The sugar quandry
In my last post I came down pretty hard on refined white flour. I was referring to the silky white wheat flour that bakers love to use in cakes and cookies. That’s because upon contact with the acid in our stomachs, refined flour breaks down quickly into the sugar our body uses for energy.
What’s more, refined flour likes to hang out in baked foods with ordinary sugar. Thanks to refined flour plus added sugar, our favorite cakes, cookies and biscuits deliver sugar to our blood stream in double doses.
Defending against sugar
Our bodies have systems that are meant to keep our blood sugar levels on an even keel. But when we eat too many foods with refined white flour and sugar, sugar over-whelms our body’s defenses. Too much sugar out of control can lead to diabetes and other serious health problems.
Does that mean if we want to preserve our health we have to give up on refined flour completely? My answer is not necessarily. We just have to bake a little smarter. If we put refined flour under guard, we can help our body chemistry keep blood-sugar levels in the normal range.
We control the ill effects from refined flour by eating other foods at the same time that make flour harder to digest. Healthy fats slow down digestion of refined flour.
Other complex starches also do the trick, like those found in whole-grain flours and sweet potatoes.
We can also keep the sugar content down by avoiding plain white, granulated sugar. Honey, maple syrup, or coconut palm sugar are natural sweeteners that provide some nutrition along with their sugar fix. Using these substitutes often means we can get more with less.
And finally, we can invite protein into the mix, a nutrient that is much slower to digest than refined flour or sugar. Having a high-protein glass of milk or some yogurt or cheese with a sweet dessert can slow the rate that sugar is absorbed into the blood stream. No more sugar spikes!
A healthier biscuit recipe
Our sweet potato scones come with an army of guards that protect us from blood-sugar spikes. Can you spot them?
But there’s still enough refined flour to provide the flaky tenderness we want in a scone. Natural sugar from the sweet potato is boosted with a little maple syrup to make these biscuits a real treat. I serve them with a simple salad and bowls of steaming homemade soup with tomatoes from my garden.
Sweet potato scones
makes 12 biscuits
- ¾ cup sweet potato ( 1 medium potato boiled till soft, skinned, mashed and measured)
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ cup unsweetened low-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil… or melted butter, if you must
- If you don’t already have left-over sweet potato in the fridge, boil, peel and mash one, and set it aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 425°F and spray baking sheet with cooking oil.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and sift them together or give them a whiz in your food processor. This adds air to the mix for fluffier biscuits.
- Mix wet ingredients with the mashed potato in a medium bowl, until the batter is smooth.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones in the large bowl and stir just until the dough forms a soft ball. The less you handle the dough, the flakier the biscuits.
- Turn dough out onto floured parchment paper (to protect the counter).
- Roll or pat gently into a round circle, ¾-inches thick.
- Using a round 2-inch cookie cutter dusted with flour, cut the dough into biscuits and transfer them to the baking sheet.
- Roll remaining dough into a ball and pat it again into a round circle ¾-inches thick. Cut more biscuits. Repeat until all the dough is used, about 12 biscuits.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are a light golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition for 1 scone: 124 Cal, 4 g fat, 19 g carbs (of which 3.7 g are sugar), 1 g fiber, 3.3 g protein, 321 mg sodium. Good source of iron, calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins A, C and B.
If you’re interested in other recipes starring sweet potato, enter the term in the search box at the top of the blog. Vinny has soups, pancakes, fries, mains, and cookies you can try.
- Wheat and the glycemic index… loaded question Why a food’s glycemic load is a better indication of its risk of causing blood-sugar spikes than the glycemic index.
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- Sweet potato pancakes Learn why sweet potato is ranked the most nutritious of all veggies, and make your sweety some pancakes for Valentines Day.