My daughter is 12, has Fructose Malabsorption and recently was asked to go with her friend to their cabin. She was super excited, but also very anxious at the same time. Three days, two nights away from home at a lake with a good friend up in the Northwoods sounds magical when you are 12. But, when you have Fructose Malabsorption food fears creep into your thoughts and elation quickly becomes apprehension. You can quickly spiral and decline into full on angst!
What am I going to eat?
How will I know the food is safe if we go out to eat?
What if I get an upset tummy?
This was my daughter last week. She was thrilled to be asked, and so scared at the same time.
But, we have been dealing with Fructose Malabsorption for 7 years. We have tackled preschool picnics, 1st grade Valentine's parties, hockey banquets, sleepovers and school carnivals. 2 nights away at a cabin-no big deal-we got this!!!
We packed glucose tablets, shopped for safe snacks, and decided we would make a special treat that we know is safe and low in sugar. We decided to make puppy chow AKA muddy buddies. Every kid loves puppy chow and the more I thought about it the more I realized it would make a great recipe for my latest sugar experiment (see below).
Recently I have been experimenting with reducing the sugar in every recipe by 1/2. Here is an excerpt from my very scientific study and resulting blog: 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!
So why not try this hypothesis with puppy chow? I knew I could reduce the sugar in the chocolate chips by purchasing extra dark chocolate chips. My local co-up sells real peanut butter without sugar-that's a win! And, why do puppy chow recipes call for 1.5 cups powdered sugar? That's a gut bomb waiting to happen. Basically, you just need the powdered sugar to coat the cereal squares. We reduced the powdered sugar to 1/2 cup.
Basic Puppy Chow Recipe:
In a large bowl microwave 1 cup dark chocolate chips on low in small increments until chips are melted.
Add 1/2 cup no sugar peanut butter and stir.
Stir in 9 cups Corn Chex.
Add this mixture to a large ziploc bag, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, seal the bag and shake it.
Long story, short...not really....I like to give you all of the details. The puppy chow was a success!!! No one noticed the lack of sugar, in fact they devoured it.
***Next time I am going to try straight up unsweetened dark baking chocolate-a great suggestion by my good friend who is a dietitian. This would reduce the sugar amount even more!