Claims on food labels do always mean what you think

Sugar Free Food Labels – What Do They Mean?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Reading food labels provides us with valuable information that can make it easier to the find products that best fit our nutritional needs. They can also be confusing.

For example, did you know the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has definitions for “low sodium,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” “low cholesterol,” “sugar-free” and “lower sugar” – claims which appear on food labels? And did you know the claims “sugar free” and “no added sugar” don’t mean the same thing?

If you’re trying to control the amount of sugar in your diet, understanding what the different claims for sugar on food labels mean can help make your shopping trips less confusing – and that’s sweet!

How to Read Food Labels: First Things First

When reading food labels, the first thing you need to know is how the FDA defines the word “sugars.” When found on a food label it refers to all “one-and two-unit” sugars used in food. This includes white and brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey and many other ingredients that have one or two sugar units in their structure. The sugars found in fruit, fruit juice and milk products also fall under this definition of sugar, however, low calorie sweeteners such as SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (sucralose) the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, and polyols (sugar alcohols), do not.

Then there’s the word “free.” Even when products make the claim “sugar free,” “zero sugar,” “no sugar,” “sugarless” and “without sugar” they can have a small amount of sugar. However, this amount (less than 0.5 grams per serving), is so small that it represents an amount of calories and carbohydrates that would be expected to have no meaningful effect in usual meal planning.

This brings us to the claims “no added sugar,” “without added sugar” and “no sugar added.” They are allowed on foods that replace those which normally contain added sugars and have not had sugar or any other ingredient containing sugar added during processing. These foods differ from those with “sugar free” claims because they may contain naturally occurring sources of sugar, like a “no added sugar” ice cream containing lactose from the milk. They also can be sweetened with low calorie sweeteners.

How to Read Food Labels: What Sugar Free Foods Are Not

Now that you know what “sugar” and “free” mean in food labeling you need to know what those terms don’t mean. The most important distinction is “sugar free” does not mean “carbohydrate free.” While it’s true all sugars are carbohydrates, all carbohydrates are not sugars. Comparing the carbohydrate content on the Nutrition Facts panel of similar products where one makes a “sugar free” claim and the other does not will let you see if there really is much difference.

“Sugar free” and “no added sugar” claims also do not always mean “calorie free.” In fact, products carrying those claims must state “not a low calorie food” or “not for weight control” unless they meet the criteria for a low or reduced calorie food.

How to Read Food Labels: Sweetening Your Lower Sugar Diet

Once you’ve figured out what the best products are for you, you can add a little sweetness using one of the many SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener Products available, such as packets for your coffee and iced tea and the granulated form ideal for cooking and baking. If you want to add a little sugar, the white and brown SPLENDA® Sugar Blends contain a mix of sugar and sucralose for recipes where a little of both is best. You can find more ways to use all of these SPLENDA® Products in my earlier blog, Cutting Calories Every Day with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.

Life can be sweet if you know how to read the labels!
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

There is a long tradition of using spices to spice up your love life

Spice Up Your Love Life With Spices

THERE IS A LONG TRADITION OF USING HERBS AND SPICES TO SPICE UP YOUR LOVE LIFE

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you’re looking for ways to spice up your love life, you can start in the kitchen. Or more specifically, the spice rack. Adding more spices to your meals is a widely used practice to bring more passion into the bedroom.

Historians say spices are responsible for the spread of civilization across the continents (though not because they are aphrodisiacs.) The desire for more spices is what made people in Asia, North Africa and Europe venture out beyond their familiar borders over 5000 year ago. They crossed desserts, mountains, and oceans to get to the peppercorns, cinnamon and nutmeg on the other side.

As a result, the spice trade is credited with having caused one of the biggest population explosions of all time!

Can Spices Help Your Love Life?

If you understand the placebo effect, then spices will definitely improve your libido and increase fertility. If you need cold, hard, facts before spicing up your menus, then your coupling may be a bit bland.

Spices have long been used for medicinal purposes, including improving sex drive. Many of those traditional remedies have now been proven effective. Others have not, but belief in them remains strong, and that is often rewarded with good results.

Sexy Spices From Folklore and Science

Basil: The sweet scent is believed to make men lust after a woman wearing it. Ancient Greeks gave it to horses before breeding them.

Cloves: Used in aromatherapy to increase sexual desire. It improves blood flow and body temperature when eaten.

Coriander: In the tale, The Arabian Nights, a merchant who was childless for 40 years is cured by a concoction that includes coriander. Hippocrates made a wedding drink containing it to stimulate libido of the newlyweds.

Fennel: Contains estirol, an estrogen-like substance. Ancient Egyptians used it to boost libido in women.

Fenugreek: The seeds contain saponins, which play a role in increasing testosterone production. A 2011 study showed it raised libido in men.

Ginger: Improves circulation and is believed to increase blood flow to sexual organs.

Ginseng: Used by traditional healers to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) related to stress. Early evidence suggests it may be effective, but more research is needed.

Nutmeg: Valued it as an aphrodisiac by Chinese women, referred to as the “Viagra for Women” in Africa. Can produce hallucinations when used in quantity.

Saffron: An extensive review of food aphrodisiacs done in 2011 found just a few threads can improve ED, but was not as effective as Viagra.

When cooking, the amount of each spice used and when to add it is an important part of the recipe. Unfortunately, there are similar no recipes for properly seasoning your sex life. But don’t let that stop you. McCormick has plenty of ideas to help get your started.

Cooking together is enticing for me, what turns you on in the kitchen?

Low-calorie sweeteners can be used to replace many of the added sugars in your diet

Where is the Hidden Sugar in Your Meals? How to Identify the Calorie Culprits

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Do you believe in magic? Some people apparently do if they think they can cancel out all the excess calories and added sugars in their meals by simply using a low calorie sweetener. But no sleight of hand can make that happen!

If you’ve ever seen someone order a diet soda with a bacon cheeseburger and large order of fries you know what I’m talking about. The truth is they don’t need a magician they need a mathematician because the numbers just don’t add up right.

There is no doubt the diet drink helps to reduce their caloric intake. It can drop the beverage calories by 150 to 250 calories depending on the size of the drink, but the rest of that meal still clocks in at 800-1000 calories. Skipping the bacon and getting a small order of fries and a salad would help bring the meal into range with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. So, along with the diet drink, they could cut out about half of the total calories compared to the higher-calorie version of this meal.

Identifying Calorie Culprits

A key benefit to using low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, in place of sugar is the way they can lower the calorie content of what we eat and drink – but that only applies to the added sugars they replace. All of the other sources of calories and carbohydrates in our meals stay the same.

For example, this recipe for Velvet Pound Cake calls for SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend instead of full-calorie brown sugar. The SPLENDA® Brown Sugar Blend has half the calories of full-calorie brown sugar, but the butter, cream cheese, flour, eggs, and the remaining sugar still contribute significant calories in this dessert.

Some people ask, “Then why bother using a sugar substitute?” That’s a question I’m always happy to answer because it gives me a chance to remind them that to achieve and maintain a healthy weight we must keep track of all sources of calories in our diets, not just those from sugar. You can learn more about that here. And research on people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off has found low-calorie sweeteners and products made with them were a helpful tool in their initial weight loss and continue to be a strategy that keeps them on track.

Replacing Hidden Sugar

Another benefit of low-calorie sweeteners is they can help us reduce the amount of added sugar in our diets. Every time we use a packet of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener in a cup of coffee or glass of iced tea we cancel out about 8 grams of sugar, which is 28 calories less than what we would have consumed if we used sugar.

But what about the hidden sugar in foods?

I consider “hidden sugars” to be any caloric sweetener added to a food or drink that doesn’t really make it taste sweet, so we may not realize it’s there. No one should be surprised there’s added sugar in ice cream, but did you know the dressing used on coleslaw often contains sugar? The same is true for marinara sauce, General Tso Chicken and barbecue sauce.

A good way to reduce your intake of these hidden sugars is to read ingredient lists carefully to identify all sources of added sugars, then look for products that avoid them or use a sugar substitute instead. You can also make your own dressings, sauces and marinades to eliminate many of these sources of added sugars in your diet.

When you understand the real benefits of low-calorie sweeteners, you don’t need to believe in magic to have a healthy diet!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

Cut salt and sodium in food while keeping the taste by using soy sauce.

New Way to Cut Salt & Sodium While Keeping the Taste

SUBSTITUTING SOY SAUCE FOR SOME OF THE SALT USED ON YOUR FOOD CAN REDUCE SODIUM BY AS MUCH AS 50%

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you’ve tried to reduce the sodium content of your diet by cutting out salt, you’ve probably discovered your food just doesn’t taste as good anymore. Same is true for the low sodium versions of many popular prepared foods on the market.

A new study using soy sauce in place of salt may change all that.

Researchers from the National University of Singapore found they could replace some or all of the salt used in food preparation with naturally brewed soy sauce and get sodium reductions of 33%-50% without changing consumer acceptance. Their findings were published in the Journal of Sensory Studies.

The key to this substitution is that while soy sauce does contain sodium, it is less concentrated than the sodium content in salt. One teaspoon of regular Kikkoman Soy Sauce used in the study contains 307mg sodium while a teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 mg. And Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce has only 107 mg sodium. That’s less sodium than you’ll get from a teaspoon of Dijon mustard or hot sauce, two other condiments commonly used in place of salt.

Another advantage of soy sauce over salt is that it imparts its own special taste to foods called umami. Recognized as the fifth taste – distinct from salty, sweet, bitter and sour – umami is described as savory or meaty. I think of umami as the taste of sautéed mushrooms, one of my favorite flavor enhancers. So it makes sense that it takes its name from the Japanese word for “delicious!”

Swapping out salt for soy sauce works great in homemade soups, tomato sauce, ground beef recipes, and salad dressings. You can even use it on eggs or to boost the flavor of low sodium and reduced-salt foods. It would not be the best substitute for salt in pickles and relishes or in baked goods and desserts.

Click here to learn more about how soy sauce can help you lower the salt and sodium in your diet

Potatoes provide nutritional and culinary benefits worth celebrating all year round

It’s Time to Celebrate Potatoes

POTATOES PROVIDE NUTRITIONAL AND CULINARY BENEFITS WORTH CELEBRATING ALL YEAR ROUND

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Potato chips are part of most celebrations in the U.S., but today is the day they are celebrated. Yes, March 14th is National Potato Chip Day!

Since the average American consumes about 17 pounds of potato chips a year, there is no need to say anything that might encourage eating more of this fried and salted snack. Instead, I want to talk about their primary ingredient, the potato.

And with St. Patrick’s Day in the same week, there is no better time to promote the nutritional and culinary benefits of potatoes.

What’s So Good About Potatoes?

On its own, a medium potato (5.3 ounces raw) is one of the best low calorie foods you can buy. For only 110 calories you get 45% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C and more potassium than a banana (620 mg vs 450 mg). That same potato provides an often overlooked 3 g of protein along with 2 g of fiber, half of which is in the skin.

Though colorful fruits and vegetables get more attention, the white ones, like potatoes, are also a good source of phytonutrients with antioxidant potential. The total antioxidant capacity of russet potatoes ranked fifth out of 42 vegetables tested, ahead of broccoli, cabbage and tomatoes.

One of the best things about potatoes is what they don’t contain: No saturated fat, no trans fat, no fat at all. And they have no cholesterol and no sodium, either.

Depending on how you prepare them, a potato can become “stuffed” with even more nutrients. I like to add salsa and cheese or leftover chili to a baked potato for a quick and satisfying lunch. Or I’ll stuff one with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Why Are Potatoes Such a Culinary Staple?

One of the best ways for a food to become a staple in any cuisine is to be available, affordable and versatile. Potatoes are all three.

Potatoes are consumed in some form by people on every continent. In the U.S., frozen is the most popular form, followed by fresh, chips, dehydrated and canned. They can be cooked by baking, boiling, deep frying, grilled, microwaving, pan frying, roasting, and steaming, plus in casseroles and slow cookers. Every cook appreciates that kind of versatility when faced with limited fuel or cooking facilities.

The most common varieties are categorized as russets, reds, whites, yellows (or Yukon’s) and purples. The shapes and sizes cover everything from the finger-shaped fingerlings, to round ones ranging in size from golf-balls to baseballs, to the classic oblong russet. That’s enough variety to serve them every day and never see the same ones twice in a month!

To tell the truth, the only potato I can’t recommend is the couch potato!

Go to PotatoGoodness.com for recipes and videos.

 

Caffeine is consumed in many forms around the world yet questions remain about its health benefits

The World’s Most Popular Drug: Caffeine

CAFFEINE IS CONSUMED IN MANY FORMS AROUND THE WORLD YET QUESTIONS REMAIN ABOUT ITS HEALTH BENEFITS

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

Have you had your first cup of coffee yet today? If so then you’ve ingested about 100 mg of caffeine. If you’re on your second or third cup of coffee, you’re close to the recommended upper limit for daily caffeine consumption. For many that leads to a love-hate relationship with all things caffeine. People love the way they feel when they have and hate the way they feel when they don’t.

But is caffeine really that bad for us?

Caffeine has been in our diets since the first cup of tea was sipped in China in 10th century BC. Since then, the history of the world can be traced to the distribution of caffeine-rich tea from Asia, coffee beans from Africa and cocoa from South America. Today caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world.

To help you deal with your caffeine habit, I’ve prepared a Q/A to report on the latest research.

Are there any health benefits to caffeine?

Yes, caffeine is an antioxidant and helps fight the free radicals found in the body that attack healthy cells and cause disease. The anti-inflammatory effects of caffeine also improve immune function and caffeine can help with allergic reactions by its anti-histamine action.

Does caffeine increase the risk for heart disease?

No, several large studies found no link between caffeine and elevated cholesterol levels or increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Caffeine does cause a temporary rise in blood pressure in those who are sensitive to it, but more research is need to determine if it increases the risk for stroke in people who have hypertension.

Can caffeine cause osteoporosis?

No, not if there is adequate calcium in the diet. Consuming more than 700 mg a day may increase calcium losses in urine, but adding one ounce of milk to a cup of coffee will replace these losses.

Is caffeine a diuretic?

Yes, caffeine will increase the need to urinate, but it does not lead to excessive fluid losses. The amount excreted is not greater than the amount of fluid contained in the caffeine-containing beverage consumed.

Is the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee always the same?

No, the amount can differ widely from cup to cup brewed from the same brand and among different brands. Even decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine.

Are there any groups that should limit their intake of caffeine?

Yes, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists pregnant women should have no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, or the amount of caffeine in about 12 ounces of coffee. Women who drink larger amounts than that appear to have an increased risk of miscarriage compared to moderate drinkers and non-drinkers.

Is caffeine safe for children?

Yes, in moderation. Studies suggest that children can consume up to 300 mg of caffeine a day, although some children may be more sensitive than others its stimulant effects. The introduction of energy drinks containing caffeine has made it easier for children to get more than they should.

Are coffee and tea the main sources of caffeine in the diet?

Yes, but other sources include cola beverages, chocolate, energy drinks, over-the-counter pain relievers, cold medicines, and some “diet” pills.

Is caffeine addictive?

Maybe, depending on how you define addictive. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and can cause mild physical dependence if used regularly. If you stop consuming it you may experience withdrawal symptoms including headache, anxiety, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. It does not, however, interfere with your physical, social or economic well-being the way additive drugs do.

When did you first experience the effects of caffeine?

Learn what foods can cause diarrhea due to food allergy or intolerance.

Is Your Diarrhea a Sign of a Food Allergy?

DIARRHEA IS A COMMON SYMPTOM OF FOOD ALLERGY AND FOOD INTOLERANCE

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you experience occasional diarrhea, it could be caused by a food allergy or food intolerance. Most people connect food poisoning with diarrhea, but that is not always the case.

A true food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the immune system. Research shows that around 3 to 4 percent of people have food allergies. The first sign of symptoms may be within minutes of coming into contact with the problem food – meaning you may have simply touched it, not consumed it – or several hours later.

If you have a true food allergy will cause a reaction every time the food is consumed. The diagnosis may require a combination of lab tests, physical exam, thorough diet history and a controlled food challenge.

These eight foods account for 90 per cent of all food allergic reactions.

  1. Milk – not the same as lactose intolerance, includes milk casein and whey
  2. Eggs – includes both the white and yolk
  3. Peanut – is a legume, not a true nut
  4. Tree nuts – includes but not limited to walnut, almond, hazelnut, coconut, cashew, pistachio, Brazil nuts
  5. Finfish – such as salmon, tuna, halibut
  6. Shellfish – such as shrimp, crabs, lobster
  7. Soy –includes soy milk, flour, oil, and soybeans
  8. Wheat – not the same as gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley

The most common symptoms of a food allergy are:

  • Gastrointestinal: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Skin: Rash, itchiness, swelling
  • Respiratory: Congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing
  • Other: Anaphylaxis, a swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing that can be fatal

Food intolerances can also result in diarrhea. They are triggered by the inability to completely break down or digest a food. Small amounts of a suspect food may be tolerated without difficulty, while larger amounts will bring on symptoms. It may take some trial and error testing to determine if you have a food intolerance.

Common food intolerances:

  • Sugars: lactose in milk, fructose in fruit, honey and high fructose corn syrup
  • Gluten: protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains
  • Preservatives: sulfites commonly used in wine and dried fruit, monosodium glutamate (MSG) a flavor enhancer

The same types of symptoms can occur with a food intolerance as those experienced with a food allergy. The key is to figure out which food(s) are responsible for your symptoms and how much, if any, you can tolerate if you’re unwilling to give up the food.

You can find more information from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN)

how can you tell what products are really natural?

What Does “Natural” Mean?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

What one word do you think sells the most food in the U.S. when used on a food label? Here’s a hint: It’s not organic, healthy or protein. If you guessed “natural” you are correct! The food industry sold nearly $41 billion worth of food last year labeled with the word natural. Only claims about fat content were higher, but more terms were included in that category.

What exactly does “natural” mean when we see it on a food label? The dictionary says it means “existing in nature” or “not man-made,” but I see it printed across brightly colored boxes, bags and cans of food in the middle of the store containing products that you’ll never see “growing spontaneously, without being planted or tended by human hands,” which is another definition of natural!

As it turns out, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not come up with an official definition for what “natural” means other than objecting to its use on foods with “added colors, artificial flavors and synthetic substances.” That is why you can find it on so many foods that are highly processed and full of salt, sugar and fat – they all make the grade as “natural” ingredients.

Are Food Additives Natural?

Another term whose meaning is a bit ambiguous is “food additive.” Most people have a negative impression of the term when they hear it or believe a food is not “natural” if it contains food additives, but that simply isn’t true.

The FDA considers any substance that becomes a part of a food during processing or the making of the food to be a food additive. These substances can be derived from animal, vegetable, or manmade sources. For example, the vitamin D added to milk and vinegar used to pickle cucumbers are food additives. So are any ingredients used to prevent spoilage, maintain the desired consistency, or improve the appearance of a food. If you want to see them all, there are over 3000 food additives listed in the database directory Everything Added to Food in the United States (EAFUS) on FDA.gov.

Are Low-Calorie Sweeteners Food Additives?

The FDA uses the terms “high-intensity sweeteners” and “nonnutritive sweeteners” for what I call low-calorie sweeteners and others commonly refer to as sugar substitutes. No matter what you call them, the FDA either categorizes them as food additives or generally recognized as safe (GRAS) ingredients.

Of the eight low-calorie sweeteners currently on the market in the U.S., only stevia and monk fruit extract are GRAS, while acesulfame potassium, advantame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose are food additives.

Either way, all of these ingredients must satisfy FDA’s rigorous safety standards to become part of our diets. You can find a helpful infographic illustrating how the two approval processes work here.

If you’d like to know more about how ingredients like sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA®Sweeteners) are approved, be sure to check my other posts on the subject: How are Low-Calorie Sweetener Ingredients Approved? and Is SPLENDA® Brand Sweetener (Sucralose) Safe? Authorities We Can Trust.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

For more information, visit:

Nothing could be easier than these quick desserts with just 3 ingredients!

Cooking With Kids: Quick Desserts with Just 3 Ingredients

NOTHING COULD BE EASIER THAN THESE QUICK DESSERTS WITH JUST 3 INGREDIENTS!

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

If you want to get your children and grandchildren more interested in cooking,let them make dessert. Having a file of quick dessert recipes on hand makes it easy to get them involved. And with only 3 ingredients in each of these, clean up time is much faster, too. You’ll enjoy eating some of these desserts right away, while others are great gifts to give away.

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Perfect Peach Sherbet

8-ounce container nonfat peach yogurt frozen + 8 ½-ounce can sliced peaches in heavy syrup frozen + 1 tablespoon peach preserves. Empty yogurt and peaches into food processer by dipping them in hot water for up to one minute first to loosen. Add preserves. Break up frozen chunks with a knife to make processing easier. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Serve immediately in 4 small wine glasses.

200376262-001

Fruit Cocktail Cake

1 cup self-rising flour + 1 cup sugar + 15-ounce can fruit cocktail in juice. Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until well blended. Pour into greased 8” square pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

chocolate clusters

Crunchy Chocolate Clusters

16 ounce chocolate morsels (milk chocolate, semi-sweet or mix of both) + 8 ounces crunchy chow mein noodles + 1 cup lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped. Melt chocolate morsels in microwave or double boiler. Add noodles and peanuts and stir to coat. Drop by teaspoonful onto paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate to set.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter + 1 cup sugar + 1 egg. Combine ingredients until blended. Drop 1” apart onto ungreased cookie sheet using teaspoon. Flatten with back of fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

rolo

Pretzel-Pecan Candy

50 mini pretzel twists + 50 Rolo candies (chocolate covered caramel) + 50 pecan halves. Line cookie sheet with foil. Arrange pretzels in single layer. Top each pretzel with Rolo, small side up. Bake at 250 degrees for 4 minutes. Remove and press pecan half into the top of each.

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Cute Crispy Cut-Outs

6 cups crispy rice cereal + 4 cups mini marshmallows + 3 tablespoons butter. Melt butter with marshmallows in a large bowl in microwave. Stir in cereal until coated. Press into an even layer in a greased 13” X 15” baking pan. Let set one hour then cut into shapes using large cookie cutters.

FPX37373

Simply Sweet Baked Apple

1 apple + 1 tablespoon maple syrup + 1 tablespoon raisins. Cut a thin layer off the top of the apple and core. Fill cavity with syrup and raisins. Microwave on high power 3-5 minutes, testing with fork after 3 minutes to see if tender.

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Banana Cream Pudding Parfaits

1 box instant banana cream pudding + 2 cups low fat milk + 1 medium banana. Whip pudding and milk together 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Spoon into parfait glasses in alternate layers with banana slices.

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Foolproof Coconut Macaroons

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk + 14 ounce bag flaked coconut + 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. Line baking sheets with parchment paper then grease the paper. Drop macaroons by teaspoonful onto to baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove immediately onto cooling racks.

Learn new ways to prepare favorite foods without gluten and sugar

Gluten Free and Lower Sugar Baking Tips

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Would it still be a Caesar salad without the garlic croutons, or still be a strawberry shortcake without the buttermilk biscuit? If you have been diagnosed as being sensitive to gluten, you are likely to face many recipe challenges. And the task is even harder if you want to lower your added sugar intake, too. But just like learning to make new recipes using ingredients and preparation methods that you haven’t tried before takes practice, you can master the art of gluten free and lower-added sugar cooking and baking to keep your meals real.

Wheat Functions & Features

The main value of the gluten in wheat flour, besides being a source of protein, is that it stretches when heated so dough and batters can rise to make light, airy breads, cakes and pastry. Higher protein wheat flour is typically used in yeast breads to give them structure, while lower protein flour, such as cake flour, provides a more tender crumb and texture for cakes and pastry. Without gluten, you’ll need other ways to get volume in your baked goods and create the desired texture.

Flavor is also provided by the type of flour used in a recipe, so when making substitutions for wheat flour you must consider how this will affect the taste of the finished product.

For best results when doing your gluten free cooking and baking, keep these Wheat Substitution Tips in mind.

Wheat Substitution Tips

  1. Follow measuring instructions carefully, such as to sift before measuring
  2. Use a combination of flour substitutes or a ready-made mix to get the benefits of several different ingredients
  3. Trust the recipe; it will have different ratios of liquid and dry ingredients than wheat-based recipes, and more leavening
  4. Don’t measure other ingredients over your mixing bowl, especially leavening, since spillage can affect results
  5. Mix for the time suggested and at the right speed; under or over mixing can affect results
  6. Avoid over filling the pan so batter can rise evenly and won’t collapse before fully baked
  7. Bake in the right type of pan (metal or glass) of the recommended size and at the right temperature
  8. Use a digital or “instant read” thermometer to check the internal temperature of breads to avoid over-baking
  9. Stock your pantry with gluten-free baking products, such as xanthan gum and guar gum, to get volume, and dough enhancers to help prevent items from going stale quickly
  10. You’ll be happy to know that SPLENDA® Sweetener Products have no gluten-containing ingredients.

Sugar Functions & Features

Granulated white sugar, powdered confectioner’s sugar and brown sugar are the sweeteners of choice in most recipes for desserts, candies, jellies and preserves, but they do much more than just sweeten the recipe.

Sugar also provides color, flavor, volume, texture, consistency and/or structure, depending on the recipe you’re making, so when it’s not used other steps must be taken to produce the desired results. You can get some tips on what to do in my blog “Cooking & Baking With Low Calorie Sweeteners” or one from Sue Taylor on “Baking with SPLENDA® Sweetener Products.”

Another great way to sweeten a dish is to substitute a fruit puree (such as unsweetened apple sauce) for some of the oil or other liquids called for. This may require making adjustments in the dry ingredients, too, but the benefits are worth it. You can also add dried fruit bits to enhance the sweetness or a little more of the spice(s) called for, such as cinnamon or nutmeg, or a dash more vanilla or other flavored extract.

Bonus Tip: If you have some failures in your early attempts at making gluten-free and/or lower-sugar recipes, put them in the food processor and turn them into sweet and savory “crumbs” to use as coatings, toppings and extenders for other dishes.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.