Search Results for: sugars

Low Sugar Treats the Real Food Way

Gimme one good reason any of us should eat sugar.

Fine. It tastes good. 

But we all know that too much sugar causes big, big problems for all of us. Our bodies can’t utilize much of it for nourishment, but it does have to do something with it. Turn it to fat, perhaps? Tuck it away in our hips? Make us sluggish, achy, and depressed? Well that all sounds like fun.

What are our options here? Avoid all the sugar? Switch to fake sugars like aspertame and splenda?

No, no, NO! Never think that fake sugar is better than real sugar. But maybe we don’t have to give up on treats either. I’m not a big fan of sugar, but I sure do love me a good treat.

That’s why, about a year ago, I started creating low sugar recipes from real food ingredients. I’ve learned that most treats are unnecessarily over-sweetened. In fact, I once cut the sugar in a cake recipe from 6 cups down to 1/2 cup. The result? Amazing. Moist. Flavorful. Delicious.

41 wonderfully yummy recipes later, we can definitely conclude that we don’t have to add oodles of sugar to a recipe to make it taste good. Those 41 recipes turned into this:

Low Sugar Treats

Why I’d love for you to have the Low Sugar Treats eBook

These recipes are perfect for everyone who wants to:

  • create yummy treats without overloading on sugar
  • stick with real food options
  • prepare nourishing treats for lunchboxes and snacks

From cookies to cakes to cheesecakes to ice cream – it’s amazing how cutting the sugar in recipes doesn’t effect their deliciousness!! Can you believe all of these can be made with very little sugar?

low sugar treats contents

You’ve likely tried several of these that I’ve shared here during the past year. I love that all of these recipes are now in one convenient download. I’m printing mine and keeping it in a binder in the kitchen for easy access. My family is set now when it comes to birthdays, snacks, and well, even the occasional breakfast. (Hey, there’s less sugar in these goodies than a typical breakfast muffin or serving of cereal.)

These recipes use whole grains (or no grains, depending on the recipe), healthy fats like coconut oil and butter, and sweeteners like:

  • Stevia
  • Sucanat
  • Real Maple Syrup
  • Honey
  • Raw Sugar (in small amounts)

You can use the sweeteners of your choice, making the recipes to meet your family’s taste preferences.

So many treats, so little sugar. It’s a win-win!

Low Sugar Treats, the Real Food Way
41 recipes, all made with real food ingredients but without loads of sugar. Learn to make delicious treats that are lightly sweetened and big on flavor and fun!
Price: $6.95

Let me know which recipe becomes your favorite!

Want more? See the other fun products in our Heavenly Homemakers Shop.

Fat vs. Sugar. Which is the True Enemy?

Today let’s talk Fat vs. Sugar.

I was a little girl when I began to hear people say things like…

  • “Low fat is the way to go. We should only eat #?# fat grams per day.” (I can’t remember the exact number. I just remember faithfully counting my fat grams daily as a teen.)
  • “A bacon cheeseburger? That’s a heart attack on a plate.”
  • “Butter?! Butter is terrible for you! We only eat margarine.”
  • “No beef. Just chicken. White meat. Skinless.”

I remember vividly when my mom started following a low-fat diet. I joined her because I was a teenage girl who most certainly didn’t want to get fat by eating fat. I remember hating my fat free turkey breast on low fat bread with fat free mayonnaise. But I ate those sandwiches faithfully for lunches because I was convinced that was the “healthy” way to go.

Oh my gag-ness. I can still imagine the taste of fat free mayo and it makes me turn green. What was in that stuff?

It’s funny (not funny) to me that I actually thought I needed to sacrifice good tasting food in order to be healthy. What a sad mis-conception.

I remember snacking on baked, fat free chips (aka salted cardboard).
I didn’t even like them, but seeing as I was into eating healthy…I made the sacrifice.

That was over three decades ago. I’d like to think we are making progress toward getting away from these untruths about what is actually healthy or unhealthy about our food.

I’m grateful to see that at least the coconut oil trend has caught on. But I still frequently hear people talk about fat as if it is the enemy. I’m determined to educate people about this.

A New Generation of Fat Eaters? Maybe?

Justus, my 16-year old, doesn’t get why people get freaked out about fat. He’s been eating the “real food” way since he was 6 – so fat isn’t scary to him. He knows what it means to eat food our bodies recognize, and he definitely knows that the real food at our house tastes great (atta boy). Recently he was talking about a conversation with friends. He had been telling them about his “mom’s homemade french fries” and they were like, “What? You eat french fries? At your house? I thought you only ate healthy food!” And he was like, “Ummm. Yeahhh???”

Friends of Asa, our oldest son, watched as he salted his food liberally in the college cafeteria. We chuckled when we heard his friends’ conclusion that, “He’s probably doing that because he’s used to eating bland, healthy food at his house.” Hahahaha! Please pass the sea salt and slather on the butter and watch me eat the crispy, flavorful skin of a chicken. Real food tastes so amazing I don’t even know where to begin.

I suppose I could begin by comparing it to that Fat-Free Mayo. Gag me.

Well anyway.

So not everyone is there yet. There is still a lot of confusion as to what actually is good and healthy. Since we have believed (and taught our children) for several decades that fat is bad, I believe it will take a few more decades to undo the damage and re-educate people about whole foods and nourishment.


Good Fat is Good

I’ve done extensive research on the subject of fat. I didn’t jump aboard the “fat is good” train just because I heard someone say it once or because I “read an article somewhere.” After all, I was riding the “fat is bad” train for many years, so getting on a different train was a little bit hard for me. Real butter? Are you sure I should it eat?? Beef? I don’t know. Bacon? Well now you’re pushing it. I really don’t want to get fat. I’m not sure I can eat this stuff.

So I read and I researched and I found sources and I asked questions. (Some of my favorite sources include Weston Price Foundation and Dr. Mercola. Note that this article I found in my research quotes 73 different sources. These people are thorough!)

I looked in depth into the history of food trends and the health problems that came with them. The results of my research tell a story that is almost completely upside-down compared to what I had heard about fat. (Ironically, I’d never researched the low-fat thing when I started eating a low-fat diet. I just went with what I heard and stuck with it for years. Not smart.)

The truth is that the instances of heart disease and obesity did not rise until after the low-fat trend began. Alternatively, as people started cutting the fat, many started consuming much larger quantities of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Fast food replaced home-cooked meals. Fruits and vegetables took a back seat (or didn’t even get a seat at all). Donuts and poptarts and sugary cereal became a morning standard. White bread and chips filled the lunch boxes.

Ultimately, we forgot to give our bodies nourishment.

Occurrences of destructive health conditions soared. We blamed the fat.


I actually thought jelly beans were healthy because they were fat free.
Avocados, though. I stayed away from those high-fat things. What???
Let us all rejoice that I actually started reading the facts and using logic. 

So fat vs. sugar?

Refined sugar doesn’t nourish. It’s fun and it’s tasty but what does it offer the body so that it will thrive? On the contrary, when we eat it, our bodies have to work very hard to find something to do with it. When it finds little to no useful nutrients, it calls in the reserves, depleting us and killing our immune system. Then often, whatever can’t be used gets tucked away in storage (aka, it turns to fat).

Some would tell you to never eat refined sugar. I say: be informed and use wisdom. Treats are fun. But keep ’em treats. ;)


Shall we go crazy with the fat then?

Our bodies are smart. If we listen, they tell us what we need, what to eat, and when to stop. Your body doesn’t want you to eat an entire stick of butter in one sitting just because it’s good for you. But your body probably won’t mind if you eat a nice thick pat of it on your veggies knowing that it adds great nutrients and amazing flavor.

It’s important to remember that we need to eat food in balance. I don’t think we need to go overboard – keeping track of what we eat when and how much and what time and with what. When I say “eat food in balance” I mean that when we eat a variety of wholesome foods, we will naturally be eating the right blend of nutrients and getting the right amount of naturally occurring fats, sugars, proteins, vitamins, etc.

All food comes perfectly packaged with a lovely blend of nutrients. Some food is naturally fat free and high in natural sugar. (Have you met my friend the strawberry?) Some food is naturally high in fat and tastes amazing with a strawberry. (Cream, meet Strawberry. Be my BFF.)

We eat a lot of fat in our house, but it’s all balanced with many other high-nutrient foods that work together to nourish.

Fats to Avoid

There are certainly fats I stay far away from. Some fats are manufactured and our bodies cannot use them for nourishment. When considering which fats to focus on and which to avoid – remember that we’re going for nourishment, helping our bodies thrive on food that offers cells something to work with, not fight against.

This article on fats says it all much better than I can, so do go read it. In summary:

  • Hydrogenated Oils cannot be digested and utilized in our bodies.
  • Soybean oil, canola oil, and most vegetable oils aren’t great for many reasons. What most resonates with me is that they go rancid very, very quickly and can turn into trans fats when heated.
  • Margarine didn’t even make this list of fats, so I’m going to take that to mean it doesn’t count as food, the end.

Fats that Nourish

Obviously, not every person can tolerate every food or fat. But these are the fats that should be considered for nourishment. (Again, details here.)

  • Coconut Oil
  • Real Butter
  • Palm Oil
  • Olive Oil (at room temp)
  • Animal Fat from Meat, Eggs, and Dairy
  • Natural occurring fat in nuts, avocados, and seeds

Why We Need Good Fats

Fats carry vitamins and minerals to our cells. Fats give us energy. Fats help us fight depression. Fats help us concentrate. Fats satisfy and keep us from excessive hunger. Fats help us maintain a healthy weight. Who knew? Fat doesn’t make you fat.

Always Consider: What Nourishes?

To feel your best, focus on eating food that nourishes. Our bodies need food that feeds the cells with what they can absorb and utilize.

Obviously, there is so much more that goes with optimal health (exercise, hydrating, so much more). But when it comes to food choices – we must choose real food that nourishes.

Weigh In

I’d love to hear what you learned about fat while you were growing up. How has that effected the way you eat now? What is your current status in the fat vs. sugar debate?


Are you in? Join many others who are making simple, healthy changes this month to take steps toward better health. Learn more here. (There’s a $100 prize involved!)

Ready to join? It’s free and refreshing to know we’ll be working on this as a team. Sign up here!

The Real Food Ingredient I’ve Mostly Stopped Buying

It was one of the first real food ingredients I wrote about when I started this blog. It made the top of the list on this post. I recommended it highly and always stocked up to keep it on hand. This goes to show that we can never stop learning and never stop changing what works best for our families.

The Real Food Ingredient I've Mostly Stopped Buying

Is it butter? Did I stop buying butter?

Girl, are you crazy? I did not stop buying butter.

But I have realized that I’m buying less and less sucanat.

Why am I buying less sucanat?

There are several reasons. Allow me to share:

1. Our grocery bill is a killer. Some things had to go.

As the boys have gotten older – our grocery bill has more than doubled with their teenage appetites. I’ve found that I had to make some compromises on what I consider to be “less important” items in order to make sure we’re still eating plenty of nourishing foods. It doesn’t make sense to me for hold out on the fruits and vegetables so that we can afford to buy sucanat for our brownies.

2. Sucanat is better for us, but it is still sugar.

While sucanat does have some nutritional value, our bodies still recognize it for exactly what it is: sugar.

There is a clear difference in sucanat and regular white sugar. I love that sucanat has many nutrients still intact – so when we eat sucanat, our bodies can utilize its nutrients. Great. But I’m not relying on sucanat as a main source of nourishment. Our primary sources of nourishment come from our meals, not our desserts. If we don’t eat sucanat, our bodies won’t be deprived of important vitamins and minerals. We’re getting those from other food sources.

Any sugar – even the natural sugars like sucanat, honey, and maple syrup – can effect our bodies negatively even if they do offer some nutrients here and there. Thus, making sucanat less of a priority only makes sense for our family right now.

3. We’re eating less sugar overall.

Well, at least I am. And Matt is. The kids…well. They still like their sweets and you can read more of my thoughts on this matter here.

Overall, I’m baking fewer sweet treats to have on hand. Also, I’ve learned to cut down the sugar in the treats I do make. In summary, we go through less sucanat because I’m not stirring two cups of it into a batch of brownies every other day. Good grief, I used to. I was such a sugaraholic!!

I love only using 1/2 cup of sugar in a recipe that originally called for 2 cups – and turning out a product that still tastes amazing. Why, Betty Crocker? Why??

Low Sugar Super Moist Chocolate Cake

What I Am Using Instead of Sucanat

More and more, I’m learning to use Stevia to sweeten our treats. It has taken some trial and error to find the correct amount to use so that our smoothies, frostings, and custards will be sweet enough but not bitter. We’ve gotten the hang of it now. I love it!

I’ve tried my hand at making Homemade Stevia Extract, but I’m not confident enough in my efforts to share the recipe with you yet. I stick with NuNaturals brand, which I have found to be the best tasting with ingredients I trust.

For baked goods, I frequently use regular ol’ brown sugar from the store. It saves us money, and that is important right now.

I also still use real maple syrup and our wonderful local raw honey. But I’ve cut back on the quantity of those too now that I’ve learned that I can still turn out delicious treats with a lesser amount of sweetener!


I Haven’t Stopped Buying Sucanat Completely

I really like the taste of sucanat in certain items. I haven’t stopped buying it altogether. I’ve just stopped making it a grocery priority. I watch for online sales on sucanat at Olive Nation or Amazon and I grab it if the price is right. But I’ve definitely stopped buying 25 pound bags every few months. Whoa, Nellie. The grocery budget says “no way” right now.

So how about you?

Are you a fan of sucanat? Have you found a good source to keep the cost down? Have you found that you compromise on certain items in order to stay within your real food grocery budget?

Switching to Whole Food Sweeteners Without Breaking the Bank

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While switching from processed food to nourishing food doesn’t have to be terribly expensive, there’s no way around this one:  White and brown sugar are cheap. Sucanat, real maple syrup, muscovado, honey, and stevia are not cheap. I can get a 2-pound bag of brown sugar at the store for $1.78. Sucanat, on the other hand, is usually $5.00 for 1.5 pounds. Ouch! It’s worth it to buy the good stuff, but it isn’t fun to pay for.

While I don’t have any earth shattering advice about finding fantastic deals on these wholesome sweeteners, I do have some suggestions based on what works for me.

Switching to Whole Food Sweeteners Without Breaking the Bank

1. Stop eating so many sugary desserts.

I know. You’re rolling your eyes. I feel your pain on this one because I’m a recovering sugar addict. Pray about this and let God’s power be your will-power. You don’t have to cut out desserts altogether (unless you feel called to). You simply need to keep sugary foods a treat instead of pouring on the sugar like it’s a food group. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save on sucanat, honey, and maple syrup when you stop eating so much.

2. Cut the sugar in half.

When baking muffins, quick breads, and breakfast bars, I find that half the sugar called for in many recipes (even mine!) works just fine. The baked goods are still sweet and tasty. This saves quite a bit of money on wholesome sugars!

3. Drizzle your syrup.

Dousing your pancakes or waffles in real maple syrup? That’s an expensive breakfast! A little drizzle of rich, flavorful maple syrup goes a long way. It’s also fun to pour a tiny quarter-sized bit of syrup onto your plate, then dip the corner of each bite to sweeten it just a touch.

4. Pull out the cheap stuff when feeding a crowd.

If I’m feeding 40 teenagers, I leave my sucanat in the pantry and pull out the cheap brown sugar. There’s no need to use $6 worth of sucanat when I can use $1.50 worth of brown sugar for a big group of kids who really don’t care about whether or not the brownies were made with organic sugar or not. I certainly don’t mind sharing “the good stuff” with company occasionally, but it just really isn’t worth spending extra money when three pans of dessert are going to be devoured in two minutes. I never compromise on using real butter (instead of margarine), and I always use my freshly ground flour (no one can even tell) – but compromising on sugar? At least it’s actual sugar instead of artificial sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Which leads me to…

At the end of the day…

It’s all sugar.  Sucanat is healthier because it’s processed very little and still contains nutrients. Real maple syrup is straight from the tree. Honey is made by bees and is as natural as it comes. But to our bodies? It’s all sugar. Read this post about Breaking Free of Sugar Addiction for more of my thoughts on this.

This means you may decide that switching to sucanat (and paying the higher price tag) is just not worth it.

I believe the bigger focus needs to be on cutting back on sugar (in all its forms). Focus on filling up on fruits and vegetables instead. You’ll be amazed at how sweet your fruits and vegetables taste when your palate isn’t coated with a cookie.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Which sugars do you choose to purchase and use for your family?

How to Adapt a Recipe to Make it Healthier

How to Adapt a Recipe to Make it Healthier

I’m often asked how much Sucanat to substitute for white sugar, or if whole wheat flour can be substituted one for one with white flour. I decided to share a little bit about how I adapt “regular recipes” to make them healthier! Please know that when I say “healthier”…I’m not talking low fat. To me, healthier means real, whole food.  Click on the following links so read about how I feed my family and why I love real, whole foods!! Be sure to also check out this entire series on Simple Steps Toward Healthy Eating.


  • If a recipe calls for vegetable or canola oil I switch it out one for one with melted coconut oil or melted palm shortening. It’s a little bit tough to measure out solid coconut oil to an exact needed amount. I just kind of “eyeball it”. If a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, I make my best guess at how much 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or palm shortening) is while I’m scooping it out…then I melt it down in a small saucepan on the stove. If you are new to cooking/baking…you may prefer to melt it, then pour it into a measuring cup to be sure you  have the correct amount.
  • If a recipe calls for margarine (I gag and then) I switch it out one for one with real butter. This means that if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup margarine, I use 1/2 cup of butter.
  • Usually butter and coconut oil can be used interchangeably. For instance, when I make muffins…sometimes I use coconut oil and sometimes I use butter. It depends on what I have on hand and what sounds good at the moment (coconuty goodness, or rich buttery flavor). If you are unable to eat dairy, you can substititute coconut oil for butter in most recipes.
  • I almost always use melted palm shortening to fry foods (like french fries, onion rings, homemade corn dogs, etc.).  Palm shortening does NOT create the same freaky effects from frying that vegetable or canola oils create. This means that foods fried in palm shortening (or coconut oil) are NOT unhealthy!
  • I use olive oil if a recipe calls for just a few teaspoons or Tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  • You can read more about the fats I prefer and why I prefer them here!!


  • Sucanat (or Rapadura, which is the same thing…just under a different name) can be substituted one for one with white or brown sugar. This means that if a recipe calls for one cup of white sugar…you can instead use one cup of Sucanat. However, I generally cut the Sucanat down just a hair because the flavor is stronger…and because it is more expensive…and because wow…do we really need that much sugar? :)  Sucanat, by the way, is dehydrated cane sugar juice and the healthiest form of cane sugar I’ve found. You can read more about it  here.
  • Honey can be substituted for white or brown sugar, but I usually use 1/2 to 2/3 the amount the recipe calls for. This means that if a recipe calls for one cup of white or brown sugar, I only use 1/2 to 2/3 cup of honey. Honey has a rich flavor and is sweeter than sugar. I have not found that substituting honey causes much difference in the consistency of a recipe, even though honey is a liquid and sugar is not. If anything, I find that honey makes quick breads, muffins and cookies more moist…and that’s never a bad thing if you ask me!
  • Real Grade B Maple Syrup can be substituted for white or brown sugar, but I don’t often bake with it (ooh, except for Coconut Macaroons!). I use maple syrup for liquid treats like Chocolate Milk and Smoothies and Ice Cream. If a recipe calls for corn syrup, I use Grade B Maple Syrup instead, substituting it one for one.
  • You can read more about the sweeteners I prefer and why I prefer them here!!


To make things a little bit easier…I created a free printable “Healthy Recipe Substitutions” download. Click the following link, print it off and keep it in your kitchen as a handy reference!

Healthy Recipe Substitutions

How do you feel about adapting recipes? Are you good at making substitutions…or do you prefer to follow a recipe exactly?

This post was originally published March 9, 2011.

Sugar Should Be a Treat {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 15}

31 Days 300

The day we started pouring sugar on our salads is the day um…salads became, you know, less healthy. (Now, that’s a brilliant quote worth sharing if I ever saw one.)

Sugar on our salads?  Surely not! Why would anyone do that? Just read a bottle of salad dressing from the store. Almost every single one contains a lot of sugar – except for the ones that contain high fructose corn syrup, which is, of course, even worse. If I want sugar, I’ll have chocolate, not a salad.

Salad Dressing

Sugar is in almost everything – especially processed foods…and salad dressing. But somehow, saturated fat gets blamed for causing obesity and heart disease. We interrupt this post for a fatty, sugary history lesson:

Before 1910, many people ate lots of meat, eggs, butter, cream – and very little sugar. People worked hard and were rarely sedentary. Heart disease was almost non-existent. Then, between 1910 and 1970, animal fats and protein consumption took a huge dive – because experts began to tell people that they were bad. These experts had “research” to back up their claims, which many additional researchers found to be flawed. Nonetheless, the concept of cutting out animal fats and protein gained publicity (and that was before Facebook – amazing).

At the same time, sugar and processed food consumption increased by 60 percent. Also during that time, while the amount of butter people ate was dramatically reduced, the percentage of vegetable oils in the form of margarine and shortening increased by (wait for it) 400%. Guess what else happened? Heart disease, which was almost non-existent before 1920, became the leading cause of death among Americans. (source)  And we blamed the saturated fat in butter?  I’m speechless. (Not really. I have more to say.)

So back to drizzling sugar on our tossed salads…

The simple truth is that we have to cut back on our sugar intake in order to be healthier. The issues our bodies have as a result of eating too much sugar go way beyond cavities and hyperactivity.

Cutting back on sugar has been one of the most difficult adjustments for me to make personally. (Remember my Pepsi addiction?)  I have always loved my sugar. Who doesn’t? Sugar tastes really, really good!

Since beginning our healthy eating journey, I’ve tried to at least stay away from most refined sugars, and instead stick with raw honey, real maple syrup, and sucanat. You can read more about those natural sugars here. I notice a big difference in how I feel after eating white sugar as opposed to one of the healthier sugars mentioned. Yet while these choices are much better than white sugar and corn syrup, they are still sugars and they still effect our bodies negatively if eaten in too large a quantity. Remember, we’re going for nourishment here – not just trying to fill a hole. Sugar offers so little in the way of nourishment. When we eat more than just a little bit of sugar, our bodies simply don’t know what to do with it. Therefore, it stores it away and it becomes extra pounds on our hips – or wreaks havoc in many other ways in our body.

Here is what has worked for me as I’ve cut back on sugar for my family:

  • Stop drinking your sugar. If I can do it, you can do it.
  • Cut back on the sugar called for in recipes – yes even in my recipes. I now cut the sugar in half in my recipes. They’re still plenty sweet. Cut back gradually if you need to.
  • Eat fruit – it has natural sugar, but it also has loads of nutrients!
  • Watch the white flour, white rice, and white pasta. They offer few nutrients and turn to sugar in our systems.
  • Make sweets a treat instead of consuming sugary foods all day long.

And for certain, my most important advice in an effort to cut back on sugar:  Pray. I am a sugar lover. The fact that I have been able to cut way back on sugar is only possible with the Lord’s power, not my own will-power.

And as for putting sugar on our salads – I have several real food, no sugar or low sugar dressing recipes here that are delicious!

Do you struggle with eating too much sugar? What are some habits you can begin in an effort to cut back?


One Step at a Time {31 Days of Real Food Reality ~ Day 2}

31 Days 300

It’s an exciting time!  The holidays are over, and many of us are looking forward to starting fresh and becoming healthier!

Looking forward to chucking all of the processed foods in your house, eating three vegetables with every meal, transforming your refrigerator so that it only contains homemade condiments, keeping up with meal planning consistently, packing healthy lunches every day for your kids, making all of your own baked goods using only whole grains and unprocessed sugars, and never touching store bought candy again for the rest of your life? That’s awesome! These are all wonderful goals. Hoping to do it all by tomorrow? I love your ambition, but chill out with a piece of chocolate. That may not be reality.

As someone who is encouraging you to eat a healthy diet, let me be clear.  When I say, “chill out with a piece of chocolate,” I totally mean, “relax while you munch a radish.”  Obviously. But my point is that if you try to make too many good changes at once, setting 42 healthy living goals in an effort to completely transform your life overnight, you may become so overwhelmed that within two days you’ll decide that there’s no way you can keep up with this healthy, real food business. At the very least, you’ll likely freak out the people around you, giving them the impression that life as they know it and their loved one’s sanity (that would be yours) just got thrown out with the Fruitie Magrooties.

Let me remind you that every healthy change you make is a wonderful step in the right direction. Usually, taking one step at a time makes the transition from junk food to real food much more doable as opposed to making many drastic changes all at once. People who go from all to nothing (or nothing to all, as the case may be) are much more likely to get frustrated, become overwhelmed, and give up before they even really get started.

You didn’t learn to count, add, subtract, multiply, divide, reduce fractions, and master hyperbolic trigonometry all in the same day did you? Neither will you transform your kitchen and eating habits all in the same day. Or week. Or month.

Take small steps toward switching from processed food to real food. Begin to cut out the bad slowly, while introducing the good at a pace that is doable for you and your family. Why not make a list of healthy habits you’d like to begin, then prioritize them in order of importance to you? Or start with the easiest ones first. Once you get the hang of one, you can tackle another.

Before you know it, you’ll be a whiz at hyperbolic trigonometry. Or rather, you’ll be like me and have no idea what that even is. But by golly, you’ll be drinking plenty of water and eating much less sugar than you used to. And on it goes.

Fruitie Magrooties, it was nice knowing you. Healthy living, here we come!

What is one step you can start taking today that will be doable for you and your family as you work your way toward a healthier lifestyle?

Can You Lose Weight (or Keep from Gaining Weight) When Eating Whole Foods?


Before I begin this post, I want to say this:  Being “skinny” is not the goal when it comes to eating a whole foods diet. Our goal is to be healthy, not to have a Barbie doll figure (who, by the way, is made of plastic and is susceptible to having an arm or leg snapped off, just ask my brother). Now let’s begin:

I often receive emails from readers asking me:  “I have some pounds to lose. Can I lose weight while eating whole foods?”  or “How do you stay slim while eating such a high fat diet?” or “I want to start eating real foods, but I’m afraid of gaining weight.”


Can I lose weight while eating whole foods?

These questions and fears are very valid and I understand why these emails are coming in. I was afraid of the very same things when I first learned about eating whole foods. For as long as I can remember, we have been told from experts that eating a high fat diet is bad for us. That drinking whole milk and consuming other full fat dairy products is terrible. That butter is a huge no-no. That we needed to eat fat-free yogurt. That we should avoid red meat and focus on lean, white meat. That eggs were horrible and full of cholesterol.

To replace each of these, we were provided with “low fat” and “fat free” substitutes of sour cream, cheese, and milk. We were offered “egg-beaters” to replace eggs in recipes. Margarine became the “healthier choice” because it was lower in saturated fat. And most other processed high fat food companies came out with “low fat” varieties for those who were “health conscious”. (Fat free mayonnaise, anyone?)

I bought into it for years. I think many people did.  Most nutrition books on the market still suggest that eating “low fat” varieties of food is the healthier way to go.

Here’s what I learned while eating a “low fat or fat free” diet for many years:  Any time I got into patterns of over-eating – even if it was food that was low in fat – I struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, I craved more sugar since many low fat foods have sugar added to make up for the loss of flavor that happens when you take naturally occurring fat out of food.

Once I began eating a real food diet, which is higher in real fat – real butter, real cream, whole milk, real sour cream, whole milk yogurt, eggs, beef, lamb (along with whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies) – I found that these foods are so satisfying that my body wasn’t consistently craving what it wasn’t getting! I found that the food tasted so good that I wasn’t constantly disappointed with dry, tasteless food. I found that I had more energy and healthier skin. I found that overall, because I was eating whole food in its original form, I felt so much better than I’d ever felt when I had been eating food that had been stripped of its natural fat.

Cream Cheese Chicken

So can you eat whole foods that are naturally high in fat and maintain a healthy weight, or even lose weight if you need to? Yes!  I’ve watched friends arrive at a healthy weight once they began eating a real food diet. Once they gave up eating processed foods, and even “low fat foods” and began to instead eat a diet of unprocessed, whole foods – the extra pounds just fell off! And I can tell you that for myself, after 15 years of following the latest diet trends (low fat, calorie counting, etc) in an effort to “not gain weight” – eating a diet of real, whole foods (going on eight years now) has been the easiest way I’ve experienced to maintain a healthy weight.

I’m going to say this again:  None of us should have being “skinny” as the goal as we look at this subject. We should be focused on being “healthy”.  Eating a well balanced whole foods diet is healthy. And wow does it ever taste good!

Here are my top five tips (besides eating a whole foods diet) for maintaining a healthy weight:

  1. Don’t Over-Eat: Too much healthy food is still too much food.  Eat when you are hungry. Stop eating when you are full. It’s really quite simple. (Except for when it’s chocolate. Then it is difficult. Self control, Laura everyone, self-control.)
  2. Be Balanced:  Sure, I love butter and believe wholeheartedly that it is a healthy fat. But man (or Laura) shall not live on butter alone. Eat a wide variety of whole foods for a healthy balance that will meet all of your body’s needs.
  3. Go Easy on the Sugar:  Yes, even natural sugars like honey, sucanat, and maple syrup. And desserts made with chocolate. But I covered that already.
  4. Exercise:  For so many reasons, just do it. You will not regret it, and your body will love you for it.
  5. Eat Healthy Fats:  Avoid processed, manufactured fats like vegetable oils, crisco, and margarine. Our bodies don’t recognize them, can’t utilize them, and therefore store them in our bodies as fat. Coconut oil, real butter, and palm oil are all fats our bodies can break down and utilize for energy and nourishment.

I hope you will all feel comfortable leaving a comment to share how this journey has been for you. Have you found that eating real, whole foods has helped you achieve a healthy weight? Are you afraid to eat a whole foods diet? Have you been eating a whole foods diet and been happy with the results? 

The Health Benefits of Fermented Vegetables

It likely doesn’t sound good to most of us. Fermented black radishes? Really?

Admittedly, fermented black radishes aren’t my favorite side dish. But sauerkraut (which is fermented cabbage), served alongside my steak? It’s really not too bad. Especially when you realize how much eating them benefits your digestion. And fermented carrots are a delicious addition to a salad. 

So what’s so great about fermented vegetables?

Well, for one thing, they are raw.   And when you make them with unpeeled veggies, they contain all sorts of wonderful nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and enzymes. But the fermenting process gives them a huge jump in the additional health benefits regular vegetables offer. Once fermented, these veggies contain live, healthy bacteria that helps strengthen your immune system, helps heal your gut, aids in digestion, regulates the sugars contained naturally in the vegetables, and so much more. You can read more about specific benefits to fermented vegetables at Wise Choice Market

Through the years, I’ve experimented with making my own fermented vegetables. Since I haven’t figured out the “perfect recipe” yet to share with you, I did a little online searching and found another great post to send you to which gives a great “how to” on making fermented veggies. Or, if you want to give them a try but aren’t ready to make your own yet, Wise Choice Market has them ready made for you. Their Grated Carrots are our favorite.

What has been your experience with fermented vegetables? Tried them? Like them?


Mother’s Day Cake Update – Finally

My apologies that it took so long to give you an update on what in the world my family was baking for me while I was shut into my office yesterday afternoon. As soon as the mystery dessert was finished baking, we headed out to play some “Mother’s Day Soccer”. My choice. As in, I actually chose playing soccer over taking a nap. Go figure.

By the way, if you would have told me a year ago that this year I would suggest that we play a family game of soccer in honor of Mother’s Day, I would have laughed. But indeed, now that I’m getting fit and learning to enjoy playing with my kids, I just can’t get enough. Soccer on Mother’s Day just seemed like the perfect idea. And it was.

So back to the dessert you’ve been waiting to hear about.

Oh, but another reason I couldn’t update you on this mystery earlier is because after we played soccer, we had a nacho and movie night – with popcorn. Yes, didn’t you know that it’s always good to have nachos and popcorn together? Eh, it worked and it made everyone happy.

We are pretty good popcorn makers around here, always using coconut oil to make delicious popcorn. But this time, we used a fun new recipe from the Deliciously Organic cookbook. It was fantastic.  However, we did have a wild ride in the kitchen while I was making it because I didn’t use a big enough pot. You know what happens when you don’t use a big enough pot when you’re making popcorn on the stovetop? The popcorn just keeps popping, and the lid comes off the pan, and popcorn goes absolutely everywhere. Jen was over hanging out with us, and Matt was in the kitchen too – both of them being very supportive while I was standing at the stove feeling rather helpless while popcorn started overflowing and flying. Matt offered some suggestions. Jen handed me a bowl for the flying popcorn, but with it, I only managed to make a bigger mess. Oh, you should have been there to witness the madness. ;)

This is the popcorn that managed to make it into the bowl.

But really, back to the dessert you’ve been waiting to hear about.

If you can believe it, the dessert recipe they picked wasn’t chocolate. I know, shocking. But wow, was it good.

They picked a “Hot Milk Sponge Cake” recipe from my old, worn out Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Then, like good children, they figured out how to adapt the recipe to use healthier sugars, fats, and flours. Is that not impressive? More on that in another post.

So apparently that’s what all the beating was about. Sponge cakes take a lot of beating. Thus, the beaters were running for minutes on end. :)

Then, if you can believe it, they made a “Broiled Coconut Topping” to go on top. I’m telling you, they outdid themselves. Talk about tasty!

This cake was delicious. My family is the greatest. And without a doubt, I will look up the recipe, ask them about their adaptations, and post it for you so that your family can make it for you sometime. Or so that you can make it for them. Or whatever. ;)