Posts Tagged ‘swap ingredient’

The Sweet Truth, Part 3: Living a Sugar Free Lifestyle


The first thing that anyone will tell you about living sugar free is that it truly is impossible. Even if you were to live on green beans and vitamins alone for the rest of your life, you would still consume sugar, be it small quantities, but still eating it all the same.

The only real way to benefit from a sugar free lifestyle is to reduce the amount of added sugar in your life. Added sugar is any kind of natural product  that has sugar added to it to make it taste better or in some cases to improve the texture. Some things by themselves, like say yogurt, or even water, are just plain gross by themselves to a large number of people. Plain yogurt can be bitter, but if you add a little bit of sweetened flavor, such as sugar and vanilla extract, the yogurt becomes much easier on the taste buds.

For kids, this is very hard to overcome, because a lot of companies understand that kids love sweets, that kids are picky, and that kids will eat things that are sweetened and not taste bland. Anything and everything made for a child’s diet is often loaded with added sugar and flavorings, especially things like breakfast cereal (HELLO, LUCKY CHARMS?)  and juices. A great representation of the juice example is Kool-Aid. Mix 2 cups of sugar, which has the same amount of calories in the two cups as an entire stack of pizzas, with water and add a little packet of coloring and flavoring. This drink is often times enhanced even more with sugar, as some kids have become so immune to the taste and effects of sugar that they need more. When I was a teen I babysat for two small children that would not even touch Kool-Aid unless it had been sweetened with three or more cups of sugar!

The direct replacement for something like Kool-Aid would be all natural apple juice, or freshly squeezed OJ or in a perfect world plain water. But the question is, how can you get from something that is almost syrup like in its sweetness to something that is going to almost be considered bitter in comparison? Your kids are going to have withdrawals, especially if you go cold turkey on them. As the body is deprived of something that it normally consumes, just like an addiction to cigarettes or nicotine, it goes into a mild form of shock. There will be mood swings, cravings, physical symptoms like chills or sweating, and lots of arguing. You can make this transition easier on you and your kids by Replacing, Reassuring, and Rewarding.



To replace large amounts of sugar in your child’s diet, first take a look at what they eat during the average week. For lack of space and time, i’m going to focus on the quickest meal, breakfast. Because school is in session now, lets say you are providing them a breakfast of say, a Pop Tart, some grape juice, and maybe an apple or a banana. The next day you offer them cereal, perhaps Frosted Flakes, and whole milk, and on Saturdays you have the time and energy to make them a full breakfast of eggs, bacon and toaster waffles, complete with syrup. Believe it or not, the only thing in that morning diet that doesn’t automatically come from the store PACKED with sugar in the average brand are the eggs, and the fruit. (Fruit has natural, not processed sugars in it, good sugars that are broken down and cause limited spiking of blood sugar levels. )

So how do you replace the bad things? For day one, we’ll start with the Pop-Tarts. Anything filled with jelly and coated with frosting is not only going to have reached maximum energy output by the time your kids get to the bus stop, but will cause a crash right around the time their spelling test occurs at 11:00. White flour, sugar, and preservatives do nothing for your child. Swap it with a whole grain cereal, (if you need the frosting try frosted Mini-wheats) and the amount of sugar will balance with the amount of good carbs and fiber to extend the length of the blood sugar increase. The grape juice can easily be switched for a “no-added-sugar” brand, and keep the fruit.

Day 2 is a little better than day one, except you’re gonna need more whole grain cereal, or swap the Frosted Flakes for natural oatmeal. I’m not talking about the flavored bananas ‘n cream kind, just regular cooked oats, with a drizzle of honey, or a half teaspoon of Splenda on top. The oats will go alot further than the Flakes. And although whole milk does contain amounts of sugar, its not bad enough to necessitate a switch, if you feel the need to, skim milk is best.

Saturday’s meal is one of my favorites. I love pancakes, waffles, anything that fills me up. Thankfully a lot of toaster waffles and pancake mixes are offered in whole-grain and even some sugar free varieties. Ask me to lose the syrup and I’ll ask you if you want to lose your hands. But there are substitutes for that too. Try a sugar free syrup. My mom was a diabetic, I can promise you and your offspring that sugar free syrup tastes just about the same as regular syrup. Or try a fruit (with no fruit syrup) topping, like fresh blueberries, strawberries, or peaches. You’ll mix the good energy of the whole grain ‘cakes with the energy of the fruit, and your kids will be happier, healthier and more focused throughout the day.  As for the bacon, try turkey bacon, or a brand that doesn’t say maple or honey flavored, or sugar cured.

When you do your grocery shopping you will notice an explosion of a variety of brands that are offering sugar free and whole grain products. This shift from the days of processed white flour and sweeteners is a response to the obesity epidemic that plagues our nation and most of the planet.  Take your time to examine the other options available to you when yo shop, and LOOK AT LABELS. Just because a product says reduced sugar does not mean its healthier, and just because a product says its high fiber does not mean it is whole grain. Reduce the amounts of processed white flour and sugar in your shopping cart and your kids will benefit from it at home.

***You can make shopping for healthier foods a fun experience, pick a product and see if your kids can find the healthiest version of it. Say you pick up a box of oatmeal. Without making too much of a mess pick out a bunch of types of oat-meals and compare the labels. Whoever gets the least amount of calories and sugar wins, and that’s the item you you buy. This does take extra time, but if youre going to spend a Saturday at the market, might as well teach them something.***

You also have the option of replacing sugar in your cooking. Use Splenda, or if it is available to you, stevia products like PureVia or TruVia. They don’t have the same effects on blood sugar as regular sugar does, as a matter of fact, stevia has no effect on the blood sugar at all. Swap the sugar in your Kool-Aid or lemonade for Splenda, change the sugar and milk in your recipes for unsweetened apple sauce, and slowly bring your kids to an acceptable, healthy level of sugar. Your family, their teachers, and eventually even they will thank you.


Teach your kids about how they are making their body healthy! Taking something away without a valid, understandable explanation causes tantrums in even small babies. “You take away my toy, I cry. You take away my toy and give me a shiny spoon, I don’t cry.” Let knowledge and REWARD (scroll down) be your shiny spoon. Ask your kid’s doc at their next appointments about why they shouldn’t eat massive amounts of sugar. Usually a doctor or nutritionist will be happy to explain to your kids how sugar can affect how they feel during the day, how they act in class, and how they sleep at night. This coming from the doc instead of just silly old Mom can be helpful, most kids have a reverence for anyone in the medical profession.

Be honest with your kids, let them make the choices in what the family eats, set good examples, and you will create good habits that will help them the rest of their lives!


There are days when yo are going to want to cheat. That plate of cupcakes the nice neighbor brought over is not going to sit on the counter for very long without someone giving into the urge to snack. And being realistic in the idea that one day isnt going to kill you or yor kids is GREAT! Teaching them moderation and using small amounts of sugar as a reward is a great method to encouraging healthy eating habits. But if the backsliding is too much for you to bear, take the cupcakes to a nursing home, or politely tell your neighbor thanks, but no thanks. Then promptly take your kids out for a movie. Rewarding them with fun activities for a week of sugar free will go much father than a cupcake. Plus the physical activity will go towards making them healthier and happier too.

It’s not easy, but it doesn’t have to be torture. Reducing sugar in your kids lives can be fun and ultimately rewarding. Check back tomorrow for a collection of sugar free Halloween recipes that you and your kids will LOVE!

Happy Cooking!

Moms with younger kids find it hard to get anything done during the day, especially getting out of the house unexpectedly. So when you are in the middle of the recipe and you find you don’t have enough of an ingredient what can you do? The baby’s asleep and teething, there’s no WAY you’re gonna wake her up to go to the grocery store, and your neighbors eat out, they don’t cook. This is where substitutions can save you. Here is a list of basic ingredient substitutions that you can use in baking to save that next batch of school party cupcakes.


1 tsp Baking Powder = 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cornstarch + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.

1 cup Dark Corn Syrup = 3/4 cup light corn syrup + 1/4 cup molasses

1 cup Light Corn Syrup = 1 cup white sugar, and add 1/4 cup more of whatever liquid you are using in the recipe.

1 tbsp Corn Starch = 2 tbsp all purpose flour or instant tapioca

1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar = 1/2 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice

1 cup Heavy Cream (not for whipping) = 2/3 cup whole milk + 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup Sour Cream = 1 tbsp lemon juice + enough milk on top to fill 1 cup. Let stand for 5 min before adding to recipe.

1 tsp Vanilla Extract = 1/2 of one vanilla bean

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter = 1/2 cup of shortening or lard

1 cup All Purpose Flour = 1 cup self rising flour, and omit baking powder and salt from your recipe
            1/2 cup white cake flour + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour = 7/8 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp wheat germ

1 cup Honey = 3/4 cup maple syrup + 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup Maple Syrup = 3/4 cup corn syrup + 1/4 cup butter + 1/2 tsp maple extract (optional)

8 Marshmallows = 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff

1 cup Ricotta Cheese = 1 cup dry cottage cheese

Caster sugar is easily made by processing regular white granulated sugar in a food processor until it is very fine.
Kosher salt, table salt and sea salt are interchangeable, but you may recognize the difference in taste.
You can substitute vinegar for lemon juice in almost any recipe, EXCEPT those requiring the lemon juice for flavoring. You don’t want a lemon cream pie to be a vinegar cream pie. A good rule is to never substitute when there is more than a tablespoon or two required.

For more information and even more substitutions you can go to The Joy Of Baking.

If you want to perfect your cooking and baking techniques, HERE is a great book from Williams Sonoma that can help you with the ins and outs of your kitchen and the best ways to make your favorite dishes.