Japanese soufflé cheesecake recipe – less sugar diet

Japanese soufflé cheesecake recipe. Enjoy this feathery treat that melts on your tongue. It requires less sugar, and other guilty ingredients.

Chapter 2-7: Activate your taste buds by subtraction – Plum Organics

Recipe for Japanese caramel pudding “purin”: reduce sugar – drastically!

One of the characteristics of the Japanese cuisine is its obsession with texture. Especially with deserts, Japanese are almost fanatical in adding special textures, whether it’s sponginess, wobbliness, smoothness, crispiness or crunchiness. The beauty of it? You rely less on sugar, butter or cream – the “guilty” ingredients to find pleasure in what you eat. When you focus on the texture, you rely less on the quantity of sweet/fatty ingredients. It’s much healthier and more blissful.

Japanese cheesecake: wobbliest, lightest and most delicious?

There are two types of cheesecakes that are popular in Japan: traditional New York style, and “souffle” type cheesecake. Unlike very “cheesy” New York style cheesecake, souffle is light and spongy because it uses beaten egg whites.

Chapter 2-7: Sugar, as the new black

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Sugar is a very interesting food indeed. It has a lot of implications, when thinking about the satisfaction we feel by eating food.

Ever since their existence on Earth, humans have lived without sugar, for about 100,000 years, until New Guineans successfully domesticated sugarcane, around 6,000 BC.  The cultivation of sugarcane slowly expanded after that, but it was still limited to South Asia and very small areas in the Mesopotamia and Mediterranean area, until around the 15th century.  According to “Sugar & the Slave Trade,” Europeans had access to probably less than a pinch per head for the whole history, before the 16th century.

England first saw sugar in 1319, Denmark in 1374, and Sweden in 1390. Obviously, the prices were outrageously high.  The sweetners humans had before sugar were honey, dates and fruits.  So basically our body was designed based on a world without sugar.  It did not expect large amounts of sugar to be ingested. 

Then, something happened in the 15th century that changed our diet completely, and irreversibly: Europeans discovered the Caribbean islands and South America.  Since the climate was suitable for growing sugarcane, they rapidly expanded sugarcane plantations, which increased the amount of refined sugar on Earth drastically and exponentially. 

According to the article “Sugar Love” by the National Geographic, the average sugar consumption by an Englishman increased by 25 times, from the 18th century to the 20th century.

YearSugar consumption (lbs)% relative to 1700

Average amount of sugar consumed by an Englishman (source: “Sugar Love (A not so sweet story)”  National Geographic

An ingredient unavailable to most of us for tens of thousands of years suddenly became something indispensable in our diet, in a matter of a couple of centuries. This was a drastic change to our body.

Why do we like sugar so much? Obviously, it’s a carbohydrate, the source of energy. It helps keep our body running. That’s why it tastes so delicious. But why can’t we stop eating it even after we’ve ingested enough calories? Why does it taste so addictively good?


One of the reasons is the characteristics of refined sugar, which is a pure (or almost pure) form of sucrose.  Sucrose is a disaccharide, which consists of glucose and fructose, and fructose is the sweetest of all naturally occurring carbohydrates. Because sucrose is in such a pure form, it’s broken down into glucose and fructose very easily in our body.  It’s almost painless the way our body processes refined sugar. It is a bit like driving a car on a street without stopping at the red lights.  Our body processes refined sugar, or pure sucrose so fast that nothing can stop it. 

Whereas the pleasure sugar brings to our body is intense and instantaneous, it causes insulin and blood sugar levels to skyrocket.  You are driving so fast that you don’t notice that you actually ignored the red lights, until you went passed them.  While the speed and the excitement is addictive, you cannot retroactively correct your traffic violation. 

By the time you know, the other parts of your body are frantically working to digest all the glucose you ingested: it’s way more than you can deal with.  The end results are obesity, diabetes and/or other complications.

No other naturally occurring foods come with such a high glucose/fructose concentration.  If a fruit includes 10% glucose and 10% fructose, the rest (80%) is fiber (or other elements).  Our body has to digest fiber in order to absorb the glucose, but fiber is not easy to process.  It takes time.  Unlike refined sugar, which can ignore so many red lights along the way of our digestive system,  fruits with fiber would have to stop at each red light.

In Chapter 2, we have been reviewing how the level of arousal of our senses (including taste) changes when the amount of external stimulus decreases.  Zero = abundance hypothesis is that the level of satisfaction is not just the function of the amount of pleasure or pain we feel, but also the function of the level of arousal.  We feel the deepest satisfaction when the amount of pleasure/pain is just right so that we can keenly concentrate mentally and/or physically. (If needed, please review Chapter 1: Zero = abundance hypothesis.)

Figure ZA hypothesis

Conceptual relationship of satisfaction and level of arousal

It turns out that sugar not only affects our taste system, but also affects our digestive system.  For taste system, sugar requires little arousal, since it’s flavor is so intense.  What about our digestive system?  As described earlier, it requires almost no efforts to break down sucrose:  no arousal is needed to perform this task.  But on the other end, sugar puts excessive burden and stress when it’s time to take glucose into our body cells.

bell-curve-sugarConceptual drawing of the effect of sugar on our digestive system

Because of it’s inconceivably pure form, sugar induces extreme reactions in our body.  It gives intensive and instantaneous pleasure to our sensory system.  At the same time, it makes some part of our digestive system almost asleep, and stresses out other parts tremendously.

Maybe sugar is good at confusing our body.  Since it’s so powerful, it easily makes us forget where the amount of pleasure (or simply the amount of sugar intake) aligns with our optimal level of arousal for both our sensory and digestive system.  It almost seems like our body will stay confused once it’s been confused.

We all know that subtraction plays a critical role here, but it becomes very difficult once you are too used to ingesting a lot of sugar.  If that’s the case,  is there a time when it’s not so difficult to ingest so much?  Can we train our body so as it can know its optimal level of arousal when ingesting food? 

Plum Organics has an idea.

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Chapter 2-8: Taste buds’ performance and Plum Organics

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Plum Organics, a revolutionary baby food company that completely changed the baby food shelf at the grocery store by its first-to-market spouted pouch, is very vocal about the importance of conscious AND delicious food for babies.  Babies are critically (often irreversibly) developing their taste buds.  They offer quality baby foods “to inspire a lifetime of healthy eating from the very first bite” with “culinary-inspired ingredients.” (source: Plum Organics website

They believe that the first 1,000 days (270 days in pregnancy + 2 years in life) are critical for child’s overall development.  Believe or not , babies’ taste development starts in utero.  They are already “tasting” food through what their mother eats.  Once born, they start recognizing what they are eating after about four months.  Then when it’s time for solid food,  they’ve already developed some (or strong) likes/dislikes towards foods.

Interesting thing is, even though parents usually understand that they would need to choose nutritious foods for babies, “deliciousness” hasn’t been drawing much attention. This is counter intuitive if we remember how keen we are when we look for food for ourselves.

There are possibly two reasons for that. First, we somehow decoupled “deliciousness” from nutrition. We tend to assume that delicious (such as sweet or salty) foods are not nutritious, and try to avoid giving them to babies.  Second, we don’t really realize that babies are “tasting” (or appreciating) food.  We feel our job is done once we give enough nutrition to babies.  

Both assumptions are wrong.

First, deliciousness should be tied to nutrition because that’s how humans have been surviving for hundreds of thousand of years.  Since sugar wasn’t part of our diet for 99.99% of our 100,000 year history, we must have been finding deliciousness elsewhere.  Deliciousness has much larger potential than just sweetness or saltiness.  But since extreme foods such as refined sugar have been confusing our body, we feel like as if delicious foods have little nutrition, and nutritious foods are not delicious.  Second, babies are developing their taste buds very very quickly.  Even if they often reject “new” foods (most foods are new to them anyway), it’s normal and is just part of the whole learning process.

The ability to find deliciousness in naturally occurring foods is the ability to find nutrition, if our taste buds are tuned properly.  For example, the pouch in the picture (zucchini banana & amaranth organic baby food) is 99g per pouch, with 70 Calories.  It includes 16 grams of carbohydrate in total for which 10 grams come from sugar. Most of the sugar in Plum Organics products is naturally occurring from the fruit.  If trained properly, our taste buds can feel sweetness naturally occurring in vegetables, fruit and other “healthy” ingredients.   Plum Organics shows us that babies are capable of doing so.

For Plum Organics, consciousness and deliciousness are interconnected. (We are programmed to find deliciousness in healthy, body-conscious food, right?)   And that happens if our taste buds are trained to maintain their optimal level when ingesting healthy food – which is supposed to increase our odds or survival.

Subtraction awakens and activates our internal abilities to achieve peak performance.   When we achieve peak performance, we feel satisfied.