Wednesday, September 9, 2009

perspectives: carbohydrates

I love 4 day weeks. That’s all. I’ve had a great week at the hospital so far and got to educate a patient interested in change. If I have the chance to make a difference {even a small one} in one patient’s life or change the way he or she thinks for the better, it’s the most incredible feeling in the world.

Keeping with the spirit of Monday's fiber post, I made zucchini brownies. I really hate to call them brownies because they didn’t taste like brownies. I’ve never found a recipe for from-scratch brownies that I liked better than the boxed artificial wonders {shh}. This recipe needs a little work, so don’t run to make it just yet {maybe it’s because I used whole wheat flour and eliminated most of the sugar, hehee}. Success stories on homemade brownies welcomed.


Speaking of sugar, one of my faves, HEAB, recently posted her opinion on eating excess refined sugar. I haven’t really commented on the sweet issue myself, so I decided to take the time to do so.

Carbohydrates 101


[complex carb goodness: eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, & mozz on whole wheat bread]

Sugar Definitions:

refined or simple carbohydrates (sugar): monosaccharides-glucose (dextrose), galactose, fructose; disaccharides-sucrose, maltose, lactose; white sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup

complex carbohydrate (starch): composed of many monosaccharide units, mostly glucose; polysaccharides; found in high fiber foods like legumes (i.e. beans, lentils, peas), starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruit

Don’t be afraid of carbs:

· The members of the nervous system (including the brain) are obligate glucose users...they can't use any other type of fuel! Also, glucose is the preferred fuel for the body and can be used in aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

· Some of the glucose you consume is also converted to glycogen for storage (can be later used to make glucose when the body's fuel is running on empty).

· Refined sugar can lead to health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity (through insulin resistance). However an excess of carbs (even complex ones) can lead to weight gain because the body will continue to use glucose as a fuel and will not mobilize stored fat for energy. For that matter, an excess of any of the macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) will cause weight gain.

Personally, I try not to eat too much refined sugar. By staying away from most packaged products, I do that. But, I do bake “moderation foods” with sugar and am completely ok with that.

Confused? Leave me a comment or email me at

*Shout out to my fellow interns {who now are blog readers): peds interns: Courtney, Crista, & Erin and the culinary interns: Dan, Irene, Justine, & Molly and our awesome GAs (Jenn & Meg) for an amazing first rotation. These are some pretty fantastic people, and I feel privileged to have been able to work with them for the past  {almost} two weeks.

There will be some guest posts from the aforementioned interns ahead…Dan makes the best homemade energy bars I’ve ever tasted (watch out Clif bar) and has promised to share his secrets with all of us sometime next week!

Also, find out what dietetic interns put in their lunch boxes…0

Don’t forget: enter Gina’s contest to win a subscription of Nutrition in Action, which always has great info about health research and products!


  1. Bummer those brownies weren't better...they look good, though! I love anything chocolate.

    I also adore 4 day weeks...I said earlier today that the world would be a much happier place if we ALWAYS had 4 day work weeks :)

  2. Yay for 4 day weeks , i like it ^_^ Oh wow that sandwich looks really yummy ^_^

  3. I love the idea of posting what dietetic interns pack for lunch! How fun :)

  4. your sammy looks amazing. at first i thought there was a carrot in there. hey, why not?

  5. that zucchini brownie looks really really good, even it would involve a lot of work I'd love to try it out. Which substitutions did you make to the original recipe?

    great info about sugar... I always try to stay away from white sugar... since it's empty food and because I'm not a "sweet" person per se.

    oh.... about the dark chocolate.... I've tried several brands, so far I like the organic brand Dagoba and lindts dark chocolate with sea salt. I'll explore more and do a review about different brands.

  6. One of my former roomies in college used to make a fantastic chocolate zuchini loaf, which I guess is similar to brownies. I was thinking about making it soon, and your post is insipring me to get on that fast.

    Great job with the carb explanation. When I teach my nutrition courses I often find that some students feel carbs are bad and don't want to eat them. I can present all the science in the world, but some people still just want to believe the hype.

    I just had a student tell me she has very specific rules for what she can pack in her son's lunch box and for snacks. Only milk, water, or 100% fruit juice and nothing that has sugar as the first ingredient. I thought that was interesting. Not sure if it was for nutritional reasons are someone just doesn't want the kids hopped up on sugar :)

    Glad your co-interns are reading your blog. It's nice to have support from peers. Can't wait to see what's in your lunch boxes. At the hospital I worked at we always ate together. Hospital admins and other staff would always wander by and peek at our table. Sometimes it's tough to be at the dietitian table!

  7. The boyfriend and I are ALLLLL about mix brownies. Your secret is safe with me. :)

  8. Can't wait for the other interns to post! Love your mini nutrition lessons. I'm still digesting the simple stuff!

  9. Thanks for the giveaway shout out!
    Like you, I try not to eat much processed and simple carbohydrate foods. Obviously it's hard to stay 100% away from those foods, but it's good to be aware of what you put in your mouth.
    I'd love to hear Dan's Clif bar recipe! How fun.

  10. Ugh, it deleted my comment!

    I wrote a whole long post (not published yet) on why people shouldn't fear carbs... because way too many people do!

    Love you, Em!

  11. I've been wanting to try this recipe for brownies:

  12. I could give you a REALLY good brownie recipe that's completely unhealthy. Somehow I think your zucchini brownies win in the nutrition department. :)

    I don't fear carbs, but I have noticed feeling better with less of them. And I didn't know about fat slowing the glycemic response--that's interesting.

  13. The brownies look good to me! The best brownies I have ever had were from the Ben and Jerry's cookbook- I'll try to get it from my mom and email it to you! The oat cakes I made the other day were surprisingly chocolatey from the Lara bar...

    Interesting stuff on carbs. I don't really pay attention to sugar content of stuff- the majority of my sugar comes from things like fruit, a few energy bars a week and granola occasionally. Nothing excessive I don't think (I am ignoring my ketchup addiction for now). I think I need to worry more about my artificial sweetener intake...

  14. Thanks for sticking up for complex carbs - I think I'd die without them!
    Can't wait to red guest posts - especially homemade clif bars, I've been trying to find something that I can make cheaper!

  15. Oh man, both brownies and sandwich look delicious! Thank you so much for all the carb info - I'm a carbaholic so it was very interesting :)

  16. Here's my thing about homemade brownies: they're amazing and the real thing is so much better than boxed. The best recipe ever is in this:

    The all butter fresh cream sugar-packed baking book. That is the name of it. THAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH REALLY GOOD HOMEMADE BROWNIES! They are basically lots of melted quality chocolate and lots of melted butter. Healthified recipes will never be as good. I just have them rarely but decadently!


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