Stress and Sweet Swap

Stress and Sweet Swap

How the blood sugar can cause stress? Chronic stress can be fatal than any other diseases – studies have shown this.  Chronic stress is stronger predictor of weight gain in humans. One of the main causes behind stress is blood sugar! With glucose levels between 75 and 95 ng/dl one will function the best. When the sugar goes beyond this range, body feels more stressed.

In other words, our chronic stress and blood sugar levels are related. When we go through regular stress, the adrenal glands produce more stress hormone namely cortisol. This hormone manages our stress and blood sugar level. When sugar level changes fast, adrenal gland releases cortisol to bring back the sugar level. Unstable blood sugar makes us feel angry, frustrated, fatigue and act on our emotions. Along with stress hormones like cortisol, unstable blood sugar causes us to make storage hormones like insulin, which causes weight gain and fatigue.

Most of our baked foods requires high amount of sugar. The granulated sugar is produced from either the sugar cane or sugar beets. Most people think that sugar is just a sweetening agent. Sugar has more functions than just a sweetening agent does. Fillings, frostings, sticky buns, bulk to dough and batters, food for the yeast etc. happens when there is sugar.

If we are fond of sugar and have to reduce its amount, try replacing the sugar with natural fruits. Natural fruits in different forms can be used for cooking and baking.  This sweet swap can be done by adjusting either the sugar levels (decreasing) and by adding fruits. Total replacement of sugar with fruits needs more cooking experimentations. Reducing the quantity of sugar and adding more fruits can be a good way to control the sugar levels.

Here are some health tips for sugar swap.

1. While cooking reduce the sugar by 1/3 -1/2 and replace rest amount by good fruit.

2. Dried fruits like plums, raisins, pears, peaches, cranberries, apricots, cherries, apples,date, figs has good amount of sweet in them.

3. While using the dried fruits cut them to very small pieces to distribute the flavors and sweetness equally. These can be used in muffin, cookies, pies.

4. For breads and muffins, one can use fruit pulp (save from juicer) as they have decent amount fiber and fat. Rest can be sugar.

5. Instead of throwing over ripened fruit, use it for pudding and muffins.

6. Use rehydrated dry fruits such as unsweetened cranberries, raisins or apricots – soak the dry fruits in a combination of water and fruit juice like apple or orange. These can be used in filling of fruit pie. This eliminates about 3/4 of sugar use that is called for in the recipe of pie.

7. For desserts use reduced fruit juice. Even though it is not a successful sugar replacement in baked goods, it is a nice addition for the savory and dessert dishes. .  If you purchase 100% juice with no added sweeteners, it is best to reduce the fruit juice to 1/3 of their original volume by boiling over high heat for concentrated flavors and sweetness.  You will want to use ¾ of a cup of fruit juice for every 1 cup of sugar.

8. Try replacing sugar syrup with fruit puree. Add one tsp of cinnamon to a cup of smashed berries and cook. Add this on pancakes, waffles and breads.

9. Add dried fruits like raisin, cherries to oatmeal for the breakfast. To this also one can add cashew, pista, almonds and gives a full satisfying meal.

10. For yogurt, one can add dry fruits and fresh fruits. This will give a good taste for the yogurt. Add some nuts to get better taste. Try adding different flavors like vanilla to accentuate the sweetness.

11. If you are not satisfied with any fruits and feels like having some flavors then, add flavor enhancers such as lemon zest or orange peel to the dish along with fruits. Use sweet enhancing spices such as cloves, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg to intensify the flavor of the recipe.

12. Prepare your own homemade jams and spread it on bread and toast.

13. If you like to have sweetened tea, instead of adding sugar add fruit syrup and smashed berries. Allow it to infuse for few minutes and drink it.

14. Wherever you need use sugar – reduce the amount to half or less than half and replace with fruit puree as fruit puree is one of the best sugar alternate for the various desserts.

One can use artificial sweetener in the dishes. However, with all the controversies surrounding the artificial sweeteners, the best option is to go with fruits as a replacement for the sugar- as much as possible.

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