Saturday, February 28, 2009

guest blogger Cybele talks diabetes and dessert recipes

Today's post is courtesy of a special guest blogger, my friend Cybele Garcia Kohel. After I started Filthy Sucre, we discovered that we had something in common: avoiding sugar and refined white stuff. Though I'm hypoglycemic, and she is diabetic, we've found that we keep to a similar diet. In fact, a few months ago, we were both at a Saturday morning workshop that ended with lunch. Unfortunately, the lunch consisted of nothing but sandwiches on huge slices of white bread, and Cybele and I were both reduced to peeling the condiment-laden slices of lunch meat off and tossing the bread aside...without the help of a fork. It was not an elegant meal, nor was it filling, so I was glad I had brought a cheese stick and two clementines in my purse. I believe Cybele supplemented with nuts.

I hope you'll enjoy hearing about her experiences going sugar free. Take it away, Cybele!

So sugar got you down? Tell me about it! I'm diabetic. Before you get the impression that I'm a 300 pound sedentary chronic over eater, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I'm 38 years old. I'm a little over 5 feet tall and I weigh 115 pounds. I go to yoga weekly, run local errands on my bike several times a week and walk my dog twice daily. Truly, I am borderline diabetic. The diagnosis came last year, and it was devastating to me. I believe that in my case, the diabetes was stress-induced. At the time I was commuting (to my fairly stressful place of employment) on my bicycle, usually about 16 miles round trip, at least once a week. Since then I've discovered that my grandmother's sister apparently had diabetes, but other than that no one else in my family has it. So, needless to say, the diagnosis came as a shock to me, and most of my friends and family. It started a wave of dieting and gym membership among my coworkers.

Luckily I was diagnosed early, so I am able to manage the diabetes with a good diet and exercise. That means I don't have to take insulin - and I want to keep it that way. When Addie started the Filthy Sucre Blog, I was very excited to read that other people out there are avoiding simple sugars as well. While being a diabetic is really more about avoiding large quantities of simple carbs, eating balanced meals and exercising to achieve a normal blood sugar, I find that avoiding outright or hidden sugar is extremely helpful. So, like most concerned consumers, I read nutrition labels if I eat processed foods. Whenever possible, I avoid sugar, corn syrup, even honey which is basically a naturally-processed sugar (my condolences to the bees of the world). But I don't think I will ever give up eating or wanting dessert. It is a comfort that is too engrained in my lifestyle, my family culture. Not a person who enjoys chemically-produced sugar subsitutes either, I searched for a decent substitute. So far, agave nectar is my favorite. Agave is relatively cheap, and Trader Joe's carries it. Yes, it is still a sweetener of course, but much lower on the glycemic index, which is very important for anyone who is watching blood sugar levels. Use agave nectar, coupled with non-refined flours, and you've got yourself a more than just decent, low carb dessert. Take a look at all the alternative flours available at Bob's Red Mill. It really blows my mind the alternitives we have out there. Now if we could just get the rest of America to use them on occasion...

As a creative type, I'm always experimenting - this means in the kitchen I'm tweaking the sugar and refined flours out of the recipes in my books. So here are two of my no-sugar desserts for you to try at home. Enjoy!

BANANA DELIGHT

2 bananas, ripe
1/2 cup coconut shavings (unsweetened!)
1/3 cup lime or lemon juice
agave nectar for drizzling

1. Slice the bananas thickly.
2. Squeeze juice into a bowl.
3. Spread the coconut shavings on a plate.
4. Dip each banana slice first into the juice, then into the coconut, covering them well. Set them on a plate.
5. Serve first, then drip agave to taste on them.

I initially ignored this recipe, because neither my husband or I like coconut. But I realized that what I didn't like about the coconut was the added sugar. The unsweetened coconut has a good flavor, without the sugar headache afterward. Sometime I'd like to make it with toasted coconut. It might be even better that way. Or with a peanut sauce...the experimentation continues!


APPLE CRISP

8 medium apples, or 5 large (use Gala or Fuji)
1/2 cup of agave nectar
3/4 cup of uncooked rolled oats (not instant)
1/3 cup of rice flour
1/3 cup of butter, very soft
3 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of walnuts (optional)

1. You may remove the apple peels if you like. Clean, core and slice the apples. Lay them in a lightly greased 9x13 pan.

2. Mix oats, flour, walnuts, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon well, in a large bowl.
3. Add agave, lemon juice and butter. Mix everything well.
4. Pour mixture over the apples.
5. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until a poked toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool before cutting or serving.

I omitted fruit juice from this recipe, because the nectar is a liquid instead of a powdered sugar. If you need to, add a few tablespoons of water when mixing, but not too much as it will make for a mushy result.

Some articles of interest:

"America's Diet: Too Sweet By the Spoonful" The New York Times
"Is America Too Sweet on Sugar" CBS News

- Cybele Garcia Kohel

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