Every holiday has it. Every special occasion has it. Every treat has it. And it must stop. It must.
What is “it”? “It” is sugar. There is a culture of sugar in America. We pay homage to it, we bow down to it. And it must be stopped for the health of our children, ourselves, and our nation.
Why has it become standard procedure to give our kids a big Easter basket filled with chocolate and candy? Jesus rising from the dead is celebrated by a chocolate bunny? What?? Why is the made-up Hallmark holiday of Valentines Day now celebrated by the exchange of cheap paper cards and candy between 10 year olds? Why, oh why, is it now obligatory to bring cupcakes to our kid’s classrooms to celebrate their birthdays?? As if there isn’t enough sugar craziness surrounding their birthday already?! The insanity MUST stop.
It’s ingrained. It happens automatically. We have a great day and want to “treat” ourselves. What does this almost always mean? Sugar. We go buy a cupcake or a pastry or some chocolate. And if it’s not obvious sugar, it’s hidden sugar. We order pizza or pasta or a glass of wine. These foods physiologically affect us the same as sugar. They create a glucose spike with all of the resulting responses.
Why do we do this? Where does this come from?
Partly it comes from the BILLIONS of dollars spent by the marketing geniuses behind the food industry, which I will be discussing in my next post, and also the fact that when we eat sugar our body releases endorphins. Endorphins make us feel good. And who doesn’t want to feel good? So starts a vicious cycle: eat sugar / endorphins release / feel good. We want to celebrate, we want to feel good, ergo we eat sugar. We eat sugar more and more and more because we have now subconsciously made that connection between eating sugar and an endorphin rush and, just like a heroin addict, we crave that rush.
And we are passing this onto our children.
This is what is really the issue. By promulgating this culture, by participating it, by nurturing it, we are setting our kids up for health problems. That may sound harsh, but step back for a second and think about it. I firmly believe that one of the most important things we can do for our kids is to teach them healthy eating habits. It’s not easy, I know. But it’s also not as hard as it seems. Just say no to the Easter basket. Just say no to the cupcakes with two inches of frosting for a treat. Just say no to the gigantic-size box of Red Vines at the movie theater. (watching a movie DOES NOT require candy, by the way!) Just say no to the culture of sugar because the alternative is passing it onto our kids. And this will have health consequences, either in the short-term or the long-term. There is no getting around it.
Instead, let’s create a culture of vegetable gardens in our backyards. A culture of eating whole, real food as often as possible. A culture of moving our bodies every single day. Break the culture of sugar by making a transition to fruit for dessert. Slowly cut back on the amount of candy put in the Christmas stockings. On the number of pies you bake for Thanksgiving.
Let’s piss off the soda industry executives who STILL try to claim that drinking a Coke with 34 grams of sugar in one serving isn’t an issue.
Who’s with me??
The recipe this week comes from At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen. I really like this cookbook. It’s a recipe for pancakes that isn’t laden with sugar and one you can feel good about serving your kids. Mine loved it!
Coconut Quinoa Pancakes
Makes ten 4-inch pancakes
- 1/2 cup (85g) uncooked quinoa, soaked for 12 to 24 hours in 1 cup filtered water
- 1/2 cup (45g) rolled oats
- 3/4 cup (60g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 1 cup (250ml) unsweetened almond milk
- 1 egg or 1 tsp chia seeds soaked in 1/4 cup filtered water for 15 minutes
- 2 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil (more for cooking)
- 1/2 tsp ground vanilla
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Drain and rinse quinoa, and place it in an upright blender. Add oats, k1/4 cup coconut, almond milk, chia egg (or regular egg), coconut oil, vanilla, baking powder, and cinnamon. Blend on high speed for about 40 seconds or until completely smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add remaining coconut and lemon zest and stir with a rubber spatula to combine.
- Warm a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat; add about 1 teaspoon coconut oil and spoon 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Spread the batter out a little with the back of a spoon to make a 4-inch pancake. Cook for about 3 minutes or until surface is covered with bubbles and bottom is golden and beginning to brown. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining batter.
- These pancakes are best hot off the pan, but they can also be kept warm in a 200F oven as you cook the whole batch. Serve with fresh fruit.
Questions? Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!