Friday, October 4, 2013

Workout Woes

The first two weeks or so of a new workout routine are amazing. You discover things you didn’t know you could do, adapt to a new pattern, and start to feel healthier. You may even adjust your diet and start eyeballing clothing fashions that a month ago would have caused you to shudder.

Soon, however, novelty turns to habit, and habits get boring. How do you keep going? How can you keep up a routine in the face of all the pressures in life that pull you in different directions? Or worse, what happens when your schedule changes at work, you get a new job, or *insert other life changing event here* and your workout time gets railroaded into a different time slot…how do you keep up the momentum?

People working out at the gym

There are all sorts of ways to create positive reinforcements around your new, healthier habits. The first thing: adjust your mindset. If you’ve seen previous attempts at working out as an exercise in failure, that is not going to help your forward momentum. Each step in the right direction counts, so if you have to drop your workout days from four days to two, then do so. Remember that two days doing some form of movement is better than none. If you’ve had an injury that is forcing you to slow down, embrace the time of rest, get in what movement you can, and keep the mindset that you’ll be returning to your habit as soon as you are able.

Create exciting incentives based on working out. Things like Gympact (which I previously discussed here), which pays you to work out, and Fitbit, which offers consistent praise and affirmation when you exercise, can act as anchors to your new schedule. One of my favorite tricks has been to create a favorite playlist on Rhapsody or iTunes that I only listen to when I’m working out. If you have an iPhone or Android, apps like Pandora, Spotify or Songza offer specialized stations based on your preferences. If you like to read, how about listening to a book while you sweat? Audible offers some sweet deals on audio books that you can download to your smartphone or mp3 player and take with you. Nothing will keep you committed like a good cliffhanger! You can also check out your local library, where many offer a digital subscription service for audio books.

Give it a team effort. For some of us, exercise is more fun when it’s social. So check out sites like Meetup and discover other locals who would be glad to join you on your hike into the woods. Organizations like the Road Runners Club of America offer group runs where anyone at any level can join. There are plenty of virtual groups like Wello that offer workouts and group support. And of course, don’t forget to check out gyms like Curves or Crossfit, where the group environment is nurtured and encouraged.

Go for some accountability. If you feel as though you need a bit more on the line to keep your commitment, consider investing in the services of a health coach or personal trainer. Professionals can help you keep your head in the game and encourage you when you feel like giving up.

Do it for a cause. Many non-profit organizations focus on feats of athleticism in the name of donations. Consider the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or any of the many other options out there that will encourage you to get your groove on and help others at the same time.

Man playing basketball

Keep it interesting. If you are tired of doing the same movements over and over again, try spicing it up with websites that offer a new workout for you every week – you can have a new one everyday! Zuska Light, Bodyrock.tv, and iFit are great places to grab a fresh workout and keep your muscles guessing.

Most of all, do things you love. Whether it’s taking a pole-dancing class at the local Y, joining a Yoga group that meets virtually, or adopting a dog as a running partner, discover what movements you enjoy the most. Let us know what you decided on, and what gets you excited to move!

Ally Bishop
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What’s the Big Deal About Organic Foods?

These days, most grocery stores offer both conventionally grown foods as well as organically grown foods. Do you know the difference? Clearly, there is a price difference, with organic foods usually costing more – sometimes up to twice the price. In this introduction to organic farming, we'll take a glimpse at organic processes and how they affect the food you eat.  It may help you decide if organic meat and produce is worth the extra cost.

Organic strawberries


What is “organic” produce?


Organic foods are the product of organic agriculture.  Organic agriculture or organic farming is defined somewhat differently depending on the source and the country.  A summary definition: Organic products are those that are made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (FOAM) defines organic agriculture more holistically, describing it as a production system that:
  • Sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people.
  • Relies on ecological processes, biodiversity, and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.
  • Combines tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment and promote their relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.
In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines "organically grown" food as that which is grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The EPA definition does allow for the use of organic pesticides when producing organically grown food.


Organically grown vs. conventionally grown


Perhaps the easiest way to understand what makes organically grown foods unique is to look at how it differs from conventionally grown foods.

While all farmers enrich the soil to produce a more substantial crop, a conventional farmer uses such techniques as adding synthetic, chemical fertilizers to the soil. By comparison, an organic farmer would likely use natural fertilizers and composting to enrich the soil.

To control pests and weeds, conventional farmers use chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.  On the other hand, an organic farmer is more likely to control weeds by thorough and consistent tilling of the soil, by using crop rotation techniques that discourage weed growth, or by laying mulch or tarps over the ground to create heat that will kill the weeds. For pest control, organic farmers are more likely to use insects that prey on the crop-damaging pests, or by planting two different crops together – the crop that needs protection from pests and another crop that repels those same pests.

Organic peaches


Organic gardening for sustainability


The above FOAM definition of organic agriculture may surprise you, going far beyond what is or isn't in that apple or spinach on your plate.  The definition also speaks to the many other benefits inherent in the process and outcome of organic farming.

The problem with conventional farming techniques used on most farms today is that, while they are often very effective methods of boosting output of the current crop, the techniques rarely consider sustainability.  The chemicals used, for instance, can damage the soil, infiltrating it with an annually increasing amount of toxins. These toxins not only find their way into the future crops, but also damages watersheds. Every inch of soil in the United States is part of a watershed; all water travels where gravity tells it to go. Thus, anything that we spray or dispose of on the ground around us will ultimately influence water sources downstream to some degree.

Conventional farming uses enormous amounts of herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers* that are harmful to these watersheds – harmful to the animals, plants, and human life forms that rely on the water for their health and survival.  Organic farming techniques not only produce more pure, chemical-free products for us to consume but also protect the environment of the farm and its watershed.  For this reason, many city and county governments have specifically encouraged organic farmers to "take root" alongside waterways as a means of protecting the watershed.

Those herbicides and pesticides that do not get washed away but rather remain in the conventional, non-organic farm's soil create serious sustainability problems.  By definition, herbicides and pesticides are designed to kill living organisms. As a result, the farmland soil eventually become stripped of its small and microscopic life forms, resulting in weakened soil and ever weakening crops. 
Two other sustainability problems with conventional farming techniques:
  • A 2013 study identifies the alarming bee colony decline in recent years to the toxic soup of pesticides and fungicides used in farming. 
  • As reported by Fox News, many non-organic farmers use antibiotics to fatten up their livestock. While it means that the farmer will get more income from each chicken, pig, or cow, public health advocates have identified this conventional farming technique as a significant source of our growing nationwide problem of antibiotic-resistant germs.  It's a case of robbing Peter Public to pay Farmer Paul.


The direct health benefits of organic foods


While there is some debate regarding whether or not organic foods have more vitamin content, there are a number of statistics and scientific studies that have identified many health benefits in organic foods:
  • If you're not a fan of fruits and vegetables, this may be very good news for you; A 2011 British study reported that organic fruits and vegetables have roughly 12 percent more nutrients than their non-organic equivalents – that, from a disease-fighting perspective, you would need to eat 12 percent more conventional produce to get the same same health benefit.  More bang for the bite!
  • One study found that germs in non-organic meats have a 33 percent higher risk of being antibiotic-resistant than those found in organic meats.  
  • The same study also determined that pesticides were 60 percent more likely to found in non-organic produce than in organic.
  • What you are not getting in organic foods is also beneficial:  EPA statistics estimate 20,000 doctor-diagnosed cases of farmworker poisoning from the pesticides used in crops. And many of the synthetic herbicides or pesticides used in conventional farming infiltrates the produce, making it impossible to simply wash them away.
Organic kale


Buying organic food on a budget


Whether all this adds up to justifying the extra cost of putting organic foods on your table is up to you.  Organic farming methods are, by nature, much more sustainable, but also more labor-intensive – one of the main reasons that organic produce is more expensive to buy.

Suggestion: If financial means requires you to "draw a line," in your shopping cart, then use the "dirty dozen" chart to help you choose which conventionally-farmed foods are most toxic, and start there.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


* EPA estimates over 2 billion pounds of pesticides being used in U.S. soil annually – roughly eight pounds for every U.S. citizen.

Monday, September 30, 2013

September Is Healthy Aging Month

Overall, we’re living longer and that’s great news. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to engage in practices and a lifestyle that will ensure healthy aging and a long, active and fulfilling future.

Aging hands and young hands


What is healthy aging?


Healthy aging encompasses aging well in a number of different ways--physically, socially, mentally and financially.  Typically, by 45-62 years of age, the time known as middle-age, individuals start putting practices in place to ensure healthy aging.

Why is healthy aging important?


  • Individuals are living longer
  • Aging well ensures a better quality of life
  • Chronic health conditions are costly

What are the components of physically healthy aging?


  • Cardiovascular system
  • Bones, joints, muscles
  • Digestive system
  • Bladder and urinary tract
  • Memory/brain health

According to the Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.com. 

How can you ensure healthy aging?


According to Webmd.com, the following suggestions are paramount to aging well:

  • Be active—Exercise helps maintain a healthy body and mind.
  • Stay social—Take a class, volunteer or visit with friends.
  • Eat healthy—Beans and other high fiber foods help digestion and heart health; fresh fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which help ward off illness and disease.
  • Stay balanced—Activities such as yoga and tai chi can improve agility and prevent falls, considerations as you age.
  • Take a hike—Brisk walks bolster heart and lung health.
  • Sleep well—It’s an important aspect of aging well. Visit this post for more information.
  • Beat the blues—Depression isn’t anything to be ashamed of and it can be treated.  Discuss your symptoms with your doctor.
  • Have a plan—Setting and maintaining financial goals are important to aging well.  Debt and the stress it can create might be detrimental to your overall health.

Older couple exercising


Tips to keeping your brain healthy:


  1. Exercise: It’s crucial to keeping your brain healthy. According to Christine Anderson, MS, wellness and fitness coordinator of the University of San Francisco, preliminary research suggests that exercise can actually promote new stem cell growth, which can be helpful for the brain. In addition, exercise helps you think more clearly and creates a sense of well being, benefits anyone can enjoy.
  2. Engage in new activities: There is evidence that any activity requiring manual dexterity as well as mental effort is beneficial to brain health. Try drawing, painting or crafts.
  3. Make lists, follow routines, slow down and organize. Don’t tax your brain with information you can write down or multi-tasking.

Visit www.health.harvard.edu for additional suggestions.

While family history, also known as your genes, play a role in the likeliness of developing certain diseases as you age, lifestyle plays a significant part in healthy again, too.  It’s never too early to start implementing healthy changes for both you and your family members.

Other suggestions for healthy aging:


  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Stop smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Know you numbers—cholesterol, blood pressure
  • Have regular dental check-ups—poor oral health can lead to a host of health conditions

In celebration of Healthy Aging Month, health organizations on a variety of levels will be offering events and ideas to promote wellness. Visit www.healthyaging.net for more information or events in your area.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 27, 2013

September Is National Yoga Month

Yoga is an exercise program and so much more. Based on a series of movements and poses that build strength, flexibility, clarity and a sense of calm, for those who practice yoga, it’s a way of life.  September is National Yoga Month, and it’s a great time to give this activity a try.

Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago. According to www.medicine.net, over 20 million Americans practiced yoga in 2012. Experts predict that number will continue to grow.

Silhouette of Woman Practicing Yoga

Types of Yoga:


As yoga has increased in popularity, variations on this ancient practice have popped up in studios around the world.  According to webmd, below are the most popular types of yoga:

  • Hatha: A straightforward, unhurried style great for beginners to learn poses.
  • Lyengar: A slow-paced, gentle style of yoga great for older individuals, those with injuries or chronic health conditions.
  • Viniyoga: Another gentle style that emphasis breathing and movement. It’s perfect for increasing flexibility or injury recovery.
  • Bikram: This style is suggested for healthy individuals, with sweating and weight loss common.
  • Ashtanga: A highly vigorous style only for those in great physical shape.
  • PowerYoga: Also called flow yoga, flow-style yoga and vinyasa, it’s a popular form of yoga that combines cardio with yoga.
  • Kundalini: A more spiritual practice that includes meditation, breathing techniques and chanting.

Health Benefits of Yoga:


  • Lower blood pressure
  • Greater flexibility
  • Enhanced brain function
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Better skeletal adjustment
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased stress

Woman practicing yoga


Who can practice yoga?


  • Older individuals
  • Those with chronic health conditions, such as arthritis
  • Individuals recovering from an injury
  • Pregnant women
  • Athletes looking for more flexibility and a sense of calm
  • Kids of all ages

Strengths of practicing yoga:


  • Can be practiced at any age
  • It’s an activity the family can take part in together
  • Can be practiced independently or with a group
  • Limited need for equipment and accessories

Weaknesses of practicing yoga:


  • Even though it can be a gentle form of exercise, injury can occur

Before starting yoga:


  • Consult with your doctor before trying yoga to determine the type best suited for your individual needs.
  • Choose a qualified yoga instructor.
  • Notify your instructor of any limitations or injuries.

In celebration of National Yoga Month, over 2,000 yoga studios worldwide are offering one free class during the months of September and October. For a list of participating studios and to receive your free coupon, visit www.yogahealthfoundation.org.

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

School Attendance Improvements Start With You

Here at FamilyWize, we are excited to be partnering with other organizations in support of September's national Attendance Awareness Month – an initiative to generate awareness of the importance of school attendance to academic and life success, and to bolster school attendance statistics nationwide.

Two big reasons we're proud to be a part of this initiative is, first, the initiative's successes to date (which you can read about in this previous School Attendance Awareness Month FamilyWize article).  Common sense and research make it clear that, in order for students to learn, they need to come to school consistently/regularly. Through Attendance Awareness Month, improvements in school attendance across the U.S. is making positive strides.

Second, the initiative's active work to help parents, children, and schools this very month is encouraging. On their website, you can find countless activities and teaching aids being added every day, as well as examples of what School Attendance Month partners, such as FamilyWize, are doing.  Here are just a few "actionable" examples -- activities and ideas that you can personally participate in.


Awareness via Social Media


Attendance Awareness Month is making it easy for you to spread the word in your community about attendance statistics, activities, and opportunities related to this important initiative by using social media sites. For example, they have assembled a social media posting guide chockfull  of daily posts you can use on Facebook to make daily Attendance Awareness Month announcements on your (or your school's) Facebook and Twitter pages, as this page snippet shows.


A good Facebook posting sample you can use:  “FACT: Nationally, as many as 7.5 million students nationwide miss 10 percent of the school year in excused and unexcused absences every year. That’s 135 million days of school.  Learn more about reducing chronic school absence here.”  See how easy it is to get involved?


Awareness via Event Content from YOU


Attendance Awareness Month is making it super-easy for you to make a difference in your community and be an example to other communities through its website participation channels. For example:
  • You can easily add your activities related to attendance and attendance awareness onto the Attendance Awareness Month Community Action Map.  
    By placing your attendance awareness activities on the interactive map, you'll not only boost local awareness, but encourage others nationwide to get "get on the bus" with this initiative.  Your event will show up on the map. Those who click on your map icon will be able to see the full details of your event in a pop-up info box.
  • Attendance Awareness Month is also encouraging you to send in your attendance stories or examples of the work you or your school or community is doing. This is a great way to build community pride and to give others ideas they can try in their own communities. See examples on their Community Highlights page.


Awareness via Multimedia


Let's face it – we live in a visually oriented world. Many kids in particular are growing up with multimedia as an increasing part of their education. In response to this, organizers at the Attendance Awareness Month website have created and assembled several videos to help you promote school attendance in the most entertaining way possible.

On their video page, you'll find many videos of varying length for your own edification or for parents, students, and teachers in your committee. For example:
  • View the Attendance Works: a Community Imperative six-minute video highlighting the problem of chronic absenteeism and its impact on school achievement. In this short video, you'll also get solutions and examples on how to improve the statistics in your neighborhood.
  • Check out the Attendance Works Animated Infographic - a visually engaging one-minute video animation pictorially explaining why attendance matters particularly in the early grades. 
You’ll find a dozen more helpful visual presentations on the video page, including presentations from the Ad Council, U.S. Army, and school districts across the U.S.


Awareness via Webinars


Even more engaging and interactive than videos are webinars. Join in on the ongoing schedule of free webinars – online real-time seminars – going on throughout the year. For example, you just missed the September 16 webinar on commonsense strategies to reduce chronic absenteeism, which examined the roles that state-level actions and policies play in improving school attendance. But keep an eye on the schedule to learn about and join the next one here.


School Attendance – Why it Really Matters


Chronic absence affect all students, not just those missing school. When significant numbers of students in a classroom or school are chronically absent, learning for all students is adversely affected when the pace of instruction necessarily slows down because teachers have to spend time reviewing material for those who missed the lessons in the first place.

But reducing chronic absence must be a community affair, involving parents, government agencies, faith leaders, businesses, and community nonprofits.  History shows that this is the best way to build a culture of attendance.

For true attendance success, start with you. Think about what you can do, and volunteer to help. Parents can make a big difference! For example, parents with middle school and high school children: did you know students should miss no more than 18 days of school to stay on track to graduation?  And be aware that absences are often a sign that a student is losing interest in school, struggling with school work, or even dealing with a bully.  Get tips for parents to help keep your students on track.

 
Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer




Monday, September 23, 2013

Self-Improvement Month: Tips for Becoming the Best YOU Possible

By definition self-improvement means to make or become better through your own efforts. September is Self-Improvement Month, and it’s a great time to look for ways to make yourself the best YOU possible.

Self-improvement can take place in a number of ways—emotional, spiritual, physical and financial. Your efforts can affect your mind, body and behavior. Ongoing improvement or personal development is necessary for increasing and maintaining self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image, key factors in a healthy personal evaluation.

Girls playing soccer


Why is building self-esteem important?


The need for building self-esteem and confidence starts in childhood. Healthy self- esteem is a balance of feeling capable and feeling loved, according to kidshealth.org.

Children with a healthy self-esteem tend to be more well-adjusted as adults
Healthy self-esteem increases the ability to handle stressors in life
It’s a necessary component in forming and maintaining healthy relationships

Ways to build self-esteem in kids:


Suggest involvement in sports and activities
Help them discover their strengths
Encourage them to spend time with friends who are positive influences and who make them feel good about themselves
Show them they are loved for who they are, not what they achieve

According to Academic Pediatrics, www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov, risk factors for low self-esteem include:

Depression
Anxiety
Suicide
Eating disorders
Violent behavior
Earlier initiation of sexual activity (in girls)
Substance abuse

Clearly, developing a positive self-esteem is essential in childhood. But the need for self-improvement shouldn’t stop after adolescence.  In fact, self-esteem, confidence and personal growth are important factors to consider throughout your lifetime, especially during times of transition, such as:

After a loss—a job, business or relationship.
At a crossroad in life—those recently retired or empty nesters, for example. Visit www.aarp.com for more information.
Ongoing personal growth benefits everyone!

Ideas for self-improvement or personal development:


Woman volunteering to feed dogs Take a class: Learn painting, photography or another art form.
Start an exercise routine: Walking is a great form of exercise and it’s inexpensive.  All you need is a good pair of walking shoes.
Learn a new language: Tapes, books and local classes are available.
Take up a hobby: Knitting or wood working projects can make great gifts.
Join a new group: Book clubs or car enthusiasts share similar interests.
Volunteer your time: Read to the blind or work with animals.

Remember, self-improvement or personal development doesn’t have to be costly. The focus is on doing something to improve your life and your feelings of self-worth, one day at a time.

Benefits of personal development include:


Improvement of existing skills or acquiring new ones
Continued/improved chance of success and happiness
Better quality of life and health
Stronger relationships
Better self image


Steps to Self-Improvement:


The Personal Growth Studio suggests the following:

1. Patience—Give change the necessary time to become a part of your lifestyle.
2. Persistence—Stay the course.
3. Perseverance—Overcome setbacks in your quest to self-improvement.

Whether your self-improvement objectives include a weight-loss plan, financial goals or spiritual aspirations, September is the month to institute a plan. What’s standing in your way?

Kathy Rembisz 
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sugar Substitute: Choosing a Sweetener

Earlier I wrote about Gluten Free Baking and the ways to choose the best flours for your recipes. Today we are going to tackle different sweeteners and their benefits and drawbacks. If you are focused on removing highly processed foods from your lifestyle, replacing white sugar in your recipes is a great way to start. Alternatives to white sugar offer more nutrients as they are closer to their original form and/or are a more nutrient-dense source to begin with, which means you can enjoy your treats while receiving more nourishment for your body.

Jar of honey


As someone who loves to create recipes, there are lots of choices that can seem overwhelming when you stand in the baking aisle of your grocery or health food store. Not to mention, some of them can be expensive. So here’s your guide on what to substitute for sugar.

Liquid Sweeteners -- Offer a wonderful sweetness and more moisture to your recipes.
  • Honey is an amazing option for sweetening your favorite recipes. Depending on the flavor of the honey, it can gently guide the complexity of your final product. Whether you choose standard clover honey, orange blossom honey, or wildflower honey, they tend to lend a pleasant sweetness to your recipe. Buckwheat honey has a stronger, smoky flavor that works best in pancakes and breads. Local raw wildflower honey is my favorite to add to recipes, and you can substitute most honeys at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Maple Syrup has a lovely, unique flavor that works well as a substitute for white sugar. I prefer it in things like muffins and pancakes, but you can use it as a brown sugar substitute to sweeten cookies and cakes. This can be added at a 1:1 ratio. Pumpkin pancakes come out perfect with a little maple syrup added to the recipe – and on top!
  • Blackstrap Molasses works great in recipes like gingerbread cookies. It has a strong flavor, which can significantly change the outcome of your baked goods, so do some research before using it to replace white sugar. When you are ready to start adding it in, check out this article for advice on how to substitute it for the best results.

Granulated Sweeteners -- a great sugar substitute when nothing else will do.
  • Coconut Sugar offers a similar flavor to brown sugar, along with a medium-sized granular texture that is perfect for cookies, for cinnamon-and-sugar shakers, and for sprinkling over baked sweet potatoes. Check out Natural Sweet Recipes for some great baking ideas and tips. Coconut sugar can be substituted 1:1 depending on the recipe, but it does have a muskier flavor than regular sugar, so proceed with an adventurous spirit.
  • Date sugar offers the perfect blend of fruit and sugar-like texture. And you can make it yourself! It’s another great addition to recipes as a brown sugar substitute or desserts that have a caramel-like finish. Check out these Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies to test out some date sugar.
  • Organic Sugar can be substituted in any recipe where sugar is called for. It’s still a somewhat processed sugar, but much of the molasses and minerals are still present. Many companies also subscribe to Fair Trade standards, which makes this a more conscientious baking choice, and it’s a very easy sugar to find at almost any grocery or health food store. If you are considering making icing, check out this helpful video on how to powder your organic sugar for the task.

Coconut palm sugar

Low-calorie Sweetenersfor those with diabetes or a desire to lower their sugar intake, there are some substitutes that provide sweetness without the glycemic load.
  • Stevia is the product of the green leaves of the stevia plant. While there are many options when it comes to blends of stevia, for a true stevia flavor, stick with brands that have only stevia as the ingredient. Stevia can taste bitter to some folks, as their taste receptors are more sensitive to bitter flavors than others. But if you like stevia, it can be a great additive for those trying to avoid sugar. You can purchase it in liquid or granulated form, and it often works best in beverages like smoothies or tea. Or perhaps, even in soda…
  • Xylitol is a great sugar substitute for those looking to lower their sugar intake. Standard xylitol is sourced either from corn or fruit, and organic xylitol is usually sourced from birch trees (check the package to be sure). When using it in the place of sugar for a recipe, you may need to put the required measurement into a coffee grinder to powder it to ensure that your recipe doesn’t turn out grainy. Xylitol can have a cooling affect on the tongue, but usually after it’s heated in an oven, that dissipates. It’s not quite as sweet as sugar, so you will need to increase the amount of sweetener you add to your recipe. I find that I add about a quarter more xylitol when substituting for sugar (example: 1 ¼ cup xylitol for 1 cup sugar). These Carrot Cake Cookies are a great way to try out xylitol.
Let us know what you discover as you experiment with sugar alternatives!

Contributing Writer