Posts in Science
The Great Battle Against Artificial Sweeteners

Lately I've been hearing this phrase a lot: "But you know, those artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar. You might as well just eat the real stuff."

Upon hearing this, several things immediately race through my mind:

1. Uh, of course you shouldn't eat a ton of artificial sweeteners. Who thought they were good for you in the first place? (I know, I know, probably the makers of artificial sweeteners)

2. What?! Did you just justify eating sugar by saying that artificial sweeteners are bad for you? Hold up, we need to talk about what SUGAR does in your body...

3. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down. We need to debunk a few myths.

So today I'd like to talk about some of the common fears about artificial sweeteners and perhaps explain what all the confusion is about. Wish me luck.

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An Overview of Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are confusing. They have weird names and are metabolized (broken down) by the body into components whose names we're not familiar with. That makes them scary. So, in anticipation of an upcoming post about the War on Artificial Sweeteners, let's review the current artificial sweeteners on the market today.

Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that you increase your consumption of artificial sweeteners. Nor am I advocating or endorsing one sweetener over another. My aim here is simply to provide scientific answers to some of the common concerns I often encounter. These are facts; not my opinions (although I understand the my unintentional bias is likely found). You will find the sources I cited with links throughout.

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The Tale of a Soda Pop

Carbs, glorious carbs!

A couple of weeks ago we talked about what happened as a reaction to the low-fat craze of the late 20th century: food manufacturers started taking fat out of all of their product and instead replaced it with sugar. What we didn't discuss is why this is such a big deal.

I'd like to walk you through a little of the physiology of what happens in our bodies when we consume sugar. Now before you get too concerned, remember that I'm a big fan of some types of carbohydrates (i.e. complex carbs that contain fiber). However, it's important to note that not all carbs are created equal. Some are made to fuel your body while other should only be enjoyed once in a while.

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A Butternut Sonnet (or Three)

As the autumn leaves set fire to the sky
the garden now begins to fade away.
A tale that tells of summer drawing nigh,
kids back in school, no longer out to play.

Amongst the dying vines of summertime
fall and winter treasures speckle the earth.
The vision of these is simply sublime;
it's hard for me to even count their worth.

Pumpkins! Fall's best-known squash for making pie.
Green acorn squash! Less known, but oh! So pretty!
But of all the squash, you I can't deny;
Butternut, to you I sing this diddy.

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Pickles, Sauerkraut, & Preservation

If cooking is a giant chemistry experiment, fermentation is a lesson in biology. Preservation is a happy marriage of these two sciences.

Lately, between the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) basket we purchased for the summer (check out Miller Farms if you live in Northern Colorado!) and a very generous co-worker (THANK YOU, Tracy!), we have almost too many veggies to eat.

 In an effort to avoid letting any of our amazing veggies go to waste, I've been dabbling in the art of food preservation. Because I don't have any canning equipment (or any room to store it if I did), the two main experiments I've been conducting are pickling and fermentation.

I'm excited to share two recipes with you today (Counter-Top Pickles and Fermented Sauerkraut) to briefly explain the difference between the two and give you an easy (and yummy!) chance to try your own hand at food preservation.

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Probiotics & Yogurt Parfaits

Today we're going to talk about germs.

Or rather, we're going to talk about yeast and bacteria.

These delightful little organisms are often thought of in a less-than-happy light. Yeast infection. Strep throat. Need I say more?

But, as it turns out, these tiny creatures live in, on, and all around us -- in peace and harmony most of the time. Maybe you've heard of this? Commercially, these bacteria go by the popular name probiotics.

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