Hello friends---toddler Tuesday is back! We had a fabulous weekend with my brother, sister-in-law and niece in Chicago. Now after a hectic month of traveling we have a few weeks off. This has been one busy summer, but I love it.
On my mind today is sugar. I didn't think very much about how much sugar I was eating until 2005. Before then, I may have looked at nutritional labels for a calorie count or fat content, but really thought the most detrimental thing about sugar was that it gave you cavities. I figured if I was diligent enough about brushing my teeth, I'd be okay. Then in fall of 2005 my face was breaking out more than usual. I went on a trip to my brother's house to spend a week babysitting while they went on a vacation. My sister-in-law left food and recipes for me to follow--we even had fun desserts. On this trip, my skin, which was already bad, got even worse.
When I got home I started doing research trying to figure out what I could do to calm the breakouts. I found a book called Acne Messages that taught me to take a look at my lifestyle, the type and placement of my breakouts, to figure out the cause. Treatments are useless until you find the cause. I was surprised that the author suggested diet can be linked to breakouts. Everything I'd heard prior to reading this book was that studies have shown no correlation between diet and acne. The author pointed out, however, that the reason it is difficult to show such a correlation is that the same foods don't cause the same reactions in everyone. This made sense to me.
After looking at the lists of foods the author suggested can trigger acne in certain individuals, I thought about my diet. Sugar was one of the listed offenders, and I realized I had a lot of sugar in my diet. I also realized that on my trip to my brother's, I ate even more sugar than usual. Many of my sister-in-law's dinner recipes included sugar, and we had sugary desserts nearly every night I was there.
The only way to be sure if it was sugar causing my breakouts, however, was to try an elimination diet. I decided to cut sugar out of my diet completely. I read labels and didn't eat anything that had added sugar for the next week. No breakfast cereals, salad dressings, etc. You'd be surprised how many things have sugar once you start looking. By the end of the week, my face was noticeably clearer. I continued the no-sugar for the next week, and my face was completely clear. I was shocked and elated to have found the cause for the break-outs!
After this I was much more cautious about how much sugar I ate, and while I didn't completely eliminate it from my diet, I ate substantially less. Then in 2007 my mom got cancer. Through my nutritional research, I discovered more and more about the detrimental effects of sugar. It turns out that excess sugar consumption is linked to several major diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and adult-onset diabetes. Sugar is also an immunosuppressant, meaning it weakens our immune system.
After learning more about the horrible effects sugar can have on our body, I decided that it just wasn't worth it. Since then I have been on a quest to find ways to curb my intense sugar cravings without refined sugar.
When Meghan was born, I knew I wanted to give her every nutritional advantage I could. That has included limiting her sugar consumption. At 21 months old, she's yet to have a piece of candy. Her sugar consumption has been limited to a few tastes of my ice cream that I was eating during a weak moment and a few bites of an oatmeal raisin cookie. I don't give her the commercial fruit yogurt that's been sweetened with sugar; she gets plain that I sweeten with fresh fruit. Instead of the regular sweetened applesauce, I buy her unsweetened and put some cinnamon in it for her. Her first birthday cake was sweetened with pure maple syrup. She doesn't know the difference and has learned to appreciate the natural sweetness of things like fruit and honey.
I have recently discovered a lovely blog, Choosing Raw, and found the most wonderful dessert recipe I have tried in quite a while. I am seriously excited about this discovery. She calls this fantastic treat "Banana Soft Serve". This is a great name as it does resemble soft serve ice cream. But get this: it only has ONE ingredient. How's that for whole food eating? Just ONE simple, lovely ingredient. A frozen banana. All you have to do is freeze a banana (or two or three...) and put it in your food processor. (Don't have a food processor? Get one! Even if it's just for this recipe. Get one.)
Let the processor run for about 5 minutes (or less), until you get a creamy, ice cream-looking substance.
That's it. You have a delicious dessert, without any added sugar or other yucky ingredients, in 5 minutes! I have had this three times now; twice I ate it plain. like so:
It is also good with a little chocolate topping. I made the chocolate topping with 1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 T. agave nectar. Very yummy. We made this at my brother's this weekend and my sister-in-law and I both agreed that it would also be delish with a crunchy topping, such as nuts or granola.
This is a dessert that I can feel good about serving to Meghan. I don't want her to ever feel deprived of good food; my goal is for her to develop a palette that can appreciate and enjoy naturally sweet foods. We shared a bowl of this last week and she loved it. I know she doesn't feel deprived so far. :-)