Most people know that consuming too much sugar is unhealthy. Yet, one in every five calories that Canadians consume come from sugar. This includes both naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit and milk, or added sugars, for instance in cereal or salad dressings. Although the body handles naturally occurring and added sugar in the same way, foods high in added sugar tend to have lower nutrient densities and higher caloric values.
Simply put, foods with high amounts of added sugar tend to have less vitamins, minerals, and fibre, but more calories. Even more important, may be the fact that those same foods do little to satisfy hunger. For example, which breakfast, assuming equal caloric value, would you feel more satisfied after eating: a bowl of sugar-sweetened cereal with milk or an egg omelet with grated cheese? You might be wondering why feeling satiated after a meal matters. Well… if someone consumes too many “empty and not satiating” calories day-to-day, this often leads to over-consumption of calories, which can result in excess weight gain.
There is consistent evidence showing that increasing or decreasing dietary sugars from current levels of intake is associated with corresponding changes in body weight in adults. It comes with no surprise that obesity is one of the most-cited risks of excess sugar consumption. More than 7000 cancers – including breast, colorectal, esophageal, and uterine – diagnosed in Canada in 2017 can be attributed to excess body weight. Limiting sugar intake is just one strategy, amongst many other lifestyle habits that can help reduce the risk of obesity in Canada. The challenge for today’s consumer is that added sugar lurks everywhere – even foods marketed as healthy options such as granola and yogurt. Sugar is called anything from dextrose, barley malt, caramel, sucanat, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, to fruit juice concentrate.
One of my fool-proof strategies to reduce added sugar in my diet is to fill my grocery cart with a variety of vegetables, lean protein (including beans, tofu, fish, poultry, plain yogurt), minimally processed grains (including rice, buckwheat, quinoa), and dry-roasted nuts and seeds each week. Keep things simple by using more whole ingredients – or what I like to refer to as one-ingredient foods. For instance, try swapping out your sweetened yogurt and boxed granola with this simple savoury chickpea waffle for breakfast! It takes just a few minutes to make and it is freezer friendly. Go ahead and triple this recipe! Mornings will never be the same again!
If you are up for the challenge, this month you can go sugar-free and raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. The money raised from Sugar-Free September goes to fund Canada’s most promising cancer research, support vital services for patients and families and advocate for healthy public policies and prevention activities. Participating in sugar-free September is easy! Simply register at www.sugarfreeseptember.ca and then collect donations from your friends. Let’s work together to reduce our sugar intake, and who knows maybe we’ll encounter less “hangry” people as well.
Savoury Chickpea Waffle
A naturally gluten-free, vegan-friendly high protein waffle made with garbanzo bean flour. Typically egg-less waffles do not turn out very well, but this recipe is a total game-changer! Serves: 2
• ½ cup chickpea flour (or lentil flour)
• ¾ cup water
• 2 tbsp avocado oil
• 1 clove garlic, finely minced
• ¼ cup onion, finely diced
• 2 tbsp cilantro, finely minced
• Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1. In a bowl, add the chickpea flour and season with salt and pepper. Slowly add the water and whisk until smooth. Add 1 tbsp of oil and whisk to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let the batter set for 2 hours.
2. Preheat your waffle iron. Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, and sauté the onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, transfer the mixture into the chickpea batter, and stir to combine.
3. Pour the chickpea batter into your hot waffle iron and cook for 5–6 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
4. To serve, cut the chickpea waffle into wedges and dollop with guacamole or salsa.
Note: If you do not have a waffle iron, do not fret, instead all you have to do is preheat the oven to 425oF in step 2. Then, cook your onions, garlic and cilantro in an oven-safe pan. In step 3, instead of pouring the chickpea batter into the waffle iron, pour the batter back into the non-stick skillet and place into the preheated oven for 15 minutes.