Sugar High: Making Desserts Healthier and More Sophisticated

CVS is trying to make a name for itself as the healthiest drugstore in the United States.

If the title seems dubious, the approach may be even more open to speculation. Instead of focusing on providing quality supplies, the chain has turned its attention to hiding some of its offerings.

The Wall Street Journal reported CVS is trying to bury its candy offerings further in the store, in hopes that less customers will take the time to look for it, and possibly to partially discourage so called impulse buys in the checkout line.

And while Walgreens drugstores argue that customers themselves should make these decisions, the dispute and task brings up a delicate and urgent topic that affects not only drugstores, but in fact, everyone in the food industry, including personal and private chefs preparing meals at client’s homes.

Sugar High

According to a 2015 report by the Washington Post, Americans, on average, consume 126 grams of sugar per day, the equivalent of three cans of Coca-Cola. The World Health Organization recommends that added sugars make up no more than ten percent of daily calories, but ideally less than five percent, or around twenty-five grams for the average person.

In addition, the Obesity Society, a non-profit organization, reported that sugar intake among Americans has increased by thirty percent over three decades.

Almost everyone is aware too much sugar can be detrimental, but most people think of more obvious effects like weight gain, cavities, and some may even point to evidence linking sugar intake to sagging skin and premature wrinkles.

Yet the health concerns go even beyond these. Repeated overindulgence of added sugar can lead to cravings because the sugars react with the body’s reward system. When you consume sugar, dopamine is released. This is not entirely bad: it works this way for natural sugars, such as the ones found in carrots and apples. But linked to added sugars, which provide no nutrition for your body, this is certainly not optimal.

Sugar overload can also can also affect your mood, increase joint pain, and release excess insulin, causing blood sugar levels to become too high, increasing risks for diabetes, and straining the liver, heart, pancreas, and kidneys.

Moderation Instead

“For most people, experts agree that some added sugar in our diet is fine. But the truth is, Americans are consuming way too much”, a statement from the University of California reads.

Michael Matthews, a personal trainer, argues that there is a lot of fear and misconception around sugar. In essence, he says, sugar has been blamed for health issues, but at the risk of not acknowledging other problems. For instance, sodium and over eating can also lead to very serious health ramifications.

After all, chefs are not going to stop preparing desserts, and clients aren’t going to stop eating them. In fact, total abstinence of any sweeteners can have an opposite effect: placing too much importance on one food, blaming it for negative health effects, and not paying attention to nutrition as a whole.

For personal and private chefs who want their clients to be able to have their cake and eat it too, so to speak, there are reasonable measures that can be taken so that sugar and sweet treats can be incorporated and enjoyed but without adding to America’s health problems.

Natural and Sophisticated

Even for chefs who don’t feel it’s their mission to reduce sugar intake, there may be a culinary benefit as well.

“I think about sugar the way I think about salt,” explains Brooks Headley, pastry chef for Del Posta in New York. “Sugar should be used to enhance… flavors”, rather than adding sweetness for the sake of sweetness.

Alex Bonnefoi, a pastry chef for Strip at Stega, concurs, claiming that sugar is the most overrated ingredient in desserts. “Too much blinds the palate, and there is no art to a dish overloaded with sugar.”

Less sugar can mean added complexity and richness, if done right. Taste testing often and starting with less sugar than you think you need can add a level of sophistication and also trim back on empty calories.

Another route? Desserts with no added sugar at all. And while that can mean serving fruit as an alternative, it doesn’t have to.

These twenty-one desserts are all sweetened with fruit-sans sugar, honey, molasses, or even artificial sweeteners. Two ingredient cookies, black bean brownies, and banana ice cream are just a few healthy and innovative desserts listed here.

Food Network offers slightly more mainstream offerings: snack cake, chocolate frosting, and even drinks like lemonade and hot cocoa.

There’s always room to play with sweetness levels, whether it’s to make a dish healthier, or to enhance the natural complex flavors.

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