Published August 21, 2022

Arreter le sucre...

Written by
Marvin Baker
| The Dakotan
Marvin Baker
Marvin Baker

If you don’t know or understand French, let me clarify what this headline means. Simply put, it’s “stop the sugar.”

As mentioned in the past, this weekly column is mostly about events happening in North Dakota, or the surrounding states or provinces. This week I feel compelled to write about sugar, or “sucre” in French.

A few nights ago after packing products for the farmers’ market, I had some odd shaped cucumbers left over, so I decided to make a cucumber salad since these cucumbers didn’t have any market appeal.

Looking up recipes, I found one called “Grandma’s cucumber and onion salad.” This is where the cucumbers and onions are sliced razor thin and you pour a vinegar solution over the cucumbers, stir it up and let it marinade for several hours.

Unfortunately, this recipe called for nearly 2 cups of sugar, which, if my math is correct, is one-third of the contents of this salad. There was no way I was going to use that much sugar.

I’m no Rachel Ray, but it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that recipe called for way too much sugar, and I seriously doubt anybody’s Grandma would have used that much. As a result, I looked up some

other cucumber and onion salad recipes and found nearly all of them used less sugar.

My decision, four teaspoons of sugar, thinking that if it doesn’t taste right, I can always add some more to the salad. As it turned out, it needed a little more salt, not sugar.

I’ve seen this many times before and this cucumber salad was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I understand that we are supposed to follow recipes exactly in order for them to taste good. Unfortunately, if we do that, it wouldn’t take long to get diabetes.

In fact, this way I’m so skeptical of using so much sugar in a recipe. During a recent checkup at Mayo Clinic, the nephrologist, kidney doctor, told me that if I continue consuming the amount of sugar I do, I would be put on a pre-diabetes pill.

I’ve also been told by doctors at Mayo Clinic that sugar “promotes” cancer in that cancer cells feed on sugar, making it more likely to develop cancer if you consume a lot of sugar. Those people know their business so my consumption of sugar has been drastically reduced.

And, a pre-diabetes pill isn’t going to happen, so I’m adjusting these recipes to get a better balance of sugar without compromising the taste.

I don’t know if anyone else does this, I assume at least some people do. The way I look at it, that’s the power of cooking and baking for yourself. You can better control the amount of ingredients you consume. Have you ever read the ingredient label on a can of soup? It doesn’t matter what kind or what brand. Take a look at the amount of sodium. It’s mind boggling.

I’ve always enjoyed a hot bowl of soup, even on a hot day to help with dehydration. But 44 percent sodium will drive my blood pressure through the roof, so homemade soups are adjusted just like the amount of sugar in the cucumber salad.

Last winter I started making my own soups and have adjusted the amount of sodium way down. When I can tomato soup, I don’t put sodium in it. I don’t need to. I use a paste tomato called San Marzano that has plenty of flavor within the fruit. To me it’s the perfect solution for health-conscious consumers.

Baking bread is another example. In most cases you don’t need the sugar or salt recipes call for. Sure, you need some sugar to react with the yeast. But here’s the key for me -- I use half the sugar and still get a good tasting loaf of bread.

Each Christmas I make Australia’s favorite dessert, lamington. It’s pound cake dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. I don’t put sugar in it and it tastes as good as lamington you’d find in an Adelaide

or Sydney bakery. Coconut milk is used in the frosting and the coconut sprinkles provide all the sweetness it needs.

If you are worried about your health in this regard, take control of the situation and adjust the levels of the ingredients. It’s done me a lot of good. Ever since I found out I had kidney cancer in March 2018, I’ve begun to adjust recipes. I’ve lost weight, my blood pressure is under control and my blood sugar has dropped significantly. Simple cooking adjustments made the difference.

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