Read an Excerpt
Why Natural Sugar Desserts?
This book is for all health-conscious people who enjoy homemade desserts and baked goods. If you are trying to reduce your intake of sugar, or eliminate it completely, our delicious recipes will let you continue to enjoy wonderful desserts. And you'll be able to offer your children something other than cavity-producing sweets and sugary baked goods!
Just because a dessert has no refined sugar doesn't mean it has no flavor. On the contrary, you'll be able to taste the true flavor of the ingredients, as sugar tends to mask them. If you've ordered an apple pie in a restaurant, it likely had more sugar than apples! In our recipes, we don't use white or brown sugar or artificial sweeteners. Instead, our desserts are sweetened either with naturally sweet fruit or with natural sugars. People who have tasted our desserts have enjoyed them all and were surprised to learn that they didn't contain any refined sugar.
The Dangers of Sugar
Sugar is a relatively recent food, in that it became popular only in the 20th century. Before that, it was considered to be more a spice than a food in its own right. The main problem is that sugar does not exist naturally: it is produced by refining another food, such as sugarcane or sugar beets. It is very easy to consume too much sugar (and too often) for our bodies to handle. It's actually much harder to consume large amounts of carbohydrates when we eat whole foods, such as fruit and whole grains, because we fill up more quickly.
Let's look at what happens in the body when we consume sugar. Since the refined product is stripped from the fiber in fruit, it passes directly (and therefore too quickly) into the bloodstream without being digested. The level of glucose in the blood, which should stay close to 1
gram per liter, quickly rises to above normal levels. As a result, the pancreas secretes an excessive amount of insulin to lower the level of sugar in the blood. The result is postprandial hypoglycemia, in which we experience symptoms such as nervousness, cold sweat, tremors, fatigue, yawning, hunger and the well-known feeling of being downright drained. So what do we do to circumvent these symptoms? We eat more sugar! And we become dependent on it.
A growing number of people in Western society now suffer from obesity and other weight-related problems; in addition, recent studies show that sugar plays a role in various diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. That is why it is important to limit our sugar consumption and free ourselves from our dependence on sugary foods. One day, we may well find out that sugar, when misused (which is, unfortunately, very often), can be just as harmful as cigarettes or excessive use of alcohol. There may come a time when foods that contain a lot of sugar will have their own warning label, saying something like "Consuming large amounts of sugar can be detrimental to your health."
People often think that sugar is part of a balanced diet and that we can't exclude it because "we need it" or "it's a source of energy." This isn't true -- we can easily go through life without ever eating it. We certainly managed fine before the process for refining sugar was discovered. The human body does need carbohydrates, but we can easily find them in natural whole foods, such as fruit, cereals, grains, legumes and so on.
A Natural Diet Is the Key to Well-Being
Everything we eat has a direct effect on our bodies and thus on our overall long-term health. It is therefore best to consume foods that are as natural as possible, with the least amount of processing. As a general rule, foods lose much of their nutritional value as they go through the various stages of processing, and many other, less natural ingredients are often added. Some disturbing studies show a link between these additives and an increased risk of developing certain diseases, but this doesn't prevent the food-processing industry from using them.
Don't despair: you can still eat well and enjoy food; you just have to be more careful about what you buy. Keep this in mind when you shop for ingredients to prepare the recipes in this book. If you choose to buy ready-made dough, for example, select the most natural product possible, made without hydrogenated fats.
Desserts and Dieting
Even though our desserts are free of refined sugar and, for the most part, have far fewer calories than traditional desserts, it is still important to follow certain basic principals if you are watching your weight. As with anything, moderation is the key! Instead of finishing every meal on a sweet note or having a sweet snack to satisfy a sudden hunger pang, save desserts for special occasions, or at most a few times a week. Your scale will thank you, and you will feel healthier when you're not overloading your body with carbohydrates. In addition, you'll enjoy desserts that much more, because they'll really be a treat, rather than a habit.
We hope you enjoy our desserts as much as we've enjoyed writing this book. We would be happy to respond to any of your comments or suggestions. If you have questions about our recipes or products specified in this book, visit our website: www.angelinadayan.com.