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"There is nothing like family to move you. In success and failure. We live and breathe for our family, and would do anything for them. Literally. Even fail. So every little success is amplified. It's hard to say, but no matter what happens we have accomplished something by making this effort" - Liz Butcher, Butcher's Bunches Handcrafted Preserves.
Local Lovin': Kenneth & Liz Butcher from Butcher's Bunches
From the moment I had my first taste and after hearing her story, I fell in love with Liz Butcher's fresh fruit jams. Nothing motivates us more to help people than starting with those in our own families.
Liz gets it too. Liz, a local food maker in Utah, started her company to support her own and her son's, Kenneth well-being. There are tons of jam and jelly companies out there, but few are produced the way Butcher's Bunches is. Made with lots of love, and no added sugars, dyes or artificial sweeteners, she makes jams that kids and adults can feel good about.
Personally, I'm obsessed with their Mint- Lemonade, Berrylicious, the Balsamic Glaze and the Guava (and I find it hard to like Guava anything, but this jam is so BOMB!). Everything has a good kick, and it's all from real foods and spices. NO FAKE stuff! Thank you, Liz, Kenneth and the whole Bunches fam.
Of all the fads that get under my skin, it would be the no-carb, no-sugar and sugar-free craze that does it the most. The entire fad stems from a basic misunderstanding in food, something we can all relate to in this country. It's all mess and it's hard to find a place to start but here goes...
It's impossible to Sustain Sugar-Free
According to some in the health field, I probably "shouldn't" be telling you this, but...
It's natural for our bodies to ask for sugar. And we need sugar.
When we eat any kinds of foods, foods will be converted into blood sugars necessary to feed our brains, our muscles and the majority of the cells in our bodies. There's really no "escaping it" and there's no reason to be scared of sugar like the food industry want us to be.
But because we have diseases like diabetes that are heavily affected by too much sugar in the blood, we blame sugars when the real issue in diseases like diabetes is insulin resistance. (Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that allows our bodies to absorb sugar, also known as glucose from foods). Insulin helps keeps our blood sugar level from getting too high, and yes, the sugars we eat affect how much insulin our bodies pump out.
Whether you go for a meaty, meat-free, gluten-free and/or mostly vegan diet, your body will raise its blood sugars. The trick is in keeping blood sugars in control and within a healthy range.
So what kind of sugars are ok?
From a marketing perspective, food companies will take out real sugar in packaged foods and replace it with other sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, cyclamates, shit we can't pronounce, etc... to claim it's "sugar-free" and because it's cheaper to produce than real sugar. Let's be real. Food production is mostly about the money, not our health. These artificial sweeteners are addictive, over-excite and kill our brain cells and have been linked to diseases like cancer, obesity, and autism among tons of others.
Like I mentioned before, if we're focusing on a plant-based diet or eating more veggies for the most part, then even the veggies we eat will raise our blood sugar. And we need it, so make sure the foods you eat are good quality. Whether they are starchy or not, once veggies are digested and absorbed, it will affect your blood sugar levels. Yes, veggies will raise our blood sugar, but will also deliver fiber (which helps stabilize sugar levels), water and a slew of other nutrients.
Feel good knowing you can get good for you sugars from fresh veggies, fresh low-sugar fruits, dried fruits, nuts, legumes, and grains like rice. Just make sure they're in their most natural states. Nothing packaged unless you can trust the company that packaged it for you. I wish more health educators and nutritionists would teach this to their clients. It would save us all a lot of headache to understand these nutrition basics.
Low sugar fruits include green apples, berries, kiwis, lemons, limes, kumquats, pomegranates, and grapefruit.
What sugars you can enjoy: stevia, coconut nectar, raw honey, dates, and from spices like ginger, clove, and cinnamon.
What sugars to avoid: the refined, totally processed junk like high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, aspartame, sucrose, lactose, malt syrup, fruit juice, cane juice, any white sugar, Splenda, and Agave (I know it's natural, but it raises blood sugars too fast, creating an inflammatory response.) Eat these sparingly or not at all if you're controlling your sugars!
How to Pick Foods with Good Quality Sugars
1. Go natural - Eat natural foods like fruits and veggies first. These are the best foods because of the fiber and other nutrients. Fiber helps normalize blood sugar levels. Antioxidants in fruit help reduce inflammation.
2. Buy local- there are tons of local food purveyors that don't add added sugars to their products. One of my favorites is Butcher's Bunches. The company started from a mother's desire to not feed her son any foods with added sugars or artificial sweeteners because of autism and developmental delays. Nothing but all fruit preserves and they are BOMB!
3. Read your labels- if you're going get something canned or bottled, make sure you read the ingredient list and understand everything in it. Don't recognize an ingredient? Google that ish up!
3 Natural Sugar Recipes You Can Make with Fresh Fruit Jams & Preserves
As much as I wanted to share a bunch of chocolate recipes (chocolate is probably my fave way to eat sugar), I wanted to keep these recipes close to fruit as possible because let's be honest... Fruit is nature's best candy! And there's lots of good we can do with it.
No Bake Guava Yogurt Dessert Recipe
- 1 cup coconut yogurt
- 3 tablespoons Butcher's Bunches Guava Jam
- dried coconut flakes
- purple basil leaves
- frozen (or fresh!) blueberries
Easy No Bake Directions
- Pour 1 cup of yogurt into a bowl.
- Drop in Butcher's Bunches Jam in Guava.
- Add berries, basil, and coconut flakes and mix! Enjoy!
Quick Oatmeal Sweetened with Fresh Jam Recipe
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups instant rolled oats (steel cut oats fine too)
- coconut oil
- coconut milk (optional)
- Butcher's Bunches Guava Jam (or another flavor you love)
- cinnamon spice
Easy Cooking Directions
- Add oats to boiling water and let quick on medium high for 4 minutes (steel cut oats will take a little longer).
- When you start to see holes in the oatmeal, you know it's ready. Add coconut oil and a splash of milk.
- Serve in a bowl and drop in 2 tablespoon of Butcher's Bunches Jam in Guava.
- Add cinnamon spice to your liking. Enjoy!
Adult Peanut Butter & Jam Sammy Recipe
- 2 slices of your fave bread slices.
- Any of your fave Butcher's Bunches Berrylicious Jam
- fresh grinded peanut butter (almond butter if you're feeling fancy)
- 1/2 apple sliced thinly
Easy Sandwich Assembly Directions
- Take a slice of bread and spread it with Butcher's Bunches jam generously.
- Take the opposite slice and spread with peanut butter.
- Marry the two by adding thinly sliced pieces of apple.
- Cut the sammy in half. Skip cutting the crust off and just enjoy!
We are big fans of Liz and Kenneth and their giving hearts. Not only do they make amazing jams, they support our efforts in connecting more of the local community to good quality food. They are supports of this healthy food blog and events like Hashtag Lunchbag SLC. We're super grateful for your hard work and thank you for keeping out tummies healthy and happy!