“Half the Sugar, All the Love: 100 Easy, Low-Sugar Recipes for Every Meal of the Day” by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH; Workman; $22.95; 216 pages; paperback
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to cut back on the amount of sugar you and your family consume, but need some help in planning meals your kids will like?
You’re in luck. Cookbook author Jennifer Tyler Lee and pediatrician Anisha Patel, an associate professor in the Division of General Pediatrics at Stanford University whose research focuses on helping children grow up at a healthy weight, have written a cookbook that offers delicious ideas for reducing unnecessary sugar in your family’s diets.
“Half the Sugar, All the Love: 100 Easy, Low-Sugar Recipes for Every Meal of the Day” explains that on an average day, children today eat at least three times the recommended daily limit of 6 teaspoons of added sugar for kids ages 2 through 18 years old.
What is added sugar? Just what it sounds like, the authors say: Sugar “added to foods and beverages during cooking or right before eating. Naturally occurring sugar is present in food in its unadulterated state and is accompanied by nutrients and fiber that help the body process sugar in a healthier way. Natural sugar in fruits, vegetables and milk is different from added sugar like honey and agave because sources of natural sugar contain nutrients and fiber along with calories.”
Their cookbook also explains that the rise in added sugar consumption is associated with cardiovascular disease and preventable conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.
Lee and Patel offer recipes that cut sugar and taste good without adding salt and fat to mask the missing sweet flavor. They say the key is to sweeten with fruits and vegetables.
They also note it is OK to eat dessert occasionally since restrictive no-added-sugar diets are hard to sustain. They suggest doing what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends: take a whole diet approach that includes eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and proteins, along with appropriate portion sizes and minimal amounts of sugar, salt and fats to flavor foods.
The book’s introduction discusses how sugar behaves in the body, discusses sugar myths, how to read a food label, how to reduce added sugar by half, and the key ingredients the book’s recipes use to cook and bake with less added sugar.
Recipes are divided into seven chapters: breakfasts; snacks; lunches and salads; dinners; desserts; beverage; and basics and condiments. Each includes the nutritional breakdown and many give make-ahead tips and ideas for what kids can do to help prepare the dish. Many recipes are illustrated with full-color photographs.
Among the recipes sure to appeal to everyone in the family are Honey-Peach Breakfast Pops, No-Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bars, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Chinese Chicken Salad with Mandarin Vinaigrette, Pineapple Teriyaki Short Ribs, Pecan Pie Bars, and Double Chocolate Layer Cake and Nut-Free Nutella.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.