About a month ago I started a science experiment; a sugar science experiment to be exact.
In one of my former lives I was a science teacher. I spent my days teaching 7th and 8th students about chemistry, biology, geology, how not to start a fire in the science lab, and the scientific method.
I have a few funny stories from my days spent with 135 13 and 14 year olds. Like the time one of my students attempted to hurdle his lab bench, but didn't take into account his low hanging pants and his lack of an NBA like vertical jump. I think he thought he was the next Michael Jordan. You could see it in his eyes before he launched himself into the air. That confidence only lasted for a millisecond, crashing to the ground as he did like a tumbleweed with his pants caught in the lab bench. It still makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it. I wonder what he is doing 23 years later? Is he a basketball star?
Do you all remember the scientific method from junior high? Do you even remember the name of your science teacher? I hope my students remember me, but doubt that they do.
I will give you few clues about the scientific method: it has 5 steps, includes a hypothesis, and is the basic tenet of how to conduct an experiment.
Just in case you are old like me and can not remember what you learned 30 years ago, here is a review.
The Scientific Method:
- Make an observation.
- Ask a question.
- Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation.
- Make a prediction based on the hypothesis.
- Test the prediction.
- Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions.
As I was contemplating my family's sugar habits after a very indulgent holiday season I asked myself a few questions:
Why is their so much sugar in breakfast breads, cookies, and cakes?
Do all of these recipes need that much sugar?
Wouldn't it be great if I could reduce the sugar by 50% in our favorite recipes?
Would my kids notice a difference?
I also made a few predictions:
If I could successfully remove 50% of the sugar from our favorite recipes then my daughter and I (who both have Fructose Malabsorption) could enjoy these treats more often.
I also had my doubts. I predicted my science experiment would be a total flop. The banana bread and chocolate chip cookies that are staples in our house would have a horrible taste and the texture would be different....meaning the kids would notice I had made a recipe change.
Let's apply the scientific method to my sugar experiment.
- Make an observation: My kids, let's be honest me, too, adore baked goods! We love baking together. It is one of the ways I can get my preteen and teenage children to interact me. It truly is like I am dangling the golden carrot in front of their face. But, it's actually a cookie, brownie or breakfast bread. "Kids, if you come and bake with me we can have a special afternoon treat." This addiction is hard when you have Fructose Malabsorption and are limited to 15 grams of fructose per day. We know that 1 tablespoon of sugar has 12 grams of sugar in it. That means there are 6 grams of fructose in each tablespoon of sugar. That is a lot of fructose when a chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for 1.5 cups of sugar. The odds are stacked against me here. I love to indulge in baked treats, but I need to be so careful.
- Ask a question: Could I the reduce the amount of sugar in our favorite beloved recipes and still like them and will my kids notice?
- Form a hypothesis, or testable explanation: If I remove 1/2 of the sugar in our favorite recipes like: banana bread, homemade ice cream, chocolate cake, pumpkin bread and cookies will my family notice the missing sugar? Well, this was certainly a reason to start baking, and luring my kids into the kitchen to bake with me. Are you curious how I duped them? I actually altered the recipe card before we baked together...so sneaky of me.
- Make a prediction based on the hypothesis: They will totally notice the difference! They will be able to taste the lack of sugar.
- Test the prediction: First sugar experiment: bake banana bread. Result: no comment. Second sugar experiment: make homemade chocolate chip ice cream. Result: no comment. Third sugar experiment: bake chocolate chip cookies. Result: no comment. You get the idea..no comment, yes no one even mentioned a difference in taste or texture. They loved it all and devoured it all!
- Iterate: use the results to make new hypotheses or predictions: My kids have truly no idea that their favorite treats are actually healthier and missing 50% of the sugar. WOW!
My new hypotheses or predictions based on my very scientific sugar experiment include:
What if I remove most of the sugar in stir fry recipes or our favorite crock pot meals? I am predicting my children will have no clue their is a change based on my qualitative and quantitative data (their lack of comments).
Why didn't I think of this sooner?
And, what should I bake next?
Share with me your favorite recipes. Let's all dive into this sugar experiment concept.
Any professional bakers out there?
Can you tell me why recipes call for so much sugar?
Is it our American taste buds?
Are we all addicted to overly sweet, sugar soaked treats?
On our Families Balancing Fructose website I have a few of our favorite treat recipes listed. In these recipes I have not reduced the sugar amount. If you choose to try them, try using 1/2 of the recommended sugar and let me know if you taste a difference.
On the Families Balancing Fructose blog I explore a few other sugar topics: