Friday, September 13, 2013

Vanilla Extract

There are many health benefits to going sugar-free. But if you deal with hypoglycemia or blood sugar issues, leaving sugar in the dust can be extra, extra helpful. How do I know? Because I did it.

The problem with giving up sugar is that people with hypoglycemia tend to be HIGHLY addicted to sugar. Because you can't keep that blood sugar stable and you get light-headed/faint if you don't eat, you end up eating "quick sugar" all the time to spike it back up. (Anyone who has known me and my sweet tooth since I was a kid is nodding their head right now... it all makes sense, right?)

What I didn't know was that eating quick sugar actually causes worse sugar lows and more dependence on sugar... the cycle continues...

So when I found a doctor who addressed my nutrition, this had to change. And I am so glad it did! I am so much more stable and have way more energy throughout the day. Avoiding sugar has particularly been helpful in the mornings.

As you can imagine, giving up sugar was really hard for me. I have been eating it (a lot of it) my whole life. My body figured out how to live without it and was thanking me... but my taste buds still want sweet stuff (not as MUCH sweet stuff, but I still crave sweetness). So I found natural sweeteners like agave nectar, coconut sugar, and stevia, which are low on the glycemic index, and started baking and collecting recipes.

Now, if I eat something sweet, it is something I have made myself. Yes, this has been worth it for me. So don't diss the homemade ketchup that I bring to nearly every summer picnic. I am willing to give up sugar, but not ketchup, even if that means I have to make it myself. :)

And give me some grace for making my own vanilla extract. The stuff in the store made with alcohol has sugar to tone down the alcohol taste. So I found this recipe that doesn't use alcohol and therefore doesn't need added sugar.

It is soooooo good!

Have you ever tasted a vanilla extract that wasn't made with alcohol? It's really, really vanilla-y and good. I use Amy Green's recipe from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and there are only two ingredients:

 vegetable glycerine

and vanilla beans.

One batch in this bottle takes six weeks to steep, and then it's read to use. 

From that bottle, I get 16 ounces of vanilla which I transfer to little bottles. Sixteen ounces is enough that I don't have to make it again for months, and for people who don't bake too often I imagine it would last at least a year.

We all have our own little reasons for making certain things homemade. Now you know why (and how) I make vanilla! Of course, there is the health bonus for my husband and son, too. :)

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