Last updated: May 11. 2013 5:41PM - 662 Views

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Many folks today are looking for the secret ingredient to losing a few pounds. Carbohydrates get a bad rap and are sometimes labeled as being the culprit for gaining weight.


It’s comfort food, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, stuffing and bread pudding. Yes, you are right, if the portions aren’t controlled, one can easily rack up the calories. There are two kinds of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Each group comes with extra baggage, good and bad.


The first group, simple carbohydrates, are things like sugar, sucrose and nature’s sugar found in fruit, fructose. There is also the natural sugar found in milk, lactose along with others. Chemists call these monosaccharide and disaccharides.


The second group, complex carbohydrates, are found in foods like pasta, potatoes, bread and rice. They contain starches and fibers, both soluble and insoluble. Chemists call these polysaccharides.


Why group these into different groups? It is because our bodies break these down and absorb them in different ways. Complex carbohydrates have an extra step in digestion. First, our bodies need to digest polysaccharides into the disaccharide maltose. That’s why when we eat complex carbohydrates, our hunger pains are delayed when compared to simple carbohydrates.


Sucrose, table sugar, comes with little nutrient value other than calories. It also causes dental cavities. Check the nutrition label to see how much sucrose is in the food you eat.


The other carbohydrates have vitamins and minerals, along with fiber. These are healthy additions to the calories. Folks that need to limit carbohydrates should consider getting them from fruits and vegetables and whole grains. These foods contain lots of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.


The USDA dietary guidelines encourage Americans to limit complex carbohydrates to one quarter of the plate. Half of those should be from whole grains. Other simple carbohydrates come from one half the plates, which is fruits and vegetables.


If you are a son or daughter, why not celebrate this Mother’s Day by giving your mom a healthy carb dessert instead of candy. Package it in a decorative tin or tray. It’s easy to make and sure to be a hit with Mom.


Chocolate Drizzled Fruit


2 tablespoons chocolate chips (semi-sweet)


2 bananas (large, peeled and cut into quarters)


8 strawberries (large)


1⁄4 cup walnuts or almonds (chopped, unsalted)


Place chocolate chips in a small microwave safe bowl. Heat on high for 10 seconds and stir. Repeat until chocolate is melted, about 30 seconds.


Place fruit on a small tray covered with a piece of waxed paper. Use a spoon to drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the fruit. Sprinkle the fruit with chopped nuts. Cover the fruit and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until the chocolate hardens. Serve chilled. Yield 4 servings.


Source: adapted from USDA SNAP-ed recipe finder


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