Sweet and Salty and Cheesy

I am not against sugar, it, like all things in life, has its place. I am just against eating it in EVERYTHING under the pretense that its not really there. Secret hidden sugar is my enemy. If y’all read my last column about the bottled BBQ sauce you understand my meaning. I developed a taste for sugar at an early age, like before I had teeth. I was given a sugar tit to suck on to pacify me when I was a fussy baby, most babies in the south have experienced the sugar tit, that is, if you are of a certain age, like me. Now… we know how wrong that was. This newer ingredient, high fructose corn syrup, is my number one enemy. SO much worse than sugar. I believe I can trace back the arc of my weight gain to the inclusion of HFCS in everything that is in the grocery store these days from Ketchup, to sweet pickles, to ice creme and frozen yogurt and popcicles, packaged mac and cheese (REALLY???), to peanut butter, to bread especially the whole grain kind, to flavored potato chips, to pre-packaged potato mixes and gratins, to mayonnaise, to cereal, to crackers and cookies, to canned fruit, canned vegetables,canned soup, to lunch meat, to bacon and sausage, to yogurt (which is supposed to be so good for you) and anything that is low-fat is propped up with added HFCS. It seems that even prepackaged diet food is rampant with this ingredient, WW products are especially guilty of this. Fat is not the problem guys, its HFCS. Don’t even get me started on fast food. I was recently at a University attending some lectures and they served snacks, cheese and fruit which was great, and crackers (HFCS) and a yogurt product that is marketed to women as a digestive aid (HFCS). So much sugar in the yogurt product that it is guaranteed to cause a sugar crash. By the way when you eat sugar, you crave sugar, viscous circle. When you eat HFCS the chemical craving in your brain and body is much like the craving for crack. More is never enough. I also can’t stand artificial sweeteners. They mess up my gut and give me a headache. So years ago I learned to shop and cook differently. Y’all are probably thinking I never have anything sweet, that is not true. I am just VERY intentional about it. And I never eat ANYTHING with HFCS. It seems extreme, but the amazing by-product of that is… FOOD tastes better! The subtle sweetness in grilled zucchini and crook neck squash is delightful, a sweet potato is so sweet I eat them for desert with a little salt. I make all my own salad dressings out of fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil and various vinegar’s. And if I want a honey mustard dressing or a sweet and creamy coleslaw I use raw agave syrup as the sweet  part. It is not calorie free, but it does not mess with your blood sugar levels, therefore does not lead to crash and cravings. I am not looking to be skinny(those who have actually met me know how funny THAT is), but I am looking to be healthy and live a LONG life, HFCS is not gonna get me there. I just read a study where they think Alzheimer’s disease is actually Type III diabetes, and the incidence of that has been steadily climbing along with our waistlines and the appearance of HFCS in our food.

As you can tell from the above list of prepacked products, I didn’t use to be the cook I am now, yes I bought those products as a young wife and mother, I am my mothers daughter after all. She loved all that easy prepacked stuff. My teenage years were spent eating that stuff and the blue box of Mac and Cheese, and Good Lord SWEET tea, of course I played tennis ALL the time so the weight gain and related health issues were staved off. My mom however died of complications of diabetes , I think mainly because she ate stuff that she didn’t even know what was in it. But something happened that changed my life and my food forever, my son was diagnosed with Leukemia. I had to learn to prepare really good nutritious food for him to maintain his health and weight through 4 1/2 years of Chemo. So I decided to become my Granny, fresh, made from scratch… with real fruits,vegetables and dairy and yes sugar and honey and my new love, Agave. I am not saying I don’t make cakes, I do! Y’all know that, and I love me some cake, it is my addiction. But if you promise yourself to only eat real, from scratch home made food, that cake is a little harder to get your hands on. So I have good cake on special occasions and can’t stand pre-made stuff even from a bakery. It like treating yourself to really good dark chocolate, if its hard to find you just don’t get it very often. Also by cutting all the excess sugar and all the HFCS out of my life, I feel better, have more energy and quiet frankly can’t even drink Sweet Tea or Soda’s ANYMORE, they are too sweet!

As y’all know here in the south we can call anything a vegetable, as in a restaurant that is a meat and three, which means for y’all that have not experienced this, it is usually a lunch special, or a blue plate special that has 1 meat serving and three vegetable servings, course we count mac and cheese as a vegetable, along with congealed strawberry salad with a dollop of mayo and a pretzel on top. This is one of those “vegetables” but in an attempt at honesty and full disclosure its a dessert y’all! made with pineapple and its yummy and not overly sweet, as a matter of fact it is sweet and salty and cheesy.

Pineapple Right Side Up Bake

2 cans drained chunk pineapple in its own juice,(reserve the juice)

you can also use a fresh pineapple cut up into chunks

1 tablespoon salted butter

3 tablespoons flour

6 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

about 5 oz grated sharp cheddar

dump the drained pineapple in a buttered 8″ or 9″ inch glass pie plate

in a separate bowl mix the flour dark brown sugar and the salt together add 3 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice and mix it together it should be a thick gravy consistency, pour that over the pineapple and mix it together well, put the grated cheddar on top.

pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until it is brown and bubbly and yum!

I made it the other night and my husband actually stood at the counter with a spoon shoving it in his mouth and asking me in a suspicious way, why had I never made that for him before?

I did of course, years ago. He must be having early onset Alzheimer’s from the snack cakes he keeps in his car.

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