Would You Like Toast With That Sugar-free Jam?

One of the first things to perish out of a person’s diet when they are attempting to lose weight, or have discovered some health condition that prevents them from having sugar, are jellies and jams.

It has long been believed that without added sugar, there is no way to create that wonderful texture and flavor that is so well-loved. Today, here I’d like to prove that concept false with some recipes that let you cut out those ingredients either in whole or part, and replace them with healthful alternatives that produce near, if not the same, effect and flavor.

 

strawberries and jam

 

This isn’t to say that this process is without its tricks of the trade, after all, there is a reason that sugar is such an intrinsic part of the normal process. There are some well-known alternatives, things such as freezer jam, but sugar serves the role of preserving the delicious treat. Freezer jam must either be kept in the freezer where it’s difficult to enjoy easily, or kept in the fridge at most a week or two.

Pectin is another big factor in the preservation process, and with some fruits you can get away without adding any. Plums, for instance, are free from this burden by an abundance of natural pectin, but other jams and jellies have commercial pectin put in, which contains sugar.   Sugar free is available, but not easily or readily, you’d have to plan ahead to get this from a supplier before you begin. Note that adding pectin is of particular importance with berries, which generally are completely lacking in this vital preservative.

 

blueberries

 

A particularly clever approach is using sugar-free gelatin, which you can get unflavored to preserve the natural taste of your mix. You’re going to want to experiment with this one, as strawberries, for instance, just don’t seem to want to play. There are bound to be other issues, but blackberries seem to play nice with this as one of the only berries to have a bit of their own natural pectin. Blackberries come out with a very believable rendition of jam, enough that it’s still a solid favorite.

When you’re in the process of deciding which methods to try or what substances to use, a bit of research can help save a frustrating batch. You’ll be wanting to pay attention to the natural sugar and pectin content of the fruit base, as these can make a huge difference in your final consistency. There are other alternatives, some of them clever tricks, others are playing with chemistry, and as a result, the flavor of your final product.

Ph levels are important in inhibiting bacteria growth, to this end you might want to consider adding some lemon juice to the mix. It’s a tried and true method to increasing the pH, and will help you keep the bacteria from bubbling up in your delicious jam. It’s yours after all, and we’re not making alcohol! In these cases, be aware that you’re going to be dealing with a much thinner jam, not the hard set of the commercial stuff. But that just makes it an amazing topping for things like pancakes, ice-cream or even other fruit!   Sliced peaches covered in sugar-free blackberry jam now that’s an amazing dessert!

 

lemons

 

These are just some of the techniques that have been tried by experts throughout the years, and there’s always room for more experimentation and creativity. If you manage to hit on a blend that’s just about perfect, you can always consider packaging it up, putting a cute little label on it, and knocking people’s socks off when you give it to them as a gift. And don’t forget to share that recipe with of us other jelly and jam enthusiasts!

 

Contributed by Nicole Nowlen

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5 Essential Foods to Add to Your Diet

Eating a well-balanced healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise enjoyable foods for boring salads, unsavory cottage cheese or the same apple or banana every day.  Adding variety to your diet is essential in maintaining a healthy well-rounded diet that will keep you on the right track.

 

flavorful salad

Image via Flickr by Freddy

So often people fall into the boring trap when “eating healthy” and end up falling off the wagon.  There are tons of colorful and flavorful options of fruits, nuts, yogurt and vegetables sure to keep you enjoying your healthy plan.

Here are just 5 of the many options you can add to diversify your diet and enhance the flavor while eliminating the bore:

 

  1. Yogurt – participants in a study done by everydayhealth.com lost a surprising amount of weight by simply incorporating yogurt. Worth noting, plain Greek yogurt has 80 calories per 5 oz. serving. (This tasty treat has the added bonus of energy-enhancing B vitamins and are high in protein!)
  2. Pumpkin Seeds – these crunchy snacks are packed with Magnesium, which helps keep your energy and metabolism nice and high. A perfect mid-day pick-you-up!
  3. Cherries – these help with muscle inflammation and pain, so when you’re feeling the burn after a hard workout, pop a cherry. (Tip: dice cherries into plain yogurt to kick up the flavor factor.)
  4. Edamame – these baby soybeans are iron powerhouses, which means improved brain function. Among 113 women tested in a Pennsylvania State University study, even mild iron deficiency. produced a case of “where the eff are my keys?” When iron levels were revived, test scores improved.
  5. Apples – according to The Huffington Post, apples help with cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, breast cancer prevention and general life span extension!

 

Next time you pack that plain Jane salad for work add some pumpkin seeds and Edamame to pack in the nutrients while adding a tasty edge.

What other foods have you added to your diet that nix the boring and make eating healthy fun?  Share with us!

 

– Kate Milde, Contributing Writer