Category Archives: Food

Saccharides, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and the Meaning of Sugar-Free

I got a comment nearly two weeks ago on my sugar-free meringue recipe, saying that it is not sugar-free because honey is also sugar:

this is not sugar-free!! Honey is also sugar…Sugar is more than sucrorse (glu-fru)
Honey contains 40% fructose and 30% glucose -> so certainly not a sugar free recipe

This isn’t the first time I’ve received comments/queries about this. I responded:

This recipe is refined sugar-free, i.e. granulated sugar. That’s what sugar-free usually means in recipes. Please refer to Elaine Gottschall’s book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, in which she explains the different forms of sugar. Honey is a monosaccharide or single cell sugar. To be technically sugar-free means using no form of sweetener at all, including fruit since all fruit has naturally occurring sugars and no starches as well because they convert to complex sugar, which is why they’re forbidden on the SCD. I hope that this addresses your concern.

In this post, I wish to expand a little on my comment. If you’re a longtime and regular reader of Z’s Cup of Tea, you’ll know that I use honey a lot in my recipes, whether they are ones I’ve created or adapted from other sources. I label these recipes as sugar-free, as by definition of majority “sugar-free” usually means being made without refined sugar, just as the labeling on a food item’s packaging at a grocery store would indicate, and then one would read the label to see if there were any other sweetener as a substitute, and if so, what was used. Other sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, tapioca syrup, etc., are known as “alternative sweeteners”, as the food industry identifies them that way, which is why most people are used to reading the packaging to discern what specifically is being used in order to identify whether or not they will decide to purchase it. All of these alternatives to refined sugar are still sugar, yes: but what makes them different from refined sugar are their cell structures.

If we were to be technically correct, if one was to be truly sugar-free, that would extend to avoiding fruit since all fruit has naturally occurring sugars. Starches would also have to be included in this abstinence from sugar as they convert to complex sugar, which, as I mentioned in my comment, is why it’s forbidden on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. All of this is explained and laid out in Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall.

Honey is unique from most alternative sweeteners in that it is single-celled, or a monosaccharide: it is a simple sugar. Other sweeteners are either disaccharides or polysaccharides. Refined sugar is a disaccharide, or two-celled sugar. (Polysaccharides, multiple-celled sugar, are also what comprises starches, including wheat.) Because of this unique status, honey is the only allowed sweetener on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD): a diet that only allows simple, specific carbohydrates and it is similar to the paleo or caveman diet. The introduction of Breaking the Vicious Cycle, the book that explains the SCD, explains how the body digests these various forms of sugar. Since honey is a monosaccharide, it is the easiest for the body to break down and digest.

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Giveaway! Cybele Pascal’s Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking

If you or a loved one have allergies or an intolerance to gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and sesame, or if you know someone who does, Cybele Pascal’s newest cookbook Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking is for you!

All of the recipes are made without the eight most common allergens (sesame was a surprise to me – I had no idea!) and are simple to make, without using unusual ingredients or heavily relying on store-bought products that substitute for “the real thing”. Two recipes that immediately jumped out at me were the Homemade Gnocchi (page 47) and Mu Shu Pork (page 142). Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking is neatly organized into clear, concise categories and there is something for everyone, no matter what you could be allergic to. One particular category all families will love, especially those with young children, is Takeout at Home. There’s even a recipe for a gluten-free version of an In-N-Out Burger!

I am giving away 1 copy of Allergy-Free and Easy Cooking, which the publishers have generously offered to ship to the winner.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian citizens. To enter the giveaway, simply fill in the form below*. Please include your name and a valid, working email address that you check frequently. The winner will be picked at random using random.org on April 15th, 2013. The winner will be notified and contacted by the email address provided and will be asked for a shipping address. A copy of Allery-Free and Easy Cooking will be shipped to the winner by the publishers Ten Speed Press. If the winner doesn’t respond within 48 hours, another winner will be randomly chosen.

*Since changing the settings for comments, I’m trying out using a form for the giveaway instead and seeing how it goes. This is based on feedback that I received on Twitter and Facebook.

Giveaway is now closed. The winner is Amanda!

chocolate olive oil madeleines with almond or pecan flour

Chocolate Olive Oil Madeleines with Almond or Pecan Flour

chocolate olive oil madeleines with almond or pecan flour

I’m going to be the first to admit that I’ve never eaten a traditionally made madeleine. I make mention of this since I was recently asked in a comment on one of my previous madeleine recipes if they tasted like “real” madelienes.

The only madeleines I’ve eaten are the ones I’ve made and that I’ve posted here before. The only wheat-laden madeleines I’ve seen around here are at Starbucks, sealed in a plastic package and sold in threes, by the tip jar and I’ve never tried them simply because – truth be told – I like mine. (I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a snob!)

It’s almost a month since I last posted a chocolate recipe, so I hope it isn’t too soon to be posting another.

This recipe I’d actually marked down a long time ago – cough, two years ago – and only made it just this month. No time like the present, right? Everyone here has loved them and I’ve made them several times already. Using either almond flour or pecan flour doesn’t seem to make a noticeable difference in flavour, so use what you have on hand or prefer. They’re soft and moist, almost on the plush side. The olive oil works nicely with the cocoa and can be tasted even after baking (usually an issue when baking with olive oil), so be sure to use a good, quality oil.

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