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Eliminate Sugar | Sugar Free Baking for Kids

Updated on November 21, 2014
Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy has been working in the field of education for many years specializing in both Waldorf and Montessori methodology.

 Today, an average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar each week.
Today, an average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar each week.

As a consientious Mom, healthy eating has always been a goal for my family. I have always limited sweets to enable my children to gain a well rounded palate. When my son was diagnosed with ADD we looked for natural remedies and found that refined sugar made his already challenging behavior even worse. We learned this by keeping a food diary for him and observing his reactions to food.

Now, three years later, we have eliminated sugar from our home. It has been a long road. The grocery store shelves are stocked with so many products that have sugar in them that shopping becomes very difficult and cooking as much as possible becomes essential. Often times, after shopping and reading labels, I would still manage to miss read one label. One time I brought home applesauce with sugar as an ingredient. It just makes me wonder, isn't applesauce sweet enough as it is? apparently not!

Dr. Oz wants sugar removed from your kitchen!

Recently Dr Oz, the well known T.V. Dr., announced sugar to be on the most wanted list of things to be removed from the diet. I was surprised to hear this since most families have sugar as a part of their regular diet and I know how hard it was for my family to eliminate it. Although sugar has effected my son in obvious behavioral ways it effects all of us in ways we might not be aware of, sugar is believed to decrease immunity in the body and can cause potentially fatal conditions including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, liver damage and insulin resistance.

Maybe people may not be aware that sugar is present in many of the everyday foods that they consume including bread, peanut butter, condiments, sauces etc., and maybe be listed as fructose, maltose, soribtol, evaporated cane juice, syrups or xylotol.

Artificial Sweeteners and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Artificial sweeteners may have dangerous side effects so I try to stay away from those. Also beware of High Fructose Corn Syrup, one of the effects of this highly processed substance is that it tricks the brain into thinking it is still hungry even though you have already eaten.

Some Facts

  • Today’s Consumption: Today, an average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar each week. While at the end of the 19th century (1887-1890), the average American consumed only 5 lbs. per year.
  • A Continual Rise: Over the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the U.S. has increased from 26 pounds to 141 lbs. of sugar per person per year. Much of this in the form of corn syrup which are found in a majority of processed foods.

Healthy Substitutions

When a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar instead you can use

1/2 cup honey or

2/3 cup agave nectar or

1 teaspoon stevia

The Road to Elimination Starts Here

If you want to eliminate sugar from your family's diet, the best way to start is to begin reading labels, remembering that sugar can be listed under many names. For example, I have found it nearly impossible to find commercially sold bread that doesn't contain some form of sugar in it's ingredients. Suffice it to say that our bread machine works hard and often.

Finding recipes which don't use sugar has not been easy either. There are health oriented cookbooks out there that add wheat germ and protein powder to nearly everything, but these recipes often taste unappetizing, especially to children. One book which I have found to be very useful though is "American Wholefoods Cuisine" written by Nikki and David Goldbeck. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The recipes in this book strike a perfect balance between healthy and tasty.

Agave Nectar is available in supermarkets.
Agave Nectar is available in supermarkets.

Can some sugary foods remain?

Our latest challenge in the battle against sugar has been allowing my other kids to have desserts with sugar from time to time outside of the house. Lately though, I have noticed their extreme reactions to the sugar in the form of mood swings and kids so energized that they are unable to sit still. As a result, I try to increase the desserts I make which are sweetened with honey. One such recipe is for Applesauce Cake (see recipe below).

It is unrealistic of course, to completely eliminate sugar since in our society it is everywhere and kids should not feel deprived. Here are some practical tips to allow some sugar to remain in the diet but in smart ways:

  • Don't give sweets on an empty stomach especially not for breakfast
  • Beware of sugar cereals, purchase them only once in a while
  • School Birthdays can be a fruit cup or a non food gift for classmates
  • Children don't need dessert after every meal, make it an occasional treat

My seven year old son recently said "I like cookies, but fruit is my favorite dessert" so it seems that my hard work has paid off, now if I can just get him to place his worn clothes in the hamper.

Apple Sauce Cake

This earthy cake is sweetened with apple sauce and maple syrup or honey. It might be considered an everyday bread with the consistency of gingerbread. This recipe always comes out great, is easy to make (trust me on this otherwise I wouldn't make it) and is even better with the addition of fruit. The kids really love this cake, so it makes everyone happy.

  • 1 1/2 cups - flour
  • 1/3 cup - honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp - baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon - salt
  • 1 tsp - cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp - nutmeg
  • 1 tsp - vanilla
  • 1/3 cup - oil
  • 1/2 cup - water
  • 3/4 cup - applesauce
  • Optional - chunks of fruit (apple, blueberries, banana, strawberries, etc.)

Heat oven to 350 F. or 180 C., oil the baking pan, combine dry ingredients - mix well, add remaining ingredients, mix with fork, bake 25-30 minutes.

Click here try my sugar free recipe for Native American Strawberry Cake.

In any case, no matter what level of healthy cooking you feel is right for your family; whether it is to moderate the amount of sugar your family is exposed to or to eliminate it altogether, with enough effort and inspiration there are realistic alternatives out there for all of us.

© Copyright 2011 Tracy Lynn Conway with all rights reserved.


Submit a Comment
  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    Valerie, I am so glad that you liked the article, thank you! As for cake pan size, either size will work.

  • profile image

    valerie nyiri 

    9 years ago

    what size pan should i use when making the applesauce cake 8x8, 13x9? thank you for an informative article and a great recipe!

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    Max, your daughter sounds delightful, good thing you are able to keep up with her. ADD has to do with a person's ability to stay on task without being distracted. ADHD has the 'H' which stands for hyperactivity. An active child doesn't necessarily mean they have ADHD. Also these tendencies are hereditary so if you are able to function well then your daughter will likely be able to as well. Another thing to consider is that on the whole children are expected to sit still longer and at younger ages in school which might take a child that would have functioned well in an older generation and put them at a disadvantage using modern expectations. Just something to consider. Thank you for sharing your experience and I am glad to hear that you are limiting her sugar intake.

    Best, Tracy

  • Max Dalton profile image

    Max Dalton 

    9 years ago from Greater St. Louis, Missouri

    Hi Tracy,

    Good information. I'm a very active person and my 16-month-old daughter looks to be the same way. I believe there's a fine line between ADD and an active child. I can already see that my daughter is a mover and shaker, and I plan on encouraging that, but I also plan on limiting her sugar intake so we can help keep her from going over the edge.

    Thanks for the article.


  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    Eddiecarrara, wow, how did the name "Drumstick Ice Cream Cone" ever sound appealing to anyone?

    Sugar is a secret enemy lurking within even healthy sounding foods like granola bars and bread. The battle against these sweeteners is a war worth waging if not for ourselves then certainly for our children. The naturally occurring sugar and fat in peanut butter is OK just stay away from the jars with added sweeteners. The problem with processed sugars such as white sugar and high fructose corn syrup are that they are essentially unnatural to the body.

    I hope you try and enjoy the cake. Thank you for the great comment!


  • eddiecarrara profile image

    Eddie Carrara 

    9 years ago from New Hampshire

    There is some really good information here Tracy, I'm cutting most of the sugars out of my diet to lose belly fat, and your right, sugar is in everything, I even looked for natural peanut butter, and the lowest sugar was 3gms, and the oil on top was an inch deep. (that can't be good for you either) I watch Dr. Oz a lot, he explains everything in simple terms, and makes it easy to digest.(no pun intended) Good hub, well written, I'm going to make the earthy cake for the kids and see if they like it, sounds a lot better than Drumstick ice cream cones :)

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    Roxanne, it is great to hear of someone else fighting the sugar battle with good cause. For children with heightened sugar sensitivity parents really have little choice but to do what works. Thank you for the moral support and I am sending the same back to you :)

  • roxanne459 profile image

    Roxanne Lewis 

    9 years ago from Washington

    I commend your struggle! My son has Aspergers Syndrome which wouldn't be complete without a classic case of ADD. Refined sugar has a Huge effect on him as also and I understand how hard it is at first to eliminate it! We all love the Agave Nectar and Honey now though! Keep it up.. it's all totally worth it!:)

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    You have offered some great information. So much of the food that is available is not only processed but over processed. For my family it has been a while since we eliminated sugar but I am so often reminded that we are in the minority and I bothers me that doing the right thing, in terms of diet, means resisting the norm. I agree with you about the importance of organic food as well.

    Thanks for the follow and great comment!

  • pftsusan profile image


    9 years ago from Eatontown

    This is a very good hub. Thank you for the follow, I signed you into mine as well...

    Even worse is that they process sugars in canned vegetables and meats. Then meats are processed with other bad chemicals when they are not organic or at least grass fed. I don't eat beef or pork. But for those who want to, that's ok. Just make sure to choose organic or grass fed. It's best to pick organic, or if you can't afford it, at least fresh fruits and vegetables. And if you are on a really tight budget, frozen vegetables are still the least processed with some nutrition value to them...You have taken a very hard to work step, but it pays off in the end when your kids are healthy and you taught them valuable lessons in managing and maintaining their health. Bless you. :-))

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    Rachelle, It is such a battle no matter where you turn. Even the bank teller wants to sugar up the kids with an artificially flavored, sugar suspended lollipop, then there are the unavoidable birthday party favor bags filled with candy, as if the cake wasn't enough. There is just such a level of excess that parents often end up fighting a loosing battle.

  • Rachelle Williams profile image

    Rachelle Williams 

    9 years ago from Tempe, AZ

    I tried (albeit half-heartedly)to raise sugar-free kids, my thought process was that they could not miss what they never had in the first place. It didn't work because I allowed others to introduce sugar to them.....then, it was all over!

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    @ Ubani - Yes, I wish more parents understood the benefits of healthy eating and that parents weren't so bombarded with poor choices. It feels like a battle to keep kids eating right. Eliminating sugar or at least decreasing it is one powerful step for healthier kids. Thank you!

  • ubanichijioke profile image

    Alexander Thandi Ubani 

    9 years ago from Lagos

    You ve made concerted efforts at setting the pace. Parents should be in control of what their children eat. Taking these steps is a long way to achieving success. Bless you

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA


    That is a surprising story about the 'sugar free' cookies!

    You are right, reading that labels is so important! As with carbohydrates you can also find out about actual sugar grams on a label as well. I am thrilled that you liked the hub! Thank you.

  • etower036 profile image


    9 years ago from Helana

    I am diabetic type 2, and am challeged daily to watch my sugar intake, along with diet and excersise. (arthritis in the hip.) But what I found is very important, Read your lables and see the TOTAL CARBS per serving. This, I never thought about because when I bought a box of sugar free cookies, I never once thought about looking at the information box on the back. My mind was fooled into believing, "It's sugar free." so I would eat maybe 6 cookies in an hour with out blinking an eye. Then I would test my blood later and be shocked that my blood sugar was sitting at 200 or more and I would think, "It cant be the cookies, they are sugar free." Guess I was wrong, 3 cookies equils 17g carbs. so that means I am eating 32g of carbs. OMG.. so basicly, I Have learned to read the instructions, read the nutrition box, and pay attention to what is in the foods we eat. Thanks for this wonderful hub.

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    9 years ago from Virginia, USA

    Ddraigcoch, If your kids are eating well and thriving, no need to go nuts in the cupboard. Good for you that you keep it moderate! Products in the UK and Ireland don't have as many unhealthy sweeteners and additives as do those in the U.S., the challenge is greater for the American parent.

  • Ddraigcoch profile image


    9 years ago from UK

    Well written. I do not have the patients to attack the cupboards. But I refuse to pump my kids full of sweets like some do.

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    10 years ago from Virginia, USA

    M.T. Dremer,

    I am so glad that you liked my hub! Thank you.

    It must be so difficult for you to go from those extremes and find a balance. It is great to hear that you have had success with stevia! I have noticed that over time that my taste buds have come to prefer the natural honey taste.

  • M. T. Dremer profile image

    M. T. Dremer 

    10 years ago from United States

    This is a great hub. My wife and I have been trying to reach a happy medium between her family's cooking style (real sugar) versus my family's cooking style (splenda). Both directions are extremes that we don't want to have too much of, so we've been trying out stevia products a lot with very positive results. But I really like the idea of using applesauce and/or honey to substitute for sugar as well.

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    10 years ago from Virginia, USA

    I am thrilled that this would be helpful for your son! You're welcome.

  • Tweetmom profile image


    10 years ago from Newark

    This will prepare me for my son's diet. Thanks tracy :)

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile imageAUTHOR

    Tracy Lynn Conway 

    10 years ago from Virginia, USA


    I am so glad that you liked it! Thank you so much!

  • vissitor profile image


    10 years ago from Sonoma Valley, California

    Well written, informative and enlightening. I learned so much. Another winning Hub. Thank you.


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