Take The Sugar Challenge!

Take the Sugar Challenge! 

Just A Spoonful of ………

Sugar! An ancient, delectable, sweet sensation that unless consumed in moderation, puts you at serious risk for critical diseases, even death (American Heart Association AHA). In fact, the CDC is launching an extensive campaign to address obesity, a leading health risk in this nation often caused by excessive sugar consumption. So, if asked how many grams of sugar do you consume on a daily basis, what do you think your answer would be? 

Recently, I asked myself this same question and discovered my healthy, low carb lifestyle far exceeded the recommended amount of sugar! For 5 days I tracked my sugar intake and to my chagrin, I consumed double the recommended daily allowance. Food manufacturers have a sneaky way of inserting sugar, or forms of sugar into many foods and drinks. In fact, until I started reading labels, the foods and snacks I assumed to be healthy, such as high protein health bars, were actually sugar bombs in disguise! One of the goals of the US Dept. of Human ServicesHealthy People 2030 Objective, is educating and empowering people to take responsibility for nutrition by encouraging us to read food labels and know exactly what we are eating. Then, according to the CDC, by lowering our sugar consumption, we can reduce health risks such as: weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease. Not only reduce the risk but feel better and create a positive effect towards our overall health and well-being.

So, how much is the right amount of sugar?

According to the AHA the recommended allowance of sugar for women is 25 grams (6 teaspoons), approximately 100 calories. Men are allowed 36 grams, (9 teaspoons), 150 calories. However, according to the CDC, the American male is consuming an average of 19 teaspoons of sugar, and women an average of 15 teaspoons. 

It’s important to note, that our bodies require some amounts of sugar. Sugarscience states, “sugar metabolism is the process by which energy contained in the foods that we eat is made available as fuel for the body.” Our body requires a little sugar to create energy and function properly but most of us are consuming far greater than what’s needed.

I discovered where my excess sugar came from by food journaling. For 5 days, after each meal and snack, I kept track of all the sugar grams I consumed. I found journaling to be the most effective way for getting a clear picture of not just how much but which foods and drinks contained the highest amount of sugar.  

I found using a nutrition macro counting app to be the most effective way to keep track of the  sugar grams.  I like the Lose It app but the Fitbit and FitnessPal apps are other user friendly options. These apps use a barcode scanner to accurately scan barcodes on food and nutrition labels, recording the total sugar count including the added sugars. You can also use a pen and paper to keep record. Look at total sugar and added sugar on nutrition labels then keep a ledger of total sugar grams after each meal, snack or drink. If you’re eating whole foods, like meat or fresh vegetables, google “sugar grams in….” to get approximate counts. The wonderful news is by mid 2021, according to AMA, food manufacturers have to report all the “added” sugars on nutrition labels. In the past, one had to keep a nutrition translator book handy in order to decipher the sneaky sugar additives not necessarily labeled as sugar.

The high sugar culprit in my diet was my tea latte that had no added syrups or flavors but still contained 37 grams of sugar. Most popular coffee shop tea lattes, either chai or green tea, contain on average 35 grams of sugar. This is 10 grams higher than the total daily allowance for women! However, my tea latte was a favorite afternoon ritual! I loved the tea, the texture of the frothy milk, not to mention the friendly smile of the barista. So, to get to zero grams of sugar, instead of asking for a “chai tea latte”, I asked for the brewed chai tea (loose chai tea with hot water), with steamed almond milk (my frothy foam), all served by my favorite barista! Essentially, I still enjoy my favorite tea latte but now with zero sugar. It also costs $3 less than the sugary alternative, so I’m saving money as well! This Sugar Challenge is not about giving up simple pleasures or making drastic lifestyle changes, but rather to get creative. If soda is high on your list, can a can of bubbly water with fruit flavor and 0 grams of sugar be the solution you’re looking for? However, I suggest not switching to “diet” versions of soda or using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. 

According to Dr Ludwig in an article, “Sugar free but at what cost”,  from Harvard Medical School; “Non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup”. Reports also in this HMS study share, the artificial sweeteners themselves can also be addictive. Initially, it may take a little time to find and make the adjustments needed but stick with it, because the benefits of lowering your sugar count can have great rewards including feeling like you’re back in control.

Feeling in control again can be very empowering. You have the power to decide if you do or don’t want to eat those sugar grams. On holidays or certain days when you want to enjoy wine or beer, you can bank sugar grams. For example, only consume 15-20 grams for 5 days, banking 5 grams each day to create a 25 gram excess which you can use on those special days or holidays. 

So, are you ready for the Sugar Challenge? It can be quite the discovery especially if you consider your lifestyle to be reasonably healthy. Perhaps you’re wanting to make a lifestyle change and not sure where to start? Taking the Sugar Challenge could be a great first step for making those small adjustments but having a large impact on your health and wellbeing. So, pick your app or get your pen and paper but starting counting those sugar grams to find out if your within the daily recommended allowance for sugar.  As the CDC states, by lowering our sugar consumption, we can reduce health risks such as: weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease. I can’t wait to hear about your Sugar Challenge and what you discover.  Make sure to leave a comment and let me know as love to hear from you!

By Helen Cameron-Zenobian

T.V Host, Nutrition Expert, Health Coach, Writer, Model

Studying for M.A Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching.

How the Cauliflower came to Power!

Cauliflower Power Lunch Plate

Today’s food adventure starts with the usual staring into the fridge.  Meanwhile, the cauliflower that’s dangerously close to it’s sell-by date stares right back! Feeling guilty at the thought of having to throw yet another fresh cauli away, it became apparent that today’s lunch included cauliflower!

So, creating a new recipe can start with something old, like an almost gone-off cauliflower. I was feeling ravenous and in no mood to head to the grocery store. So, in an attempt to not give into high carb, high sugar, fast snacks, I decided to entice myself with a delicious yet nutritious new recipe for a power lunch.

I took out the cauliflower. Without giving anything else too much thought, I randomly grabbed other foods such as brie, red onion, half an avocado and what was left of the arugula. I always try to have fresh lemons, so I cut up one of those. Side note, squeeze fresh lemon juice into everything you cook to add extra flavor.  Another favorite of mine is olive oil. You can enjoy olive oil hot or cold. Today I fancied heating the olive oil, as well as sautéing the onions. By pouring the hot oil onion mixture over the arugula and avocado, the texture changed, making digestibility easier.  This is the case for other salads that include fresh spinach leaves. The heated oil allows denser nutrition values to become available during digestion, which aren’t accessible when consumed raw. Another excellent way to cook and heat your veggies is to use an airfryer. Airfrying vegetables can make even the most mundane veggie become delectable. 

So, as my cauliflower was on it’s last leg, I knew the airfryer was the best way to bring it back to life. I laid out my cauliflower steaks in the airfrying basket. If you’re wondering what a cauliflower steak is, it’s simply a cauliflower that is thickly sliced horizontally. I generously added olive oil plus sea salt to the steaks, then let the air fryer do it’s thing.

Today’s food adventure ended up to be a delicious, new nutritious lunch recipe, filled with flavor. Click on the recipe link at the top to decide for yourself if my food trip turned out well! I hope you’ll find my ventures entertaining, somewhat useful and inspiring to embark on your own food adventures. There must be something in your fridge that is dangerously close to it’s sell-by date!

(Chuckle), It is all about Oats!


Hello dear friends-at-home,

And now for something completely different!  It is all about oats! Kale, Jackfruit Steel Cut Oats with Curry. How about, Leek, Sage & Currant Oats? Intrigued? I hope this story of a bowl of oats strikes you with inspiration in creating your own oat umami!

So the simple oat grain is not biased in being either sweet or savory. It is quite neutral really, especially if you only add water.  Consider your bowl of oats as a wonderful, blank canvas for creating your own breakfast adventures! Depending on which ingredients you add, your morning oats can be either sweet or savory!

The oat story started when I began experimenting with my daily steel cut oats. One morning, I could not decide if I wanted my protein smoothie or my bowl of oats. I fancied the oats but had been trying to incorporate a daily protein powder. A thought then occurred to me, “why could I not add my protein powder to my oats?” In fact, why not consider approaching my oatmeal the same way I approach making a smoothie.  Thus was born, The genie steelie! However, simply adding protein powder to oats was a simple beginning.

The thrill from finding and adding unusual ingredients into my daily oats started to provide excellent motivation for getting out of bed! Some days, when a surprising ingredient or a unique pairing had caught my eye, I could not wait to jump up the next morning and begin experimenting! One particular lunchtime, my daughter & I were enjoying a yummy, black bean, vegan taco with Jackfruit. “Hmmm”, I thought, “Jackfruit in oatmeal?” So imagine my delight when I found frozen Jackfruit at my local grocery store. Jackfruit has a wonderful, unusual savory taste. It has almost a peppery quality, while the texture and color are similar to a mango. The Jackfruit’s unique tubular shape is not found in any other fruit and its sunshine color was perfect for brightening my morning Kale, Jackfruit and Curry Oats.However, the next oat creation might be my favorite, Leek, Sage & Currant Oats.

Inspiration for bringing together new and different flavors can to be found in all sorts of places. The Leek, Sage & Currant Oats inspiration came from a wonderful Food and Wine recipe for a Turkey leg dressing! Remember, oats are a blank canvas. So, when I recently found this recipe speaking of sweet, “melted leeks”, blended with sautéed currants to create a rich, sweet yet savory flavor, my mouth watered. I needed to adapt the recipe but it was the perfect inspiration for a new oat beginning.  I woke up this morning and started cooking right away. The sautéed currants, oniony taste of the leek, savored together with the sage created a decadent, flamboyant start to the day. It felt like a breakfast suitable for a Queen!

So dear friends-at-home, what royal oat flavors will you be creating for breakfast? By sharing my creative journey with you, I hope that you are struck with oatspirational sparks and create more, fabulously unique oat recipes for the world! Perhaps we should create a hashtag or something! Please make sure to share below any questions you have, or hopefully, pictures of your oat inspirational journey! I cannot wait to see what oat inspiration is ignited in you!

Genie Steelie’s – Waking up Breakfast!

Oats! It’s whats for Breakfast…….or lunch, dinner or even a snack! I’ve always loved oatmeal but when I gave up sugar a few years back and started adding sea salt to my breakfast staple, my now savory oatmeal breakfast created enticing new possibilities.

I’m  also tired of having to make smoothies to take my natural supplements. So I’ve started using my steel oats as a new place to incorporate my potions! Rather than using a smoothie to mix up wheat grass, juices and wellness powders, I use my simple oatmeal as a  place to mix it up! And so the Genie Steelie is born!

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We’ll call this genie steelie, the “Power Starter”.

I use a rice cooker to make my steel cut oats and always toast them in coconut oil first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Toasted Steel cut oats

Grass fed cow/dairy free milk (in ratio to the amount of oats)

Lemon Juice (squeezed juice of 1/2)

Fresh ginger (grated)

Ground Cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon more or less)

Sea Salt (pinch of)

Sliced Apple (half an apple)

Serving of Protein/Wellness supplement mix