a result, and mainly for the kids. I did learn from my daughter's dentist that the carb heavy diet of a food allergic vegetarian/vegan is just as bad for the teeth as a lot of sugar but our rice & potato centric menus are here to stay. All that said, I'm not afraid of sugar but do wonder at how some sugar isn't cruelty free because of bone char.

Diane said...

I have no problem with sugar. I think anything in moderation, and real sugar like any real food is a much better choice then processed or chemicals.

We stay clear of agave, there were some concerns, I think a few brands are clean but a lot have been super processed with lots of junk added.

We love raw local honey, and I have enjoyed using coconut secret sugar.. I have used some stevia blends with sugar, but I have some questions on exactly now natural stevia is by the time it hits the grocery store.

I think the big issue in trying to eat healthy is avoiding anything processed as much as possible- sugar at least a few brands, is a single ingredient item.. now a days when you cannot even get dried fruit without 2 -5 chemical preserves or enhancers on it- sugar isn't so horrible..

When I bake, and I bake alot, you won't find me shying away from the natural sweeteners.

Jennifer said...

I love sugar! I do not think its bad in any way shape or from except TOO much. Using sugar in a recipe, IMHO is not too much. I prefer natural, organic cane sugar, but also use regualr white sugar too, Its better than anything processed or made with artificial chemicals.

I am allergic to some honey and lots of other things: raw fruit and raw veggies, so I have to be careful with what I use. I never feel bad from eating sugar or using it in my coffee or other baked (gluten-free) goods. I know some people feel terrible when they eat sugar, so for them avoid it, but just like anything else... moderation is key for the rest of us. But you want to know what bugs me? "Dairy-free" stuff in addition to gluten-free... just because I'm gluten free doesn't mean I'm vegan or allergic to dairy! I know some people have dairy issues that also have gluten issues, but I'm tired of finding GF items in stores that are also dairy free. IMHO, Dairy-free icing on a GF cupcake is disgusting. And vegan cheese is not great on a GF pizza. LOL But thats just my pet peeve! I truly undersand why bakeries/companies are making GF items that are also dairy-free-- to appeal to a wider group of consumers... JMHO!

Colette said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one still using sugar! I agree, the more natural and in moderation is best!

Pamela said...

Read david Gillespie's Sweet Poison and begin to think about fructose and it's negative role in our diets.

CJ - Food Stories said...

Being a diabetic, I do use sugar substitutes. Unfortunately, carbs are my nemesis and I have to sub out or it sends my blood sugar into a panic.