Angela C. Torrence, RDH
The amount of sugar in the American diet contributes to a host of health and behavioral problems. Unfortunately, the more sugar we eat, the more we crave. This is why it is so important to keep refined, processed foods out of the kitchen so that no one in the family has to face the temptation. Retraining our taste buds begins in the kitchen.
Coming off the sugar-high from the holidays can be difficult for some, especially children, so we need to find creative ways of feeding them healthfully, but with minimal sugar. After school snacks are one of the greatest offenders in children’s sugar intake because they want something quick and easy before dinner. A healthy on-hand snack that can hold your kids over is the best solution.
I want to introduce you to xylitol: a plant-based sugar alcohol which can be found in most natural food stores. It looks and tastes just like sugar (unlike any sugar substitute I have tried!) but without some of the harmful side-effects on the body. Xylitol is even diabetes-friendly with a very low glycemic index.
One of the great benefits of xylitol is that it reduces plaque bacterial growth in the mouth. One study found that if you chew xylitol gum for example, it can help reduce the plaque growth in your mouth and even help prevent cavities. I try to incorporate xylitol into my diet to help cut out some of the sugar I would normally use and to help fight cavities.
A simple healthy and tasty snack for kids and parents alike is my Sweet Potato Mash.
1 baked sweet potato
1 tsp xylitol
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ c soy or almond milk (or enough to make creamy)
Remove the skin from the sweet potato and with a fork, mash all of the ingredients until it is smooth. You can use less or add more milk for the consistency you desire.