Welcome back folks! How have you been doing removing sugar from your diet? I hope you have at least been more mindful in buying food from the grocery store, checking labels and purging stuff from your pantries. How do you replace all the convenient, flavorful stuff full of preservatives, sugar and other not so great additives? Well, by making your own! Here are a couple recipes to get you started.
1. Salad Dressing
Salads are so great, but can get boring if you eat the same veggies every time with the same salad dressing. One way to change things up is with different salad dressings. But watch out for those store bought dressings. They are usually full of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, plus preservatives if they aren't refrigerated. You can make a basic oil and vinegar dressing, or spice it up a bit with some herbs.
Here is one I have used for years. I try to pick the same herbs as in my other dishes for that meal to coordinate tastes. You can also use dried herbs if you don't have any fresh on hand. Just remember that 1 teaspoon dried herbs replaces 1 tablespoon fresh herbs. If you aren't familiar with liquid aminos, it is a seasoning that gives a salty flavor. So, you could just add some sea salt instead. Bragg's Liquid Aminos is made from soy. I've used coconut aminos and I've omitted it altogether. Follow your taste buds as you are creating your own flavorful, nourishing masterpiece to top your salad.
Bragg Health Salad Dressing
From Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System by Paul and Patricia Bragg
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 tsp liquid aminos
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS fresh herbs, minced (Some good choices are thyme, oregano, parsley, basil and dill.)
Mix all ingredients in a blender or put in a jar with tight fitting lid and shake until combined. Pour over salad immediately. Refrigerate leftovers. Let stand at room temperature when you are making your salad to help the olive oil thin out as it will thicken in the refrigerator.
2. Barbecue Sauce
Like salad dressing and most store-bought condiments, barbecue sauce is high in added sugar. Have you ever read typical recipes for homemade barbecue sauce? They call for a lot of brown sugar which is one tiny step up from white sugar as it hasn’t had all the vitamins and minerals bleached out of it. But, it is still sugar and will wreck havoc on your health in large doses as you learned in last week's post. This recipe is adapted from JJ Virgin’s "All-Purpose Finger-Licking’-Good Barbecue Sauce" from The Virgin Diet Cookbook.
I used a 16 oz jar of tomatoes I canned myself last year. Canned tomatoes you find in the grocery store are problematic in that the tomatoes are so acidic, they leach BPA from the lining of the can. BPA is an endocrine disrupter which means it messes with your hormones which control everything in your body. So, I recommend to buy tomatoes in glass jars, can your own when they are in abundance in your garden or at your farmer’s market, or you can start with fresh; you’ll just have to get the skins off first and de-seed if desired.
Spicy Barbecue Sauce
1 - 16 oz jar tomatoes & juice
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1.5 TBS chili powder (I used a combination of Ancho Chili powder and Chipotle Chili powder)
1 TBS smoked paprika
1 TBS Xylitol
1 tsp coconut aminos
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Makes about 15 oz.
Play with the seasonings here. Try roasted tomatoes, or adding liquid smoke. Use different chili powders for different levels of spicy heat.
3. Flavored Water Kefir
Water Kefir is a probiotic-rich, naturally carbonated drink you can easily make at home in place of soda. All you need is sugar and water kefir grains. Wait, did she just say sugar? Isn’t this supposed to be a post on sugar-free alternatives? That’s right. Water kefir grains are actually colonies of bacteria and yeasts which feed on the sugar water, infusing it with their beneficial goodness. By the time you drink it, the majority of the sugar is gone. Now, depending on if you create a second ferment, which I recommend, the sugar content may go back up as a second ferment is created by adding fruits and/or herbs and letting it ferment for another day or so. Some fruits have higher sugar contents than others which the bacteria will still feed upon, but some may be left over when you drink it. However, it still pales in comparison to how much sugar or fake sugar is in your soda or diet soda.
I buy my water kefir grains from Cultures for Health. Once the kefir grains are rehydrated, you just dissolve a 1/4 cup of sugar in a quart of filtered water, add the grains and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days. Then, strain the grains to use again in another batch of sugar water and add 1-2 oz fresh fruit or juice or dried herbs and cap tightly in a flip-top bottle or other container and let sit at room temperature for another day. This will add flavor and carbonation giving it that soda feel. Some of our favorite flavors are hibiscus and orange, blueberry, prickly pear and cherry. I will use frozen fruits a lot so we can have whatever flavor we want in any season of the year. As I’ve mentioned before, when consuming probiotic rich foods or drinks for the first time, a little goes a long way. Too much at first can causing gas and intestinal discomfort. I will usually drink about 8 oz a day, but only give about 4 oz to my 3.5 year old and about 1 oz to the 1 year old. They both love the fizzy drink.
It may seem like a lot more effort to prepare so many ingredients for your food, but look at it as adding more movement into your daily life; killing two birds with one stone.
I hope these recipes help motivate to remove more sugar from your life. Are there any other sugar-filled foods you need help finding alternate recipes for? Let me know in the comments!
With love, hugs and smiles,
"BPA Is Fine if You Ignore Most Studies for It" by Dr. Mercola http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/03/25/health-risks-bpa.aspx