By Shihan Mary Bolz
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctoral Fellow, FBU
Master Martial Arts Instructor
Here we are again, it is Halloween time! That means trick or treaters coming to your door. It can be a lot of fun for both the givers and the receivers. Now, we all know that the traditional, conventional treats that are given really are not healthy. In fact, they are like little “time bombs” that don’t explode immediately, but they take a toll on your health a little at a time. Sometimes we see that “toll” sooner than later, even, resulting in very young children with an obesity problem.
Let’s take a look at what is in most conventional, commercial candies. There is always a lot of sugar and/or sugar-disguised things like high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, cane sugar, raw cane sugar, plain corn syrup, dextrose, malto dextrin, etc. These are all ways to cover up the fearful word “sugar” so that the companies ensure you get the sugar, which makes you crave their product even more and yet make you feel better that there is no “sugar in it. All of these, including brown sugar, are refined, simple sugar.
Then there is the saturated fat and oil category. To make you feel like the product is really not bad, they put in no animal fat. But beware! Look for hydrogenated vegetable oils, palm kernel oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, etc. As long as vegetable oil is hydrogenated, it is just as bad for you as or even worse than animal fat. Hydrogenating makes the vegetable oil become a saturated fat. This increases shelf life of the oil, makes it firmer and easier to use. But, it is also not good for us. As you know, there may also be food coloring and preservatives added to further make the product’s shelf life longer. You are probably already aware of how food coloring, preservatives and sugar have been linked to playing a role in ADHD and ADD in children.
Adding insult to injury, the company will add extra “vitamins” and “minerals” which are not in the best form, many times being synthetic. This seems to calm the mind of the parents, thinking that there is at least something in there good for the children. However, these substances are also individual constituents and chemicals that are not balanced and are even more unbalancing when they are synthetically derived.
The good news is that there are alternatives out there, you just have to search for them and demand that grocery stores and health food stores carry them. There are actually candies that use brown rice syrup instead of the simple sugars for sweetener. Brown rice syrup is malted whole, brown rice, which is still 60% a complex carbohydrate instead of a 100% simple sugar which gives people highs and lows in their blood sugar. Most of these kinds of candies would come under the heading of “Macrobiotic” quality products. You can ask for that section at your local health food store.
More good news! Here are some substitutes for the “bad” ingredients that you can use in some chocolate chip cookies you could make for your trick or treaters:
Instead of sugar, use brown rice syrup.
Instead of white flour, use 1/3 brown rice flour, 1/3 whole wheat flour, and 1/3 unbleached white flour.
Instead of butter or margarine, use a tablespoon of un-hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Instead of eggs use tofu.
Use a good quality of sea salt, not Morton’s, which has a lot of other ingredients in it that are unwanted.
Use a baking soda that has no aluminum.
For the chocolate chips use grain sweetened chocolate chips by Sunspire. These are
actually available at most Raley’s supermarkets anywhere and at Acupuncture Plus in
Vacaville. Use a good quality of vanilla flavoring, without additives or alcohol. Experiment with a batch of these and enjoy! You will also take delight in knowing they are not unhealthy. Actually, there are many health benefits in such a recipe as this. You have whole grains and a good quality of chocolate with its natural antioxidants, which has not been adulterated with lots of processed sugar and fat. Let the kids try it and don’t tell them it’s healthy! Happy Halloween!