Nicole La Placa
Natural sugar substitutes are plenty
Nicole La Placa | Highlands TodayQ: Do you have healthy baking tips? — Anna, Sebring
Published: November 12, 2012
Published: November 12, 2012
A: The danger in many baked goods such as cookies and muffins is the amount of refined sugar (also known as table sugar) added. Refined sugar enters the bloodstream quickly and wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels. You can easily substitute refined sugar with natural, unprocessed sweeteners such as honey, coconut sugar, molasses or Stevia. Natural sweeteners contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins. Molasses is the most nutritious and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
Here's a helpful guide to replacing refined sugar with natural sweeteners: One cup of sugar equals ½ cup of honey or one cup of coconut sugar or ¾ cup molasses. If you are using the natural sweetener, Stevia, follow the directions on the package.
Q: I am interested in following a gluten-free diet. How do I get started? — Sonny, Avon Park
A: There are numerous health benefits to following a gluten-free lifestyle, some of which are maintaining a healthy weight, more energy and less fatigue. Focus on naturally gluten-free foods such as quinoa, millet, nuts, seeds, fish, lean meats and eggs. Most breads and pastas are made with wheat products, but alternatives such as sprouted bread and brown rice pasta are available. Read the ingredients label on packaged food and avoid anything that contains wheat or gluten. Do some research and learn about the hidden sources of gluten in common foods such as coffee, deli meats, imitation seafood, salad dressings and supplements.
Q: I am struggling with my eating habits lately and was wondering if you had any resources you could pass on to me. I am constantly hungry throughout the day from the intense workouts I do and am not sure how to eat accordingly. — Amber, Columbia, SC
A: With the workouts you are doing you want more protein and complex carbohydrates.
Eat high-protein, lean meats such as chicken and turkey. Complex carbohydrates — whole grains like brown rice and quinoa — are easy to cook and can be eaten with any meal. This may require some meal planning but you will benefit more from your workouts if you are eating properly.
As for sandwiches, stay away from processed deli meats because many of them are full of additives, sodium, water and hormones. I would opt for tuna or wild Alaskan salmon. You can buy these canned. I alternate between canned, fresh, and frozen depending on my time and budget. I mix the fish with spicy mustard, green onions, black pepper and use a product called Vegenaise. It's a non-dairy, non-soy, non-GMO mayonnaise alternative. Also, be sure to focus on whole grain (not multi-grain) dark breads like pumpernickel. Experiment with different foods and pay attention to what foods give you the most energy as well as the ones that make you feel sluggish.
Nicole La Placa is a certified health coach and lives in Highlands County. Send letters to LyricalNutrition@Ymail.com or visit www.LyricalNutrition.com.