I swallowed. Barely. (It was my first authentic Shabbos meal). I had eaten a bite of gefilte fish but it tasted like candy apples. I didn’t want to be rude, so I piled on some chrain (horseradish with beets) which I thought would “drown out” the sweeteness of the fish. I remembered chrain from my childhood. It was sharp and hot and sour. Big mistake. The chrain was sweet, too. Loaded with sugar. What happened to my grandfather’s chrain?
Now I’m an old hand. I don’t bat an eye. Sugar in the fish? Ready, set, roll. Sugar in the salads? I can deal with it. Sugar in the potato kugel? (Yes. I have a friend who puts sugar in her kugel). Not a problem.
Do I really have to explain why sugar should be reserved for special occasion desserts, (and depending on your health, perhaps not even then)?
Here are just a few reasons: It dulls your taste buds and sets up a craving cycle. As too much salt does, sugar blots out the real taste of food. It causes cavities and bad breath because it sets up a warm, moist growing environment in your mouth and stomach for bacteria to grow. Sugar has been linked to high triglyceride and low levels of hdl cholesterol (the good kind). According to some studies the mineral imbalances it causes may contribute to bone density loss. Some researchers say that it is the obesity that results from eating sugar that causes diabetes, but many disagree. Eating an excess of sugar itself triggers pre-diabetes (unstable blood sugar), which leads to diabetes.
If you look at food energetically (using traditional Chinese medicine and Macrobiotics or other food-energy models), sugar is one of the more extremely expansive foods. It causes cell growth (that’s why many people put a pinch of sugar in the yeast and water to “feed the yeast”). Many believe excess sugar can lead to cancer, which is, essentially, the growth of undesirable cells.
Many moms say they see dramatic improvements in their children’s moods and behavior when sugar is limited or eliminated. My husband says there are noticeable improvements in people with some mental health issues who stop eating sugar.
Personally, I think balance is needed. You don’t want to scream “poison” if someone serves you or your child a cupcake or some icecream at a get together. I don’t want to, anyway.
If you are a diehard sweet fish eater, here’s a nice approach.
Sweet and Sour Shabbos Fish
4 salmon steaks or fillets (also works well with trout and salmon trout)
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
1 Tablespoon *Maple Syrup or Agave, optional
2 teaspoons Tamari or Shoyu
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon unhulled sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a roasting pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil (and sweetener if using). Pour over fish. Sprinkle on sesame seeds. **Cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Turn down oven to 350 degrees, cover pan, and cook for an additional 10-20 minutes until fish is done, depending on the thickness of the fillets or steaks.
To serve: Top wit sliced scallions.
*Yes, I know maple syrup is “sugar” and agave is controversial. See upcoming posts with more on sugar myths and facts.
** You can marinate, covered, in the refrigerator, for up to 4 hours.