Welcome to day 30 of 30 Days to a Food Revolution. We made it! This has been so exciting. Thank you to everyone who has written, commented and who is living this food revolution.
We worked on getting Jamie Oliver as our last guest blogger, and we might have if I had not started talking with Anna. Anna was part of Jamie’s food team on the show and is very talented. Today’s guest blogger is Anna.
Anna is a British Food Stylist and Writer living in Brooklyn. She writes the blogs Sweet by half and London Foodie in New York as well as contributing to the BBC Good Food blog . Her work has been published in Olive magazine, Woman and Home Magazine and BBC Good Food Magazine. Anna has worked freelance for Jamie Oliver over the past six years, which most recently included 4 months working on the TV show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. The project touched her heart and she has continued to work with the people of Huntington since the cameras’ stopped rolling.
Anna’s Recipe: Crispy crunchy, full of nuts granola bars
Anna’s Tip: Cut back on sugar where you can
Since returning to live America 3 ½ years ago I’ve witnessed a plethora of health trends take off in New York- lowering salt, a movement towards whole grains, heart healthy fats, eating less meat, eating grass-fed meat, eating local, organic, avoiding high fructose corn syrup….and that’s just to name a few. The one always seems to be avoided is the sugar issue.
Working in Huntington was about more than making a TV show to me and the rest of the crew. It had to be. Jamie has an infectious passion and drive to help people and you can’t work with him without absorbing it. His energy though….well, that’s something I could only dream of having! We stepped into peoples’ lives in Huntington taught them how to cook from scratch. I had a girl in one of my classes at Huntington’s Kitchen tell me that she had never eaten fresh spaghetti before, only ever from a can. Hearing that sort of thing was a reality check for me- I realized how lucky I am that I was bought up knowing how to cook and what to put in my body. Going to the sweetie shop was a Saturday treat if we had earned our pocket money and we were occasionally allowed ½ glass of soda with mom’s made-from-scratch Sunday lunch. In Huntington we encouraged people to stop filling their bodies with E-numbers and preservatives and instead fill their tummies with real wholesome food, that cooking could be fun, quick and affordable.
I should make a point to say that I’m not a Nutritionist. What I am is someone who has worked in food for six years and for the same number of years I’ve suffered from hypothyroidism. So, I’ve been forced to take an interest in what I’m willing to put into my body and I’ve had to make changes. My minor addiction to sugar has had to be tempered because a sluggish metabolism doesn’t do well living on empty calories. I knew sugar was a problem for a lot of people, I just didn’t realize how big the problem was and how little control we seem to have over it.
Walking around the supermarkets in Huntington, I actually took notice for the first time as to what people were filling their carts with. It was pretty clear to me that there was a problem as big as people ignoring the produce aisle or filling their carts with processed meals. Sugar. Even when we pass on dessert or say that we don’t eat sweets, if we’re eating packaged foods, we’re still probably getting more than our recommended serving per day. Did you know that whilst the government has stringent guidelines for calories, fats, and sodium in school meals they don’t seem to give a toss about how much sugar is going into our children’s bodies? If they did, they surely wouldn’t allow 30% of a school meal to be made up with it. I could go into detail about how this goes back to our Government subsidizing corn whose surplus is turned into such things as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and how it goes into just about everything on the supermarket shelves because it’s cheap, but I won’t. You only have to watch movies like King Corn and Food Inc if you want to get into all the gritty political details. And I suspect many of you have.
It seems that there a mass of on-going studies about the negative effects of high fructose corn syrup- weight gain, diabetes, lack of concentration, mood swings etc. but these can be linked to all varieties of sugar and sweeteners from the honey that we stir in our tea to the maple syrup on our pancakes. It doesn’t stop there and now that there has been public backlash against HFCS and even a Facebook movement.
Companies’ are finding alternative ways and names to put sugar into what we eat. Because sugary things are tasty, because sugar is cheap and because tasty cheap things encourage us to consume more.
Ever heard of Evaporated cane juice? If you read labels you will have seen it on the back of so-called health foods, in my opinion, the prime culprit of this labeling could well be Whole Foods. So what is Evaporated cane juice exactly? Sugar. Less refined and ironically more expensive than table sugar but sugar none the less. Will it make us fat if we eat too much? Yes. Could it rot our teeth? Most likely. Will it give our kids behavioral problems? I would wager yes.
So, HFCS isn’t the only enemy at the table. We ought to cut back on sugar & sweeteners full stop. Which is hard to do if you buy food from the grocery store. It’s not just sodas, candy bars and flavored milk. If you buy salad dressing, chances are there’s sugar in it. And if you buy low-sugar products, diet sodas, or sugar-free yogurts to get your sweet fix then there are no doubt artificial sweeteners in most of them. What we need to do, is get over our sweet-tooth-addiction.
Just like the commercials produced by the Corn Board claim: “everything’s fine in moderation” in reference to HFSC. Except that moderation is irrelevant when it’s the food companies deciding whether or not they ought to put sugar in our cereal and milk before we’ve even had a chance to dip a spoon in the sugar bowl ourselves.
Of course it all leads back to clearing out the processed food from our kitchens. Consumer demand is our best bet in carrying forward the Food Revolution. A study led by the UK’s Guardian Newspaper recently showed that since Jamie’s overhaul of the school lunch program, grades have improved, truancy is down as are asthma attacks and illness. So it just goes to show, we really are what we eat.
Cutting back on sugar is easier to do than at first glance. Here are a few suggestions on how to go about it:
- Start reading the labels and stop buying products that don’t need to contain sugar or sweeteners in them, jars of sauces, salad dressings, yogurts, milk frozen meals, bread, granola….
- Don’t assume that because you bought it from a health food store that it’s good for you. Recent studies have shown that Agave nectar is just as bad for us as Corn Syrup and some claim even worse.
- If you have a sweet craving, make your sweet treats from home and start slowly cutting back on the sugar in your recipes You will be amazed at how quickly things begin to taste too sweet to you.
- Be wary of anything that says “low-sugar”. If it tastes sweet it has artificial sweeteners, which may be calorie-free but are best avoided.
- Start by giving up sugary drinks, which are the source of a huge number of unnecessary calories.
- Research alternative names for sugars and sweeteners- there are guides all over the internet including on my webpage
- Remember that although sugar is fat free, if you’re not exercising to burn it off then your body will convert and store it as fat.
I feel honoured to have taken part in Huntington’s Food Revolution, The W.H.O.L.E Gangs 30 Days to a Food Revolution and beyond. Keep the energy alive! We still need signatures on Jamie’s Petition so please continue to spread the word! Don’t stop now; the Revolution is just getting started!
Crispy, crunchy full of nuts granola bars
My started with my love for baking but knowing that I needed to keep my sugar intake in check. My recipe for healthier granola bars have only 4.8g of sugar per serving. I’ll dare you to guess what most contain….and it’s more than double. There are also links below to other recipes on the site, one’s that contain less sugar, ones that contain no sugar- and of course no sweeteners too
50g/heaped 1 cup cornflakes or branflakes
50g/heaped 1 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
2 Tbsp non-fat milk powder OR 1 Tbsp flour
175g/6oz mixed nuts (I used hazelnuts, almonds and brazil nuts)
65g/1/2 cup pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
75/1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter
1 Tbsp molasses
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
• Heat the oven 350F/180C/Gas 4. Line the base of a Swiss roll tin with parchment paper and grease it. In a large bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients.
• In a small saucepan gently heat together the coconut oil, molasses and agave until just warm. Mix together with the dry ingredients until fully coated. Press into your prepared tin. Place in the oven and turn the oven down to 325F/170C/Gas 3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top looks lightly toasted and crispy. Cut into pieces right in the tin whilst still warm and then allow to fully cool before removing.
For even more check out Sweet By Half today!
In order to be entered to win one of 7 cookbooks, here’s what you need to do to gather entries into the drawing. The more you do, the more chances you have to win!
- Leave a comment on this blog on as many of the 30 guest food bloggers as you like. Each comment is an entry.
- Sign up for The W.H.O.L.E. Gang newsletter.
- Visit that guest blogger’s site and leave a comment there too.
- Tweet about this project using both of these in your tweet so I’ll find you #30days2 #foodrevolution
When the initial 30 days of guest posts are over on June 4th, we’ll pick the winners.