When you begin a journey to good health, finding the swaps for your favorites is essential because you should never feel you’re missing out. Raw chocolate for commercial, nicecream for ice cream, chocolate dipped raw cookies, crackers instead of biscuits, chia jam for sugar filled store-bought jams, nut mylk for dairy and the list goes on… You need to have the options you can eat knowing there is a punch of nutrition in each bite. It’s so easy to grab a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps if we’re hungry, instead of reaching for something healthier, that we don’t notice how often we do it. If the snacks are there, we’ll eat them! But they can be full of hidden nasties, like saturated fat, salt and refined sugar. Some things you should just not put in your mouth. From artificial flavors and colors to words you’d need an advanced degree in chemistry to pronounce (are you sure that’s food?), there are thousands of ingredients making their way into your food that are simply not, strictly speaking, food. And in time, too much of these can lead to serious health problems. Science has now shown that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll on the health of the population and is leading to wide spread obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, liver disease and a host of other closely related illnesses.
Bottom line: Let’s face it, most people eat too much sugar. Far more sugar than our bodies need for energy levels and health. Sugar is connected to almost all diseases and disorders of modern life, and it is known that cancer cells feed off exclusively sugar.
We all love sweets. We all probably snack more than we realize but do we really understand what sugar is doing to our bodies? We live in a sugar-filled world, and it’s hard to resist temptation when it’s in your face all the time. Sugar has quickly become the single worst ingredient in the modern Western diet. Sugar is loaded into soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks, dairy products, even milk is high in sugar and hidden in almost all processed foods on the supermarket shelves. Anything labelled low fat or zero fat is generally loaded with highly refined sugar and even things labelled sugar free, are instead filled with artificial sweeteners that can be equally as detrimental to the body as sugar itself.
As “good” as it may taste, sugar is not your friend. It may “feel” like your friend when it comforts you (due to the beta-endorphin rush in your brain), but sugar is really your enemy. Truth be told, regular consumption of sugary foods is one of the worst things that you can do for your health. Sugar isn’t just pure, white and deadly, it can be pure, brown and deadly. It’s the one of the food were being brown doesn’t make it healthier, unless it is unrefined or dark cold-pressed, both of which do contain some trace nutrients. Refined sugar provides the body with nothing more than empty calories. It has absolutely no nutritional value of its own and is well known for robbing the body of vitamins and minerals because it uses up such a lot of them during absorption.
Nothing new: the well-known fact that sugar is literally poisoning the general public and that it is strategically added to almost every food on the supermarket shelves from bread to canned tomatoes is devastating. With education comes power. We do have the ability to take our health into our own hands, it simply takes a little more time, effort and mindfulness. Preparing our own food, made from chemical-free organic or all natural ingredients, shopping at health food stores, organic fruits and vegetables whenever you can, buying from local farmer’s markets, if possible cooking from scratch, reading labels and becoming more acutely aware of what we are placing inside of our bodies, is the way around falling victim to the nasties of sugar.
In my recipes you’ll find different sugar substitutes used. Of course it can be more confusing coming into the low-carb, high-carb or no sugar game and being faced with all the options. Let me explain.
Don’t be tempted to turn to artificial sweeteners because you think they are healthier than sugar. Studies suggest that they can disturb the appetite just as much sugar. I personally recommend that you avoid white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave and all artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, amino sweet, sucralose, and saccharin. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s best to stick with 100% pure stevia, coconut nectar, raw honey, pure maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar, and date or raisins paste.
- Stevia is a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant, which is completely safe (in its natural form).
- Honey is about 53 percent fructose, but is completely natural in its raw form and has many health benefits when used in moderation, including as many antioxidants as spinach.
- Coconut sugar is very similar to regular table sugar, although the manufacturing process is more natural and it also contains some minor amounts of nutrients to go with it. If you’re going to use coconut sugar, then use it sparingly. It is slightly “less bad” than regular sugar, but definitely not something you should eat every day. Coconut sugar is very high in calories (same as regular sugar), at the end of the day, coconut sugar is no miracle food. Sugar is sugar, no matter what form it’s in. Coconut sugar is the same just like as honey – It is healthier than refined sugar.
- Regular table sugar is 50 percent fructose, 50 percent glucose.
- Agave syrup, falsely advertised as “natural” is typically highly processed and is usually 80 percent fructose. The end product does not even remotely resemble the original agave plant.
- Sugar alcohols like xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, and erythritol are neither sugars nor alcohols but are becoming increasingly popular as sweeteners. They are incompletely absorbed from your small intestine, for the most part, so they provide fewer calories than sugar but often cause problems with bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence.
- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.
And what about fruits? Fruit does contain a lot fructose. Yet whole fruit does also contain vitamins, minerals and fibre which slows down the absorption of the sugar. Nevertheless, fructose is still fructose. Raw food diets can be quite dependent on fruit, especially at first when fruit seems like an easy option as a healthy snack or in smoothies. As you move along your journey with raw food and healthy living, you will get a feel for how much fruit your body can handle and the best ways to incorporate these sugars into your diet and the best ways to limit or avoid them.
Bottom line: Natural sugars are not always as innocent as they may seem, and are not necessarily healthier than refined sugar. If you want to be and stay healthy, you must take control of your sugar intake so that it doesn’t take control over you. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.
My diet is heavily based around whole food plant based vegan, high-carb and mostly raw. I don’t eat gluten and I personally do not consume alcohol in any form. When you eat right your body will thrive. I have found a balance that works best for my body, and most sweets I crave I can adapt to a healthier alternative which you can find through the recipe section of this blog. Knowledge is power and with this power I am able to lead the happiest and healthiest of lifestyles and I hope you find strength and inspiration from my posts/recipes and can chase your goals to become the healthiest version of you possible. Remember, not two people digest food the same. Eat right for your body and be conscious of how these foods react to your body.
Raw, Vegan Raspberry and Chocolate Cupcakes
This recipe makes 6 cupcakes
Here’s how you make these babies:
- FOR CRUST:
- ¼ cup pistachio
- ¼ cup activated buckwheat
- ¼ cup shredded coconut
- 6 soft dates
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- FOR CHOCOLATE LAYER:
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
- ¼ cup activated buckwheat
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbsp or more nut milk
- 3 soft dates, optional
- FOR RASPBERRY LAYER:
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 1 small beet peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 small ripe banana
- Place all the crust ingredients into a food processor and process into a fine sticky crumble.
- To make the chocolate layer, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Pour over the crust. Place in the freezer while you make the second layer.
- Blend all the raspberry layer ingredients into a smooth mixture. Add to a cupcake, let it sit in the freezer at least an hour.
- Decorate and serve, Enjoy!
Easy peasy, healthy and so good!