Give Intolerant People Coconut Bliss

One of my favorite products sweetened with agave is Coconut Bliss, an ice cream brand made from coconut milk.  Many “sugar-free” ice creams are made with the type of artificial sweeteners that cause digestion problems, (such as Bryers, whose second ingredient is Malitol,) so it’s hard to eat them happily when one knows one might afterwards feel sick.  In contrast, Coconut Bliss is not only delicious, it’s usually a safe bet for those who are lactose intolerant, sugar intolerant, gluten-intolerant, soy-intolerant, and vegan.  (Inviting “intolerant” people to a dinner party?  Consider having Coconut Bliss on-hand for dessert!)
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Agave

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If you’re on a low-sugar diet because table sugar and high-fructose syrup give you hypoglycemic reactions such as brain-fog and fatigue, there’s a possibility that you might not have to avoid eating sweets all together.  Some people’s bodies can tolerate certain sweeteners better than they can tolerate others.  To use myself as an example: my own blood sugar levels don’t seem to rise when I have food sweetened with fructose (not high-fructose corn syrup, but the crystallized type one can buy in a bag, like this one sold by Now Foods.)  Also, honey gives me brain-fog, but agave nectar does not.  Agave is also  liked in the vegan community as a substitute for honey, as many feel that harvesting honey exploits bees.  

     Agave is said to be more caloric than table sugar, however, and its health benefits on a whole are debatable.  Frankly, doing research on it did make me cut down on it myself, as I used to sweeten drinks with it but have switched to Stevia instead for health and weight-loss purposes,  See Dr. Jonny Bowden’s Debunking the Blue Agave Myth at the Huffington Post (04/17/2010) to get details on the controversy.
     Like many sweeteners, when eaten in moderation, however, it can be wonderful, and a true diet-saver for those of us whose bodies can’t tolerate the “harder,” more commonly-used sugars. It’s worth trying out and, if it works for your particular body, adding foods made from it to your low-sugar arsenal.

Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages

Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages

It’s hard to find a sausage sans sugar, but these are pretty darn good.
For a quick meal, we fry them up and serve with sides such as apples, avocados, and wheat bread.
INGREDIENTS: CHICKEN, DRIED APPLES, SALT, FRUIT JUICE CONCENTRATE (APPLE, PINEAPPLE, PEAR, AND PEACH), SPICES AND CELERY POWDER, IN A PORK CASING.

Almond Butter! (“Barney Bare” and Barney’s “Raw + Chia”)

     I love this stuff on celery and carrot sticks–I take two tablespoons to work in a container and dip the vegetables in for a good-tasting, filling snack.  (The brand doesn’t seem to have a sugarless snack pack yet, unfortunately, so it takes a while for those of us who are dishwasher-less to wash the stuff out of the containers, but whatever.)  Try it on apples, too. And if you’re wanting an almond butter and jelly sandwich, try pairing it with a low-sugar jelly like Dalfour’s.
     It’s usually healthier than peanut butter (see here for a break-down of nutrition information for Barney Butter.) It’s slightly lower in calories, with 7% saturated fat (instead of the 18% normally found in peanut butter) and it contains more fiber and vitamins.
     Two warnings:
     1. The price of almond butter goes up and down, due to the availability of almonds.  At the moment I’m writing this, it’s around ten dollars a jar..
     2. Though there are many yummy almond butters on the market, many have sugar.  Most of the Barney Butters have sugar, for example, but Barney Bare
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and Barney’s Raw + Chia do not. original

Hebrew National Beef Bologna

I”d of course love to make some sort of “that’s no bologna” crack about Hebrew National Beef Bologna, which is sugar-free.  That would go against the point that I want to make, though, which is that this IS bologna, probably the only bologna on the market that doesn’t have sugar in it, and that it tastes like…bologna.  Good bologna.  And that it helps prove that cold cuts don’t have to have sugar added to them to taste good. (Though most other cold cuts do have sugar added to them, unfortunately….)

Calories for 2 slices: 170. Find more nutrition information here. 

Does raisin bran need sugar-coated raisins? Heck no.

Looking for a good-tasting raisin bran with raisins that aren’t coated with sugar? (Why oh why oh why do so many brands cover their raisins with unnecessary sugar?!) Go with Erewhon Raisin Brand.

Bonus: a small bowl is usually enough to satisfy–I tend to binge on cereal myself when I can, but this fills me up quickly so I’m much less tempted to over-eat.

(Not super-easy to find in stores but one can buy it on Amazon.)

A nice, tangy salad dressing by Bolthouse Farms

Bolthouse Farms 

Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

A guest at our latest dinner party gathering, assigned a salad, was kind enough to seek out a low-sugar salad dressing.  Foodie-friends (ones who won’t eat anything other than the best stuff) suggested this one. I believe he found it at Stop n’ Shop.  The sweetener in it is pineapple juice.
Ingredients: Reduced acid pineapple juice from concentrate (water, reduced acid pineapple juice, concentrate), Balsamic Vinegar, Natural Flavor, Salt, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Xanthan Gum, Red Bell Pepper, Onion, Flax Seed Oil, Spice
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp
Calories: 30

I*Skream: A stevia-sweetened ice cream that actually tastes good! (REAL good!)

“Low calorie” and “stevia” and “good” don’t always go together, but Connecticut-based ISkream is all of these things.  I tried their vanilla last week and was highly impressed, both by the taste and by the lack of stomach pain that many other “sugar free” ice creams and treats made with sugar alcohols produce. And when my sugar-eating relatives tried ISkream they also said that yes, it tastes like the real thing… i.e. yes, IScream (check out their website)  does taste like regular sugar-sweetened ice cream.  Rejoice!

     More in-depth and happy reviews of the various flavors can be found at that’ssojenn.com

     CTbites also reviews the brand.   In Iskream: Walnut Beach Creamery Owner Creates New Brand Without ‘Real’ Sugar, Nancy Kleeger writes
 3 of Iskream’s flavors , banana, vanilla and berry good,  are approved by the American Diabetes Association. This is a coup for diabetics. Having a chance to eat this amazing treat that tastes like regular ice cream and keeps your blood sugar level in check, is just the tip of the iceberg for this market.  And for those of you whose kids experience Parkour- like symptoms ,bouncing off the walls after consuming sugar, your day has come– Iskream’s “sugar” content ranges from just 3-7 grams per serving– so scoop, and scoop some more!

     Keep an eye out for ISkream! We found it at Whole Foods, and are told that it can also be found at Balducci’s and Big Y.

Why this blogger is on a low-sugar diet for life

      I began a low-sugar diet when I was sixteen, after I was hospitalized for clinical depression.
     I had know for a while that I was sensitive to sugar.  Such problems are often genetic, and my father had been diagnosed with hypoglycemia a few years before. A low-sugar lifestyle change helped him get over his own severe  depression.
     We knew that I probably had the same blood sugar disorder, but I didn’t seriously consider changing my diet until a fellow patient saw the way I acted around sugar and compared me to a crack head.
     Moving to a low-sugar diet and frequent (every three hours) intakes of protein got me out of depression when none of the drugs that the doctors prescribed for me did.  I continued to have  problems with anxiety, though, until I finally cut way down on white carbohydrates (rice, flour, potatoes, etc.) in my early thirties.  (White carbohydrates turn to sugar quickly in the bloodstream.)
      At that point I was able to finally pull my life together and live a normal, healthy, happy life.  (I’m now forty-three, happily married, with a healthy toddler, two Masters Degrees, and 15 years at a full-time library job.) I had to do some hard work on myself to get over the psychological damage caused by frequent bouts of extreme anxiety, but maintaining my diet helped me find the strength and head-space to do so.
     I’ve been told by doctors that my particular blood sugar disorder (sometimes called “reactive hypoglycemia,”) is rare. There is a trend right now of books and articles about how sugar can affect people, though, saying that cutting down on sugar can help with things like weight loss, depression, anxiety, and memory problems.  (See David Sack’s September 2, 2013 article 4 Ways Sugar Could Be Harming Your Mental Health in Psychology Today, for example,) I assume that this is not true for everyone (one has to be careful of large-sweeping diet pronouncements) but when one is having psychological and/or weight problems and other methods aren’t working, cutting down on sugar consumption could at least be worth a shot.

Looking for a solution to the Salad Dressing Sugar Problem?

     Most salad dressings have sugar in them.  I’ve often stood in salad dressing aisles, scanning the labels one by one, muttering as I look for ones that I can actually eat.
      “High fructose corn syrup.”
     Pft.
     “Dextrose.”
     Argh.
     “Honey.”
      Nooooo.
     Occasionally, when serving food to older relatives, I’ll need to also need to find dressings that didn’t have extra salt added to them.  It’s extremely difficult to find dressings with no salt or no sugar.
     I’ve finally found a solution:
      Nut oils. 
     Walnut oil and hazelnut oil are especially good.  They have light, nutty tastes which enhance the flavors of the vegetables instead of trying to take over the salad, as many stronger dressings do.
One brand that I particularly recommend is the International Collection.
     You’re welcome.