First off, I gotta say I'm giddy from the wonderfulness of making the Foodbuzz Top 9 with my huevos rancheros recipe. So cool.
Second, I must tell you about what's been on my mind. Don't let the photo of tasty dessert fool you.
Lately, I've been having an internal conversation with myself about my sugar consumption. I know, sounds like a real downer, doesn't it? But, an idea has been taking shape in my noggin to enter into a period of self-inflicted self-deprivation. I want to say adios to the refined sweets.
At least for a little while.
I feel about sugar the way I once felt about cigarettes (which I actually did quit). "I know that this substance I'm consuming is harmful to my body, but OH MY GOD does it go great with a whisky sour." Only in this case, the substance in question goes good with just about everything. Even my toothpaste.
It's all about moderation, though, right? Exercising self-control? Well, anti-moderation slogans like, "I want a dessert buffet," having been tumbling from my lips as of late. A dessert-only potluck was suggested (by me, of course) in honor of my coming graduation. I guess moderation isn't my forte. I'm more of an all-or-nothing kind of gal.
But part of me really does want to quit.
There have been several points in the last couple of months when I've felt ready for the challenge. How hard could it be? I'll still have fruit to satisfy my cravings, and other natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup will still be fair game for baked goods.
But just when I think that I've got it all together, that I do indeed possess the will to overcome my dependency... Blam! Somebody goes and gives me a bag of peanut M&M's. Shhhh, don't tell. They're my guiltiest of guilty pleasures.
Some of you may be rolling your eyes at this urge to decontaminate myself from something as desirable and relatively harmless as sugar. That's cool. Bring on the trash talk. All you pastry chefs out there must be cringing over this craziness. Well, here it is, preparing to be full force. Maybe.
Why? Why would I not want to eat any refined sugar? Besides wanting to hold on to my pearly whites (never had a cavity, by the way) for as long as possible, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that added sugar can lead to a slew of problems in the human body when consumed in quantities not all that large, compared to what the average American consumes these days:
An average of over 21 teaspoons per person per day.
Could you imagine eating that much sugar? Even as I confess my addiction, I know I'm not even in the same galaxy as that estimate. Probably because I don't drink fruit juice or soda.
Even so, I'd like to avoid things like high cholesterol, heart disease, excess abdominal fat, and diabetes; just a few of the side effects of a sugar-rich diet.
There's also chronic inflammation and leaky gut/candidiasis to think about. Having already lived through the horrors of an extremely leaky gut, I think I'll pass. I've had my fill.
I realize that giving up the peanut M&M's and still holding onto the honey isn't going to save me from the negative effects of sugar. But a girl's gotta start somewhere. The idea is to cut back first and then quit.
I know I can do it. Eventually.
In the mean time, I've baked an apple crisp. Of course this isn't getting me any closer to my goal. I'm fully aware of that. But, you see, I had these apples. And a bag of gluten-free oats and some brown sugar in the cabinet, and they were all pressuring me to make them into a dessert. Sigh...
I actually tweaked this recipe (as I do most) to cut down the total amount of sweetener. I mean, apples are sweet, people. Even I know that dessert doesn't have to be like spooning straight sugar into your face.
So, in honor of my decision to start thinking about possibly giving up the sweet stuff, I give you...
For the filling:
4 medium-sized apples (I believe I used gala), cored, peeled and sliced
1 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. brown sugar*
2 T. sorghum flour (any AP flour will do)
For the topping:
1/2 C. sorghum flour (once again, any AP flour will work)
3/4 C. gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 C. walnuts, chopped
1/4 C. brown sugar*
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
6 T. butter, cut into small pieces
*Most recipes call for brown sugar to be "packed" when measuring. To cut down on sweetness, I did not pack my brown sugar for this recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, cinnamon, brown sugar and flour until thoroughly mixed. Add the apples and gently stir to coat the fruit with the sugar/spice mixture. Pour the apples into an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, oats, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter pieces and use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour/oat mixture until you end up with small crumbles.
- Evenly distribute the crumbly topping over the apples in the baking dish. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the apples bubbling.
- If you're smart, you'll serve this one warm.
- Wrap up any leftovers and store in the fridge.
To read more about the effects of excess sugar consumption on the old bod (I know you're just dying to), check out these articles:
Study: Too Much Sugar Increases Heart Risks - Time Magazine
Added Dietary Sugars Associated With Increased CVD Risk - Cardiology Today
The Relationship Between Sugar and Inflammation - Low Carb Monthly