Posts Tagged ‘Sugar’



We are now in our fourth week of Lent. How are you folks out there doing? Other than the recent slip-up I had with two ice cream cones, I’ve stuck to my promise to abstain from sweets and sugar and it hasn’t been too bad.

Recently my inbox has been inundated with Lent-related emails: some of them are from people who say, “Giving up sugar and sweets for Lent is lame.” Supposedly, it’s not deep enough or serious enough.

“Harumph!” Give me just a minute to climb up on my soap box. Ready?

Are you people serious? Giving up sugar and sweets for Lent is NOT lame…it is important. And, when I say important, what I really mean is…it’s IMPORTANT! Why? Well, let me tell you…

Sugar is everywhere.

I’m not talking about the sugar that’s found naturally in foods…as nature intended…typically combined with a fibre, as in fruit and some vegetables.

I’m talking about the sinister kind of sugar that food manufacturers have snuck into our refrigerators and cupboards without us even knowing it. Sugar is in our bread, tomato ketchup, breakfast cereal, crackers, yogurt, baked beans, juices, pasta sauce, tinned vegetables, cereal bars…and that’s just the start of it.

We eat and or drink it morning, noon, and night. It’s disguised as brown rice syrup, cane sugar, caramel, corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane sugar, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, maltose, sorghum, and syrup. And it often shows up in multiple forms in just one food item.

Let me ask you, “What is the maximum amount of added sugar one should eat in a day?” In 2003, the World Health Organization indicated in their guidelines that sugar should account for only about 10% of our daily calories, which is roughly eight teaspoons/37 grams.

Now, guess how much sugar is in a 12oz can of soda? The answer varies, but typically it’s 10-12 teaspoons/40-48 grams!

Are you surprised? I was when I started to learn about it. And here’s the fact that really threw me over the edge: if we continue the path we’re on, our children will be the first generation to not outlive their parents?!

And there you have it…the reason why my family is giving up sugar and sweets for Lent. It’s not lame…this is the perfect time to teach my children that their wee little bodies are their temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

“You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within – the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased and at a price! So glorify God in your body.”

Wshew! I needed to get that off my chest. I’m really not a holy roller, but I won’t stand for those who imply that I’m not doing enough this Lent. Caring for others is what we’re here for…and starting in an Irish home is, in my opinion, an excellent place to begin.

Can I get an Amen?


Italian Vegetable Stew

Serves 6-8


1 loaf Italian bread, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 bunch kale, centre rib and stems removed, chopped

1/4 cup/1 oz olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stocks, finely chopped

1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

28oz/794g crushed peeled tomatoes, drained

8 cups/64oz vegetable broth

45oz/1,275g cannellini beans, rinsed

1 teaspoon Italian herbs

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

grated Parmesan


1. Let bread stand at room temperature for a few hours to dry out.

2. Cook the kale in boiling water until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Drain, squeeze out excess water. Set aside until needed.

3. Heat ¼ cup/1oz olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and leek. Stir often until softened, 8-10 minutes.

4. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently until most of the liquid is evaporated.

6. Add broth, beans, Italian herbs, bay leaf and reserved kale. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the soup thickens slightly, about 30-45 minutes.

7. Remove bay leaf, season with salt and pepper as desired.

8. To serve, add bread to the soup. Divide among blows, top with Parmesan.

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I love being in our kitchen.  It’s the command central of our home.  It’s where we entertain (despite the fact we have a beautiful dining room). When friends call-in, it’s the kitchen we instinctively head to for a cuppa and a chat. From our kitchen we can see a good bit of our back garden and the organic kitchen garden and the rose garden.  I can see our drying line out the window over the sink.  On warm days it’s comforting to see freshly laundered clothes gently blowing in the breeze.  Yes, our kitchen is a good place.

If there’s one thing that frustrates me about our kitchen, however, it’s having to do conversions.  By that I mean having to “convert” or” go back and forth” between American and Irish measurements and ingredients.  Depending on whether it’s an American recipe or an Irish one, I find myself sometimes having to whip out a book (or two) until I can find out how to convert or substitute one thing to or for another.  Take, for example, butter.  The American phrase “one stick” just doesn’t work in an Irish kitchen because “one stick” of Irish butter is larger than an American one.  Another example is “caster sugar“.  If you’re an American-in-the-kitchen, “caster sugar” means nothing (b.t.w., it’s “granulated sugar”).

After years of frustration, I finally created my own Conversion Chart which I am happy to share with you.  In our home it is taped to the inside of one of the kitchen cupboards for quick reference.  Hopefully you’ll find it helpful too.

Irish to American Conversions  

1 teaspoon = 1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon

100g/4oz/8 tablespoons butter = 1 U.S. stick butter

15g butter = 1 tablespoon butter

225 ml/8oz = 1 cup liquid measure

1/2 pint = 1 cup liquid measure

110ml/4oz = 1/2 cup liquid measure

1 pint = 2 cups liquid measure

56ml/2oz = 1/4 cup liquid measure or 4 tablespoons

198g/7oz white sugar = 1 U.S. cup

198g/7oz brown sugar = 1 U.S. cup packed

124g/4.4oz all-purpose/plain flour = 1 U.S. cup

Oven Temperature Conversions

¼ gas mark = 110°c = 225°f

½ gas mark = 130°c = 250°f

1 gas mark = 140°c = 275°f

2 gas mark = 150°c = 300°f

3 gas mark = 170°c = 325°f

4 gas mark = 180°c = 350°f

5 gas mark = 190°c = 375°f

6 gas mark = 200°c = 400°f

7 gas mark = 220°c = 425°f

8 gas mark = 230°c = 450°f

9 gas mark = 240°c = 475°f

10 gas mark = 250°c = 500°f

Irish to American Substitutions

aubergine = eggplant

beetroot = beet

bicarbonate of soda = baking soda

coriander = cilantro

cornflour = cornstarch

courgette = zucchini

cling film = Saran wrap (plastic wrap)

caster sugar = granulated sugar, confectioners sugar

demerara sugar = light brown sugar

double cream = heavy cream

icing sugar = powdered sugar

mangetout = snow pea

muscovado sugar = dark brown sugar

plain flour = all-purpose flour

rocket = arugula

single cream = light cream

spring onions = scallions

strong white flour = unbleached flour

treacle = molasses

wholemeal flour = wholewheat flour

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