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Cyrus McCrimmon | The Denver Post Why does tomato sauce need sugar? Itís used on spaghetti, lasagna and other savory foods. It can be made without it.
‘Year of No Sugar’ author explains health benefits of less sugar
Book » Eve O. Schaub explores why the sweetener has become so prevalent — and the harm it is doing.
First Published Mar 26 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Mar 26 2014 01:01 am

The next time you pick up a jar or can of tomato sauce at the grocery store, have a look at the ingredients. Almost always, you’ll find sugar listed on the label.

Which is sort of ridiculous. Why does tomato sauce need sugar? It’s used on spaghetti, lasagna and other savory foods.

At a glance

My favorite tomato sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

On medium heat, cook oil and minced garlic in a saucepan until the garlic is fragrant but before it turns brown. Add all the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until thickened, about 15 to 25 minutes. Use immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to 72 hours.

Servings » Makes about 4 cups of sauce that can be used in everything from lasagna to soup.

Source : Developed by Eve O. Schaub, from “Year of No Sugar”

No-Sugar Shortbread

Tested at high altitude.

1½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup rice flour

1 cup dextrose (available at health-food stores)

½ pound (two sticks) butter at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sift flour, rice flour and dextrose together. Rub in the butter until flours and butter are integrated into a smooth dough. Butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish or rimmed cookie sheet. Press the dough into a single flat layer about ¼ inch thick. Prick with a fork to form regular patterns.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until slightly golden. Remove and cut while warm. Shortbread will harden as it cools.

Top with sliced strawberries or other fruit.

Servings » Makes 2 dozen or more cookies, depending on how you cut the shortbread.

Source: From howmuchsugar.com.

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But what’s this? Check out the nutrition facts label on the box of pasta. Sugar again! It’s even in single-serving cup-of-soup packages.

"Some of the top stealth sources of fructose are energy drinks, fruit yogurts, agave syrup and many foods labeled ‘low fat,’" said University of Colorado physician Richard J. Johnson, whose books "The Sugar Fix" and "The Fat Switch" discuss the problem in detail.

Sugar might be costumed as evaporated cane juice, table sugar, honey, fruit juice, powdered sugar, agave, crystalline fructose, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup. It’s still sugar, and what is it doing in bacon? Or mayonnaise? Or ketchup?

That’s what blogger and author Eve O. Schaub wanted to know. Her epiphany began after she watched "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." That’s pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig‘s documentary on his theory that fructose is more poison than sweetener, and that sugar is more fattening than fat.

"I was deeply alarmed," Schaub said in a telephone interview from her home in Vermont.

"It made me think a lot about our palates, and the obesification of America. One hundred years ago, we didn’t have obesity or metabolic syndrome. What have we done that’s created those things?

"We had these studies in the 1960s and ’70s that said fat was bad. So we removed fat from everything. But then how do you make it taste good? Let’s put sugar in it. And it turns out that may have been the exact wrong thing to do."

She began looking more closely at labels when she shopped for groceries. "There was sugar, in all its myriad guises," Schaub writes in "Year of No Sugar," the memoir inspired by Lustig’s video. Of course sugar is in sweet products, like cookies, cakes, candy and ice cream.

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But it’s also in peanut butter, sandwich bread, wine, milk, orange juice and dozens of other products that wouldn’t seem to need added sugar. Special K, promoted as a diet-friendly cereal, has three teaspoons of added sugar per 100 grams. Schaub found sugar in canned black beans and in a commercial Thai yellow curry sauce.

Those counterintuitive sugar-added products explain why a 2010 Robert Woods Johnson-funded study found that 33 percent of an American child’s diet consists of added sugar and solid fat.

"As a culture, are we normalizing this much sugar in what we eat?" Schaub said. "I don’t want to encourage anyone not to eat, but our consumption of sugar and fructose had quadrupled from what Americans were eating 100 years ago, and the number of obese Americans has septupled since then. All these issues are related. Fructose is the elephant in the room."

Schaub, with Lustig, author David Gillespie, Michelle Obama, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and others, supports the proposed FDA nutrition-label modifications that specify the amount of added sugar and represent realistic serving sizes.

Dannon is among the companies getting ahead of the curve. It recently announced that by 2016, it will reduce sugar in yogurt products for children.

Some no-added-sugar advocates compare their campaign to the effort to print warning labels on cigarette packages.

"I think there are a lot of parallels between added sugar and tobacco," Schaub said.

"Cigarettes do bad things to you, but the real harm is over a long period of time. It’s easy for people to dispute the harm. Fructose is the same way. The damage it does is over such a long period of time. It’s not as if a piano falls on your head and you die. It’s gradual and cumulative."

Yes, this means that "added sugar" joins the realm of trans fats, secondhand smoke and other things scientists tell us to worry about (or, later, to worry less about). The sweet exceptions: Dextrose, glucose and sweeteners that do not contain fructose — specifically, barley malt syrup and rice syrup.

"Dextrose is fine, and glucose is fine," Schaub said.

"But sugar or sucrose is fifty percent fructose and fifty percent dextrose. Our body doesn’t need fructose at all, and because it doesn’t need it, it acts exactly in the way a poison works in our body. We can process it but bad byproducts happen when we do."

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Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Tested at high altitude.

1 cup old-fashioned oats

3 cups boiling water

1½ tablespoons active dry yeast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ cup barley malt syrup (available at health food stores)

2 cups whole-wheat flour

5 cups all-purpose flour

Pour oats in mixer bowl. Add boiling water. Let sit for one hour.

At one hour, sprinkle the yeast, salt and olive oil on top. Add barley syrup, and mix with dough hook. Add whole wheat flour, one cup at a time. Add two cups of all-purpose flour, one at a time. Add two more cups of all-purpose flour, a half-cup at a time, mixing between additions.

Turn dough onto a floured surface for kneading. Gradually add the final cup of all-purpose flour as it gets sticky. Knead for at least five minutes, until dough has absorbed all or most of the final cup of flour, and feels smooth, not sticky, to the touch. Place in an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for at least one hour.

Butter two loaf pans and heat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough has risen, turn the dough onto the counter and cut in half. Place each half in a loaf pan. Allow to rise a minimum of 30 minutes.

Bake for 33 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove bread from oven. Allow it to sit for five minutes before removing loaves and cooling on a rack.

Servings » Makes 2 loaves.

Source: Developed by Eve O. Schaub, from “Year of No Sugar.”

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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