Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. ―
Years ago, my husband and I tallied up how much sugar we consumed in a single day after watching this documentary. This would be our first step in a years-long journey to take control of how much added sugar we consumed. One of the first things we did was stop adding any sort of sweetener to our cups of coffee and tea because that alone was an exorbitantly high amount. (For my husband it was like flicking a switch, he went from adding sugar one day to none at all the next. I took the gradual route, at first replacing sugar with honey, then reducing the amount of honey until I no longer felt a need for it.) We also stopped buying store-bought cookies, processed cereals, fruit yogurts, etc. We did this gradually, replacing an item at a time with a homemade healthier alternative. Initially, we still used refined sugar for our homemade recipes but we felt okay knowing it was much less than the amount in the store-bought stuff and that our homemade alternatives were also void of other not-so-good ingredients. But finally, about a year ago, we cut the cord and stopped buying refined white sugar altogether, forcing us to always have to turn to options like unrefined cane sugar, muscovado, jaggery, honey or maple syrup for all of our recipes. The first thing one notices about these alternatives is their price; they are definitely a lot more costly than their cheap wannabe. We saw this as a good thing as it forced us to want to use even less of it in our recipes. A healthier diet is not only about replacing the refined white stuff with healthier options, it’s also about reducing the amount of added sugar in your diet.
When I look back, I can see our journey on paper very clearly. In my handwritten recipe notes I see things like “white sugar” being crossed out and replaced with “muscovado”. I see things like “200 g” being replaced with “150 g” and then with “100 g”. What one doesn’t see is that over the span of 5 years, our taste buds have changed too. I can drink of cup of tea now without any sweetening whatsoever and not feel that something is missing. Five years ago, I could never have imagined this possible.
All that said, we’re not extraordinary people and we don’t live in a bubble. We go out to eat, attend birthday parties, and give into cravings for Magnum ice cream or pastries from the nearby French bakery that I can never recreate at home. I even have recipes on this very blog and many more in my notebook that call for lots and lots of added sugar. But these are exceptions to the rule. We still have ways to go but we no longer feel as overwhelmed as we use to when we started this journey.
Please take note, I’m not sharing my story to show how amazing I am or to point fingers to those surpassing the maximum recommended sugar intake— far from it. I’m writing this to inspire others who feel as overwhelmed as I used to feel five years ago that change is possible. Anyways, why should I sit idly and watch large food corporations line their pockets at the expense of public health?
Global sugar consumption has skyrocketed in the past 160 years but just prior to that we humans got by just fine and I do believe we can all go back to a healthier state of eating.
That I would choose a cake recipe to talk about reducing the amount of sugar from our diet may seem odd. But the way I see it, if you keep your sugar intake in check, you can have your cake and eat it too! Low in sugar, made with whole wheat flour but still incredibly moist, this pineapple and coconut cake is a perfect little indulgence.
Pineapple and Coconut Cake
(yields one loaf in a 10×4 inches rectangular pan)
- 175 g (about 1 1/4 cups) white whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 60 g olive oil
- 100 g unrefined cane sugar
- 70 g maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 150 g fresh pineapple, puréed
- 40 g desiccated coconut
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sift together first 4 ingredients in a bowl
- In another bowl, beat together oil, sugar, maple syrup and eggs (I actually do it manually).
- Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet mixture and stir to combine.
- Stir in the pineapple and coconut using a spatula.
- Pour the batter in a well greased cake pan.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.