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Archive for November, 2017

As a preschooler, I loved to traipse behind my Daddy as he strolled our small farm. One of my many favorite places in the early fall was to walk down the hill to the farmer next to us who grew and processed sorghum.

I watched, mesmerized, as the small homemade mill thrashed and transformed sorghum stalks into thick goofy syrup. Most haven’t had the privilege of watching this process of turning healthy molasses into a mainstay at the dinner table. In our family, homemade hot biscuits dripped with the tantalizing tart flavored syrup. As years passed, the old farm mill nearby vanished, but not my acquired taste for its product.

I’m surprised when people outside the south are unfamiliar with our cultural treasure. Grocery stores do not carry the type of sorghum southerners eat. It’s found in select locations, without added ingredients or preservatives. A few places in several states are noted for their production. The true southern cook checks the origin of the product and uses only pure sorghum. At a food trade show in the fall of 2017, I became excited when I saw a booth promoting sorghum. Yes, it was made in one of those acceptable places for southern cooks, but that was all. A closer look revealed it was a sweet sugar cane syrup with slight flavoring of sorghum. Unfortunately, the man at the booth knew zilch about sorghum.

What is so good about this delicacy? The flavor is unique. Don’t mistake this product for syrups made from sugar cane. This tasty sweetness contains a host of nutrients from vitamins to minerals. It has a significant amount of vitamin B6 plus potassium, magnesium, and iron with lesser amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and zinc. One tablespoon of syrup supplies about 60 calories.

A google search revealed that others, like me, refer to this delectable syrup as sorghum molasses. I wondered why our modern era calls it sorghum syrup. According to varied google responses, the sugar cane industry hijacked the term molasses to use in conjunction with their sweetener―sugar.

I found few internet sources for real sorghum, most with exorbitant prices. When you acquire this “can’t-do-without” product, try these cookies. The recipe is online. Rest assured, coming from my kitchen, the sorghum I used was the real thing. Use this delightful healthy, tangy golden brown syrup in your fall cooking.

Molasses cookies uncookedGinger cookies cookedhttps://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/big-soft-ginger-cookies

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Will eating a bedtime snack affect your weight? It may. Researchers in Boston recruited college students to determine if biological clocks had any effect on gaining weight. Researchers hospitalized participants for one night to determine when their melatonin, the hormone that signals a person’s biological night, began to rise. Levels of melatonin elevate when the body shifts to the night phase of our circadian rhythm.

In the study, both lean and heavier participants had similar times for the onset of melatonin. Those with higher percentages of fat tended to eat closer to the time for melatonin to begin rising than participants who were leaner. Those with excessive weight consumed most of their calories about an hour before the rise of melatonin.

We can’t determine the exact times when night begins for our bodies because it requires specific measurements. However, melatonin levels tend to climb about two hours prior to our normal sleep-time pattern. With that as our guide, food eaten about two hours or less before normal bedtime may make a difference in weight. In the Boston study, actual clock time, exercise or activity, number of calories eaten, or amount of sleep did not affect the difference in the amount of weight between lean and less lean participants. Food eaten prior to the rise of an individual’s melatonin did make a difference.

What does this study mean to us, especially if we want to lose weight? Will eating well before bedtime improve our weight? Maybe. Eating late-night meals or snacks as well as in the middle of the night may influence weight gain more than if we ate the same number of calories earlier in the day. This is not a license to eat more calories during the day, but wouldn’t it be great if we weren’t as likely to gain as much weight as eating the same number of calories at bedtime?

Several factors may influence weight and sleep time. Eating later in the day causes a rise in blood glucose levels. Those who consume most of their calories earlier in the day are more likely to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

  • Eat heavier meals with high protein for breakfast and lunch.
  • Eat smaller portions at dinner.
  • Avoid alcohol at bedtime.

Especially as we approach extended holidays, try to limit higher calorie foods in the late afternoon and evening. What do we have to lose except weight?

 

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