Monday, December 13, 2010


My mother makes something she calls Brown Candy. Her recipe is: A pot full of white sugar mixed with sweetened condensed milk, melted and cooked to hard ball stage, then poured into a buttered pan. When it sets, it looks like vanilla fudge. If you are getting creative, you can toss in a few chopped pecans, but basically, it's pretty close to rock candy in terms of how sweet it is.

She makes it at Christmas, along with other candy and a rum-soaked fruitcake, and she always sends a box of these goodies to us.

My wife and daughter-in-law sometimes get together and make this candy, and with a couple variations, have improved the recipe, giving it even more of a kick.

I have mentioned here that since my trigylcerides were elevated, I decided to cut out sugar, or at least cut way down on it. There's a reason the heath foodies call it "white death," and simple sugars in any form are generally bad for your system. We all know this, and most Americans, save diabetics, shrug this off and eat plenty of it anyway. Getting a lot more Type II diabetes than we used to have as a result. Probably 90% of those in the U.S. who have diabetes have Type II, or adult onset, and for most of those, over-indulgence is the reason the tendency flowers. 

From the first website that pops up on a Google search: 

"In the last 20 years, we have increased sugar consumption in the U.S. 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year! Prior to the turn of this century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs. per person per year!"

I don't know how good these numbers are, but all you have to do is look around at how many obese folks you see to get a sense that a whole lot of us are eating too much of something, and white death tops the list of Stuff We Don't Really Need. Look at the packaging of any processed treat that you eat, how much of what's inside are simple carbs. 

Yadda, yadda, yadda ...

So, anyway, the candy package arrived. 

The problem is not just that it tastes really good. It's that the association with happy times is powerful. Brown Candy is the taste of Christmas. 

Did I throw it out? Pass it along to somebody else? Nope. Most of the candy in the box, yep, That went to the grandkids, but I kept some of the brown candy. And with due ceremony, I sat down and ate a piece of it. Slowly and mindfully. Normally, I would have gobbled five or six squares and only stopped because I felt like a pig, but so far, just the one.

That one piece? Nearly took my head off. Once you ease up on the sweets, when you aren't acclimated to a steady diet of  'em, the sensation  when you do indulge? Man. It's a hit like cocaine. It spikes your blood, gives your taste buds a rush, and tells you just how potent the stuff is. 

Getting off sugars completely is hard, I'm not there, but I am way less, it has made a difference in how I feel, and I'm still down six or eight pounds from where I started when I decided to back off. 

Your mileage may vary. But your teeth and your pancreas and lipids will thank you if you ease up on White Death. 

Advice from your friendly neighborhood old guy. Ho, ho, ho ...


Ed said...

Hey - I resemble that remark. Have to stop the daily Coke Slurpee,Icee, or Froster-(Circle K's version which is less expensive than the others) but that worst headache in the world at 3am that wakes me if I don't have one is enough to keep me doing it - for now.

Joshkie said...

Amen :-)

J.D. Ray said...

I gave up soda a few months ago. I was drinking way too much of it, with the easy access at the cafe. A month ago, I found that I had replaced the sugar from the soda with the seasonal (Halloween and following) candy around the office. I was going to turn into a peanut butter cup if I didn't slow down. So I gave up candy, too. I still allow myself the occasional cookie or piece of cake, but they're occasional, and aren't as easy access as the candy dish on my co-worker's desk (which she keeps filling, damn it). I'm not sure how much it's all helping, but it can't be bad for me.