When I made the decision to remove sugar from my diet last year, at no point did I ever consider giving up desserts or sweet foods. I don’t have A sweet tooth, my whole mouth is full of them. For me, the main course is simply a formality to get to the real main event, and I have never understood why people want to order an entrée as this simply increases the amount of waiting time before eating dessert.
So when giving up sugar I immediately took to finding recipes for delicious sugar-free sweet things, and I found plenty. In fact there is one particular recipe that is hands down the tastiest dessert I have ever tried, but I’m going to keep you hanging and give you that recipe another time :).
At this point I should probably clarify my use of the word sugar. I haven’t actually given up sugar, I have given up refined sugar. Refined sugar is the sugar that is mostly used in processed foods and eating-out type establishments.
The list of sweeteners below are all highly processed:
- Cane sugar – white sugar, raw and brown.
- icing sugar,
- maple flavoured syrup
- honey (if it is not cold extracted)
- brown rice syrup (also called rice malt syrup)
- molasses (this is actually the byproduct of refining sugar)
- fructose (unless you are just eating it in a piece of fruit)
- agave syrup
- and of course high-fructose corn syrup
- Splenda (this artificial sweetener/chemical has is actually a processed form of sugar)
Refined sugar is not your friend. There are so many reasons why refined sugar is not your friend, but today the main event of this blog is the desert recipe below (and I am as keen to get there as I would be if I was eating it), so I am going to keep this part brief. But basically unrefined sugars, that is sugars the way nature made them, contain nutrients which enable our body to process them. Refined sugars do not, and this means that in order for your body to process them it has to draw on the ones that are already in your body, and your body doesn’t keep some spare vitamins and minerals lying around the place just in case you eat some food that is missing some, and so it has to take them from other parts of your body that are actually using them, need them. If you do this to your body every day (and keep in mind that, maybe apart from fresh produce, the majority of foods you purchase from the supermarket will have some form of refined sugar in them), this will totally mess with the balance of your whole body, and unbalanced bodies have a hard time coping. Coping-less bodies result in us feeling unwell.
In many cases refined sugars are so far refined they have become chemicals (high-fructose corn syrup and splenda are two examples), so your body doesn’t even know what to do with them. There are many experts who believe that sugar is the greatest threat to human health.
Well on that happy note I’m going to leave that there today, but I will undoubtedly be talking a lot more about sugar. If you want to read some now, here is a comprehensive article from the Global Healing Centre Website on the impact of refined sugars on our health.
But luckily nature has provided us with plenty of sugar so we can make plenty of sweet food options that our body can deal with. (although we probably shouldn’t make plenty, just sometimes as even though natural sugars contain the nutrients to help us metabolise them, sugar is still sugar and moderation is a good idea. If you eat too much you will probably end up wishing you hadn’t 🙂 ).
So here is a list of the unrefined sugars I use.
- Dates (did you know that you can make caramel from dates? And I’m not talking about a some kind of healthy caramel option that doesn’t really taste like caramel, I mean proper caramel. I’m think I’m going to dedicate an entire blog to caramel recipes made from dates)
- Coconut sugar
- Evaporated cane sugar
- 100% pure maple syrup
- Organic, cold-extracted honey
After making my fair share of refined-sugar-free sweet treats I realised that you can pretty much take any recipe and adapt the ingredients to be much healthier and to exclude refined sugar.
With substituting sweeteners the basic principles are:
- Coconut sugar and evaporated cane sugar have 1:1 ratio with sugar
- Honey is sweeter than sugar and has a stronger flavour so you want to use about 3/4 the amount of honey, so if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar you can substitute it with 3/4 cup of honey. For baking you also want to reduce your other liquids by about 2 tablespoons for 3/4 cup of honey.
- Maple syrup I use 1:1 ratio too, and for baking you will need to reduce your other liquids by about 3 tablespoons for every cup of maple syrup.
You can also substitute other ingredients to make things a bit healthier or to meet dietary requirements.
Below is the apple cake recipe I found on food.com
- 1 Cup plain flour
- 1⁄3 cup rolled oats
- 1⁄3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons natural set low-fat plain yogurt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄3 cup unsweetened apple juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 2 small eggs (or 1 jumbo one)
- 500 g red apples, peeled cored and diced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- vegetable oil cooking spray
And here is what I ended up making
- 1 Cup organic wholemeal spelt flour
- 1⁄3 cup organic rolled oats
- 1⁄4 cup organic honey
- 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon (yep I got me some organic cinnamon, it’s very good)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 pinch Himalayan pink salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon bicarb soda
- 1 small containers of organic apple and berry puree (Woolies sell these now)
- 1 teaspoon of organic vanilla essence (this is homemade – I’ll pass that recipe on soon)
- 2 small eggs (or 1 jumbo one) – organic
- 500 g green apples, peeled cored and diced
To make the cake you combine all the dry ingredients into a bowl and then stir in the wet ingredients, folding in the apples at the end. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for around 30 minutes. Easy.
Here’s my little beauty.
This cake is delicious, it tastes like apple crumble, and the original recipe actually has an crumble topping you can make, but if you read the title of this blog you already know I put cream cheese icing on mine. This cream cheese icing is super simple, and I also reckon it is the tastiest around which is why I just had to put it on this cake.
Cream Cheese Icing recipe
- 1 tub of cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon + honey
You just mix the 2 ingredients together until you have yummy creamy icing. Start out with the tablespoon of honey and then just keep tasting it till it’s just right, but be very careful not to “taste” the lot you could absolutely eat this icing on its own with a spoon. It is that good.
And here she is with icing (a slice may or may not have been eaten prematurely due to amazing smells produced whilst baking).
I have also made this icing with just maple syrup, and also with maple syrup and cocoa. All of them equally delicious.
I am always on the lookout for new refined-sugar recipes so post your favourites in the comments below for me 🙂