Making The Good Life

It's not what you have, but how you live.

Archive for the category “Food”


As usual I’m behind again, letting over a month pass since my last entry! There’s a lot going on, and in an attempt to have some degree of balance in my life, this was put on the list of things that could wait.

My younger son is graduating from high school soon, and we’ve beDSCF4228en having some final things lately. Final stage production for drama, final chorus concert, final voice recital coming up. It’s been my privilege to share almost every day of the last 21 years of my life with two bright, talented, funny, handsome and loveable young men, and the second of the two is getting ready to move on to a new and exciting stage of his life. It’s all excitement and brave new world for him, and of course I am happy for him and immensely proud of him, but it’s somewhat bittersweet for me. I’ll be happy to see a couple of the changes – no more waking up to make breakfast at 5:15 am for example – but sad to see others. Ah well, it’s about time I stopped waking up at the crack of dawn with my kids! Both will be off to school before the end of the summer (my oldest is a rising college senior) and I will be figuring out what I want to do with my mornings.

Last time I was here, I was thinking of sugar. I did chart my added sugars over the course of several days, and I discovered a couple of things. Overall, I do reasonably well. And it doesn’t take much at all to blow past the newest suggested lower limit for the day.

In my last post, I mentioned a recommendation for sugar consumption of 15% of total daily calories. This was the 2010 US government guideline for “calories from solid fats and added sugars”. (pg 28) I can’t ACTUALLY find a specific reference to added sugar alone in the 2010 Guidelines. I thought that deserved clarification.

It turns out that as of March, 2014, there is a new (draft) World Health Organization recommendation. They say that adults should set an upper limit of 10% of daily calories from sugar (50 grams/12 teaspoons), but 5% of total calories (25 grams/6 teaspoons) of added sugar would be better.

ImageIf I give in to a VERY small serving of Chunky Monkey, I’m over that lower limit for the day. In fact, ½ cup of the heavenly stuff packs 28 grams of sugar! That leaves no room for a little sugar in my morning coffee. I hear the message that we need to cut sugar for better health, but when a single, small dessert is over the recommended limit, I wonder how many people will be successful? I know that even with my (reasonably) healthy diet, I don’t hit that mark every day.

I might be able to manage 10% on a pretty regular basis, but 5% is a serious challenge. Unfortunately I can’t see the US government getting a published recommendation of 5% past the sugar lobby, since they don’t seem to be able to do what’s right in the face of money and opposition from any food industry lobby. I’ll be curious to see what happens, and will continue to monitor my own progress.

What else is going on? Local produce is coming in – the fresh strawberries are fantastic so far this year. I know these aren’t very low-carbon-footprint, but I adore Champagne mangoes (18 grams of sugar each) which are plentiful in the stores, and breakfast has been a fruit and Greek yogurt smoothie (with no added sugar but plenty in the fruit) almost every day for the last three weeks. I’ll post a recipe when I get a chance. It’s different every day, but I’ll try to get some measurements and write it down. It’s a wonderful time of year to increase the plate space given over to locally grown fresh veg and fruit!


The Not-So-Sweet Life

ImageThe news has been full of stories about the evils of sugar for some time now, but a recent analysis of past studies has upped the ante just a bit. I realize that the study discussed in the linked CBS article may have some limitations, but I’m still intrigued by the suggestion that even for those who aren’t overweight, too much added sugar can have an impact on both longevity and quality of life. Heart problems tie far too many people to high medical bills, prescription meds with side effects, and a limited lifestyle in the later years.

I don’t currently track my daily calories and I don’t have a weight problem but I do add sugar to my diet. I’ve already added about 5 teaspoons in the form of honey on my toast and sugar in my coffee. I don’t drink soda and have nearly cut out the sweet tea I grew up on here in the south, but I’ll bet if I logged it I would be above the recommended 15% of calories, at least some of the time. Based on my estimated daily calories (from past times when I have tracked them) my maximum would be about 16 teaspoons of added sugar a day. The study doesn’t include sugar from fruits or juices (but juice should count!) so a whole-foods, plant-based diet still sounds like the best way to go.

I’m planning to track my added sugar for a week and see where I end up. Maybe better than I expect, or maybe (gulp) worse. It’ll be interesting anyway. I make breakfast and dinner at home most days, but lunch is in the cafe where I work. No labels there. I’ll have to ask questions to see what they put in the food – I don’t want to change what I eat because I’m counting, I just want to see what my current habits add up to. Then I can make changes if needed.

What do you think? How hard would it be for you to cut back on sugar now in return for better health in your future?

Sunday Breakfast

So, while I’m trying to be healthy, stay at a good weight and generally take care of myself, sometimes a girl just needs pancakes.These are made with whole wheat flour and almond milk, and topped with walnuts, sliced bananas and some really nice maple syrup. The sausage is turkey, and coffee rounded out my breakfast.

Sometimes you just need pancakes

Sunday Pancakes

  • 1 cup of King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup of Silk Almond milk (I’m lactose intolerant)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract topping of your choice

Combine the egg and almond milk in a bowl, whisk until blended and add the vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix that together, then add the wet ingredients. LET SIT FOR 15 MINUTES. This gives the baking powder time to work its magic so that the pancakes rise better. Cook your sausages while you wait.

I use a non-stick pan with a little butter or oil over medium heat and about 1/2 cup of batter per pancake. The recipe makes four smallish pancakes or two big ones. When the pan’s hot, ladle in the mix, cook until the top gets little bubbles in it. Flip, cook until set and enjoy. I keep the first ones warm in the oven until they’re all ready to eat.

I have no idea how many calories they have – it also depends on how much maple syrup or whatever topping you use. There’s nothing hydrogenated, no added sugar (except on top) and not much oil or butter. They’re about as healthy as a pancake is going to be, and they have an earthy, nutty flavor because of the almond milk. Feel free to use dairy milk if you prefer, or even soy milk. Blueberries stirred in to the mix is good too, or on top. It’s your breakfast, enjoy it. 🙂

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