Making something good better

I know I promised you all discussion about bread crumbs. I know, bread crumbs are fascinating, but will you forgive me if I put them aside for another few days to discuss my experiment last night?

For the last year or so I have been trying to convince my family that muffins are not cake with some blueberries thrown in. That is what they were used to and that is what they want. I have been pretty successful at convincing them, in part due to my Flax and Bran Morning Glory Muffin. They are packed with all sorts of good things: carrots (or zucchini), apples, walnuts, flax seed meal, bran. All of the things set my Mommy-heart a flutter. It has been a staple in this house for a number of months, and while David is still unconvinced, I have Chris and Daniel fully on my side with this one.

But, despite my family's love of these new muffins, they aren't exactly health food for me. They are muffins after all, and contain flour and sugar, both in the form of brown sugar and raisins (ahh, the raisin - you know why kids love 'em - they are little pellets of pure sugar!) Last night I decided to experiment with the recipe to see if I could get the sugar content down (I will tackle the carb content later - maybe gluten free flour?). They were pretty successful and Daniel and I both had them for breakfast this morning.

Here is the new and improved recipe:

Julie's New and Improved Flax and Bran Morning Glory Muffins

3/4 c unbleached white flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c wheat (or oat) bran
3/4 c flaxseed meal
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 medium zucchini (or carrots), shredded
1 c walnuts, chopped
3/4 c dark agave syrup
1 c unsweetened applesauce
4 egg whites
1 t vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Toss in zucchini and nuts. Set aside. Combine wet ingredients in small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and lightly mix. Divide batter between 18 prepared muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 15 - 18 minutes or until set.

Here is the nutritional info for these muffins:

Serving Size 84 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 177 (Calories from Fat - 64)
Total Fat 7.1g (11%)
Saturated Fat 0.5g (3%)
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 232mg (10%)
Total Carbohydrates 25.8g (9%)
Dietary Fiber 4.1g (16%)
Sugars 2.0g
Protein 5.4g

Nutrition Grade B
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

By removing the brown sugar (subbing with agave) and raisins, I have removed 10.4 grams of sugar from each muffin. I have also removed 21 mg of cholesterol per serving by switching to egg whites (instead of whole eggs - you can't taste the egg yolk, so why bother?). Not too bad in my opinion. BTW, if you would like the original recipe, I am happy to share it. Just shoot me an email.

As for the taste, these are super moist due to the zucchini and applesauce. They taste very much like a bran muffin with goodies inside BUT they are not very sweet. They are perfect for me (taste-wise) but the kids liked them with honey butter on top (although Daniel took most of the honey butter off). Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Cut Your Carbohydrate Footprint

This morning I sat down to write about homemade breadcrumbs. I found this little gem in my inbox, so instead of breadcrumbs, I thought I would pass this along. When you read this, pay special attention to the comparisons they make to other foods. Those will shock you. (And BTW, I will do breadcrumbs tomorrow.)

From our friends at Men's Health (

Fight back against diabetes--and obesity--by eliminating sneaky sugars from your diet

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Americans consume an average of 82 grams of added sugar a day. That's more than you'd find in six Breyers Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches. But truth is, a good part of the excess sweet stuff isn't coming from ice cream or cookies or even soft drinks--it's coming from the sources we'd least expect. Open your pantry and start scanning ingredient lists. We're willing to bet that nearly every food you buy contains at least one of these blood sugar- spiking elements: modified food starch, maltodex-trin, cane sugar, crystallized cane juice, evaporated cane juice, honey, tapioca syrup, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, barley, or anything with "ose" at the end of it. Food manufactures have an arsenal of empty carbohydrates at their disposal, and they're not shy about using them to make everything we eat taste like candy. Read on for eight of the most surprisingly sugar-riddled foods in your pantry.


Just because your favorite cereal doesn't have a cartoon character on the box doesn't mean it isn't still loaded with sugar. Not even heart-smart logos and bloated health claims can salvage the contents of boxes like Post Raisin Bran, General Mills Basic 4, or Multi-Bran Chex, all of which have more sugar than the same-size bowl of Froot Loops. Stick to cereals with high fiber to sugar ratios ensure a wholesome start to your morning.

Eat This! - Post Shredded Wheat Original
(1 cup)
170 calories
1 g fat
0 g sugars
6 g fiber

There's one ingredient in this box: whole wheat. Either eat it as is or add cinnamon and ground flaxseed--together they will give your blood sugar the smoothest ride possible.

Not That! - Kellogg's Smart Start Original Antioxidants
(1 cup)
190 calories
0.5 g fat
14 g sugars
3 g fiber

The numbers don't lie; this box has more blood sugar-spiking impact than Apple Jacks and about the same as Frosted Flakes. That's because sugar in its various forms shows up no fewer than 10 times on the ingredient list.

Wheat Bread

American palates are used to the relatively bland flavor of white bread, which is why so many of us have trouble accepting wheat's more robust and earthy tones. But instead of allowing our taste buds to work through the new flavors on their own terms, manufacturers use sugar to mask wheat's true identity and make it more familiar to those unaccustomed to eating whole foods. The result? Aside from perpetually confused taste buds, these sticky loaves of "wheat bread" are spiking our blood glucose levels nearly as badly as the white loaves we're trying to leave behind.

Eat This! - Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Bread Sprouted Grain(2 slices) (JA note: I eat Sprouted Grain bread, although this one isn't my fav)
160 calories
1 g fat
0 g sugars
6 g fiber

If you were to find a loaf of bread that had been fossilized for 1,000 years, it probably wouldn't be much different from this one from Food for Life. Looking to shave a few more calories? Try Nature's Own Sugar Free 100% Whole Grain Bread. It uses a small shot of sugar alcohol to give it a light sweetness while capping the energy load at 50 calories a slice.

Not That! - Sara Lee Hearty & Delicious 100% Whole Wheat Bread(2 slices)
240 calories
3 g fat (1 g saturated)
10 g sugars
6 g fiber

Ten grams of sugars isn't uncommon for full-size sandwich breads, but it is more sugar than a single Twix bar. In this loaf, Sara Lee reaches dismal heights with a combination of brown sugar, molasses, and raisin juice concentrate. That last one might sound healthy, but your body won't be able to tell it apart from pure table sugar.


Yes, even crackers are now sweetened. It's not that there's an extremely large amount of sugar going in, but ironically the most sugar is being added to crackers that are made almost entirely from refined grains. The result is a one-two punch to your pancreas: First, manufacturers strip the cracker down to nothing but fast-digesting starches, and then they finish it off with a nice dose of corn sweeteners. In a healthy body, the resulting flood of glucose will be met by an equally massive tide of insulin, but as your body edges closer to diabetes, the insulin won't be able to keep up. Switch to an unsweetened cracker to flush this whole volatile scenario out of your body.

Eat This! - Triscuit Thin Crisps Original(15 crackers)
130 calories
5 g fat (1 g saturated)
0 g sugars3 g fiber

A cracker as it should be: nothing but whole wheat held together with a little oil and seasoned with salt. The Thin Crisps are perfect for those who aren't fans of Triscuit's usual heavy design.

Not That! - Wheat Thins Reduced Fat(16 crackers)
130 calories
4 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
3.5 g sugars
1 g fiber

Wheat thins are held together with three different sweeteners and a sprinkling of cornstarch, which basically affects your blood glucose in exactly the same way as pure sugar.

Nutrition Bars

Few foods create more nutritional anxiety than the still relatively new concept of meal replacement bars. Should you be looking for high protein? High fiber? What's the ideal amount of calories? Unfortunately, sugar seems to be the one thing that all meal replacement bars have in common. And to get around it, they hide the sugar under highfalutin monikers like crystalline fructose, brown rice syrup, or--in Powerbar's case--C2 MAX Carbohydrate Blend. Your goal: Eat only those bars that earn the large majority of their calories from protein, fiber, and healthy fats. That will ensure your blood sugar stays at safe levels.

Eat This! - Odwalla Sweet & Salty Almond(1 bar)
220 calories
11 g fat (1 g saturated)
8 g sugars
6 g fiber
7 g protein

This bar has every one of the big three essential elements: protein, fiber, and healthy fats. These are the nutrients responsible for filling your belly and keeping your internal sugars in the healthy range. Now you know why we call almonds a superfood.

Not That! - Powerbar Energize Tangy Tropical Fruit Smoothie(1 bar)
220 calories
3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
30 g sugars


Here's an interesting fact: Milk is the only animal product to be naturally sweetened. That's probably why most people don't think it's odd to lift a creamy spoonful of yogurt to their lips and get a dessert-like blast of flavor in return. But the truth is that nature's treats are more subtle. In fact, if you haven't been skimming ingredient lists, you might never have tasted real, unadulterated yogurt. The stuff you've been eating is a candified version of the real thing, and it's probably jacking your blood sugar ever higher with each cup you eat.

Eat This! - Stonyfield Farm Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt, Plain(1 container, 5.3 oz)
80 calories
0 g fat
6 g sugars
15 g protein

At the very least, you should convert to plain yogurt and sweeten it at home with real fruit, but if you want to do one better, switch over to creamier Greek yogurt. It has three times as much slow-digesting protein as the regular version.

Not That! - Yoplait 99% Fat Free Cherry Orchard(1 container, 4 oz)
170 calories
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
27 g sugars
4 g protein

The marketing brains at Yoplait are hoping that by painting 99% Fat Free on the label, they will divert your attention from the ingredient list, which exposes this yogurt for the dangerous snack that it is. By using more sugar, than fruit, they gave this cup as much sugar as three Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls.

"Healthy" Drinks

Few people truly realize the dramatic effect that sugary beverages have on blood sugar. Bottlers wrangle you in with overblown promises of increased energy, improved immune function, or instant and long-lasting stress release, but what they neglect to tell you is that the sugar in most of these drinks far outweighs any unproven health benefit that might result from sucking down a bottle. At best, you'll feel a placebo-like boost, but you can be certain that inside your body there's a frenetic rush to cope with the unnatural influx of glucose. The reason is simple: Sweetened drinks don't provide the safety net that real food does. There's no fat, fiber, or protein, which leaves nothing but a torrent of pure sugar sloshing through your body. Want a real health drink? Water and tea are your best bets.

Drink This! - Honest Tea Just Green Tea(16 oz)
0 calories
0 g fat
0 g sugars

Think that green tea is too simple to be a bona fide antioxidant powerhouse? Wrong. It does more good for your body than any smart or functional beverage on the market.

Not That! - Snapple Protect Antioxidant Water Tropical Mango(20 oz)
150 calories
0 g fat
30 g sugars

New rule for choosing a beverage: Read the ingredient list before you read the claims on the front of the bottle. If you did this with Snapple's Tropical Mango Antioxidant Water, you'd realize straight away that it is made from water and sugar. That makes those antioxidant and electrolyte claims on the front label absolutely meaningless.

Tomato Sauce

Have you ever been to an Italian restaurant and had the waiter come by with a cup of sugar and ask if you'd like some sprinkled over your spaghetti? No, of course you haven't. So why would you let the food scientists at Ragu or Prego add sugar to your marinara? The answer is you wouldn't, not if you knew they were doing it. Half a cup of spaghetti sauce ought to have around 5 grams of sugar--that's how much you'll find naturally in the tomatoes. Any more than that is cause for concern, especially considering how many Americans rely on bottled tomato sauce for easy weeknight meals.

Eat This! - Classico Tomato & Basil(1/2 cup)
50 calories
1 g fat
5 g sugars
380 mg sodium

Classico makes some of the best sauces on the shelf, but that doesn't mean the company is without fault. Even they sometimes succumb to the low standard of high sugar levels. Not this jar though--the only sugars here are all natural.

Not That! - Newman's Own Tomato & Basil Bombolina(1/2 cup)
90 calories
4.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
12 g sugars
620 mg sodium

All considered, this jar has 72 grams of sugar--42 of which don't belong. The culprit is the 10 added teaspoons of sugar, which hold down a spot on the ingredient list between soybean oil and salt.

Copy Cat Recipe

Tonight I tried to copy a restaurant recipe that I love. There is a fairly new restaurant in town called Chop N Chicken and they make these yummy concoctions called Chicken Chops (you can see them here: They are delish. I tried to make my own version and was only partially successful. Sorry folks, but there is no photo as these were snarffled up too fast (we were starving). Here is the recipe that I used (scaled to one portion).

1/4 C brown rice uncooked (or about 3/4 C cooked)
4 oz cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
3 T cooked black beans
1 T avacado, mashed
1 T sour cream
4 T salsa
1 C lettuce, chopped
3 T tomato, chopped

Cook brown rice per package directions and set aside.

Assemble ingredients on a dinner plate in the following order: brown rice, lettuce, chicken, beans, cheese, avacado, salsa, sour cream, tomato. Serve immediately.

This essentially like a Mexican chicken salad with brown rice as a base.

Everyone in my house ate them but they had no pizzaz (tasted almost flat). Perhaps I needed Pico de Gallo instead of salsa for a nice fresh bite or a bit of lemon juice to brighten things up. I think this could be a very good recipe if I can figure out what is lacking. Any thoughts?

BTW, here is the nutritional analysis on one portion as detailed above (from

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size - 379 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories - 594
Calories from Fat - 126
% Daily Value*
Total Fat - 14.0g (22%)
Saturated Fat - 6.1g (31%)
Cholesterol - 107mg (36%)
Sodium - 561mg (23%) (NOTE: I use no salt added salsa, so my sodium amt is much lower)
Total Carbohydrates - 67.0g (22%)
Dietary Fiber - 9.8g (39%)
Sugars - 4.7g
Protein - 50.1g
Vitamin A 19%
Vitamin C 12%
Calcium 22%
Iron 25%
Nutrition Grade A-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Sugar May Be Bad But This Sweetener Is Far More Deadly

Sugar May Be Bad But This Sweetener Is Far More Deadly

Did you know that our consumption of HFCS increased 1000% percent between 1970 and 1990? Those HFCS ads, which tell you that "it is fine in moderation" are technically correct, but it is in everything that we eat, so it is impossible to eat it in moderation. Avoid HFCS at all costs!

(BTW, this is a far more scientific and detailed explanation about fructose and how it is digested than I made in the post about Agave Syrup. Its very interesting stuff. That whole point: Eater Beware!) - JA

Study after study are taking their place in a growing lineup of scientific research demonstrating that consuming high-fructose corn syrup is the fastest way to trash your health. It is now known without a doubt that sugar in your food, in all it's myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll.
And fructose in any form -- including high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and crystalline fructose -- is the worst of the worst!

Fructose is a major contributor to:

  • Insulin resistance and obesity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL
  • Depletion of vitamins and minerals
  • Cardiovascular disease, liver disease,
    cancer, arthritis and even gout

A Calorie is Not a Calorie

Glucose is the form of energy you were designed to run on. Every cell in your body, every bacterium -- and in fact, every living thing on the Earth--uses glucose for energy.
If you received your fructose only from vegetables and fruits (where it originates) as most people did a century ago, you'd consume about 15 grams per day -- a far cry from the 73 grams per day the typical adolescent gets from sweetened drinks. In vegetables and fruits, it's mixed in with fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and beneficial phytonutrients, all which moderate any negative metabolic effects. It isn't that fructose itself is bad -- it is the MASSIVE DOSES you're exposed to that make it dangerous.

There are two reasons fructose is so damaging:
1. Your body metabolizes fructose in a much different way than glucose. The entire burden of metabolizing fructose falls on your liver.
2. People are consuming fructose in enormous quantities, which has made the negative effects much more profound.

Today, 55 percent of sweeteners used in food and beverage manufacturing are made from corn, and the number one source of calories in America is soda, in the form of HFCS.
Food and beverage manufacturers began switching their sweeteners from sucrose (table sugar) to corn syrup in the 1970s when they discovered that HFCS was not only far cheaper to make, it's about 20 percent sweeter than table sugar.

HFCS is either 42 percent or 55 percent fructose, and sucrose is 50 percent fructose, so it's really a wash in terms of sweetness. Still, this switch drastically altered the average American diet.

By USDA estimates, about one-quarter of the calories consumed by the average American is in
the form of added sugars, and most of that is HFCS. The average Westerner consumes a staggering 142 pounds a year of sugar! And the very products most people rely on to lose weight -- the low-fat diet foods -- are often the ones highest in fructose.

Making matters worse, all of the fiber has been removed from these processed foods, so there is essentially no nutritive value at all.

Fructose Metabolism Basics

Without getting into the very complex biochemistry of carbohydrate metabolism, it is important to understand some differences about how your body handles glucose versus fructose. I will be publishing a major article about this in the next couple of months, which will get much more into the details, but for our purpose here, I will just summarize the main points.
Dr. Robert Lustig[i] Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. His work has highlighted some major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used:
After eating fructose, 100 percent of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.

Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is "burned up" immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.
The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.

Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.

When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Consuming fructose is essentially consuming fat!

The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which drives up blood pressure and causes gout.
Glucose suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain's communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.
If anyone tries to tell you "sugar is sugar," they are way behind the times. As you can see, there
are major differences in how your body processes each one.

The bottom line is: fructose leads to increased belly fat, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome -- not to mention the long list of chronic diseases that directly result.

Panic in the Corn Fields

As the truth comes out about HFCS, the Corn Refiners Association is
scrambling to convince you that their product is equal to table sugar, that it is "natural" and safe.

Of course, many things are "natural" -- cocaine is natural, but you wouldn't want to use 142 pounds of it each year.

The food and beverage industry doesn't want you to realize how truly pervasive HFCS is in your diet -- not just from soft drinks and juices, but also in salad dressings and condiments and virtually every processed food. The introduction of HFCS into the Western diet in 1975 has been a multi-billion dollar boon for the corn industry.

The FDA classifies fructose as GRAS: Generally Regarded As Safe. Which pretty much means nothing and is based on nothing.

There is plenty of data showing that fructose is not safe -- but the effects on the nation's health have not been immediate. That is why we are just now realizing the effects of the last three decades of nutritional misinformation.

As if the negative metabolic effects are not enough, there are other issues with fructose that disprove its safety:

More than one study has detected unsafe mercury levels in HFCS[ii].
Crystalline fructose (a super-potent form of fructose the food and beverage industry is now using) may contain arsenic, lead, chloride and heavy metals.
Nearly all corn syrup is made from genetically modified corn, which comes with its own set of risks.
The FDA isn't going to touch sugar, so it's up to you to be proactive about your own dietary choices.

What's a Sugarholic to Do?

Ideally, I recommend that you avoid as much sugar as possible. This is especially important if you are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
I also realize we don't live in a perfect world, and following rigid dietary guidelines is not always practical or even possible.

If you want to use a sweetener occasionally, this is what I recommend:
- Use the herb stevia. (JA note: Stevia is fine, but can have a bitter aftertaste.)
- Use organic cane sugar in moderation.
- Use organic raw honey in moderation.
- Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, which can damage your health even more quickly than fructose.
- Avoid agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. Your blood sugar will spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS. Agave's meteoric rise in popularity is due to a great marketing campaign, but any health benefits present in the original agave plant are processed out. (JA note: Yes, it is almost pure fructose, but if that is the extent of the fructose that you consume, you should be fine - and it has been shown to produce a lower surge in blood sugar (GI) due to how it is digested than other forms of sugar. From
FoodName : Organic Agave Cactus Nectar, light, 97% fructose (Western Commerce Corp., USA)
GI (vs Glucose) : 10
Serve Size : 10
Carb per Serve (g) : 8
Glycemic Load : 1
Time Period of Test : 2h
Subjects Used in Test : Normal
Reference : Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service (Human Nutrition Unit, University of Sydney, Australia), unpublished observations, 1995-2007. )
- Avoid so-called energy drinks and sports drinks because they are loaded with sugar, sodium and chemical additives. Rehydrating with pure, fresh water is a better choice.
If you or your child is involved in athletics, I recommend you read my article Energy Rules for some great tips on how to optimize your child's energy levels and physical performance through good nutrition.

[i] Robert H. Lustig, MD: UCSF Faculty Bio Page, and YouTube presentation "Sugar: The bitter truth" and "The fructose epidemic" The Bariatrician, 2009, Volume 24, No. 1, page 10)[ii] "Why is the FDA unwilling to study evidence of mercury in high-fructose corn syrup?" 20 Feb 2009.

Dr. Joseph Mercola is the founder and director of Become a fan of Dr. Mercola on Facebook, on Twitter and check out Dr. Mercola's report on sun exposure!

Your mother always told you that soda was bad for you

This is one of the many reason why I gave up (mostly gave up, that is) drinking soda last year. Note that sugar is the probable culprit (yet again).

Sugary soft drinks linked to pancreatic cancer: study
(Found this here:

Mon Feb 8, 10:35 PM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - People who drink at least two sugary sodas a week have an increased risk of developing cancer of the pancreas, and researchers suspect the culprit is sugar, a new study shows.

Analyses of data collected on 60,524 Singapore Chinese adults showed that people who drank two or more sugar-sweetened soft drinks a week were at greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with individuals who did not, the study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention says.

No link was found between drinking juice and pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most rapidly fatal cancers in adults, with less than five percent of patients surviving five years or more after being diagnosed with the illness.

The study was the first to look at the role fizzy drinks and juice play in the development of pancreatic cancer in Asians, whose diet and lifestyle are becoming more and more Western, the study says. Previous studies had looked at Europeans and Americans.

Participants in the study who consumed two or more sodas per week tended to be younger men who smoke, drink alcohol, eat higher-calorie diets and are less physically active.

They also ate more red meat, the study found.

The findings of the study were adjusted for other dietary factors which have been linked with pancreatic cancer, such as consumption of red meat.

"But the adjustments did not change the link between soda and the risk of pancreas cancer," said Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota's division of epidemiology and community health, one of the authors of the study.

"We suspect sugar is the culprit, but we cannot prove it from this study," Pereira told AFP, adding that the researchers only looked at carbonated sugar-sweetened beverages, not sports drinks or diet soft drinks.

"A typical serving of soda is 20 ounces and contains 65 grams of sugar. By comparison, a typical serving of orange juice is eight ounces and contains 21 grams of sugar," Pereira said.
Fizzy drinks are "the leading sources of added sugar in the US diet" and greatly contribute to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, and hyperinsulemia -- when the amount of insulin in the blood is higher than normal -- the study says.

Insulin is produced by the pancreas and helps regulate blood sugar.

If the findings of the study are confirmed, then cutting out sugar-sweetened sodas would be a way to reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, and this would be "important due to the poor prognosis and minimal effect of conventional treatment methods" for the cancer, the study says.

The data analyzed for the soda study came from the Singapore Chinese Health Study, which enrolled more than 63,000 Singapore Chinese who lived in government housing estates -- as nearly nine in 10 people in Singapore do -- and looked at their diets, physical activity and medical history, among others.

Emerging from a carbo-enduced coma

Well, I am back from a 10-day vacation with the family to our house in Florida. It was wonderful there; I got to spend time with my Dad and Alba, had loads of fun at Disney and other attractions in the area and worked my butt off keeping the house in tip-top shape. As I usually do, I let the good eating go by the wayside while on holiday (this is how I keep going on this lifestyle - allowing myself the freedom to eat whatever I feel like every now and again). However, I am now feeling the effects of all of my over-carb consumption and it is time to get on the wagon again.

After Chris dug me out this morning (quite literally), I hit the store. Here is what I came home with.

Fruits & Veggies
Mini-Pearl Tomatoes
Crushed No-Sugar-Added Applesauce
Pre-chopped Mirepoix
1 bag Champs Elysees Salad Mix
1 bag Romaine Salad
Organic cut butternut squash
Baby Bella mushrooms
Haricot Vert
Yellow onions
Fuji apples
Anjou pears

Low sodium sliced turkey
Celebrity Healthy ham
Conventional 80/20 ground beef
Conventional ground turkey
Organic chicken tenders

Gouda cheese
Tillamook kosher/vegetarian cheddar cheese
Cream cheese
2% Milk
Whole milk organic plain yogurt

Kashi TLC crackers
Multi grain 6gr fiber per slice bread
Sprouted flourless whole wheat bread

Treats (sadly not for me)
French baguette
Sweet potato chips
Oatmeal cookies
Dark chocoalte/peanut bar (OK, maybe some of this is for me!)

I will let you know as the week progesses what comes of this shopping trip. I've already made lunch with it (ham and cheese paninis on baguette for the boys - mine on sprouted bread - with strawberries and milk to drink). I am thinking butternut squash soup (I am still trying to figure out the GI on this - anyone?), chicken parmigiana (with my homemade marinara), maybe a meatloaf or something else with the ground meat. Stay tuned.

Balsamic vinegrette --- yum!

I love salad. I have always loved salad. And being Italian, I like vinegrette on my salad (although I would never say no to bleu cheese). I have been making my own vinegrette for years now. Not only is it better for you, with no HFCS or preservatives, but it costs pennies on the dollar and can be whipped together with pantry staples in no time flat.

This is my standard, go to vinegrette receipe. Note that I like my vinegrette to be very tart. You may find that you prefer the standard 3-1, oil to acid ratio instead of this very tart version. If so, add a bit more oil to your taste.

Julie's 3 Vinegar Vinegrette

1 T Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 C balsamic vinegar
1/8 C red wine vinegar
1/8 C rice wine vinegar
3/4 C olive oil
1 t seasoned salt, or salt and pepper to taste

All all ingredients to a glass or other sealed jar. Shake well to combine.

As usual, I ran my recipe thru a nurtitional analyzer. It comes up at about the same number of calories as regular bottled balsamic (I used Wishbone as a baseline) but is 64% lower in sodium and contains no sugar. What more can you ask for?