Homemade Sugar Free Peach Pie

sugar free peach pie

Peaches are one of the wonderful fruits that are fresh and abundant in the summer months. Stock full of vitamins and minerals (like Vitamin E, K, A and lots of B’s), there’s nothing like biting into a fresh juicy peach on a summer’s day.

We often get our peaches fresh from the Okanagan fruit stands while out visiting Gran and Grandpa in BC, ok that is the only place we get our peaches. Once I’ve bitten into a fresh ripe Okanagan peach I just can’t bring myself to buy them in the store. They simply aren’t as good, not as juicy and not as flavorful. So once we’ve eaten them all I don’t get any more (unless I can go back to BC and get some).

Besides eating them fresh (my son sometimes eating 4-6 at a time!), I usually make peach jam, (which I love!), and make the odd crumble. It wasn’t until my neighbor went on one time about how much he loved peach pie that I even considered the possibility. I love making pies in the summer with all the fresh fruit, cherry pie being my favorite, but I had never made peach. So I set out to experiment.

sugar free peach pieWhen I originally found and made this peach pie recipe it was before we had eliminated refined sugars from our diet. So when I pulled up the recipe this summer (as my mother was asking that I share it with her) I had to make a few adjustments. I hadn’t realized that it still had white sugar in it.

I thought about using agave nectar, which I knew would work and is what I did originally when I transformed my cherry pie recipe, but I have heard a number of reports lately that agave is no better than refined white sugar. I had recently tried using honey in a pound cake recipe that turned out successfully so I decided to give honey a go for the peach pie.

As luck would have it, it turned out great, and everybody ate it up. With my oldest son even commenting that my pies are way better than Gran’s, as he inhaled his pie. My tip though is to make sure that you mix the honey in very well with the flour mixture so you don’t get any clumps of flour. The other option is to do the flour mixture without the honey, sprinkle it over the peaches, and then pour the honey over the peaches. It does produce a lot of juice regardless so I recommend a deep pie dish for sure.

Sugar Free Peach Pie

2 – 9″ pie crusts (store bought or homemade*)

1 egg beatensugar free peach pie

5c. sliced peaches, peeled and sliced

2 tbsp. lemon juice

½ c. flour

1 c. honey

½ tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. butter

Brush some of the beaten egg on crust to keep from getting soggy. Place peaches in a bowl and sprinkle with some lemon juice, mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix flour, honey, spices and pour over peaches, mix gently. Pour into pie crust, dot with butter. Put on top crust fold edges under. Flute or seal by pressing with a fork dipped in egg. Brush egg over the top crust.

Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is brown.

Enjoy! (And don’t forget the ice cream! We enjoy a delectable creamy non dairy vanilla ice cream by Rice Dream. It’s fantastic.)

* I make my own pie crust which turns out flaky and delicious every time simply by using Tenderflake and following their recipe on the box.

What’s your favorite kind of pie in the summer? Share in the comments below.

A Warm Drink on a Cold Day

warm capuccino-saidaonlineThere’s nothing like coming in on a cold day and enjoying a nice warm drink. Cuddling up on the couch, your hands surrounding the mug for warmth as the steam floats up and you inhale the beautiful scent of coffee, hot chocolate, tea or hot apple cider, to name a few.

It doesn’t matter what you have been doing, if you’ve been enjoying some time outside doing outdoor activities, toboganning, skating, skiing or even just shoveling the walk, there is something about that warm beverage that offers you comfort like nothing else.

My kids love cuddling up on the couch with their drinks and maybe some cookies or other treat and watching a movie, tucked up under blankets. Nice and cozy and relaxing.

warm-drinksOf course when we decided to eliminate sugar at our house we could no longer default to the hot chocolate mix we bought at the store (and we used to buy the big can, you know that one that is super tall and would last for months). I know in the good old days hot chocolate was simply milk heated with cocoa mixed into it, but it had been a long time since I’d done that. In fact I remember one time when I was little and my aunt was looking after us, she did just that, and my sisters and I looked at her like she had 3 heads and asked her what the heck she was doing. In the end she ended up making the instant stuff but I know now what I missed out on.

I really like the milk heated version as I find it to be richer and creamier, even though it does take a little bit more time and work to do so. What I do now for the kids is actually a little fancier than that (something I discovered in my Raw Chocolate Making class), but it is soooo yummy and also very good for you.

Now I use a mix of almond milk, cacao powder (considered a superfood and high in minerals such protein, zinc, and iron), natural sweetener of choice and depending on the day some added spices. It’s actually quite easy to do and tastes delicious! I also like that I can make it different every time depending on what I am feeling like that day.

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

4 c. almond milk (or your choice of dairy free milk)HBC-DJ12-hot-chocolate-shrstock-48722137

3-4 tbsp. cacao powder

3-4 tbsp. natural sweetener (I usually use pure maple syrup, but you can use honey, stevia, etc.) *amount of sweetener depends on sweetener used and personal preference

spices – sprinkle of to taste cinnamon and cayenne, or lucuma powder and mesquite powder

Place all ingredients into blender. Turn on low, then turn up to high, blend well. Pour mixture into pot. Heat on medium to desired temperature. Pour into mugs and serve.

Serves 4

What other delectable hot drink recipes do you enjoy?

Homemade Marshmallows

Well it’s official! I can now make anything without sugar in it. When we went sugar free we really struggled at first, having to avoid things that we loved and enjoyed. But it was just going to take time to figure out how to make these things like cakes, cookies, chocolate, etc. without the sugar in it. What were the substitutes? How did you do it? It was a huge learning curve.

I assured Matthew, my oldest son that I would figure it out. Cause one of the things I did not want to happen in going sugar free was for him to feel denied. That he could still have the yummy treats that his friends did, with the difference being healthier, better for you.

Slowly I began to build my reperatoire, cookies, cakes, muffins those were easy. Bread, new sweet treat recipes, chocolate…we were getting there. Matthew was pretty happy too, except for one last thing, marshmallows. There was no substitute in the store to buy and I had no idea what to do to make them.

He reminded me of this when we went camping this summer, mentioning that it would be nice to roast marshmallows… “I know” I said and assured him that I was on a mission; as marshmallows were the only thing that I could not make sugar free but I knew there had to be a way.

A little while back I found this recipe for homemade marshmallows on Facebook and just about died! This was the ‘missing link’ that I was looking for. The recipe I needed, and it was totally healthy! Sweetened with honey and very easy to make.

So yesterday was the big day. I tried it out and Wow they were stupendeous! They look and taste like an original marshmallow and I don’t care how many my kids eat!

Unfortunately the marshmallows had to sit to set, but I let the kids lick the beaters. As you can see Luke and Chloe were thoroughly enjoying it! Attacking the beater with vigor. Matthew has attested that they taste just like regular marshmallows and just in time for our Halloween campfire tomorrow night.

We are also set for camping next summer! S’mores, rice krispie squares and other marshmallow treats here we come!

IMG_2354

A couple quick tips when making this marshmallow recipe:

When letting it sit to set don’t worry about covering it. I made this mistake and ended up losing some because it stuck to the cover. Oops! lesson learned.

When storing them make sure you line the bottom of your container with parchment paper, and layer it with paper in between. Again, they’ll stick and they’ll peel right off the parchment paper. Don’t forget to put one on the top before you put on the lid!

The mixture starts to set quite quickly so have your pan ready to go, and as soon as the soft peaks form, pour it right into the pan. Don’t worry about the beaters you can take care of those later 🙂

The Magic of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds

Recently I have discovered a lot of recipes with chia seeds in them. I haven’t been purposely looking for them, the recipes I have been picking up lately (such as Chocolate Macaroons) just happen to have them in it. The nice thing about this, I discovered, is that chia seeds are considered another superfood with multiple health benefits. They stabilize blood sugar, reduce cravings for sweets, improve mental focus, are a high quality protein, improve cardiovascular health and many more.

When I first heard about chia seeds I actually wasn’t sure what to do with them and thought they were funny things, these tiny seeds that look like poppy seeds. I knew they had great health benefits but what was the use if I could not use them? Then I found this recipe for chia seed pudding, which I have to admit when I first looked at it thought “Eww! seeds in my pudding”. But since I am into expanding my repertoire of sugar free and dairy free treats I thought I would try it.

I decided to make it for the first time when I was in BC this summer visiting my parents. My Mum is into these things as well and I always like a willing crowd to be my guinea pigs. The first thing I loved about this recipe is that it takes no time at all to make; less than 5 minutes. You literally whisk together the ingredients in a bowl and let it sit. That’s it. I didn’t even divide it amongst individual glasses like it suggested, I just left it in the bowl I made it in. (I also found that though this recipe says serves 4 but you can easily serve 6 and everyone has a decent sized portion).

chia seed pudding

Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding

The second thing I really liked is that when you let the chia seeds sit for a bit they actually expand (size and weight), so it gives the pudding some texture, similar to tapioca. Which is another health benefit, as this ‘gelling action’ when the seed is exposed to water gives you a full feeling for hours – which is great for maintaining a healthy weight. (I also think it’s fascinating 🙂

The pudding was a hit with my parents and the kids. Enough that I have made it again recently and will do so again. I have also discovered a recipe for a Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding, which I have yet to try, but imagine will be just as good.

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

chia seed pudding

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

1 1/2 c. coconut milk

4 tbsp. maple syrup or honey

2 tbsp. cacao powder

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1/3 c. chia seeds

**top with berries or coconut cream if desired

Whisk coconut milk, maple syrup or honey, cacao powder and vanilla until smooth. Stir in chia seeds. May divide evenly between 4 glasses or leave in bowl. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours and serve.

Serves 4 **(You can easily serve 6 with this recipe and have decent sized portions if desired)

 

Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu

 

natural remedies

One of the things that I have decided to do in our house is reduce the amount of over the counter and unnatural remedies for colds and flu. The more I read about some of these remedies and what’s in them, the more I feel that there are better more natural ways to combat the flu season and naturally boost our immune systems.

I have become more conscious of what we put in our bodies and what it does to us. Some of these over the counter remedies, though they may provide relief actually suppress our immune systems and it then takes us longer to return to health. In my journey to find more natural ways to heal our bodies and even prevent us from getting sick I have discovered a number of natural remedies and preventions that work.

Oscillococcinum – I believe in prevention first and foremost so one of the things I do before about 6-8 weeks prior to flu season is give the kids and I a homeopathic protocol using oscillococcinum or ‘flu buster’. This was suggested by our homeopathic doctor; we take half a tube (1/4 tube for the little ones under 6) once a week for six weeks. This helps the body’s immune system to ‘boost up’ and prepares it for the cold/ flu season that is coming.  As a result we usually don’t get colds/ flu at all and if we do it is a very mild and short case. And if we do get it, then we take a whole tube to kick it out!

Ginger tea – drinking ginger tea on a regular basis is also a great form of prevention but works well if you do get a cold/ flu. It is easy to make using fresh ginger root and water. As soon as I start to feel a cold coming on I make a batch of tea right away. Ginger tea is also great for nausea.

Honey and cinnamon – are great combinations for a number of diseases and ailments. Different proportions target different ailments. For colds it is 1 tbsp. honey to 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon

Homeopathic remedies – the great thing about homeopathic remedies is that they work with your body to help boost your immune system as well as heal the ailment. It not only relieves your symptoms but helps your body to move through it faster. There are a number of homeopathic remedies to aid colds and flu. Oscillococcinum, as mentionned above, is great for prevention as well as when you have it. Aconite is great when you first start feeling the cold coming on, take it right away, as well as other homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic remedies work best when you can match your symptoms to the remedy so it is best to either consult with your homeopathic doctor or have a book on remedies for self diagnosis. The great thing about homeopathy is if you choose the wrong remedy it will not cause you any harm, it simply won’t help you get better and you’ll have to try a different homeopathic remedy.

Rum, honey, cinnamon, lemon in hot tea – this is an amazing remedy. Recently I had a cold that just would not go away and continued to get worse and worse each day instead of better. All I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head, but my aunt who was visiting at the time suggested and made this remedy for me. It cleared my head like that! and though I still had a bit of a cough, I felt like I could function and enjoy life again 🙂 You can use any kind of hot tea that you like and then add the rest into the drink.

Vitamin C, D, & B12 – boost these vitamins during cold and flu season. They all help boost your body’s immune system and vitamin B12 helps you to cope with stress.

Sleep – sleep is one of the best healers and immune boosters. Get adequate sleep on a regular basis for prevention but when you feel your cold coming on make sure you get to bed early and get lots of rest.

No Sugar – sugar weakens the immune system very quickly, so if you have sugar in your diet, avoiding and eliminating it when you are sick will help strengthen your immune system and recover faster.

Garlic Lemon and Honey Syrup – this remedy comes from a book called A Kids Book of Herbs, is very easy to make and kicks your cold super fast!

Eat more of these foods – ginger, garlic, onions, licorice root, honey – these all strengthen the immune system and support healing.

A lot of these remedies you can use apply on a regular basis in your diet/ day to help prevent the colds and flu from even coming on, but they all work great if you or your family do get sick. I believe too that one remedy will work better for one person than another so to find the one that works best for you. I also believe that anything we do to help our body naturally boost our immune systems is not only going to be better for us in the long run but will also help prevent us from getting as sick or sick at all in the future. Many of these remedies too are ones that kids will easily take without fuss, and is easy to incorporate into their diets and routines.

Do you have a favorite natural remedy that works? Comment and share below.

 

Sugar Free Banana Bread

A traditional favorite in most homes, banana bread is a great way to use up those overripe bananas, turning them into something delicious! I have tried a few banana bread recipes from the one my Mom makes to one from my roommates in university and all have been delicious. But when I discovered this banana bread recipe I was in heaven! It was the most moist and the best banana bread that I had ever had. Containing no sugar, sweetened with applesauce and honey, and a boost of flaxseed, this is one healthy, but extremely yummy banana bread.

When I make it at our house, it never lasts more than a day because the kids and I gobble it up 2 or 3 pieces at a time.

I use my own *applesauce and chocolate, both homemade and of which I usually have on hand. The twins enjoy applesauce and cinnamon each morning at breakfast and I make up plain chocolate pieces that I keep in the fridge or freezer for whenever we need our chocolate fix.

Though you may have a favorite banana bread recipe, give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed!

*to make the applesauce I simply slice and core 6 apples, boil them on the stove until soft, then drain the water and blend the apples in the blender until smooth. I do not peel the apples as the skin contains lots of vitamins that you lose when you peel them and blends up so small that you don’t  notice it in the sauce.

Banana Bread

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

flaxseed

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

pinch of sea salt

3 ripe mashed bananas

2 egg whites

1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce

1/2 c. honey

1/4 c. flaxseed oil

1/3 c. chopped dark chocolate

chopped walnuts, optional

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, flaxseed and salt.

In a large bowl beat bananas until smooth. Add egg whites and mix. Gradually mix in applesauce, honey and flaxseed oil. Mix dry ingredients into banana mixture. Stir in chocolate.

Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with Earth Balance Vegan spread. Pour batter into pan and bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester when inserted comes out clean.

Christmas at the Hive

On the weekend I took the kids out to the Chinook Honey Company in Okotoks. A local honey farm and winery, they were hosting a Christmas family event with lots of activities for everyone.

When we first got up in the morning and I checked the temperature I debated on whether to go. It was -15 C and I knew most of the activities would be outside; and though we would dress for it, I knew for the little ones it might be cold.

As we putzed around and got breakfast going I slowly started to pack snacks and lunch, having decided that we would go and check it out. Though it was cool, I knew there were some buildings there that we could go into if we got cold; and living in Calgary you really can’t let the weather stop you from doing things. If you did, you’d never go anywhere or do anything. Besides this was the last day the event was on and I thought it would be fun for the kids.

Matthew making beeswax snow candle

And it was! It turned out to be one of those sunny clear blue sky Alberta days with lots of fun to be had. They had a scavenger hunt, apiary tours, and pictures with Christmas Critters. The kids could make their own beeswax snow candle, go on sleigh rides and enter the coloring contest. There was also an observation area where you could check out the bees in their hive, we even spotted the Queen.

Luke really enjoyed standing there and watching the bees. He just stood in front of the glass, head tilted up, watching. Chloe loved the animals, they had a horse and two donkeys that you could have your picture taken with. It took us a few tries getting the animals, and the kids all looking in the same direction, but we finally got a nice shot of everyone. Chloe and Luke insisted that they got to hold the rope of the donkey, just like Matthew did and Chloe cried when the donkey had to go back to his pen after the picture (cause she wanted to pet him some more).

They have a full store out there as well full of various honey products, such as beeswax candles, honey sticks, chocolates and the winery. It was decorated beautifully for Christmas, a rustic sort of look. The staff were extremely friendly as well and it’s a great environment to hang out.

They had a big fire pit outside to hang out and have hot chocolate and snacks and they even had carollers out there at one point. We did the apiary tour, which was interesting as the ‘King Bee’ Art, explained and showed us how they set up the ‘hives’ for the bees and how they extracted honey from them. It was fascinating, and all the kids were very attentive.

We learned many things such as how the bees ‘make’ their queen, how long she lives (4-5 years), what the role of the workerbees and drones are. He also told us how Albert Einstein once said that once the honey bee poplulation of the world was zero that we would have 4-5 years left to live; and that the honey bee populations of the world are dwindling and are down by 30%. Farmers are now working hard to keep healthy bee populations as they are so important to our ecosystem.

It is also highly beneficial for us to consume local honey made by local bees, as local honey provides us with immunity builders to environmental conditions in our area. So buying local is not just beneficial to the local economy but good for our health as well!

All in all it was a great day at the honey farm, we learned a lot, we played and we even left with a treasures, beeswax candles and some wonderful memories!

 

How to make Raw Organic Chocolates

Last year I took a class at The Light Cellar, here in Calgary, on how to make Raw Organic Chocolate. No sugar, no dairy and all natural ingredients. I was thrilled to find this course as I had been looking for an alternative so that we could still enjoy chocolates at Christmas, Easter and whenever else we wanted some!

I had taken a chocolate making class before, bought the kit, came home and never made chocolates again. This time was different. The difference was you actually make your chocolate from scratch, from natural ingredients and it is very easy (the other class you made your chocolates from premade chocolate bars or pieces that you melted and molded into your own chocolates. I found this process finicky and the pieces were presweetened; so you could not choose your own sweetener).

Chocolate actually comes from a cacao nut, which is made into various forms, such as cacao powder, paste, butter, etc. Making the chocolate is super simple, using four basic ingredients and only takes a few minutes. All you need is cacao powder or paste, cacao butter, some kind of sweetener (honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc.), and vanilla.

The first step is to melt the cacao butter in a bowl – use the double bowl method with the butter in the top bowl set over a bowl of boiling water (boil water put it into bowl and set on counter; then set your smaller bowl with cacao butter on top)- be very careful not to get any water into the top bowl as it will ruin your chocolate! Once the butter is melted add the vanilla bean and let it infuse (with a knife slice vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds with a spoon – put into cacao butter). Sift your cacoa powder in another bowl and add to taste, then add sweetener of choice. Voila! you now have a nice chocolate sauce which you can leave as is, pour into a pan refrigerate or freeze, or use as a base and add other ingredients.

The instructor did not give us exact amounts of ingredients to make our chocolate. He would provide a starting point and then encouraged us to taste it; to make it how we wanted. He recommended we start with a 1:1 ratio, mix it and go from there. More cacao powder made it a darker, richer chocolate, more sweetener made it sweeter – adjusting it according to our palette and preferences, so we had to taste it as we went along! He also encouraged us to use natural sweeteners and ingredients. For instance, we were using vanilla beans for our vanilla -actually cutting them open and scrapping out the inside. He said we could use vanilla extract but encouraged us to use pure extract if we did, not artificial.

Cacao powder

He described using these pure ingredients as “upgrading” – making it more natural, tastier and better for you. He also told us how we can add other ingredients to our chocolates that not only taste good but are high in nutrients, minerals and vitamins,  making it a superfood. Ingredients like goji berries, nuts and seeds, coconut and algae. Maca root powder, honey and mesquite powder. He even recommended in one recipe that we try a little cayenne. It was actually really good!

As for the cost, the ingredients to make your chocolate is quite reasonable. The instructor said that in the time it takes for us to go and buy chocolate at the store, we can make it at home faster with fresh ingredients for about $1.50 to $2 per 50 g – which is comparable to what you would pay at the store.

Shaped ice cube trays work great as chocolate molds

I also love the fact that I can add all these “superfood” ingredients to my chocolates so that chocolate really is good for me and the kids. So when they ask if they can have some chocolate, I can say “yes” without feeling guilty or worrying if they are having too much.

It’s also so much fun to make (I’ve already made 3 dozen caramel cups and orange ginger snowmen for Christmas) and easy to do with the kids. You can get different kinds of molds to make different shapes for your chocolates. Experiment and have fun!

In one of my previous posts I described various natural sweeteners that you can use not only in your everyday cooking and baking but for your chocolates as well. Check out that post for more details.

In an upcoming post I will share more about what you can add to your chocolates and method.

For your information The Light Cellar sells ingredients to make chocolate in bulk and is very well priced. I buy all my ingredients there and usually come out of the store with a big box of items! I find it hard to get out of there with only one or two things.

Natural Sugar Substitutes

It’s been over a year now since we have completely eliminated sugar from our home. We did so because our oldest son, Matthew required it. We found that the effects of sugar on his body were too extreme, leaving him moody, angry and disruptive and it was also affecting his sleep at night. He would go to bed at a reasonable time, and I know it was reasonable because I checked around with other parents and experts, and it would take him almost an hour or more to fall asleep at night. Now as an adult I find it very frustrating when I go to bed and it takes me a while to fall asleep. I can only imagine my son’s frustrations around this.

It was a huge learning curve discovering what I could use instead of sugar and products that did not contain it. Because as we began our journey we discovered very quickly that sugar is in almost everything.

The biggest challenge was finding yummy alternatives for Matthew that equated to what the other kids were having, and all the foods that he enjoyed and was used to, such as chocolate, cake, pies and muffins. With diligence I rolled up my sleeves and have been able to find replacements for all these things, as you have seen with some of the recipes on my blog in previous posts. It was just a matter of learning what the natural sugar substitutes were that he could have and how to easily substitute them in a recipe. Once I started looking I found that there were many to choose from and I had a lot of them already in my home.

Here is what I have learned/ discovered to be great substitutes for sugar in recipes. What you choose as the substitute will depend on your recipe as well as personal preference. Many of these natural sweeteners also have great health benefits as well, such as being rich in vitamins and minerals or aiding in the prevention of certain ailments and diseases.

Honey

Honey -choose a honey that is local to you. It has been shown that local honey provides immunity for you against environmental illnesses because the bees are local to your area. Honey has many other health benefits as well such as being a natural energy booster and remedy for many ailments. I use honey as a sugar substitute in crumble and muffins as well as in my bread recipes.

Agave nectar – simply the nectar from the agave plant. Make sure you get a good quality brand as some agaves are more processed with more additives. Ojio agave by Ulitmate Superfoods is a good quality one. When substituting agave for sugar use 3/4 to 1/2 the amount as agave is 25% sweeter than sugar. You also reduce your liquids in your recipe because the agave is a liquid itself, by 1/4 cup. Agave is great in anything but I use it mostly in cakes, muffins and pies.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup – use 100% pure. If you are using the processed kind then it is not a natural sweetener and you might as well use sugar. This is great in icing, marinades and glazes.

Stevia – is a strong leaf powder that is very sweet, also found in a liquid form. It is considerably sweeter than sugar so you use 1 tsp. stevia to 1 cup of sugar when substituting. It also has many health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and aids in digestion. Stevia is great in cakes and muffins, but also for your coffee, tea, or to sweeten other drinks.

Coconut sugar -comes from the nectar of the flowers of a coconut tree, and is available in a granulated or liquid form. Rich in vitamins such as potassium, zinc and iron. Coconut sugar is great because it melts like brown sugar, so I find that this works well in crumbles, on oatmeal or things like apple cinnamons when you want to create a syrupy texture.

Date Sugar

Date sugar -is made from dried dates and adds a rich sweetness to recipes. It does not melt or dissolve in liquids. When using date sugar substitute 2/3 cup to 1 cup of the sugar, as it is sweeter than sugar. I use date sugar in some bread recipes, muffins, pancakes or waffles.

Yacon syrup -sweetener extracted from the roots of the yacon plant. Some of yacon’s health qualities are strengthening the immune system and calcium absorption. Use 3/4 cup of yacon to 1 cup of sugar.

Barley Malt – is a wonderful replacement for molasses and is made from sprouted or malted barley. I use this in some cookie recipes, and my homemade baked beans. Yum!

Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar – naturally sweet, nutrient rich “sap” from coconut tree blossoms. High in amino acids, minerals and vitamin C. It can be used just like agave or maple syrup in recipes instead of sugar. I have only used it so far in cookies and they have turned out delicious!

Fruit is also a great natural sweetener, using apples (applesauce, make sure there is not sugar added) or bananas can add the sweetness you desire.

The best thing to do is experiment with these sweeteners, determine which ones work best in your recipes and which flavors you prefer. It can be fun to experiment in the kitchen as long as you are prepared to ‘let it go’ if one doesn’t turn out so well 🙂 Personally I have had success with my substitutions and if you follow these guidelines you’ll have no trouble whatsoever and soon it will become second nature, just like it is for me!

 

An Abundance of Apples! & Sugar Free Apple Crumble

Tis the season of apples! Fresh juicy apples right from the tree or at the local farmers market. They are sweet and delicious and in abundance at this time of year.

Apples have long been a symbol of good health and an easy grab and go snack. They are a great source of vitamin C, K and B vitamins; as well as a great source of fiber and natural sugar. They aid in the prevention of cancer, tooth decay and heart disease and are a great natural substitute for sugar in recipes as well as an enjoyable snack for the kids.

Luke and Chloe picking apples

A few years ago we planted an apple tree in our backyard. I have always liked going out into my own yard and being able to pick fresh fruit from the tree. There is just something about having grown it yourself and being able to go and help yourself that gives me a feeling of pride as well as a good feeling knowing that it is pesticide free and where it has come from.

The kids love the apple tree. Once those blooms in the spring start growing into apples it is hard to get the kids to not pick them off the tree. Matthew is now at the age where he understands that they need to grow and will get bigger, that they won’t be ready until September. But Luke and Chloe just see an apple, they are curious so they pick it. It’s pretty challenging to explain to a 2 year old that they aren’t ready yet.

Chloe placing apples in the basket

Nonetheless, we had many apples ‘make it’ to September and they are now ripe and ready for eating. They are so ripe that they were starting to fall off the tree, and I knew that in order to keep them from rotting on the ground that it was time to pick them.

So yesterday morning we went out with Luke and Chloe and picked the apples from the tree. I didn’t think there were that many, but we ended up filling a huge basket. Now the challenge with having a tree and so many apples is what to do with them. Though apples keep fairly well, they do tend to go soft eventually. And I hate to waste good apples, so I make many apple recipes. Apple pie, apple muffins, applesauce, and my favorite apple crumble. I think it is the crumble I enjoy the most, I usually double the topping so that there is more 🙂 but that’s ok.

Apple Streusel Muffins

I find crumble to be a quick and easy dessert that I can make in about 10 minutes and pop into the oven. It is great with ice cream, whip cream or all by itself. We use a non-dairy ice cream called Rice Dream or a non-dairy whip cream. I also have an apple peeler, corer, slicer, that makes making any apple dessert very easy. It peels, cores and slices the apple all at once in less than 10 seconds. I would recommend one of these for anyone who makes things with fresh apples, it saves you a lot of time and is very easy to use.

Pampered Chef® Apple Peeler Corer Slicer

My recipe, originally from my mother, I have adjusted to a dairy free, sugar free version which is just as delicious as the original. The first time I did it without sugar I used honey in place of the brown sugar which worked well. But recently I have discovered coconut sugar, which melts just like brown sugar would. We now use it on our oatmeal in the morning and for our cinnamon apples when we go camping! And when I made the crumble yesterday I used coconut sugar instead of honey and I would have to say this is now my preference. It tasted just like the one with brown sugar.

So when you make this crumble, you choose which sweetener you prefer, perhaps make 2, each with the different sweeteners and test it out for yourself. I am sure your family will have no problems eating them up!

Unfortunately for me I only used 4 apples in my crumble, which hardly put a dent in the apples I have. I am going to have to get creative over the next little while and see what else I can come up with! In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful apple crumble, whether the apples come from your own tree or the local market, it is going to be delicious!

sugar free apple crumbleSugar Free Apple Crumble 

Topping

1/3 c. coconut sugar or honey

1/3 c. flour

3/4 c. rolled oats

1/3 c. Earth Balance

Filling – 4 large apples * peeled, cored and sliced

Place prepared apples in a 1 liter/ 4 c. corningware dish. If your apples are more tart, drizzle with a little honey, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Mix topping in a separate bowl. Place topping over apples and pat firmly.

Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes in a covered corningware. Remove cover for the last 5 minutes to brown top.

*use your favorite fruit in this crumble instead of apples, such as peaches, blueberries, etc.

Serves 4

Chloe and Mum by the apple tree

sugar free apple crumble