You’ve been there: sugar-fueled youngsters buzzed to the max, racing through mall promenades propelled by enough energy to fuel a solid-fuel rocket.
Oh, and they’re your kids.
Eyebrows lift. Heads shake. Seniors get that “Back when I was raising kids” expression of superiority on their faces and you wonder why you didn’t just get a sitter.
Relax, Mom. You don’t have to buy a disguise or banish sugar-infused foods from your children’s’ diets to avoid embarrassment in the future-as long as you use the right sweeteners to add flavor to foods that also happen to be nutritious and delicious.
How to make this happen when you’ve already got too many tasks to handle on any given day? Take the advice of Gigi Verrey, a Chicago-area nutrition guru and self-proclaimed Queen of Sneaking Healthy Food into Kids Snacks. She gained a ton of weight, changed her eating habits and the healthiest recipients of her lifestyle change were her three boys.
“They were all over the place and I had no idea that sugar played such a big part in their hyper-activity,” she recalls. That’s why she wrote, “Okay, So I got Fat,” a guide for other families in the fast lane-literally and figuratively. She’s busy spreading the word that not all sugars are created equal.
“It takes no time at all to throw together a batch of giant and healthy oatmeal/raisin cookies packed with enough fiber, vitamins and other nutrients to keep a kid going for hours,” says Gigi, who has turned her dining island into a test kitchen for all things nutritious, kid friendly and yummy.
“My go-to sweetener is agave nectar. It’s got everything a mom needs to turn a dessert recipe into a crowd pleaser,” she adds. The benefits of substituting it are astonishing.
According to Verrey’s book, “This natural juice provides sweetness with lower glycemic levels. Because it’s about 25% sweeter than sugar, you will want to use less of it thus consuming fewer calories. Agave is absorbed into the body slowly so it prevents spikes in blood that you’ve experienced after eating sugar. No sugar high = No sugar crash.”
You read that right. No highs and no crashes.
“I sneak all kinds of vitamins and minerals into my desserts and the agave nectar disguises the fact that each is nutritious,” she adds. “Using basic recipes for cookies, cakes and desserts, I grab supplies kept in my “perpetual pantry.” An over-abundance of dried fruits, nuts and raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds are kept there. “There’s plenty of fresh and frozen fruit on hand and peanut butter. My banana and berry smoothies are to die for.”
Verrey’s not the only fan of agave nectar. Sugar manufacturer Domino has jumped on the bandwagon, too. Visit the Domino website and you’ll learn that agave has been used a sweetener for thousands of years in Mexico. Folks in the Domino’s test kitchen have come up with no shortage of delicious treats like chocolate cake, cheesecake and cookies using agave nectar.
“Agave nectar has another benefit for people with sugar sensitivity, including some people with diabetes or pre-diabetes: It has a low glycemic index (GI), which means it raises blood sugar more slowly than other sweeteners,” adds Domino nutritionists. That’s no big surprise to Verrey who’s already on board the agave train.