Give Me Some (Healthier) Sugar!

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Baking season is upon us, my friends, and in the next 4-6 weeks many of us will be whipping up holiday cookies, cupcakes, breads, cakes, pies and whatever else we can think of. Yes, yes, I know some of you bake all year long, but it is just too hot here in the summer for me to invest much time in baking. Come fall, though, look out!

The world of baking has changed so much from when I was a child. The range of flours, oils, butters, and sweeteners available now is astonishing. Some of us are working on gluten-free, vegan or whole food recipes, and I can’t wait to see what everyone is creating! One ingredient that has vexed many of us is sugar. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to reduce our sugar consumption. But we all occasionally want a little somethin’ somethin’. No form of sugar is “health food”, of course, but some forms are better than others. So what are they and how can we use them to our best advantage?

I was working on research about sugars and sweeteners, when I came across a blog for Small Footprint Family. Their blog post on sweeteners contained so much wonderful information, I decided to just feature their post as it is and use my energies elsewhere (like finding more pumpkin recipes on Pinterest).

In our house, we use maple syrup, coconut sugar (LOVE it!), honey, dates and molasses as sweeteners, but I always have a backup stash of unbleached, organic cane sugar. We do not buy bleached sugars, chemical sugar substitutes or corn syrup and now I’m even more glad of that.

What should you do? Hey, your pantry, your rules, and I am not here to judge. But information is your best friend when shopping for any kind of food and this blog has lots to offer, including some types of sweetener that were completely new to me. Check it out!

Click HERE for their blog post!

Get those muffin pans and cookie sheets ready! Baking season is just around the corner!

Interested in reducing your sugar consumption? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make your own treats. I’m preaching to the choir for anyone reading a food blog, but really, when you make your own treats you can control not only how much sugar you use, but also what kinds of sweeteners.
  2. Read the label, read the label, read the label. Our national sugar dependency is not the result of mom (or dad) making cookies. It is all the hidden sugar in processed foods and it is everywhere (have you looked at your toothpaste label?). If you are buying foods labeled as “low fat,” chances are they are also “high sugar”, although the marketing people won’t tell you that. Fat is a flavor conveyor and when fat is removed, companies use excess salt and sugar to make up for the loss of flavor.
  3. Be patient with your taste buds. Reducing sugar (or salt, for that matter), may seem weird at first. Your taste buds may be set on “fructose jolt” and lower sugar foods may not taste as flavorful. It takes about 28 days to make a behavioral change, so give your body and your taste buds a chance to catch up!

Whole Wheat Blondies

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We had our first snow of the season today. Just a bit of snow–enough to put schools on a delay, but not enough to cause mayhem. I was hoping for snowmageddon, but no such luck. Still, it was a great day for homemade breakfast, baking these awesome whole wheat blondies and organizing the kitchen. I love days like that.

These blondies are rich and delicious and with whole wheat flour, they are also filling. We made them with local new crop pecans and chocolate chips. If you don’t like chocolate, just leave that out. Either way, they are amazing with Blue Bell butter pecan ice cream. The original recipe for these blondies comes from Lauren Chattman’s “Mom’s Big Book of Baking”. Here is our version!

Whole Wheat Blondies

  • 1 cup whole wheat, all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick organic, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed, organic light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped new crop pecans
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8″ square baking pan with foil.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Remove pan from heat.
  4. Stir in the brown sugar and combine well. Quickly add the egg and vanilla and stir well.
  5. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated.
  6. Stir in nuts and chocolate. Batter will be thick.
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Let cool on a wire rack.
  9. When cool, grab foil and pull the entire pan of Blondies out and place on a cutting board. Cut into 9 generous squares.
  10. Serve warm.
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