Successive research has proved that sugar is damaging. And no matter how hard we deny the reality, it is obvious that excess sugar leads to the body's acidification, causes tooth decay, harms the heart and immune system and leads to obesity. On the other hand sugar is important for the taste, durability and texture of many products. Having got used to sweets and bombarded by so much information about sugar's harmfulness we stand before the dilemma: "sugar or no sugar?"


Do we really want to fully cut ourselves off from sweetness? I don't. I like sweets and my family does too, so I decided to look for products thanks to which the wolf would be full and the sheep alive. The dietitian Maria Śledziowska from EKOlogika on Opaczewska street in Warsaw was very helpful. Thanks to her I learnt that we may reduce the harmful effects of sugar by exchanging it for different sweet products. The way out of the situation is sugar substitutes. During the workshop at EKOlogika I discovered a plentiful group of such products. I found out about their properties, consistencies and how we may use them. I knew some of them before. Who hasn't heard of honey, stevia and xylitol? However, many products from this group were new for me.


Especially interesting for me was information about the glycemic index and the calorific value of sweet products and which of them can be used for baking. For example, I discovered that stevia can be used for baking below 180C. Above this temperature it loses its sweetness. Erythritol leaves a cold feeling in the mouth and cannot be used to sweeten hot tea, but it is perfect for refreshing lemonade in the summer. If we use it to bake biscuit cake, we can lower its calorific value by 25%.

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Overwhelmed by bad autumn weather, we looked for some hot sun with a bit of energizing shade and came to a small tapas bar called Sol y Sombra on Grzybowska Street 2 in Warsaw. For four years in this place fans of Spain have found atmosphere from Spanish bars where they may spend time with friends, eat iconic snacks and drink excellent Spanish wine.
The origin of tapas is connected with the Andalusians, who when drinking wine covered the glass with a slice of dry sausage to protect it against flies. With time they started to serve thin slices of bread with various fixings. Today tapas is different: ranging from very simple but excellent olives to more complicated dishes. It is prepared with many ingredients: vegetables, meat, seafood and eggs and is served hot or cold in a small bowl, often with cocktail sticks to make eating easier. In the next bar, drinking another glass of wine, manoeuvring with a knife and fork is as uncomfortable as it is dangerous.
Tapas is not only tasty food. First of all it is free time to spend with friends, an atmosphere of carelessness and play, the memory of a tropical day and the promise of a hot night. If you haven't experienced this in Spain, you can find a casual, sunny atmosphere, nice staff and excellent food in Sol y Sombra.

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I'm sure that a lot of parents were under pressure: "mum, buy me a soft drink". Shop shelves groan with drinks that tempt us with colourful and enticing labels. Some of them also have stickers to attract children's attention. You just need one peek at a list of ingredients as long as the periodic table and you don't want to buy them. Unfortunately, normal mineral water isn't attractive both in terms of taste and packaging. Adults are more sensible so more often choose water, but children are more difficult to convince.


My children mostly drink water, juice and green and fruit tea, but sometimes I am faced with the above difficult choice.


For children aged 5-6 educators and teachers have more authority than parents, so I decided to look for outside support. I was rescued from my trouble by a nearby shop with healthy and ecological food "EKOlogika" Opaczewska Street 43. In this ordinary but amazing place they organize training workshops for children and adults about products and eating habits, and they also have evenings with books and meetings with businessmen from the Ochota district as well as other events.

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When outside it is grey and sad we hold dear the places where it is warm, nice and sweet. As well as our unbeatable sofa in the living room where we may count on a warm blanket and a cup of hot tea, we have a couple of favourite places with a happy atmosphere. Recently, Croque Madame on Nowy Świat Street 41 has joined this group.


We found our way there by chance on a windy Saturday evening. We were welcomed by nice and smiling waitresses. Though the Café décor may not appeal to everyone, the display case with dainties would cater to every taste. The meringue torte with raspberries or blackcurrants, the cheesecake with white chocolate, the cheese tart with figs, and the fresh (despite the late hour) buns delight with their appearance and overindulge the palates. Fragrant coffee caught our noses and conjured fancy pictures of milky foam, but because it was late we decided on tea.


The weather outside was depressing, so to lift our mood we ordered boiling hot winter tea. We were enchanted with the way it was served. Flavoursome black tea with oranges and seasonings waited for us in cups enveloped in teacup cosies. Next to them warming up there were small jugs with raspberry juice and fresh fruits. All of this brought to mind a small work of art. We have never had such beautiful and imaginatively served tea.

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I observe with great interest that in many cities there are culinary places which are impossible to forget. Fortunately, the time when every restaurant or café looked the same has sunk into oblivion, and in every city we can find interesting, original spots managed by amazing people. Bored or grumpy waitresses who offend the patrons, unattractive menus and not too fresh products don't exist in places like this. Nowadays, cafés compete in preparing sophisticated desserts, their cakes entice us with their beauty and taste, and the coffee is so redolent that it draws us in from the other end of the street. Apart from bodily pleasures, you may count on nice conversation with the owner or staff, WiFi and the possibility of charging your mobile phone.


We found just such a café in Tarnów. In one of the streets leading off to the market street we saw a tram carriage. It didn't have long rails or electric traction, it didn't screech or ring, and it didn't want to take us on a trip; instead it tempted us with excellent coffee, ice cream and seasonal cakes. We had found our way to Café Tramwaj.


A conversation with the very nice owner revealed a couple of details about this amazing and atmospheric café. The Ladybirds (which is what trams were called in Tarnów) travelled on their 2.5 km routes starting from 1911. Apparently, similar electric trams were in circulation in Galicia only in Kraków and Lwów. Every 6 minutes, from 6 am to 10 pm, six trolleys carried people hurrying to work, home or to a meeting. It is difficult to believe that in 1927 they carried over 1 million passengers. The trams stopped running in Tarnów at the behest of occupying forces in 1942. In 2012, the ladybird once again appeared on the streets of Tarnów. This handmade replica of a carriage from before the war is decorated with original elements like rails, undercarriage, bell and lamps. Great attention to detail makes it difficult to believe that it is only an excellent replica.

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