Sugar is everywhere in the American diet, though largely invisible. Let us reveal its hiding spots and help you steer clear of traps.
December 17, 2015
1 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Cut Back On Sugar
Americans consume more than 70 pounds of sugar per person per year, very little that are natural such as those found in fruit and milk. Added sugars (those put in during processing) are one of the main reasons packaged foods—and even marinara sauce, salad dressing, and breads—can be calorically dense. A sugar-laden diet could not only increase your risk of heart disease but also lead to weight gain and diabetes. Our consumption of added sugars has increased by more than 30% over the past three decades, so it's no surprise that for the first time, the USDA's Dietary Guidelines committee is proposing a limit on added sugars: no more than 10% of total daily calories. That's about 50 grams (or 200 calories) in a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. Here are information, tips, recipes, and resources to help you cut back.
2 of 9Photo Courtesy of Oxmoor House
Be In The Know
NATURAL VS. ADDED
Added sugars are sweeteners that are added either by food manufacturers during processing or in the home kitchen while cooking or baking. Naturally occurring sugars are those inherent to the food, such as fructose in fruit or lactose in milk.
LIMIT ADDED SUGARS
All forms of added sugars—whether white, brown, honey, organic molasses, fruit juice concentrate, or agave—are simple sugars. The body breaks these down rapidly, causing blood sugar and insulin levels to rise. They leave no sense of satiety or satisfaction and should be limited.
Starting in 2016, you'll see total sugars and estimated added sugars in the nutrition stats located at the end of each new recipe to help you keep added sugars in check.
3 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Meet your new granola, which has two-thirds less sugar than most store-bought varieties. We like it with a little extra kick, but knock the red pepper back for less heat. Stir into yogurt, sprinkle over fresh fruit, or toss into salads.
Upside-down cake is one of the happiest desserts in America—that classic brown sugar-soaked mosaic of canned pineapple rings and maraschino cherries set atop an all-butter yellow cake, the whole package densely glazed in rich, buttery-sweet caramel. It's a bit less smile-inducing, though, when you tally up 700 sugar-loaded calories and 10g sat fat in a generous slice. But cheer up! You can enjoy your cake sans guilt with our version that's lighter in calories and also gluten-free.
5 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Chocolate Stout Brownies
The typical brownie has nearly 20g sugar—masking the flavor of the chocolate in an overwhelming wave of sweetness. Here we cut sugar in half for a richer, denser brownie that truly satisfies.
6 of 9Photo: Randy Mayor
Lighter Lemon Squares
Refreshingly tangy and buttery-crisp ... somehow the puckery citrus makes a good lemon square seem lighter than it really is. Typical recipes call for a full cup of butter and 1½ pounds of sugar—adding up to more than 300 calories in one little square.
Lightening was tricky but, luckily, our mission was accomplished. We created a healthier, lighter lemon square that retains the flavor and soul of the original.
7 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Smoky Chipotle Baked Beans
You might be surprised to learn that baked beans often contain a good bit of sugar—usually from brown sugar, molasses, and/or ketchup. A classic recipe might have 15g total sugars per 1/2-cup serving; ours contains just 5g (only 2g added from a little maple syrup), allowing the smoky flavors of bacon, chipotle, and smoked paprika to pop.
8 of 9Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner
Rich and chewy on the inside and golden crisp around the edges, blondies are the seductive cousins of the more aggressive chocolate brownie. Though lighter in color, they're still heavy-weights in calories—285 in one square, plus nearly 9g saturated fat. That fair complexion comes from way too much light brown sugar and melted butter. With nearly half the fat and calories of the original, these lightened whole-grain treats are easy to make and fun to eat.
9 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Tangy Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Classic lemon squares can contain 36g sugar per piece. We put a puckery cheesecake spin on ours—cutting sugar to just 6g per bar—which allows the bright citrus to shine.