Giving UP Sugar
I used to think I would NEVER give up sugar, but I think I have decided to cut way back. For years I have thought people who quit sugar were crazy! Why in the world would they want to do that? It tastes amazing! My favorite form of sugar is chocolate. My favorite form of chocolate is brownies and chocolate peanut butter ice-cream.
With my research expanding, I have learned that sugar is poison to the body. It stores as fat if our bodies don’t need the energy. Those stored fat cells build up around our middle, causing metabolic syndrome which is linked to type 2 diabetes. You can read about that here. There is also a type of fat that builds up around our organs called visceral fat. You can read about that here. You could have fatty organs and not even know it. I have also read there is a link to cancer and or that cancer feeds off sugar. There is much controversy on that subject.
As you already know, my daddy was diabetic, but what you do not know is several other people in my family are or were diabetic. I am also married to a type 1 diabetic. I had at one point a 98 fasting blood sugar, which is 2 points off from being pre diabetic. Once I saw that number, after all my daddy was going through, I freaked out and started a life change diet. I started counting calories and in 6 months lost 20 pounds. I felt pretty good and my fasting blood sugar was then 88. Not normal, but better. I still wasn’t willing to give up sugar.
Keeping The Weight Off
After 5 years of counting calories, I have kept the weight off, but my middle is still, well … jello. I work out, but not enough I know, and my middle isn’t shrinking much. The carbs from the sugar I love to consume is what are keeping my waist size what it is. So, at the end of 2014, I decided I would make another life change journey and head in the direction of sugar free. However, I do not want to give up chocolate or ice cream. I know from experience that if I quit eating something that I love, and make it something I cannot have, I will give up. I do not want to give up. I want to be mostly sugar free, shrink my waist size, and be more healthy. I want my family to see that it can be done. That change is good. And I really want to break the diabetes cycle in my family line.
I have made a couple sugar free or almost sugar free recipes as of late and the one I want to share today is Sugar Free Strawberry Jam in the Crock pot. I had seen crock pot jam recipes on Pinterest a few times. Many of those recipes use like 2 cups of sugar, and I thought mmm, I wonder if I could make this sugar free and have it taste good too.
Around Christmas, I was introduced to Swerve by www.Sugarfreemom.com . The main ingredient is Erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol from fruits and vegetables. Erythritol has zero sugar, calories or carbs and it is low on the glycemic index. Swerve is natural, non-GMO and gluten free. You can use cup for cup just like sugar and so no trying to figure out how much to use and worrying it would be too sweet or taste funny. So far the other recipes I have used it in turn out great. Remember, I live with a diabetic who happens to LOVE sugar!
This is my version of Sugar Free Strawberry Jam in the Crock pot.
Prep: 2 min
Cook Time: 3-4 hours
2 pounds of strawberries. ( I used Schwans frozen, that’s what I hand and I wanted to use them up, remember frugal) I didn’t cut the berries, since they were frozen and I was on borrowed time.
1 cup of Swerve
2 droppers of Liquid Organic Stevia. I get mine at Trader Joe’s
4 drops of Lemon essential oil
(Other recipes call for 1/4 cup of lemon juice, but I didn’t have any. The purpose is to keep the pretty red color. I wanted to test the EO to see if it would do the same thing. It didn’t, but I didn’t really care. I wasn’t going for color, I was going for SF. )
I cooked it in the crock pot on high for about an hour or so then checked it. I tried to use a fork to mash them because I don’t have a potato masher, but it didn’t work so well. I let them cook another couple hours, checking them and trying to mash them every so often.
I don’t like chunks in my jam, so I used my mini food processor to pulse it and make it smoothie. I used a funnel to pour it into jam jars that I had on hand.
I think this turned out well. At first I wasn’t sure it would thicken, but once it cooled it is perfect. I would however, make it a litter sweeter next time. So make this to your tastes and let me know how it turns out.
Have you made Sugar Free Jam? In the leave comment link above this post, tell me what sugar alternative did you use, how much and did it turn out?