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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 methodologies.

 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.


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