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Does anyone cook for as long as a week without using sugar or sugar substitutes.

I occasionally watch the Food channel, and I've been rather amazed at the amount of sugar that goes into recipes on its programs. I rarely use sugar when I cook. But then I don't make a lot of desserts either. So my question is whether anyone cooks for as long as a week without using sweeteners or at least confining the sweet stuff to minor amounts in dessert?

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  1. I'd say that I often do. If I'm cooking a Vietnamese meal though, many dishes call for a little sugar. During the week, I usually have just some fruit or cheese after the meal, and may or may not make a dessert over the weekend. Coconut cake tomorrow though!

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      I'm with you. Sometimes in Vietnamese I use caramel sauce which I make up and store in the cupboard until needed. It keep for ever and adds an authentic flavor to some dishes where sugar just won't make it. In most western foods it is a great rarity unless baking. I am trying to get back to baking a pullman loaf each weekend and cut out the sugar (DH and I were thinking on the same wave length. I got up this AM and the pullman loaf pan was out) I find too many comnercially produced breads way too sweet. Sometimes a pinch of sugar like a pinch of salt can act as a flavor enhancer, but unless it is baking season I can make a bag of sugar last for months.

    2. I rarely cook with sugar or substitutes, aside from holiday sweets. I've slowly been trying to incorporate sweet things such as honey and molasses into rubs for slow cooking, but I'm sure that this isn't the answer you're looking for. I never add sugar to my tomato sauce (fresh basil is sweet enough), muffins and quick breads don't need them (particularly when filled with bananas, dried fruit, or nuts)...

      Caramelizing vegetables or heating fruit brings out their natural sweetness.

      We really don't eat dessert, aside from ice cream (even that I don't necessarily consume weekly, but with summer here, it's likely to change!).

      Sorry that I can't help you on this; I'm not making an effort to be healthy, I simply don't use much sugar. We have about 3lbs of turbinado sugar, a couple of jars/bottles of honey and maple syrup from local farms, and a half-used bottle of blackstrap molasses which I have used for braising ribs, but those are barely used with my cooking (seasonal, with no particular style, as it varies depending on my mood and what's available).

      1. As long as I'm not baking desserts, muffins, or pastry, I'd say yes, I often go a week or more without using added sugar in anything.

        I sometimes add molasses or brown sugar to a barbecue sauce or something in a tomatoey sauce like stuffed peppers, but those aren't things I make that frequently. Occasionally I'll make a honey mustard for something like gravlax, or I might use a little sugar in coleslaw, but that's also fairly infrequent.

        Some breads that I make need sugar or malted barley syrup or molasses, but not the sourdough I make most often.

        1. I'm with you Father K - I've gone for months without white sugar in the house and not noticed until someone wants it in their tea.

          Of course I don't make a lot of desserts either. We tend to the savory/salty over here. And I think FN is crap (except I like to watch the occasional Iron Chef...)

          Summertime lemonade and cocktails - simple syrup is made the traditional way.
          Scones (2T in the recipe, who am I to dispute)
          And, like MMRuth, SEAsian.

          1. I normally try to stay away from desserts. But I love to bake. So there have been plenty of times when I've gone weeks without using sugar, and then I'll go on a baking binge and use up a 5-pound bag. Sometimes I bring cookies or cake into work so I won't have the stuff around at home.

            1. Hey, FK! I bake, but not much dessert. I use a bit of sugar for cornbread, some quick pickling and for some Asian sauces. A pound of sugar lasts up to 6 months, same for a stick of butter & a liter of cooking oil. Package of salt lasts for years. And I cook all the time for from one to large groups. Of course I also use some honey (sugar), soy & fish sauce (salt), and high quality ev olive and toasted sesame oils (but not for cooking). Also get plenty of sugar from fruit, vegetables (like carrots), some purchased bread, and raisins - but no soft drinks, candies, purchased desserts, or processed foods.

              1. No deserts here unless going to someones house like tonight. Early afternoon BBQ and home. The hosts work evening/midnight shifts. Sugar, not in coffee, always have it, a couple of vinaigrettes I use it in but not very often. I use honey or natural sweetners. Most dishes I make rarely use sugar.

                However Mojitos do!!

                1. I almost never use sugar to cook. But I rarely make dessert. The only thing I eat during the week that I put anything sweet into is a raw chocolate banana shake that I love. I use honey or agave nectar. Otherwise, no sugar in anything. But I am very much a salt over sweet eater.

                  1. I just did a 4 week cleanse where I wasn't allowed to have an sweeteners. It wasn't a challenge in my cooking... I Just didn't bake anything.


                    1. I can think of two savory dishes I make that call for a touch of sugar, and I don't make either that often ... other than that it's unused. And without a working oven I can't make cookies or quick breads :(

                      My MIL uses a lot of sugar, in everything.

                      1. Another non-baker here. I may use a bit of sugar in a sauce for a stir-fry or a marinade or something, but I would say that's probably only 2-3 times a month, if that much.

                        1. Easy to go a couple weeks without using sugar in my cooking. I cook savory food; not baked goods, and seldom do desserts. But then I'll turn around and make a batch of 123 Shortbread, or a Dutch Baby with Cinnamon Apples maybe once a month

                          1. Not much of a baker (trying to be!) and don't have much of a sweet tooth. I can go weeks without using sugar. Husband takes it in his coffee, so it's always around, lasts a long time.

                            1. Easily. I am another savory/salty/non-dessert type here. Even as a kid I never had much of a sweet tooth--I had the occasional soda, but never understood the maddened mission that was Halloween candy collecting... yech.

                              We have honey and agave syrup for tea, and varieties of sugar that will probably all go bad before they get used. I forget we even have it half the time--a friend was over the other morning and asked for sugar in his coffee, I had to dig it out of the depths of the cabinet for him.

                              The only thing I can even recall using sugar in recently is a great coleslaw recipe from Paula Dean--and I cut the sugar amount in half from 2 to 1 tbsp--everyone loves it.

                              1. As a baker, I don't go very long without hitting the sugar bag. However, my little sugar dish that used to sit out on the table goes untouched for weeks at a time, now. There was a time that it would have been used 10 x a day for tea, breakfast cereal, coffee etc.

                                But those days are gone: tea with saccharin, coffee with nothing and cereal with fruit. Ones' tastes change...

                                1. I rarely use sugar or honey in my cooking, though I don't often make dessert (if I have dessert it will be some type of store bought ice-cream with fruit, or just fruit alone). I will sometimes put a bit of fruit juice (apple typically) into curries and other dishes where I like to taste a bit of sweetness. And just a bit of sugar brightens up tomato sauce for spagetti and meatballs, IMO.

                                  However, I have noticed that sugar is used a fair amount in the Gujarati (Indian) dishes that my BIL makes...I think Gujaratis are known for liking lots of sweet in their savory. Indeed, the other day I made, or tried to make BIL's justifiably famous "Indian potatoes".(a sort of soupy curry with potatoes and other vegetables). I had watched him do it enough times that I was fairly certain I knew what to put in...it was good, but it somehow wasn't quite right. It did occur to me that I should try adding sugar: unfortunately, I recently moved into a new house and didn't even have any sugar on hand (which shows you how little I use it, since moving day was three weeks ago :-)). Had to settle for apple juice...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                    Yep, the recipe calls for about a tablespoon of sugar. You could have used it as an excuse to meet one of your new neighbors; you know, the "can I borrow a cup of sugar" thing?

                                    (The other "secret ingredients" include a squeeze of lime right before serving, and just a pinch - I do mean a tiny pinch - of hing/asoefetida...)

                                  2. Sugar is for baking and dessert... I use a lot of it when I bake/make dessert but I don't do that all the time. The only savoury dishes I can think of that use sugar are bbq sauce and honey-soy chicken. Apricot chicken is generally sweet too, but that gets its sweetness from the apricot nectar rather than extra sugar (okay, so the can of nectar has sugar in it but I'm not adding more myself!). I don't make those dishes very often either... maybe once a month for bbq, and once every three months for honey-soy. DH doesn't like sweet entrees.

                                    1. I use sugar all the time, and not just for baking or desserts.

                                      I use sugar in stir-fries, braises, stews and various different types of sauces (or reductions).

                                      It's an essential ingredient. Sometimes you add sugar not to give a dish a distinct sweetness, but rather as a point of balance (much in the same way you add salt to desserts).

                                      What's with the apprehension towards sugar? It's a critical part of a chef's arsenal, just like anything else we use to make a dish -- from salt to pepper to msg.

                                      1. Cook yes, bake no. Sweeteners go in breakfast bread, muffins and the infrequent deserts.