Monday, April 16, 2018

Finding my Italian Roots
A Trip To My Homeland

Me standing on the street where my grandfather lived - Casamassima, Bari, Italy.

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Been Busy
Sorry I haven't posted much lately but I've been buried in genealogy research (as many of you are), brushing up my Italian, and traveling to Italy to discover my roots and the rich history of southern Italy.  

Finding my Italian Roots – A Trip to my Homeland
I was born and grew up in an Italian home in Brooklyn. Even though I was born in this country, I have always first thought of myself as an Italian. I talk with my hands. I could eat pasta for every meal. When I’m sick, the only thing that comforts me is a bowl of pastina. I’m emotional, passionate about everything I do, and stubborn. I often interrupt people when they are speaking. Sometimes, when I am just talking, people think I’m yelling. I can’t picture a life without children and grandchildren. I grow my own vegetables and I cook way too much food when I entertain - just in case. I love wine. Like I said, I’m Italian. 

Dad's Side
My father’s parents were from Bari. They came here as newlyweds when they were in their early 20’s. They had 8 children and lived a long and happy life but were never able to return to their home country, even to visit. I was told that for their 50th anniversary, their children saved up for them to either have a big party or to go back and visit Bari. They chose a party with their children and grandchildren. And what a party it was!


Pietro (Pete) Mummolo and Domenica Favale Mummolo, from Casamassima, Bari

Mom's Side
My mother's parents came to America when they were younger. Her father was from Messina, Sicily and her mother was from Naples. When I was a child we lived in the same apartment building with them and their only son, my uncle Benny, and his family. Both of my parents worked so this sweet grandmother pretty much raised me. 

Giuseppe (Joe) Giacobbe from Messina, Sicily
Vincenza (Jennie) Gargiulo Giacobbe from Naples

Living in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn in the early 1900’s was like living in Italy. You could go to the grocery store, the butcher, the fish market, etc. and buy most of your favorite Italian foods and not utter a word of English. You could even buy the Italian newspaper, Il Giornale. I would venture to guess that my grandfather, who was a carpenter working on trolleys, probably had an Italian-speaking foreman. So it’s no wonder that despite living in this country for over six decades, my grandparents from Bari never mastered the English language and preserved their Italian culture, recipes, holiday rituals, card games, and language. My other grandparents, having come to America before they were married, spoke both English and Italian but they too lived an Italian life. 

My parents never taught us to speak Italian because it was the “secret language” that they spoke when they didn’t want us to know what they were saying. So when I went off to college, I studied the language for several years and was so excited to be able to finally speak Italian to my grandparents when I came home to visit.

Unfortunately, as a young person, I didn’t ask my grandparents all the questions that haunt me now. What was your country like? How did you feel leaving your home? Why did you come to America? Now, as they and all of their children have passed, I have no one to ask. They never went back to their country. None of their children or grandchildren had been to their towns. I didn’t know anything about my great grandparents. I only had their names and one picture of each of them. I wanted to know more because, as being the oldest generation now (I’ll soon be 70), I knew this information would be lost forever if I didn’t uncover as much as I could and pass it on to my children, nephews, cousins, and their children. So I’m obsessed with putting together the story of my ancestors. On ancestry.com I can discover pieces of the puzzle of their lives in America, but I was pretty “in the dark” about their lives in Italy.

As if a sign from the Universe, we received a brochure for a cruise that went to Italy and the itinerary included Bari, Messina, and Naples. I screamed out loud and immediately said to my husband, “we have to go!” Doug found a company that did genealogy research called “The Italian Side” to get more information about my grandparents before the trip. To my surprise, with just the small amount of information I was able to give them (a few names, birthdays and marriage dates), they were able to fill out my family tree for each of my grandparents back to the late 1700’s! It even had the addresses of where they were born, or at least the specific neighborhoods. They even provided me birth and marriage records from their research.

Casamassima, Bari
So off we went! In Bari, we hired a guide associated with the company to pick us up at the cruise ship and take us to their town of Casamassima and visit the block where my grandfather lived, the church where he was baptized and married, and the cemetery where his relatives were buried. It was an overwhelming experience. 

Chiesa Matrice di Santa Croce
The alter where the Mummolo's were married.

And where my grandfather was baptized.
Where some of my relatives are buried.


Messina
In Messina, because of a misunderstanding, we thought the port was too far from my Sicilian grandfather’s house to visit so we didn’t plan for a guide. But after spending the entire day in Taormina, with only two hours left until the ship disembarked, Doug tried Google maps once more and we realized that the house was just a twenty-minute walk away from our port! 

We ran off the ship and tried to find my grandfather’s house. We were pretty close but a bit lost when I was reading aloud the name of the street, “via Santa Maria la Nuova”. Suddenly  a ninety plus year old woman, with the exceptional hearing of a bat, popped out of her 3rd story window telling us where to go. Sure enough, we found the apartment and his local church. When we came back, the old lady popped out again asking, “la trovato?” (did you find it?). Besides her, two other kind people offered their assistance while lost. Having watched the entire Godfather series, I was pretty surprised how kind and helpful the Sicilian people were. Even the police, who gave us the original directions, were real sweethearts. We ran back to the ship with only a few minutes to spare. We celebrated our successful search with Prosecco.

S. Maria La Nuova
Church near grandpa Giacobbe's house
The address of Giuseppe Giacobbe. Looks like it was once a one story building and perhaps after the war the top 5 stories were built over it. His address, "13", was visible on the first story.
This monument, in front of the government building, was about a 15 minute walk from his house.
Our Lady of the Letter in the harbor of Messina
Cannoli are celebrated in Sicily. No wonder it was my favorite dessert before my dairy allergy.

On to Naples
Naples, the last stop, was the only town where we didn’t get to go to the actual neighborhood where my grandmother was born. But just stepping on the soil of my napoletana nonna sent chills up my spine. While in Naples, however, we did get to see Sorrento and Pompeii, which was amazing.  

Sorrento


Pompeii
City of Pompeii - discovered in 1748 after having been buried in ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD

I can’t begin to describe how meaningful this trip was to me. I discovered my roots. I now know the names of all of my grandparents and their grandparents back 4 or 5 generations. I have their birth certificates and marriage documents. I took pictures of where they lived, worshipped, and where the family that remained behind were buried. I have memories that will last a lifetime. I have all this history to pass on to the next generation.

If your parents and grandparents are still alive, ask them everything you want to know now about your family history. Take notes. Even if these things don't seem important to you now, they may be someday and you'll be glad you asked when you had the chance.



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Roasted Turnips - A Lower Calorie Alternative To Potatoes

An easy and delicious way to prepare turnips!

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Turnips
Here's a simple way to prepare turnips if you are avoiding French fries and watching your weight.

I bought turnips this week to make soup. I've been a bit under the weather with allergies so I've been living on soup. But since the rain cleared the pollen out of the air and I needed something different to eat, I thought I'd try doing something else with the turnips. So I fixed them like I would a roasted potato and was delighted at how absolutely delicious they were. The best news is that they are lower calories and more nutritionally dense than potatoes. 

Ounce per ounce, turnips are 1/3 the calories of potatoes yet they have 4 times the omega-3 and 2 1/2 times the calcium. But they are higher in natural sugars which is why they caramelize so nicely when roasted.

Turnips are virtually fat free and are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, potassium, calcium and copper and an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C and manganese. 

A medium turnip has 34 calories
0.1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol
7.8 g carbohydrates, 4.6 g sugar
2.2 g dietary fiber
1.1 g protein
43 % DV vitamin C
5% DV vitamin B6 and folate
8% DV manganese
7% DB potassium
5% DV copper
4% DV calcium



Here's a quick and easy way to prepare them.

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Roasted Turnips
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 4 servings]

Ingredients
6 medium turnips
1 to 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary 

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Peel the turnips and cut each one vertically into 8 to 10 slices.

Place them in a bowl with enough of the olive oil to coat. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss until well combined.

Place the coated turnip slices on a cookie sheet lined with a silicon mat or a parchment sheet. Spread them out on the sheet.


Roast for 30 to 40 minutes until they are cooked and brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and serve.





Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Meyer Lemon Limoncello Or Lemon Extract

Meyer lemons make a delicious liquor and extract.

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Meyer Lemons - Delicious and Prolific

If you live in California, chances are you have a lemon tree, or a neighbor that has one. And if it’s a prolific Meyer Lemon, right now you are probably wondering what to do with all that beautiful fruit. Especially if you have just picked the entire tree before the freezing weather we've been having in Sonoma county. One easy way to use the lemons is to make this delicious Meyer lemon liqueur, popular in Southern Italy where my family is from. You can also use this recipe, before you add the simple syrup, as a lemon extract. A little extract and liquor goes a long way, so here’s a recipe for a small batch. Feel free to double it and bottle the extra for gifts. 

When I make this recipe, I use a combination of 89% biodynamic grape alcohol, that I normally use to make my medicinal tinctures, together with Kettle One vodka. But in the recipe below, I just list Everclear and Vodka. If you don't have access to a high percentage alcohol like Everclear or tincture alcohol, you can just use all vodka. 

Beautiful Meyer lemons from our tree in Sebastopol


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Meyer Lemon Limoncello
[makes six cups]

Requirements
Potato peeler
2 1-quart jars with lids
Nylon nut bag or fine sieve
Coffee filter and funnel (optional)

Ingredients
10 organic Meyer lemons
1½ cups Everclear
1½ cups Vodka
2 cups white sugar
2 cups filtered or distilled water

Directions
Wash the lemons thoroughly and dry completely. Remove the lemon rinds with a potato peeler, avoiding the white pith. Place the peelings into a 1-quart jar and cover with Everclear and vodka. Cover tightly with a lid, place in a cool and dark cabinet, and let sit for a month. Stir the mixture once a week. 

After a month, strain the mixture through a nylon nut bag or fine sieve, into a large pitcher. Divide the strained alcohol evenly into two, 1-quart jars. (If you want to use some of it for lemon extract, pour a small amount of it in a jar and save.)



Make simple syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool completely, to room temperature, before proceeding with the recipe.

Divide the syrup evenly between the two jars filled with alcohol. Cover the jars tightly and place in a cool and dark cabinet for two to four weeks to allow the ingredients to marry.

After the month, strain the liquor one more time. For a really pure solution, use a coffee filter instead of the nylon nut bag. It's a more tedious process but if you want a cleaner product, you can do it.

Using a coffee filter for the final straining produces a cleaner product but it's optional.

Pour into pretty bottles, seal tightly, and enjoy. Store in the freezer as it’s best when served cold.


Serve frozen limoncello in small shot glasses or use to make Limoncello Cocktails

In case you are wondering what to do with 10 peeled lemons, you can juice them, pour the juice into an ice cube tray, and freeze. Once frozen, remove the lemon cubes, place them in a freezer bag, and freeze. Use a cube whenever you need fresh lemon juice. 


Monday, February 12, 2018

What You Should Know About Chocolate
A Healthy Treat For Your Valentine

Raw chocolate treats have maximum benefits.

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Our Love Affair with Chocolate
Chocolate is practically synonymous with Valentines Day. About 58 million pounds of chocolate candy are purchased in the U.S. during the week of Valentines Day, racking up sales of more than $345 million.  And though sales of candy have declined because of growing concerns over obesity and sugar consumption, the sale of chocolate in the U.S. grew 33%, from $14.2 billion in 2007 to $18.9 billion in 2017.

The good news is that this delicious treat can be good for us, but not all chocolate candy has benefits. Before we discuss it's benefits, here's what you need to know about selecting chocolate.

The Anatomy of Chocolate
Chocolate comes from the cacao beans of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao. Theobroma means "Food of the Gods". After the beans are harvested, they are fermented and dried. 
They are then processed to create the three components of chocolate:

(1) Ground up, whole cacao beans are called Cacao Liquor, Cacao Paste, or Cocoa Mass. This liquor is then pressed into:
(2) Cacao Butter or Cocoa Butter, or the "fat" of the cacao bean and:
(3) Cocao or Cocoa, the solid parts of the pressed liquor that are ground into a powder.

The Good Stuff
I know you've already heard that the healthiest chocolate is "dark" chocolate. That's because it is made from 70% to 99% pure cacao fat (cocoa butter) and cacao solids. My taste threshold is around 72% so that's what I usually buy. But 80%+ plus is even better for you if you enjoy it. 

White chocolate shouldn't even be called "chocolate" because it doesn't contain any cacao powder. It's basically a blend of cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, sugar, and lecithin. There are no health benefits to eating white chocolate - it's basically candy.

Milk chocolate can also be considered candy, depending on what you buy. The FDA minimum percentage of real cacao is only 10% to be labeled "chocolate." For example, a Hershey's milk chocolate bar only contains about 11% cacao. This low level has few, if any, health benefits, especially because these bars are generally high in sugar. In addition to having very little cacao content, the milk protein in milk chocolate can reduce the ability to absorb the antioxidants from the cacao because they bind to the flavonoids.

Bottom line, if you want health benefits, always select dark chocolate. Don't grab a Twix bar and think you are doing something good for yourself.

Nutrition
There is a surprising amount of vitamins and minerals in an ounce of dark chocolate. One ounce of chocolate provides:
168 calories
12 g fat, 6.9 g saturated fat
9.5 mg omega-3 and 341 mg omega-6
12.8 g carbohydrates, 6.7 g sugar
2.2 g protein
3.1 g dietary fiber
27% DV (daily value) manganese
25% DV copper
19% DV iron
16% DV magnesium
9% DV phosphorus
6% DV potassium
6% DV zinc
3% DV selenium
3% DV vitamin K
2% DV calcium

Now, the Benefits
Chocolate contains healthful polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants can protect our cells from free radicals. Free radicals can damage DNA inside our cells. This damage can lead to Alzheimer's disease, cancer, heart disease, and more. Flavonoids are one of the most studied of the polyphenols and are found in chocolate, as well as many fruits and vegetables.

Here's the list of good things chocolate can do for you:
* Protects from free radical damage with potential to prevent cancer and other diseases caused by free radicals

* Makes blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke

* Lowers the risk of heart disease 

* Reduces hypertension

* Improves blood flow to the brain and may improve cognitive function and potentially slow cognitive decline

 * Improves cholesterol profile, lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol

* Helps hard-to-shake coughs. The theobromine in chocolate can reduce vagus nerve activity which triggers those lingering coughs.

* Improves your mood (that one's obvious!)

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Here are a few healthy chocolate recipes to make for Valentine's Day:

2-Ingredient Flourless Chocolate Cake 
Make sure you make this with at least 70% dark chocolate bars or chocolate chips.



These delicious raw truffles have no added sugar and are sweetened by dates and dried mango. They also contain omega-3 rich walnuts.


This yummy cake has 1/4 cup of pure cocoa. Great with non-dairy ice cream and fresh berries.


Happy Valentines Day!!




Monday, February 05, 2018

Make Soy-Free Tofu From Garbanzo Flour
Better Than Soy For Hyperthyroidism

Garbanzo tofu is low in calories, high in protein and fiber.
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Sluggish Thyroid?
My naturopath told me to give up soy products and raw cruciferous vegetables. But why when they both seem so healthy? Well, it turns out they are very healthy but not for people who have hypothyrodism. 

Raw cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., and soy are high in substances called goitrogens, which can wreak havoc on your thyroid gland. These cruciferous vegetables are fine, however, if they are steamed. And soy is ok if it's fermented. Soy also produces estrogenic isoflavones, which can also negatively effect the thyroid, especially if you are iodine deficient. 

Hypothyroidism is where your thyroid doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone and it's pretty common for women over 60, like me. I only had a few symptoms, but my TSH was an itsy, bitsy above 4.0 - not nearly enough to need medication, but high enough to do everything I can not to let it get worse. So, no more soy (except fermented) or raw cruciferous veggies. Gluten sensitivity also can contribute to hypothyroidism so she tested me for that too. Bingo - I had to give up gluten!  

If you have any of these symptoms, you might want to check your levels of TSH. (Normal levels are from 0.4 to 4.0 milli-international units per liter.)

* Fatigue
* Increased sensitivity to cold
* Dry skin
* Constipation
* Weight gain
* Puffy face
* Hoarseness
* Muscle weakness
* Elevated cholesterol levels
* Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
* Joint pain
* Thinning hair
* Depression
* Impaired memory
* Slowed heart rate
* Changes in menstrual cycle

But I Love Tofu!
I used to eat a lot of tofu so giving it up was really hard. But last week my daughter turned me on to making tofu out of garbanzo flour. I couldn't wait to try it. It literally took 15 minutes to make and it came out great, so today I want to share this miracle with you!


1/4 cup garbanzo flour provides:
110 calories
2 g saturated and 0 g unsaturated fat
18 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugars
6 g protein
5 g dietary fiber
5 mg sodium


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Garbanzo Tofu
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[makes 4 servings]

Requirements
A small square pan (6x6) or small rectangle pan
Best with a blender

Ingredients
Oil for greasing the pan
1 cup stone ground garbanzo bean flour
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste 

Directions
Grease the pan with oil.

Blend the flour, water, and salt in a blender until smooth.



Cook in a saute pan on low-medium heat, stirring continually, until smooth. It will first get lumpy and then will smooth out in about 4 minutes. 



This is the hard part. As soon as it smooths out, quickly scoop it into the greased pan and smooth it out before it hardens. It may look uneven and ugly, but it will still be great since you will be slicing it.



Let it cool completely. If it's not hard enough, after cooling you can refrigerate it but mine was good to go after a short while. Turn upside down and release it from the pan onto a cutting board. Slice and use the way you would use tofu.




Saute in a pan
Once browned, use in a stir fry, on top of a salad, in a burrito, etc.

I cooked up a stir fry with it and it was absolutely delish! Thanks to my daughter, Linda, for introducing me to this new soy-free form of tofu!




Nutrition
Per serving of tofu only: 110 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, and 295 mg sodium.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Instant Pot Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower
Vegan And Paleo Friendly
Super Low Calorie!

Use mashed cauliflower as a tasty side or a bed for a stew.

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Mashed Potato Substitute
I adore mashed potatoes but nutritionally they can't compare to cauliflower. When you properly prepare and mash cauliflower, you really can't tell the difference. And with cauliflower, you get a lower calorie and carb substitute with the cancer-fighting benefits of a cruciferous vegetable. Cauliflower is also super rich in antioxidants, and a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, K, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. 

Today's recipe also replaces the typical butter and cream in mashed potatoes with the heart-healthy, mono-saturated fat of an avocado. OK, it turns the mash a tiny bit green, but it makes them super creamy, and adds more dietary fiber, vitamin K and folate. For an added burst of goodness, this recipe flavors the mash with fresh garlic!

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Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower
Vegan, Paleo, Dairy and Gluten Free
[makes 4 to 6 servings]

Requirements
Instant Pot 
Food Processor 

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup water 
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1/3 avocado, room temperature

Directions
Heat the oil in the Instant Pot using the SAUTE function. Add the garlic and cook until slightly brown. 



Press the OFF button and immediately add the cauliflower florets, then the water, salt, and pepper. 


Secure the lid, press the MANUAL button and set for 4 minutes. When done, press the OFF button and quickly release the pressure. Carefully remove the lid.

Drain and reserve any remaining liquid from the pot. 

Place the drained cauliflower into the food processor. Add the avocado and process until smooth. If it is too dry, add a tiny bit of the reserved liquid at a time. Do not add too much liquid or it will be too soft. 





Serve as a side vegetable or as a bed for stew, peas, tomato sauce, etc..


Serve as a side dish

Or serve as a bed for stews and sauces.

Nutrition
Per serving (4): 104 calories, 5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 116 mg omega-3 and 548 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 4 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, and 355 mg sodium.

Per serving (6): 69 calories, 4 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 78 mg omega-3 and 365 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 3 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 4 g dietary fiber, and 237 mg sodium.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

10 Tips To Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Americans eat 76 times the sugar than their ancestors did!

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Make This Year the Healthiest Ever!
With the holidays are behind us, and like we do most Januaries, we want to get healthy, shed some pounds, feel better, and commit to doing something good for ourselves. Perhaps lowering our sugar intake would be an excellent start.

Lowering our Sugar Consumption is a Great Way to Start the New Year!
Today, the average American consumes an average of 152 pounds of sugar per year. That’s 6 cups of sugar a week or 14 tablespoons per day! At 48 calories per tablespoon, 14 tablespoons chews up 672 calories. These are calories that are displacing those that would contribute minerals, vitamins, and other important nutrients that would benefit, not detract, from your health. Or, they would be added calories that would lead to obesity, overall inflammation, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and more. It would take you more than two hours of brisk walking to burn up 14 tablespoons of sugar. Not many of us have the time or commitment to do that.

To put this in prospective, two hundred years ago the average American only ate 2 pounds of sugar per year. When we wonder why diseases like cancer, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, autism, various autoimmune conditions, and other degenerative disorders have skyrocketed over the past hundred or so years, it may very well be attributed, at least in part, to our drastic increase in sugar consumption. How did all that sugar end up in our diets and what can we do about it?  

Where is this Sugar Coming From?
Sugar finds its way into our food supply in many forms and with many names. It’s in jams and jellies, cakes, cookies, crackers, soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, specialty coffee drinks like lattes, specialty tea drinks, like chai, candy, breakfast cereals, ice cream, fruit yogurts, canned vegetables, prepared foods like canned soups, condiments, and more. 

It also has many names such as glucose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, sucrose, lactose, honey, sorghum syrup, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn sweetener, sorbitol, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, barley malt, agave nectar, beet sugar, date sugar, molasses and more. 

Tips to Reduce our Sugar Consumption
Here are some easy and painless tips on how to reduce our sugar consumption:
#1: Read labels
Look for all the different names for sugar on the labels. New labels will now have “added sugars” in grams. Dietary guidelines suggest that no more than 10% of your daily calories come from added sugar. I personally think that’s too much as it’s still over 4 tablespoons of sugar per day given a 2,000 calorie diet.  
(Note: 1 tablespoon sugar = 12.5 grams = 48 calories.)

The new label has "added sugar"

#2: Eat PB&F instead of PB&J
Instead of smearing sugary jelly or jam on your peanut or almond butter sandwich, place slices of fresh fruit or berries on your sandwich. Sliced strawberries, apples, pears, persimmons, and bananas are some of my favorite additions to my nut butter sandwiches. One tablespoon of jelly contains 56 calories, almost no fiber, and 11 g of sugar (almost a tablespoon of sugar).  A third of a cup of sliced strawberries, on the other hand, would only have 18 calories, less than 3 grams of sugar, provide over a gram of dietary fiber, and important vitamins and minerals such as folate and manganese. 

Almond butter sandwich with fresh strawberries 

#3: Replace Soda
Instead of drinking soda, energy or other sugary drinks, have a cold glass of bubbly water with a splash of juice. My favorite is a glass of Pellegrino with a splash of unsweetened cranberry juice and a twist of lime. Or just add a slice of cucumber or strawberry to a cold glass of water. A 12-ounce cola beverage has 136 calories and contains 33 grams of sugar (over 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar), zero fiber and no significant nutrients. Just giving up one soda a day would be avoiding 60 cups of sugar per year and allow you to lose 14 pounds! Although drinking diet soda may avoid added sugar, the sugar substitute aspartame, used in most diet sodas, has been associated with a number of reported complaints such as headaches, dizziness, eye issues, mood changes, digestive issues, and more. 

#4: Reduce Sugar in Recipes
I find that I can easily reduce sugar in recipes without adversely affecting its taste. For example, in baking I replace a cup of sugar with ¼ to ½ cup of sugar plus some stevia to make up for the loss of sweetness. No one has ever noticed!

#5: Don’t buy Fruit Yogurt
Fruit yogurt sounds healthy but it’s loaded with sugar. For example, a container of Kite Hill Peach dairy-free yogurt has 180 calories and 15 grams of sugar, much of which comes from cane sugar. That same container of the plain, unsweetened yogurt has 140 calories with zero sugar. So it’s always best to find unsweetened yogurt and add your own chopped fresh fruit. 

Select unsweetened yogurt and add your own fresh fruit

#6: Ditch the Donuts
An Original Glazed Krispy Kreme donut has 190 calories and 10 grams of sugar. Or if you are opting for a Dunkin Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut, you are signing up for 420 calories and a whopping 30 grams of sugar. Although bagels contain far less sugar (zero to 6 grams), they can be high in calories, especially if they are covered with full fat cream cheese. In any case, swapping out one or two donuts with a single bagel, smeared with slices of avocado, would be a better choice.


Eat an avocado bagel with seeds instead of a donut

#7: Sugary Cereals, Oh My!
There is so much sugar in some breakfast cereals, that they should be carried in the candy isle. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks are 56% sugar, weighing in at 15 grams per serving. Kellogg’s Froot Loops, Marshmallow are 48% sugar and also contain 15 grams of sugar per serving. No need to go on – there are far too many examples of bad cereals that are heavily marketed to young children.  

Always read the labels on boxes of cereal

There are, however, some better choices, like Ezekiel 4:9 Almond Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal that has nutrient-rich ingredients and less than a single gram of sugar. 
A much better choice of cereal

But my favorite cereal alternative is homemade oatmeal sprinkled with omega-3 walnuts and a dollop of dairy-free, unsweetened yogurt.

#8: Reduce Sugar in Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea are healthy beverages. But somehow Starbucks has turned them into high calorie, high fat, and high sugar drinks. A grande Coffee Frappuccion has 240 calories and 50 grams (4 tablespoons) of sugar. And a grande Green Tea Crème Frappuccino has 430 calories with 65 grams (5 tablespoons) of sugar. So stick to your regular coffee or tea with a touch of stevia and enjoy the many benefits of these drinks. 

If you want to enjoy a fancy latte, get a frother and make a green tea latte with unsweetened non-dairy milk and a bit of stevia. 

Homemade latte with no sugar

#9: Afternoon Pick-Me-Up
When I was a CEO, I had a continual battle with the vending machine company trying to get them to offer healthy snacks to my employees. Other than a few offerings of nuts and trail mixes, the rest consisted of sugar-filled candy bars or salty chips. When you work in an office and start to get hungry around 4:00, your food choices may not be great. One Snickers bar has 30 grams of sugar, a bag of Skittles has 47 grams, a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar has 31 grams, a York Peppermint Pattie has 25 grams, and a Milky Way has 35 grams. So make sure you bring a piece of fruit to work or keep a little fruit bowl on your desk with tangerines, apples, and bananas. And take an ounce of raw nuts along with you too, like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans. 
Fresh fruit is a great pick-me-up

#10: Canned Vegetables
Canned vegetables often contain added sugar. You will find sugar listed in the ingredients of many popular brands of canned vegetables. Whether they do this for preservation or just to cater to the American palate, is a mystery. So if you are not able to buy fresh vegetables, always buy them frozen as they generally do not contain added sugar. 


Ingredients: Peas, Water, Sugar, Salt
Ingredients: Garden Peas

If you make these simple changes to reduce the sugar in your diet, you can significantly improve your health. You may miss sugar at first as our taste buds get attuned to too much fat, salt, and sugar - manufacturers count on this. But as we transition to a healthier lifestyle by reducing these ingredients in our diet, we lose our cravings for them and once again appreciate the natural delicious flavors of undoctored foods.