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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BBQ Sauce, Sugar and Bob...



Bob from The Biggest Loser

I was in Maine for the 4th of July weekend. I had a wonderful time with my family. Such has not always been the case. I was born and raised in a small town in Washington state. Despite the fact I have two sisters, my strongest memories were of living alone with my mother and father from the age of 5 on and eating a lot of ice cream.

I was a boy with hips. Enough said.

My sister, Joy, fled home when I was young and my sister, Pam, got hitched when she was very young and moved to the wasteland known as Yakima, Washington (the town where Raymond Carver killed himself).

Which left me with my parents. My Mother died almost 2 years ago. She was a volatile, loving and ultimately defeated woman. She had a terrible childhood and never recovered. When she'd get drunk she'd ramble on about her youth and most often I had to cover my ears. Her stories would have made Tennessee William's toes curl. The fact she survived in the way she did shocked me.

But like all those who have found humor in tragedy, she had a wonderfully lacerating wit and was smart as a whip. She knew bullshit when she heard it and she always spoke her mind. Although she craved friendship, people were scared of her. She was needy and mean, all at the same time. A walking wound. Looking for love and acceptance from everyone, except from herself.

She did have great hands, though. Soft, like rose pedals, with tiny nails dented in the center from years of housework and cooking.

I don't understand gay men who fawn over their mothers. Italian gay men are particularily annoying. They can't take a shit without their mothers permission. Even when they're middle-aged. Respect my ass. Control is more like it. I'll take my manic depressive mother any day of the week over theirs.

I don't have warm and fuzzy memories of her. I try to recover those memories but it's difficult. I oscillate between memories of her sitting alone in a dark room with a blue ice pack over her face, popping pills and fighting a horrid migraine with the time we saw Airport 75 and screamed at the top of our lungs when the fake looking dummy was sucked out of the cockpit when the plane hit.

And I wonder why I'm gay.

She was dynamic, amazing and downright scary. My father was (and still is) elusive yet distantly compassionate. He never calls and never writes me despite my mother's death. We were not instilled with a strong sense of a family connection, but you'd never know this from my sister, Joy. She's hell bent on making sure we all stay in touch. At first I found her neediness for family exhausting and self-defeating, but she was right to stay persisent. Having a truly extended family is pretty great. Thanks, Joy Lyn.

But one thing I did notice when I was in Maine was how most of my family just loves sugar. I'm not talking the normal sugar overload from the homemade desserts (which are meant as a special treat), but in the food which was considered the main meal.

Sugar was in everything. In the sauces on the ribs, in the sausages, in the potato salad and in much of the soft drinks and chips we ate. Sugar, sugar, sugar - and one of the biggest culprits was the dreaded HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP sweetener. What is high-fructose corn syrup?

It is a man-made sweetener that has slowly and surely been replacing old-fashioned sugar and become the primary ingredient in processed American foods. High-fructose corn syrup provides the zippy sweet to Coke, Pepsi and Snapple iced tea, as well as many commercial yogurts and even hides inside Chips Ahoy cookies, Wonder bread and many, many salad dressings and bottled BBQ sauces.

For the party, this is how the ribs were made: they were bought at the store, plucked out of their packet, thrown on the grill, cooked to the point of being almost done, then drenched in bottle after bottle of the most popular BBQ sauce on the market: Bull's-eye BBQ sauce, then served.

No reason for the shirtless Bob I really need a reason?

Bull's-eye has, per 2 tablespoons, 63 calories, 302 mg. of sodium, 15.2g. carbohydrates and 11.5g. of sugar. Each rib had at least 20 tablespoons her rib and each person at the party at 2-6 ribs (some of the bigger people 8 ribs). For 2 ribs with a basic slathering of Bull's-Eye BBQ sauce, the totals would be:
  • 1,260 calories
  • 6,040mg. sodium
  • 304g. carbohydrates
  • 230g. sugar
This is not counting the calories in the meat itself or any additional sides.

The basic total number of calories people are recommended to consume each day is 2,000, or, 1,500 if you are looking to drop weight. The number can go up to 2,500 if you are very athletic and need to keep up your energy.

The daily allowance of sodium is 2,500mg and the daily allowance of sugar is roughly 40g.

2 ribs for one meal with no sides or liquids (other than water, tea or coffee) shoots you over the moon with sugar, salt and carbs and allows only 600 calories for the day if you are a moderately-active person.

Most people at the party ate 4 ribs each.

This nutritional breakdown for this BBQ sauce is pretty much similar to all the most popular supermarket brands - from Hunt's to KC Masterpiece to Jack Daniel's. There is a reason you love the taste of these. It is because they are loaded with the kind of crap you want to eat and eat and can't stop eating. It's a chain reaction. Eating sugar and salt makes you want more sugar and salt so you can't_stop.

Why should you give a shit? Do you really have to concern yourself? Also, is the hype over high-fructose corn syrup true?

And how does this affect mood?

Do you know how the 50 year old Oxyclean dude died? The kinda hot bear who was always yelling at the camera? ?

Heart disease.

Why? Because he was fat. Why? Because he ate bottled BBQ sauces and didn't bother to get on a treadmill.

He was 50.


And he died from our nation's #1 killer, HEART DISEASE which is, in almost all cases, PREVENTABLE by EXERCISING AND PUTTING CRAP FOOD AWAY.

If you don't want to age feeling strong and well, stop reading now. You may age, but you'll feel like shit. Your body will hurt, you'll have injuries, you will be taking more pills than you ever imagined and you'll be very, very depressed and MOODY.

It's no secret anymore moodiness and lack of energy is related to what we eat and blood sugar levels, so of course, this directly affects our mood.

Scientific study after scientific study has shown the wear and tear on a person's body when they eat refined sugars year after year. The cells in your body actually change and will not resist insulin's effects (very high sugar levels in the body are toxic to your liver, and it responds by creating massive amounts of insulin), thus, you are creating a toxic by eating what you should not eat and also defeating the very cells which need to fight it off.

What is the result of this process?

Heart Disease.

Premature Death.

Talk about a mood killer.

And what is all the fuss about high-fructose corn syrup? It the fuss legit?

In recent years, studies have shown the human body metabolizes fructose, the sweetest of the natural sugars, in a way that may promote weight gain. Specifically, fructose does not prompt the production of certain hormones that help regulate appetite and fat storage, and it produces elevated levels of triglycerides that researchers have linked to an increased risk of heart disease.

The high-fructose corn syrup used in sodas and other sweetened drinks consists of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, very similar to white sugar, which is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. The form of high-fructose corn syrup used in other products like breads, jams and yogurt — 42 percent fructose and 58 percent glucose — is actually lower in fructose than white sugar.

The reason it's been demonized, it appears, is because it's 'man-made.' Natural-foods enthusiasts and many nutritionists believe the foods humans have been consuming for thousands of years are better handled by our bodies than many of the modern and chemically derived concoctions introduced into the food supply since the early 30's.

I agree it's always better for us to eat natural foods versus man-made, and science is proving this. But still, some of the hysteria over HFCS is over the top. While it's not terrible for you to eat, it's not great either. If you are going to eat sugar (which, many, many studies have show, you don't actually need), then eat the stuff via Mother Nature.

What is this all coming down to?

It comes down to a calorie is a calorie is a calorie -- just like Bob and Jillian of the truly sublime reality TV show The Biggest Loser say (a show I came to late but now am a pretty rabid fan of). No matter what kind of smoke screen you read about, the trick here is to do the following when you eat.

Limit your calories.

You do this by...

Limiting your sugar.

You do this by...

Limiting your eating of processed foods which have LOTS of calories.


Which is why when I saw my family and friends stuffing their faces with calorie after calorie, I kept thinking, "This is how I gained 20 pounds and how I've been losing it."

I was overeating like most of America. And while I don't want to necessarily stop eating ribs in the summer, I MUST for my HEALTH and my AGING BODY cut out the heart-attack inducing sauces, keep on exercising 5 to 6 days a week and enjoy my life.


Here it is:

Try this at home! Love yourself, love your body, age well, stop eating CRAP. This is a mix of some Cooks Illustrated, some Martha, some Rick Bayless and others I've cooked over the years.

What you'll need:
  • 2 onions, diced small
  • Scant 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups ketchup, no salt
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Frank's Hot Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons hot chili powder
Mix the finely minced onion, water, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire and dry mustard, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper in a bowl and put aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add garlic and chili powder. Cook a minute. Slowly mix in above ingredients and bring to a rapid biol, reduce the heat and cook over a low flame for 30 minutes until thick.

You can easily triple this recipe for more sauce as needed. Will keep for a week in the fridge!


Your Food Therapist

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  1. Hey, thanks for the healthy sauce..I'll pass it on to the husband :) I love you so much! Yes, I do try to keep the family moving along, together.....for whatever crazy reason, it's always mattered to me that we are a family....and a big family now! Love to all our family and friends and thanks to you for trying to keep us all healthy and in a good mood :P

  2. Scary and so, so true. The agri-business industrial complex knows exactly what it’s doing. It's creating a nation of addicts; processed food junkies. Solutions are simple but boring: exercise, a reduction in calories consumed, eating and cooking with whole, natural foods whenever possible. It’s that simple folks. Great post, Mike