In keeping with my seitan-ic theme, I will introduce you to the devil himself…the lord of dessert, candy and all things sinfully sweet. Yup, you guessed it…the devil’s name is Sugar. I know, I know…kind of a sweet (no pun intended) name for a supposedly badass fallen angel, but like so many things that sound deceivingly harmless (sanitary napkin, telemarketer, gynecologist, community marketing agent (see Hawaii post), department of motor vehicles, the I-95, enema, irreconcilable differences, “don’t take it personally”, “It’s you not me”, “I need to see you in my office”, “you’re not fat, just big-boned”, etc., sugar is the wolf in little red riding hood’s cape. And it comes in many forms to further confuse you: white sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, raw suger, turbinado, sucanat, sugar cane, cane syrup solids, corn syrup, aspartame, fructose, and sucrose. Don’t be fooled by this little white powder. It is right up there with cocaine, heroine and all of my other favorite drugs…sounds great, right? Not so much…this little guy goes into your system, and like a drug, spikes your blood sugar and gives you a rush, a moment of bliss, a fleeting energy, and perhaps candy-coated wings & visions of purple bunnies hopping all over the yard (wait…that’s not sugar, that’s something else, and you should probably stop doing it right away). You’re probably thinking, fine I get it, but it’s not unnatural…I mean it comes from a plant, right? True, and if you gnaw on a piece of raw sugar cane, it’s not so bad because you’re eating a food in its whole form, which includes all of the vitamins, minerals and other things that your body recognizes, and can therefore assimilate for proper digestion and absorption. That is not, however, the form in which most people eat sugar. The sugar found in nearly everything from soda to cereal to gum (and even in those “natural” energy bars that you think are so good for you), is a crystalline chemical that’s been refined and processed to the point of being an “anti-nutrient” (translation: your body leaches vitamins and minerals from itself in order to absorb the sugar). The sugar cane (or beet) is pressed into a juice, then refined into molasses, and then further refined into a crystalline chemical that is NOT food, and is completely alien to our body. So what? Well, it’s one thing when you take a drug and know that it’s harmful to your health, but it’s quite another to blindly consume mass amounts of something that you think is okay. Sugar is a slow poison, but it’s as addictive as any narcotic. 95% of all Americans are addicted to sugar in one form or another, whether it’s artificial sweeteners, so called “natural” sweeteners, or good old white sugar. Consumption of sugar causes weight gain, tooth decay, and a slew of other illnesses that would take me half the day to list including diabetes, hypertension, many types of cancers, deterioration of major organs, and suppression of the immune system. Solution? Stop eating it.
Easier said than done, I know. Like any addiction, it’s hard to stop…
Say goodbye to your venti, no whip, extra hot, nonfat chai latte in the morning with a low-fat blueberry muffin. Wait…WHAT?! I know, I’m totally ruining your whole day. But I’m telling you, sugar is the reason you can’t lose weight, the reason you feel like a truck hit you at 3pm everyday, the reason you become irritable (actually, I’m not sure about that…you might just be a pain in the ass naturally), and the reason why you think you’re just one of those people who “have a sweet tooth.” You don’t have a sweet tooth, you have a full on, psycho drug addict “I must give into my cravings” / “I eat cake behind closed doors, under my blanket with a flashlight” sugar addiction!
The good news? There are some sweeteners out there that aren’t as evil (they’re frenemies with the devil…it’s complicated), and may be incorporated, conservatively, into your diet. They include: raw honey, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and coconut nectar.
Craving something sweet already? Don’t worry, I have the perfect solution: a dessert recipe without sugar in it! Hooray! Every unicorn you serve this to will be convinced that the sticky, syrupy goodness dripping off of the sides of your cinnamon-infused luscious pears is caramel or some other sinfully sweet sugar demon, but rest assured, it’s just fruit! Yes, fruit contains naturally occurring sugar, but it also has vitamins, minerals, and all the goodness needed for your body to happily absorb the sweetness without causing harm to you!
Cinnamon Poached Pears
2 pears, peeled & stems left in place, then cut in half lengthwise
1 small container of Organic Apple juice (without any added sugar, just apples!)
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1/2 cup fresh blueberries (optional)
fresh mint to garnish
In a medium saucepan, place halved pears cut side down in pan. Pour apple juice over top until pears are almost submerged, about 3/4 of the way. Add the cinnamon sticks and cloves and turn on flame to high. Bring up to a boil, then turn down flame to low, and simmer to a poaching temperature (a little higher than a simmer with a few bubbles popping occasionally) for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick can easily pierce each pear. Remove pears, cloves, and cinnamon sticks from poaching liquid and place on serving dish. Turn up flame and bring liquid to a boil and reduce until liquid becomes a thick syrup. Serve pears as is or slice from stem to bottom and fan out, then drizzle with syrup and garnish with fresh blueberries and mint. Makes enough for four unicorns suffering from sugar withdrawal.
Still need convincing? Consider this: cancer cells need nourishment to survive and grow…and guess what their favorite thing to eat is? Yup, you guessed it…sugar. In fact, many people undergoing treatment for cancer are encouraged to go on a sugar-free or sugar-moderated diet. Why not start now?