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Go ahead treat yourself, but without all the sugar!

 

When we bake at home we are always fiddling with recipes. If I actually baked a cake with the regular sugar suggestion from most cook books, my kids would find it too sweet! Why is 2 cups of sugar necessary? We have always replaced sugar with other sweet ingredients, and I have never found a recipe to fail simply due to less sugar. 

Image courtesy of cakesbyjoanne.co.uk

Image courtesy of cakesbyjoanne.co.uk

We have been altering recipes to make them gluten, dairy and sugar free or naturally sweetened. However, if you don't like playing around there are some great books from kiwi women full of great recipes that are either very low in sugar or they use sweet things directly from nature.

  • My Petite Kitchen by Eleanor Ozich is great and many of my friends use her simple recipes. She has a fantastic blog for great recipes online. Eleanor lives in Auckland.
  • My Darling Lemon Thyme by Emma Galloway who lives in Ragland. Click here for more info. 
  • The Sweet Food Story by Dr. Libby. You can see her in person for one her inspiring talks around New Zealand about life, food and stress. Dr libby is Australian but lives in New Zealand too.

Sometimes we don't have time to bake and we tempted to make life easy and grab something pre-made off the shelf. Be wary if you pick something that is packaged and says "sugar free". If it seems too good to be true - it usually is!

By now most have you have heard about the 951 sweetener, well-known as aspartame. Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Even though it is pretty nasty, it is still commonly hidden in products.

So, what can we do ?

The best way to eat well is to read the labels. It is time consuming at first, but once you know what to look for it is worth the few seconds it takes. If there are no ingredients listed then you may as well assume they are hiding something from you. Usually ingredients are not listed for breath mints and sugar free gum. If you research this you will often find they actually contain aspartame.

When reading products labels look for real food sweeteners like honey. These products will be more expensive because they come from more expensive food sources, but it is worth it.  I think if you were going to buy something sweet and you had to pick between sugar and a bunch of numbers in the ingredients, I would suggest you go with the one with sugar and have a small portion of it.  

Cooking from scratch at home means you know exactly what goes into your food. For breakfast you can try our naturally sweet gluten free Piklet recipe. I like to make a double portion so we can have a quick delicious breakfast Monday morning. 

When you are baking, you can alter your recipes by replacing sugar with raw honey, maple syrup, dates or ripe mashed banana. If you still prefer to use sugar try using coconut sugar and reduce the portion. It is not as sweet and refined.

When I do decide to buy a treat it is usually Whitakers dark chocolate. 70% cocoa bars have some goodness to them, but just have a little! Recently I bought a pack of their peppermint dark chocolates which are 15gms, and are individually wrapped. This is a great way to limit yourself to just one as a treat.

Image courtesy of mygutsy

Image courtesy of mygutsy

When I am craving something sweet I often feel satisfied after having a couple of dried dates or coconut chips. At night I love to munch on coconut chips for a crunchy sweet snack. After having one of these my sweet tooth usually dissipates. Desiccated coconut is also wonderful to replace some of your flour when you're baking. It can be a simple sweet addition.

If you have any favourite recipe books please share  them below!