Tag Archives: brown rice syrup

Fructose: Friend or Foe?


Earlier this month, Mr. Jack & I planted 3 fruit trees in our yard. Two of them are multi-graft stone fruits and #3 is a Fuji apple, the only apple which is recommended for our slightly-too-warm gardening zone. We plan to have a fancy new dehydrator by the time the crops start ripening next year, adding a whole new dimension to trail food prep!

We do eat a lot of dried fruit while backpacking, mayb
e more than a ½ cp per day. That’s considerably more than we generally eat at home.Our average fresh fruit consumption is one lone apple–less than 9.5 g of fructose, since we tend toward the tangy rather than the sweet. I did binge on persimmons earlier this year, which average 10.6 grams, and then there are those summer stonefruits, plums (1.2) & apricots (1.3). Last year I was a little concerned about the relatively high sugar content, but I got over it. Dried fruit remains one of the simpliest, tastiest ways to consume calories on the trail.

But recently I read an article about agave syrup on Dr. Mercola’s website (you might have to sign up to read the whole thing), which mentioned the dangers of eating more than 25g of fructose a day. Now, that sure seems like a lot of fructose to me! But it got me to thinking: how much fructose might be in that half-cup of dried fruit? I do my best to avoid sugar at home. Am I overdoing it on the trail just because I’m super-burning calories?

So guess what I did? Yep: I did the math. Turns out that half-cup of dried fruit could contain between 34g (all apples) or up to 87g (all raisins). Whew. Easy on the raisins, there, when you’re mixing up that fruit.

Turns out, though, that if I’d kept reading, I could have spared myself the word problems:

“Exercise can be a very powerful tool to help control fructose in a number of ways. If you are going to consume fructose it is BEST to do so immediately before, during or after INTENSE exercise as your body will tend to use it directly as fuel and not convert it to fat Additionally exercise will increase your insulin receptor sensitivity and help modulate the negative effects of fructose.”

Despite the fact that backpacking might be considered an intense exercise (if done correctly), I’m still going light on the raisins.

And I’m still going to stay away from the agave syrup. What will I use instead?

Lundberg’s Organic Brown Rice Syrup. That’s right: rice syrup. Not just because I love rice, but because it is remarkably thick, golden & sticky (just like honey) while being less sweet than sugar, honey, agave syrup or maple syrup. So it provides the same delicious binding with a lot less, well, sweetness. Some of us like that sort of thing.

Here’s the sugar breakdown for Lundberg’s Brown Rice Syrup, thanks to Diana Lopez-Vega!

Glucose (dextrose) 20-25%
Maltose 25-30%
Other Carbohydrates 26-36%

Of course, it’s all still sugar, but as a tablespoon of the syrup has only 11 grams of sugar, even I would have a hard time agitating against it. Now, you still might want to account for all the fructose in that dried fruit, but please don’t make me do any more math!.dropcap:first-letter{>float:left;>color:black;>font-size:250%;>}>

Complex Caloric Calculations

Nope, I don’t have an accurate count yet. Who knew it would be so complicated?! First of all, because I use a low-tech food scale (the pelouze K5 postal scale—“rates effective January 2001”—hey, it works!) all my food weights are in postal ounces, not grams. Imagine my dismay when, upon beginning to compose a “meal” for the Daily Plate, I realized that many (of not most) of the foods I would be using were offered up in gram servings!

Undeterred, I quickly whipped up an oz/gram conversion formula to plug into the original Excel spreadsheet. I took the opportunity as well to cleverly add an additional formula (she grins modestly) that would divide the meal weights into individual servings. The original spreadsheet, for simplicity’s sake, had lumped together all the meals of the same kind (3 salmon pasta Parmesan dinners, for example) as well as the duplicate snacks (22 Rebars, 44 DodieKakes, 11 days worth of gorp at 2-person servings per day …).

That particular bit of math taken care of, I turned my full attention to building some basic backpacking meals: our longtime favorite hot lunch of Kashmir spinach shrimp & rice, fruit & nut gorp, the aforementioned & much-evolved DodieKakes, and our perpetual supper, heretofore referred to as pease porridge from the nursery rhyme that hummed into my head just a few days down the trail (maybe day 9?):

Pease porridge hot! Pease porridge cold!
Pease porridge in the pot nine days old.

Some like it hot; some like it cold.
I like it in the pot nine days old!

Aside: Turns out De La Soul did a hip-hop version of this little rhyme, but my money’s on Miggy’s verson

How’d it go? It went great! I got all the meals in, all the snacks in, all the thises-n-thatses, hit the update button & almost fell off the couch at the appallingly low number of calories! Went back in, found some calculation errors (If I made the hot lunch meal to reflect one servings, why in the world had I only given myself a quarter of a serving for the day? Hmmm) as well as some omissions (Had I really left out all the hummus mix & most of the almond butter from the DodieKake recipe or had the MyPlate software dropped it? Mysteries of software indeed).

It was while making adjustments to that last recipe, the ginger-laden snack bar affectionately known as the DodieKake, that I was struck by the truly alarming realization that I had NO IDEA (NO idea!!) how many bars resulted from the recipe I had painstakingly entered into the food-analysis database.

Some scribbles on the much-marked up recipe sheet indicated that the “whole recipe should make enough for an 8-day hike.” Ha! But was that the printed out recipe, with the original amounts, or the most-recently revised recipe, which not only included a few new ingredients (see handwritten notes to “grate 2 carrots & 1 apple into dry mix” as well as “add 1 cup brown rice syrup”) but also doubled the original amounts, while eliminating other ingredients?

Ruefully, I realized that the only way to get a true reading on the caloric content of the elusive food bars was to whip up a new batch & COUNT the cakes; maybe write it down clearly somewhere this time?

In the meantime, the preliminary numbers are: 1,945 calories with about 52% carbs (249 g), 31% fat (66 g) & 18% protein (85 g)–and yes, of course it comes out to more than 100%! if you have an account at livestrong.com, you can take a preliminary peek at the not-entirely-accurate menu for one backpacking day at the Red Elephant Eats Daily Plate for Aug 21, 2009.