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Sugars, whether natural or artificial, are found in some form or another in the foods we consume. Excessive consumption can lead to serious health problems, from obesity to diabetes; researchers have also determined a sugar-related connection to cancer.
According to nutritionist Samuel Oentoro, foods with a glycemic index below 70 – indicating how quickly they are digested and absorbed – are good for maintaining stable blood-sugar levels.
“Since sugar is a carbohydrate, pick foods with low sugar contents,” he said recently, recommending consumption of three portions of vegetables and six portions of fruit daily.
“It is better if the fruits are half-ripe because they are less sweet”.
He advised against consuming white rice, white sugar, brown sugar and white bread, as well as sugary soft drinks, bottled teas, cheese, butter and santan (coconut milk).
Safer alternatives are eating unhusked rice (known locally as “red” rice) or potatoes with their skins. He said people would eventually enjoy them as an alternative to white rice if they were determined to live healthier.
Sugar control is not only about our main meals, but curbing a sweet tooth for cakes and cookies, unless they are sugar-free. One place offering such treats is The Baked Goods, a cute corner bakery located at the intersection of Jl. Sabang and Jl. Kebon Sirih in Central Jakarta.
Jana Parengkuan and her husband Erwin opened the bakery in November last year, but only recently added sugar-free delicacies to the menu.
“It never occurred to me to make diabetic snacks. My concern began after some diabetic customers were disappointed that we didn’t sell special snacks for them,” Jana said at a media gathering, where Samuel also was a speaker.
The healthier options are carrot and oat cranberry cakes, and oatmeal, lemon poppyseed and dark chocolate with cashew cookies.
It was a process of trial and error for Jana, who substituted wheat flour and skimmed milk for white flour and whole milk.
“My children tasted the cookies and cakes before they hit the shop and they simply loved them,” said the 30-something mother of four.
Diabetics are advised to only eat snacks consisting of 250-275 kilocalories (kcal) per day and Jana confirmed that the nutritional content of her cakes was within these limits.
The carrot cake, made of wheat flour, carrots, olive oil and diabetic sweetener, contains 200 kcal per 117 gram, while the oat cranberry cake, made of wheat flour, cranberries, olive oil and diabetic sweetener, contains 266 kcal per 117 gram.
The lowest calories are found in the lemon poppyseed cookies. Made of wheat flour, real lemon juice and zest, poppy seeds and diabetic sweetener, one cookie contains 14.3 kcal.
Jana added that for seven jars of cookies — each containing 21 pieces — she only uses one to two eggs. “Imagine if you make a lapis legit (Indonesian layer cake), you need at least 40 yolks,” she said.
— All photos courtesy of The Baked Goods