Have Your Cake and Eat It Too!

March 3, 2010 in Antioxidants, Blog Recipes, Cooking & Baking Hints, Diabetic Menu Item, Mediterranean, Psychology of Food, Whole Grains by Joyce Bunderson

I’ve read that Marie Antoinette may have never said ‘Let them eat cake’; so I guess that I will withdraw my plan of blaming cake’s nutritionally bad name on Queen Marie. Cake is generally considered a decadent dessert that is not counted on for daily nourishment. It’s really easy to make nourishing cake; but it’s not widely known that cake can be made nourishing; and, in addition, it can certainly contribute important nutrients to daily needs.

The American Heart Association has recently given strong new sugar guidelines. They have recommended that women, on average, keep daily sugar intake to 100 or fewer calories; and men keep it below 150 calories. These recommendations are based on numerous studies (see 114 references). Some people are really trying to cut back on desserts; but ‘sweet-seeking’ brain cells seem to be ‘hard-wired’ in many who enjoy sweets. They can also “learn” to habitually crave it more. The AHA’s article has a section called The Hedonic Pathway of Food Reward (section 6 of the Circulation publication) describes how cravings associated with the pleasure center of the brain are stimulated by eating sugar.  In addition, stress and habits are related to increased eating of sugar-containing comfort foods. Our recent blog on Hedonic Foodland recounted the work of Kessler, former head of the FDA, in unraveling these cravings, much like additions, that lead to overeating.  This AHA research summary provides more recent evidence about this vitally important concern.  Highly processed foods, with sugar near the head of the pack, create addiction-like behavior that uses the same brain mechanisms as illegal pleasure drugs. Along with habits and stress, this helps explain the powerful cravings that draw us to foods, even against our better judgment.

The researchers will continue to seek answers to the myriad of ‘sugar issue’ questions. Meanwhile, we consumers should not wait for more research and more discussion, but should move forward in solving the problem for our families and ourselves. The problem is to find delicious dishes that will sharply limit our family members’ intake of sugar.

Cake as Health Food

One way to limit our intake of sugar is to make recipes that don’t add calorie-laden sweeteners to our foods. Why not make a cake that is itself a ‘health food?’

In this blog and on the Dr. Grandma’s website many recipes have been published using the Doctor Grandma’s Muffins Your Way mix. If you’re not familiar with the delicious cakes and muffins you can make with this mix, I will describe it for you. The mix is made from 100% organic hard red spring wheat (no white flour by any name). The regular convenience packages come with the mild extra virgin olive oil already pre-measured. The sweetness comes from Delight, our zero-calorie, all-natural sweetener – made from fruit extracts. I hope that you can see that these ingredients are actually a benefit to your nutrient profile.

I’ve mentioned in some of the other blog entries and newsletter postings, that our muffin and quick bread recipes can be used as breakfast cake, snack cakes or desserts. If you give the children a Dr. Grandma’s muffin for after school snack; they will be thinking dessert and you will be knowingwhole wheat, no sugar, nor bad fat’; nourishing food that’s adding to the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

I’m constantly making new recipes; I publish some of them – Glazed-Fruit Festival and ‘Shortcake’ and Rhubarb Flummery are recipes you might want to try for desserts.

Let’s be creative together! The idea is to decrease the calories in our diets that have little or nothing to offer (sugar, high fructose corn syrup and the like). Our brains may have a powerful built-in preference for sweets, and it may have gotten worse through habits. Despite this, we can get around it by using fruit extracts to get the sweetening job done without adding empty calories. Sending my best wishes in keeping your sweet-seeking brain cells happy and for an enjoyable Glazed Fruit Festival Shortcake dessert or even breakfast – my best guess is that even Queen Marie would have found this to be a delicious option.