With the onset of “older age” has come heightened triglycerides and the threat of diabetes. Since we would rather avoid medications, if at all possible, and we really like to eat, our solution has become lots of research and proportionally as much experimenting in the kitchen.
It looks as though the main antagonist to healthy triglyceride levels is saturated fat. Because of its nasty habit of converting to fat, sugar pretty much tops the list of specific “no-no”s. Once we started looking more closely at what we eat on a regular basis, we realized just how much sugar has become an integral part of our diet. It’s not just the desserts, either, though with more sweet “tooths” than not, we have plenty of dessert on our menu. We’ve discovered, though, more and more, that even the savories often have unexpected levels of sugar. Thankfully, both of us enjoy cooking, so we can avoid some of the pre-packaged meals that are loaded with sugar and gradually or dramatically convert to more from-scratch foods, where we have more control over what goes into what goes into our mouths.
The internet has proven to be a spectacular resource for finding recipes for foods that are truly sugar free. When making food from recipes that include sugar, we generally will cut back the quantities or completely eliminate the sugar. Especially with desserts, though, that’s not always a good option. So, in that realm, we go hunting. Between a diabetic cookbook (The Complete Diabetic Cookbook, by Finsand, Cadwell, and White) that I got when my dad was diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes and recipes we find on the internet, we’re making pretty good progress toward our menu goals.
One of the sugar alternatives we discovered online is a blend of stevia and xylitol. Neither of us has ever worked with either, but the website we were reading recommended using them together to cut back on the tendency to bitterness that stevia alone can produce in beverages or baked goods. At our favorite health food store, we found a small bag of xylitol and an even smaller container of stevia (priced at $54.75 per pound). As pricey as both are, we are going to try them out in small quantities before buying in bulk. Thankfully, our local health food store is Amish owned and run, with minimal marketing and “fancy-ing,” so the prices are a lot more within our reach than those at most of the other health food stores around.
Cooking and baking with alternatives can be a little intimidating, but when the other options are medications or tasteless food, it really is worth the extra effort to research and experiment. In the long run, it probably ends up being cheaper, too, though it may not seem it. If the alternatives can eliminate the cost of medications, we’ll not only avoid paying for drugs—we may also avoid a whole lot of potentially-costly side effects—cheaper and healthier! Suddenly, it doesn’t seem nearly so overwhelming to try to find out how to work with stevia and xylitol….