University of Calgary

Faculty Said / Alumna Said

Submitted by alumni on Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:00.

Faculty Said / Alumna Said

Is sugar as evil as they claim? What would life look like without red velvet cake? Two experts weigh in on the white stuff.

Ten years ago, UCalgary alumna Jodi Willoughby, BCR’01, and her sister, Carolyne McIntyre Jackson, opened their first bakery in Calgary. Now owners of a little empire of six bakeries, the duo continue to sell those little (and big) guilty pleasures we call cupcakes.


Is there a place for sugar in our diets?

Absolutely! Sugar is in so many foods that we consume, not just sweets. It is a key component in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Although sugar is often vilified, it provides instant energy and fuels our bodies. I think it’s perfectly okay to indulge in a piece of pie or a cupcake from time to time.

What is more important is people know what is going into the foods that they are consuming. There are so many products that contain highly processed ingredients that are hidden behind brands that pretend to be good for us. For instance, many granola bars contain more sugar and calories than a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Yet people feed these products to their children, thinking they’re healthy.

If we could limit our consumption of processed foods, it would leave room for the occasional sweet treat, made from whole ingredients. When we consume foods containing sugar, it raises our endorphin levels, which can enhance our mood and aid in memory and learning.

Personal responsibility is part of the obesity debate, as well. Fast-food restaurants, airports and convenience stores stock more healthy options than ever before. We need to exhibit some willpower and choose healthy foods, as well as occasional sug­ary indulgences.

Should there be a tax on foods with added sugar?

If we tax foods that contain sugar, where do we draw the line? Rather than legislating foods, we think the focus should be on education and awareness, to encourage people to make good choices, including a healthy consumption of sugar.

We need to exhibit some willpower and chose healthy foods, as well as occasional sugary indulgences.

We could certainly stand to improve food labelling — this would have to include foods containing fat, salt, processed or synthetic ingredients. Foods made from whole, natural ingredients like milk, eggs, butter, flour and, yes, sugar, don’t need to be labelled; they just need to be consumed in moderation, as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Which is better (or worse): sugar or non-caloric sweeteners?

We are not dieticians; however, there is a school of thought that suggests foods containing sugar derived from natural ingredients are better for us than foods containing synthetic sweeteners.

Our philosophy is to use the highest-quality ingredients in everything we make, which is why we use real sugar, not synthetic sweeteners. We also subscribe to some of our grandmother’s lessons that stressed everything in moderation. Our grandmother not only taught us how to bake, she passed along her values of hard work, honesty and quality. She used to say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” We like to think that this comes through in everything we bake.

What would the world look like with no lollipops, ice cream, crème brulee and red velvet birthday cakes?

We can’t imagine a world without sweet treats. What would you stick the candles in?

When we started Crave, it was because we wanted to share our love and passion for baking with as many people as possible. For us, baking for family, friends and, yes, even strangers, is simply one of the most fulfilling things we do. Our dream is to create a sense of community connected by tangible, simple things that feed us and make us happy. U

For more sweets, visit: cravecupcakes.ca.