Home African Caribbean Has sugar made our lives less sweet?
Clive Caines CaribDirect

Clive Caines Cultural Contributor

In Caribbean recipes. Behind all of the articles I’ve written about the health dangers attached to the food we love to eat there’s been one ingredient that has cropped up time and again.

It might sound a touch dramatic to call a food ingredient, especially one that provides so much pleasure to consumers young and old, a killer but take a look at this list of illnesses and ask yourself which food ingredient is involved in all of them: Diabetes, Obesity, Cancer, Heart disease and Liver disease.

The answer to your rhetorical question, if you don’t already have an answer, is sugar.

The dangers inherent in the over consumption of sugar are clear regardless of any particular race, culture or creed but I can’t help thinking that the African Diaspora, particularly those connected to the Caribbean, has had a particular poor experience with sugar in many other ways.

I say this with the knowledge that black African life in the Caribbean began in slavery, where slaves were forced to work the cane fields so that Europe could enjoy its sugar hit.

Then we have the Caribbean economy affected by Europe deciding that it didn’t want to be reliant on sugar from the Caribbean so there was a heavy investment in growing Sugar Beet crops.

Now, in a major ironic twist we have throughout the Caribbean rocketing rates of obesity generated by high consumption of sweet sugary drinks.

It doesn’t need spelling out, as everyone knows that obesity rates are high in the young, that many parts of the world, including the Caribbean, are sitting on a ticking time bomb of health problems that threatens to overwhelm even the most robust of national economies.

With the vast majority of the planet enjoying sugar in one form or another I’m fairly confident in saying that eating sugar isn’t going to go out of fashion any time soon.

What we can all do however is limit the amount of sugar we eat on a daily basis, which in turn will reduce our susceptibility to sugar related health problems.

What’s more if there’s ever a time to get control of our soaring sugar consumption it is during the Christmas period when there is likely to be far more sugary treats on offer.

One simple approach to reducing sugar in your diet is to avoid too many shop bought baked products. I was lucky enough to enjoy Christmas’s where home baking was the norm and cakes, tarts and sweet pies were in plentiful supply.

Now you will not have to go from zero to baking hero overnight but there are many things that you can do with very little baking skills.

To show you can be flexible in your approach to baking I’ve decided to present two types of videos: ones that leave out ingredients known to trigger allergies and ones that are based on straight forward baking.

Which ever way you decide to go the major benefit will be that you’ll have control over the ingredients you use when you do the baking.

Sugar Free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

Being sugar free and vegan this recipe ticks a number of boxes for those who have dietary issues or just want to follow a particular regime.

In terms of presentation the videos sound is not well balanced and in parts suffers from the type of echo that occurs when you film in a space where the walls don’t absorb sound.

That said the instructions are easy to follow and have been presented both in graphics and speech.

In terms of the ingredients most of what’s needed to make the cupcakes you should find in your local store but I have to say I’ve never heard of almond milk; presumably this ingredient can be found in a specialist food shop.

Once you’ve got all of your ingredients together the rest is quick and easy, which is a good thing if you like to have a good supply of cakes around and want to avoid factory produce.

SUGARLESS COOKIES – Sugar free Recipes – Diabetic Recipes

Simplicity really is the watchword for this particular recipe; and that includes the presentation. The video doesn’t have any sound, there isn’t a presenter and there isn’t a bed of music to provide an additional layer of interest.

The recipe information is presented in graphics but this isn’t supported by images so you’ve nothing to measure your final results by but I guess the proof is always in the eating.

There’s a lengthy list of ingredients needed for the recipe but nothing that would present any difficulty buying them in your local shop let alone supermarket.

Chocolate Chip Cookies {gluten, dairy, egg, nut & refined sugar-free!}

This recipe comes from a Blog site entitled Notdeprived.com, which has a focus on not only healthy eating but also fitness and well being albeit from an American point of view.

I was drawn to this recipe not just because it is a variation on the chocolate chip cookie recipe but because it is the sort of recipe that can be enjoyed by a wide variety of people with allergies; I have a family member who has an egg allergy and the range of factory produced foods that contain eggs is not only surprising but truly is staggering.

As far as production values go, though this video is filmed in the presenter’s kitchen it is well made: the sound is good throughout, the location is well lit and the presenter obviously has a passion for her approach to healthy eating while still being warm and friendly.

There’s nothing in the list of ingredients that would prove challenging to shop for and the recipe itself is very easy to follow. When the baking is complete there is instruction on storage, so again this is a good recipe for avoiding supermarket biscuits.

How to make Caribbean Black Cake (Cooking with Jason)

Black cake is something else that I’ve never heard of, though by the look of things my mother and aunt used to bake something similar.

The video begins with what looks like a unprofessional start as the presenter appears to be distracted by an off screen voice. The presentation eventually settles down and you get the point that the presentational style is supposed to be relaxed. Having not seen any of Jason’s videos before focusing issues seem to abound but you can overlook these as the key information is presented clearly.

What you get with this recipe is a Christmas cake, the Christmas theme being followed through visually and with a music bed provided through a steel pan version of ‘Merry Christmas’. Like all Christmas cake recipes there is the need to soak fruits so you’ve obviously got to start your preparations early.

The list of ingredients as can be expected is long but there’s nothing that will be challenging to find. As with many Christmas cakes recipes this one includes alcohol, which doesn’t necessarily sit with our reduced sugar theme but at least you’ve got the option of how much you use when you do your own baking.

Though this recipe is more complex than the others that I’ve presented it isn’t difficult to follow but does demand more of your time.

Caribbean pineapple upside down cake mini size: Father’s day treat (Vegan)

This is another of those videos that doesn’t have a presenter so provides all of its information through images and graphics. Everything is however presented on a bed of steel pan music, just to give it that authentic feel.

Again there’s a lengthy list of ingredients, which for me has a number of things on it that could demand a visit to a specialist shop: almond cream, almond paste and musk are not likely to be found in your corner shop.

The preparation steps are easy enough to follow with every stage illustrated with an image that shows you exactly what your cake mix should look like. One thing I like about this preparation method is that it is based on producing individual portions, which means that everybody gets the same portion and there’s no arguing at the dinner table.

How to make a Rum Cake – Tipsy Bartender

To be honest this isn’t a recipe that tells you how to make a cake it tells you what to do with your cake once you’ve made it; this also means that you can turn any cake into a rum cake.

You might ask why have I included this recipe in a feature where the emphasis is on reducing your sugar intake, well the answer is simple: food should always be a pleasure so let’s not take the fun away from healthy eating.

Though I’ve said it once before, I’ll say it again with any home cooking you’ll always have the opportunity to vary your ingredients. In this case you might want to vary the amounts of Rum and sugar you put into your mix; that will be the most difficult decision you’ll have to make when dealing with the ingredients.

As for the preparation, well you are essentially making a soaking sauce and the hard stuff is already done, so this recipe will not provide much of a challenge on your abilities or your time.



We provide news and information for anyone interested in the Caribbean whether you’re UK based, European based or located in the Caribbean. New fresh ideas are always welcome with opportunities for bright writers.


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