The quick answer: In winter, when you crave an after-dinner sweet, make fruit the first ingredient.
We’re most grateful for all that has been accomplished in 2011. In the next post we’ll discuss our plans for 2012. We started our conversation a year ago with three basic premises.
- The modern American diet (MAD) is the primary cause of chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, etc.).
- Prevention of chronic disease by dietary reform is better than treatment.
- Dietary reform is too big a jump to do all at once, but could be substantially accomplished in a year of 52 weekly steps, called Healthy Changes.
The three premises rested upon three hypotheses:
- Because the science of nutrition is impossibly complex and changes with time, we could balance science with two timeless oracles: food tradition and scripture. This brings to mind the stability of the three-legged stool.
- Using these sources, an ordinary person given sufficient time could better define a healthy diet than any congress of conflicting and conflicted experts.
- Because everyone is different, this diet could be improved though conversation with other concerned people. Whoever reads this blog and comments, adds to that conversation.
The focus of this blog is prevention. Only qualified doctors can diagnose illness and prescribe treatment; nothing in this blog should be considered medical advice.
The Sugar Addiction
Americans eat too much sugar, over 100 pounds each year. So six of the 52 Healthy Changes combined to reduce our sugar intake to below the AHA target of 6 teaspoons daily for women (about 20 lbs./year) and 9 for men.
Healthy Change #1 targeted the problem of excess sugar intake, by going after sugary drinks: If you consume sodas or other sugary drinks, limit yourself to one (12 oz.) serving per week.
Healthy Change #3 talked about breakfast cereals, but actually provided a rule for all processed foods: Cereal products must be made of whole grains, and have more grams of natural fiber than grams of sugar.
Healthy Change #8 went after the bag of candy in your home: Buy candy a piece at a time; never bring a box or bag of candy into the home.
Healthy Change #9 applied the “more sugar than fiber” rule to the bakery aisle: Your daily bread must be whole grain, with more grams of fiber than added sugars.
Healthy Change #31 put the dagger into the diet drinks, which many mistakenly think are healthier than the sugar drinks: If you consume diet drinks, limit yourself to one (12 oz.) serving per week.
Healthy Change #51 proposed that traditional spices and herbs replace sugar as our most popular flavoring agent. This is the hallmark of a competent cook—to not rely on sugar to make food taste good.
The Easiest Thing
Did you notice this year how we haven’t had a single post on one of the healthiest food groups—fruit? There’s a reason. Fruits are so easy to eat they don’t need an eating rule. They’re Nature’s candy—fruit is fun to eat so it usually is eaten before it spoils. Not so with vegetables—if you don’t include them in your menu writing, they’ll go bad sitting in your refrigerator.
People enjoy candy during the Holidays. Because we expected a lot of company, the beautiful wife bought a box of See’s candy (technically, a violation of Healthy Change #8). Christmas passed without opening the box. Later, overwhelmed by the noise of little grandchildren, I proposed a silence contest, with a treat for all who could be still. Silence by the promise of See’s worked. Had a few pieces myself.
We crave something sweet after dinner, a little dessert. Have you noticed this craving more in winter? I have. In times past, summer’s fruit was put away for winter use. Berries were preserved as jam. Tree fruits were bottled, or dried. Dried fruits could be used in compotes. Traditional fruit preservation has declined because fresh fruits are available year around. This presents an opportunity to reinvent, or at least redisocover fruit-based desserts:
Here are ten winter fruits desserts that can be made with little sugar:
- Apple with cheddar cheese—no cooking required. See this Washington Post article for cheese ideas.
- Apple Crisp with granola topping—there are lots of recipes. I could eat this every week; it’s great with vanilla ice cream, or just cream.
- Pear Crisp. I’m not a big Ina Garten fan, but she does have a recipe that combines pears and apples.
- Chocolate dipped fruits—winter strawberries need a little help and what’s better than chocolate? Here’s Martha’s recipe.
- Tropical fruit—if you have a ripe pineapple, combine it with banana and/or coconut.
- Baked Apple—here's a recipe for this traditional winter treat.
- Poached Pears (photo shown above)—delicious with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, or lemon sorbet (recipe here).
- Banana Nut Bread—good for desserts or snacks. When bananas get brown spots, simply slip then into the freezer until needed. Recipes abound but I do a health-up by replacing half the white flour with whole wheat flour, cutting sugar by 1/3 and replacing with brown sugar, substituting butter for less healthy oils, and adding applesauce to reduce the butter. I also double the walnuts.
- Orange slices with warmed raspberries—this recipe is another way to enjoy winter navels.
- Dried Fruit Compotes—this recipe can be made from a variety of fruits by simply adding honey and a little vanilla.
Please comment. Share your favorite healthy fruit desserts and treats.
Need a reminder? Download our Healthy Change reminder card. Print and fold, then place in your kitchen or on your bathroom mirror to help you remember the Healthy Change of the week.