You may have heard that the new USDA Dietary Guidelines were released at the end of last year. There was a bit of a hub-bub in the nutrition and medical community over what was and wasn't included. One thing that was included that I am a big fan of is the recommendation to limit added sugars to 10% of your calorie intake.
Added sugar does not include the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit or milk. It does include any kind of sweetener added to food (table sugar/sucrose, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.).
If you eat mostly whole foods and limit your intake of processed foods, it's easier to limit your added sugar intake. With processed foods you have to read ingredient lists carefully. At least until (hopefully) the new recommendations cause food labels to include an "added sugar" category.
So what does an intake of 10% of your calories look like? Well, let's say your daily caloric intake is 1800 calories, which would allow you 180 calories from added sugars, or 45 grams of sugar. About 3 1/2 tablespoons, or a little over 11 teaspoons, of sugar provide 45 grams per day. That's not impossible!
I've found that in most recipes the sugar you add can be halved without the end product losing its sweetness. Here's a recipe where I was able to reduce the sugar from 1 cup to only 1/3 cup, and it was still a huge hit! Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Blueberry Coconut Coffee Cake
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c almond flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 c honey
3 c blueberries
~1/2-1 c milk
4 tsp dark brown sugar
4 T shredded coconut
4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix the ingredients for the topping together and set aside.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl whisk yogurt, honey, and eggs together until well mixed. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix.
Add milk little by little as you mix until batter is a pourable consistency (similar to muffin batter). Fold in majority of the blueberries, leave some for the topping.
Pour into pre-greased 9"x13" baking dish. Sprinkle extra blueberries and topping on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I am a huge fan of comfort food, especially in the winter. One of my favorite easy, go-to comfort foods is Mac & Cheese. There's just something about short, cold days that screams cheesy, starchy goodness. And what's easier than reaching for a box of Kraft, am I right?
I usually consider Mac & Cheese a rare indulgence. But the recipe I have for you today only feels like an indulgence. The butternut squash makes the dish deliciously creamy and it's packed full of vitamin A and potassium (which most people don't get enough of).
The recipe is also super low maintenance. Although there's a decent amount of cooking time, I probably spent a total of 15 minutes actually in the kitchen. It makes about 4 servings, each serving is 325 calories with 15 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat.
Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese
2 cups whole wheat pasta, uncooked*
1 small butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons shredded cheese of your choice
Cook the pasta per box directions. (I recommend doing this closer to the end so it doesn't sit for too long and get stuck together.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds and the stringy stuff with the seeds. Brush the tops of each half with 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil each. Roast the squash until it's soft (about 40 minutes depending on the size of the squash and your oven).
Heat the other tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the onion. Cook on very low heat for about 20 minutes until caramelized.
Once the squash and onion are done, place both in a food processor with the milk and puree. Pour the pureed sauce into a large bowl and mix in the 1/2 cup of cheese. You may need to reheat the sauce before you mix in the cheese to get it warm enough to melt the cheese.
Once the cheese is mixed into the sauce, mix in the cooked pasta.
Spoon evenly into 4 separate bowls and sprinkle a 1/2 tablespoon of cheese on top of each.
*The whole wheat pasta could easily be replaced with gluten free pasta if you prefer. Don't feel like you have to use macaroni elbows either. I was out when I made it this week, so I substituted rotini pasta and it worked just as well.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.