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The Sweet Life

01/03/2011

I was born with a sweet tooth. Momma made cinnamon sugar toast for my tea parties and visits to Grandmas always included cookie baking.

In college I bought two honey sticks at the coffee shop…one for my tea and one for a snack.  I ate my weight in churros dipped in thick hot chocolate in every corner chocolateria in Spain…not to mention pounds of Swiss chocolate.

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That’s just study abroad.

When my IBS reared it’s ugly head my sugar love affair went down hill fast.  I tried to limit my sweet treats until I finally made a clean break and steer clear of the sweet stuff.  Sad smile

IBS and food sensitivities/allergies are all trial and error.  Cake and cookies let me know traditional cane sugar and I were not friends.  An unfortunate sugar-free chocolate incident on Valentine’s Day let Hunni and I both know sugar alcohols – the things used to make sugar-free stuff – were a no go too…sorry Hunni.  From then on I’ve been skeptical of ANYTHING sweet.

I cried into my sugar less tea and ate more broccoli. Sad smile Not that there is anything with broccoli but I wanted a cookie every now and again.  I decided to gamble and purchased a few natural sweeteners from my local health food store.

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Hunni Honey was an easy addition…I hadn’t really given it up completely.  It mellowed black tea and worked as a nice substitute in salad dressings, marinades and for pancake toppings. A solo spoonful every now and again is a sweet treat, too.  😉IMG_4468

Bonus: Local honey is good for those with allergies to build up the immune system to local allergens.

Influenced by blogs I branched out to agave syrup.  Yep, I’m easily influenced; it’s part of the reasons we read blogs, right?

It’s an easy substitute in baking recipes and some blogs use it as the primary sweetener. In many of my older recipes it’s the primary sweetener.IMG_4470

Note: Hunni says you can’t drink it like tequila even if it’s made from he same plant. Winking smile

While on vacation in Philly, Hunni and I wandered through Reading Terminal Market.  I spaced on our conversation when I spotted something sweet, sorry Hunni.

Sugar made from dates was intriguing so I paid the $7.99 for half a pound. I know! I was shocked at the price too. I attempted to use it in a healthy cake for my friends and it didn’t work so well.  IMG_4472I opened that “fresher” bag recently for cookies and it tasted like dirt.  Not fun at all.  I’ll stick to my Costco size bag of the real thing.

Honey and agave were my go to sweeteners but wouldn’t work for making blueberry jam…they were too dang expensive.  I scored the jackpot on another trip to the health food store…beet sugar.  The jam was fabulous – I ate all 7 jars in 3 weeks – and I didn’t get sick.  Score!

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The final test was maple syrup.  My pancakes were lonely and it was a main ingredient in a recipe I really wanted to try.  I bit the bullet and paid big bucks for the real deal.  After all the tastes like maple really meals “hurts Cynthia’s stomach.”  Luckily, I live near Vermont where I can get it directly from maple sugarers.  IMG_4469

Cooking requires tasting…at least that’s what they say on TOP CHEF and who am I to argue.  Surprise, surprise…it tasted delicious AND I didn’t get sick.  I always have a bottle of local syrup stashed away for recipes and pancakes of course. 🙂

After all my testing I come to some sweet conclusions [pun intended].  Beet sugar is cheap and the best alternative for baking.  Honey keeps the achoo’s away and best eaten by the spoonful. Agave is good for the sweet taste and avoiding the sugar crash.  Finally maple is a flavor that no one should imitate and is a fantastic secret ingredient.

Sweet treats on back on my menus but in moderation because my alternatives are a bit costly at times.  So when I bake the recipe better taste good.  Fun for me and you.  If you have questions, ask.  My sweet tooth is back and better than ever!

What is your favorite sweet treat?

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    01/03/2011 9:32 AM

    I know the loss your talking about when you loose the yummy sugar you were once used to. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes with my last son ( didn’t have it with my first) and I struggled for WEEKS trying to wean myself off the sugar I was used to! So happy you have found alternatives that work for you!
    As far as maple syrup…I never knew what I was missing until I married a boy from Northern NH/VT. His dad introduced me to REAL maple syrup and now brings us a jug each time he visits!!! Mmmm! And living in ME I just can’t afford to buy it. Did I mention we ran out last week? We were supposed to go visit him this weekend but the snow didn’t let us 😦

  2. 01/03/2011 10:21 AM

    So glad you’ve figured out what works best for YOU and for what you’re making! That’s the hardest part – the trial and error.

    • 01/03/2011 11:15 AM

      Thanks Brandi. I am so happy to find new stuff so that I can make fun things like all the goodies I see on blogs. Knowing my ingredients are a bit more expensive keeps them treats and not everyday things.

  3. 01/03/2011 5:17 PM

    Churros dipped in chocolate?! My mouth is watering! There’s a Mexican restaurant near me that serves caramel filled churros… okay, I should stop talking about this, I’m making myself hungry!

    • 01/03/2011 5:24 PM

      Churros and chocolate was one of the highlights of my college study abroad. That and the best Chinese food I’ve had…in Spain!

  4. 02/03/2011 12:57 PM

    Thank you for this post! I am trying to avoid sugar because of migraine headaches. Your suggestions are helping me see alternative ways to feed my sweet *TEETH*.

    I am a new subscriber to your blog and look forward to getting to know you better!

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