A Few Simple Ingredients…

Mix and Match Real Food Ingredients

Have I told you how much I have loved the Meet and Greet events so far? And how much it made me want to meet ALL of you!!?!

One of the topics we discussed at the Springfield Meet and Greet was how nice it is that once you have some key, real food ingredients in your kitchen – it suddenly becomes much easier to put healthy, whole food meals on the table.

It’s so true! If you are just beginning to switch your kitchen to a real food kitchen, rest assured, your job is just about to become much easier!

I took a few minutes to make a list of the top two dozen ingredients I always try to have on hand in my kitchen. With these ingredients, I can make hundreds of recipes. Check it out:

  • Wheat or other grains (to grind into flour)
  • Oats
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter (or peanuts to make your own!)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Butter
  • Yeast
  • Sucanat and/or Honey
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Sea Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Minced Onion
  • Garlic Powder
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Veggies (fresh or frozen)
  • Fruit (fresh and frozen)
  • Canned Salmon or Tuna
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate Chips (these are necessary – don’t you think?!)

Click here to see a detailed break-down of where I purchase these ingredients and how much I typically try to spend on them.

So what can I make with the above list of ingredients? Well, off the top of my head, I can think of spaghetti, mac and cheese, tuna casserole, muffins, pancakes, a few casseroles, stir fry, and pizza. And if I stood on my head for a while and got more blood flowing, the list could go on and on…

But I won’t. I’d likely break something (like a wall or my neck) if I tried to stand on my head.

I’d love to hear from you on this!

Have you found that you’re finding your way around your real food kitchen? Have you discovered your top 24 or so ingredients that help you stay organized in your real food kitchen? What ingredients would you add to the list I came up with? What meals have you found to create with your staple, real food ingredients?

And are you with me? Are chocolate chips a staple ingredient or are they not?! :)


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Coconut Oil: Why it is Good For You and Where to Buy it

Why Coconut Oil is Good For You

I’m often talking about coconut oil around here.  I use it for baking. I use it on our skin. My favorite lotion bar is made from coconut oil.  I highly encourage eating coconut oil and letting coconut oil help heal your system!

Today I’d like to answer a couple of frequently asked Coconut Oil questions…

Why is coconut oil good for you?

Coconut Oil is a saturated fat…something we’re told today to stay away from. My research has taught me to disagree with this. I’m not afraid of saturated fats. Please read this well written and well researched article, which explains saturated fats and coconut oil way better than I ever could!

Coconut Oil:  Why it is Good For You

Coconut oil is a stable fat, which means that it doesn’t go rancid easily like unsaturated fats do. (Unsaturated fats, like canola and vegetable oils, go rancid within just a few hours of being produced. This means that they are already rancid by the time they make it to grocery store shelves.)  Those living in tropical climates, consuming large amounts of coconut oil have low rates of heart desease, cancer and colon problems.  Coconut Oil can actually help you lose weight and fight infections. It is anti-fungal. It has the ability to keep your thyroid healthy.

Where can you buy Coconut Oil?

I’ve not seen high quality coconut oil in my local grocery stores, but I live in a fairly small town without a lot of options. I have seen coconut oil at Wal-mart…and it works if I’m desperate…but it is far from great in my opinion.

I always buy my coconut oil online, as this is where I find the best prices. High quality coconut oil may seem expensive, but I consider coconut oil to be a healing, whole food…therefore the cost is worth it!

A good price for high quality virgin coconut oil, according to what I have found, is around $14/quart. I love it (of course) if I can find it for less than that! I watch for it to go on sale and compare prices at any of the following:

~ Tropical Traditions (watch for sales on both their Virgin Coconut Oil or their Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil.)

Vitacost – get $10 off your first $30 order!

~ Mountain Rose Herbs (Can be bought by the gallon here, helping this purchase to be very cost effective. Since Coconut Oil keeps for a long time…purchasing a gallon bucket is a great idea to help cut the cost!)

~ Amazon (Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil seems to be the best price at Amazon.)

~ Food Co-ops – If you’re a part of a health food co-op, you’ll likely be able to buy coconut oil through them.

What if I don’t like the taste of coconuts? Does coconut have a strong coconut flavor?

There are two types of coconut oil and both are good for you. One tastes like coconuts, and the other doesn’t!

Virgin (unrefined) Coconut Oil has a strong coconut flavor. It is processed in such a way that helps it keep the coconuty taste. I love Virgin Coconut Oil for baking.

Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil doesn’t have a flavor at all! It is processed differently, taking away any flavor, but keeping the nutrients intact. I’ve almost always found this variety of coconut oil to be less expensive. In fact, Mountain Rose Herbs has Virgin Coconut Oil for only $24/gallon + shipping…making it around $9/quart!!!!

How do I measure Coconut Oil for a recipe?

I addressed this question in my recent post:  How to Adapt a Recipe to Make it Healthier. I encourage you to read this post, and read through the comments as many of you shared easy ways to measure coconut oil. I pretty much just “eyeball it” when I measure! :)

What other Coconut Oil questions do you have? Do you like the coconut flavor, or do you prefer your coconut oil to be flavorless?

This post was originally published March 15, 2011.

Apple Muffin Throw Down

Remember the Boxed Brownies vs. Homemade Brownies experiment I did? And the Boxed Mac and Cheese vs. Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese experiment I did? How about my Sunday Dinner Challenge, which took a whopping one minute, forty eight point nine seconds to make?   My boys love that I keep making them bring the stop watch into the kitchen for these “races”. It’s that male competition thing they have going on. 

I finally got around to completing another “boxed vs. homemade” experiment in an effort to prove that making homemade food from healthy ingredients doesn’t take a lot of time. I figure that some might still be having a difficult time believing me when I say that it truly doesn’t take a long time to prepare healthy foods.   So I’m having fun trying to “prove” my case, and my family is having fun eating the results of my experiments. ;)

This time, I decided to see which took longer to prepare: boxed muffins…or muffins made from scratch. I found some great looking “healthier” boxed muffin mixes from Vitacost. While these were organic, they were still made from white flour and white sugar, although at least I could control the oil I put into them. None of that has anything to do with the experiment necessarily, except just to say that these muffins really didn’t hold much in the way of nutrition. Anyway, back to the point, which I know that those of you who haven’t fallen asleep while reading this post are waiting on pins and needles to hear… 

From the time I opened the boxes, to the time I put the muffin pans into the oven, 6.25 minutes had passed. 

A few weeks later, I mixed up my Applesauce Bread recipe and made the batter into muffins. How long did it take? Right at 7 minutes.  And these had whole wheat flour, honey, and real, unsweetened applesauce in them. Nutrients! For my family for breakfast! What a concept.  This, because I spent about 45 seconds longer making muffins from scratch. 

What other thoughts do you have about what I could experiment with?  My boys are waiting with their stop watch…

The Brownie Experiment – Which Takes Longer to Make, Boxed or Homemade?

Well, bless my heart. The work I have to do around here for you people is sometimes just too much, you know? I mean, after I labored over the mac and cheese experiment, spending thirty whole seconds of extra time in my kitchen to make the good, homemade, whole grain, Creamy Mac and Cheese, several of you got on your knees and begged asked me to experiment next with brownies to see which took longer – brownies from a box, or homemade brownies. Really. Asking me to bake two pans of rich, gooey, chocolatey brownies? I seriously had to muscle up on this request, you know? Sometimes you all can be soooo demanding.

It’s okay though – {she says, with the back of her weary hand placed pitifully on her forehead} – I love you all enough that I was able to find the strength to serve you in this way. If someone must make two pans of brownies to help prove a point, I will rise to the challenge.

What? I suppose next you’ll ask me to make chocolate cake, or pudding, or fudge or something? Who do you think I am anyway?

Okay. I’m all done pretending to whine now. Seriously, anytime you want to ask me to make brownies, I am alllll over it. I’m happy to “take one for the team” anytime chocolate is involved.

So here’s a little something that hasn’t been in my kitchen for several years now…

Why yes, it did feel a little funny pouring that into a bowl. And then, because I haven’t made brownies from a box for such a long time – I actually had to take the time to read the directions. I felt a little silly and was glad no one was in there watching me struggle to remember and figure out how to make brownies from a box. Except now I just told you about it, so I guess you get to make fun of me anyway.

From box to pan, before going into the oven, it took me right at 4.5 minutes to mix up these brownies. Quick and convenient? Yep, they sure were. (I used Olive Oil in case you were wondering.)

Next, I started to mix up my Homemade Fudge Brownies that I have been making for several years now. I already had some whole wheat flour ground and in the freezer, but I totally don’t feel like that was cheating in this experiment because I almost always have flour ground and in the freezer for brownie emergencies baking. It’s a little something I call “kitchen efficiency” and it totally works for me.

How long did it take for me to mix up the homemade brownies and get them into the pan? 5.5 minutes. Why did it take me an entire minute longer to mix up homemade brownies than it took to mix up the boxed brownies? Because I had to wait for my butter to melt on the stovetop. Yes, the butter was taking its sweet time to liquify. But never fear. While my butter was melting, I got out my other brownie ingredients, washed a few dishes, and talked to my children. All was not lost in that extra minute of brownie preparation time.

Can you tell which pan is homemade and which pan is from a box?

The blue dish holds the homemade brownies, in case you were wondering which pan to dig into first.
Not that you can, however, because they are sort of gone now.

So, did making brownies from a box save me any time? Yes. One whole minute. Score one for boxed brownies.

Did I feel better about using an extra minute of my life to melt some butter and mix up brownies with sucanat and whole wheat flour? Well, of course I did. Plus I got some dishes done while my butter melted.

By the way, do you know why it only took me one extra minute to mix up the homemade brownies? Because I have made homemade brownies so many times that I don’t even have to think about it anymore. Truly, the more you cook from scratch, the easier and faster it becomes. If you’re new to baking and cooking outside of the box, don’t lose heart! It gets easier the more you do it!

And then, it won’t be long until you’re like me and have to cock your confused head to one side while you try to read the directions on the back of a box.

Crazy but true. ;)

I’ve got more experimenting to do, so stay tuned for more fun updates. I think muffins are the next on my list.

So tell me – do you make homemade brownies or boxed brownies? If you haven’t attempted to make them homemade, I encourage you to give them a try. Yes. That’s an order. Hey, it’s chocolate. Who’s going to argue with that? :)

Homemade Mac and Cheese vs. Annie’s Mac and Cheese – Which Takes More Time?

The Macaroni and Cheese Experiment has been conducted.

In an effort to prove that “real food” often doesn’t take more time or more energy to prepare than “processed food”, I made both Annie’s Mac and Cheese, and my homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese – timing myself from start to finish on each – not doing any of the steps ahead of time.

I began last week by making three boxes of Annie’s Mac and Cheese.

I do purchase this sometimes for the very occasional treat. I appreciate that Annie’s brand is at least made with better ingredients. But did it save me time to make this boxed, convenience food?

From start to finish, making a big pot of three boxes of Annie’s Mac and Cheese took me 18.5 minutes. Not bad, plus I was able to wash a few dishes while the noodles were boiling.

And how long did my homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese take???

Many of you suggested that I needed to be sure and count the time it took to grate the cheese for this recipe! I do try to keep some cheese in the fridge that we’ve already grated and put into a baggie to save time while I’m cooking. I didn’t do that this time though, so that I could give you a more accurate time calculation for this recipe. However, as I usually do when I haven’t grated my cheese ahead of time – I simply got the noodles and milk cooking on the stove, then grated a big block of cheese while I waited for the pot to get hot. Multi-tasking is so wonderful! (Plus I even grated extra cheese so that I will be ahead of the game next time I need it!)

I do have to watch the pot and stir more often while I’m making homemade mac and cheese, compared to the boxed variety. However, I have found that I don’t have to stir the pot constantly, and can stir, then do another little job, then stir again, and do something else. As long as I keep going back to it, I am able to get several other little jobs accomplished while I make this dish. This time, I was going back and forth between boys and May Day projects, keeping up without any troubles with stirring the mac and cheese.

Total time it took for my Creamy Mac and Cheese to be finished? 19 minutes. Exactly 30 seconds longer than Annie’s. Woe is me. I am simply exhausted from the additional effort. ;)

From experience, I know that whole wheat elbow noodles cook more quickly than the whole wheat fusilli pasta, so that may have cut my time even more. (Also, if you’re interested, you can use Tinkyada Brown Rice noodles in this recipe, which I’ve found works great and takes only a couple of extra minutes to cook.)

My conclusion:  Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese is just as convenient and easy as making boxed mac and cheese. I dirtied the same number of dishes for each, and I was able to multi-task while making each of them. (Large pot, spoon, and cheese grater for the homemade; large pot, spoon, and strainer for the boxed. Yes, I did grate the cheese onto a plate, but then I served my food on that very plate, so as not to dirty another dish!)

And the taste? There is no comparison. Boxed mac and cheese is kinda fun, but I ultimately find it to be empty and flavorless. I also have a hard time getting past the unnatural color. Cheese isn’t orange, people! I love that the homemade mac and cheese has more sustenance and more natural flavor. Bring on the nutrients!

While I was having this mac and cheese throw down, I decided to be nerdy and calculate the price difference. It costs around $3.85 to fill my family with Annie’s Mac and Cheese, because yes, it does take all three boxes to fill us.  It costs about $4.50 to make a pot of Creamy Mac and Cheese, since I’m using organic, raw white cheddar. That breaks down to be $0.11 extra cents per person to feed my family this healthy, easy meal. I’m pretty sure I can afford that.

So there you have it. Am I completely knocking boxed mac and cheese? Nope. Just stating the facts based on my research and experiment conclusion. Might we still eat the occasional boxes of mac and cheese? Maybe, and we’ll probably even enjoy it a little bit. But do I ever get to say that making a box of mac and cheese saves me time and money compared to making homemade mac and cheese?

Not unless I really feel like I can justify whining about 30 seconds of extra time, $0.65 extra for my entire family of six, and no extra dirty dishes. I think we all know the answer to that. :)

I’m thinking that it might be fun to do other experiments like this one. Any suggestions or ideas for what I should test next?

Why I Love Coconut Flour (but not sky diving)

Between playing with my sourdough starter, making lots of fizzy bubbles with my water kefir and experimenting with all the cool things you can make with coconut flour, I’ve been incredibly adventurous in the kitchen lately. Who needs bungee jumping or sky diving when you can get adventurous with bubbles and coconut flour? Oh, I’m so wild and crazy – just try and keep up with me.

(Hey, did you fall asleep already? Wake up. The post just started. I’m not that boring. Really, I’m adventurous. Just wait until you hear about the mayonnaise experiments I’m gonna write about next week.)


It’s one of my newest loves, coconut flour. Coconut flour is the fiber taken from the coconut meat after coconut oil is extracted from the coconut. How cool are these people to use the whole coconut! It’s hearty, it tastes incredible and it’s full of many nutrients that our bodies need. Since I tend to almost always bake with whole wheat flour – baking with coconut flour offers our family a nice variety and change of pace. Change is good. Our bodies like and need variety.

Coconut flour is also gluten free. Gluten free or not, I encourage you to try coconut flour as a new source of nutrition!

Why Coconut Flour is Good for You

  • It is a great source for natural fiber.
  • It is high in protein.
  • It is low in carbohydrates (not that all carbs are bad, but many of us tend to get too many of carbs – or empty carbs – in many of our baked goods).
  • It has a natural sweetness, which means you don’t need as much sweetener in recipes that include coconut flour.

The complaint I hear most often about Coconut Flour is that it is expensive. Yup. I can’t deny that. The stuff isn’t cheap. However, the more I use coconut flour, the more I realize that while it costs quite a bit more than wheat flour, you use quite a bit less coconut flour in most recipes. So maybe the cost isn’t so bad after all?

For instance, I typically use 3 cups of whole wheat flour to make 24 muffins for my family’s breakfast (I told you we eat a lot of muffins!). However, when I make muffins using coconut flour, I use only 1 cup to make the same 24 muffins. I find that I don’t go through the coconut flour very fast because ultimately, it just doesn’t take as much per recipe.

Coconut Flour is a dry flour – it usually requires a lot of eggs to create a recipe using coconut flour. Well how ’bout that? Now we’ve just added tons more protein because we’ve added more eggs. Have you tried these Basic Coconut Flour Muffins or Coconut Flour Banana Muffins yet? Wow, they’re good – and full of protein and great nutrition because of the coconut flour and eggs.

Where to Buy Coconut Flour

I buy my Coconut Flour either at Tropical Traditions, Azure Standard or through Amazon, depending on who has the best price at the time. Tropical Traditions often runs their Coconut Flour with a Buy One Get One Free sale. I never pay full price – I wait for the sale! I also watch Amazon to see if they have any specials going on. If they have Azukar Coconut Flour in stock, that is by far the best price I’ve ever seen!

I store my Coconut Flour in the freezer and just pull it out as I need it. I’m having fun learning how best to use it and since we love these Coconut Flour Muffins so much, I’m having fun experimenting with other recipes using the same idea. There’s a full page of coconut flour recipes over at Tropical Traditions that I’ve been looking over. Today, I tried their Gluten Free Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake.


If I didn’t know this cake was gluten free and made with coconut flour, I wouldn’t have known this cake was gluten free and made with coconut flour. Make sense? My kids didn’t know, so they didn’t know – and they liked it. Make sense? Mmm-hmmm. That means the cake was really good – and nobody knew it wasn’t “normal” but that it was packed with protein and nutrition.

Yep, much healthier than sky diving, these adventures of mine. You should get wild and crazy with me and make bubbles and coconut flour cake. Buckle your seat belt. It’s a wild ride.


Want to share some of the adventurous things you’ve been trying in your kitchen lately?

Why You Want Homemade Ice Cream

Like I really need to give you a reason to want homemade ice cream?  Especially the really creamy kind.  The really creamy kind with homemade hot fudge sauce on it.  (Now I’m just being cruel, aren’t I?)

I just wanted to remind you about the Ice Cream Experiment that I conducted about a year ago, in case you’re new here or in case you’ve forgotten.

To be inspired to make Homemade Ice Cream or to at least be encouraged to buy a more “real ingredient” variety of ice cream at the store, check out the following posts:

Here’s a little hint about why you want Homemade Ice Cream :


This was Ice Cream Brand One after sitting for eight days on my countertop.
Mmmmm, ice cream that doesn’t melt.  Tasty.

Let’s all give three cheers for realwhole food, shall we?

Now that I’ve shared all that, I have to tell you that I’m sitting here shivering while I write about ice cream.  Where we live, we keep shifting from ice cream weather to hot cocoa weather. Some days I’m so confused I make hot cocoa to go with our ice cream .

Not really.  But I am confused about what season it is here in Nebraska.

Do share…where you live are you experiencing Ice Cream weather or Hot Cocoa weather?

Sucanat, Brown Rice and Cottage Cheese – FAQ

What do sucanat, brown rice and cottage cheese have in common? Not a whole lot, except that they were hot topics last week during the Recipe and Cooking Tips Parade. There were so many questions in each comment section that I will admit to being overwhelmed and after just a tiny bit of panic on my part because of my lack of time and ability to keep up, I decided just to try to answer the most frequently asked questions here.  I’m still not answering every question, and for that I apologize. If I missed your question in those posts, please feel free to ask  it here and maybe, just maybe I will actually get to it!

So, for no reason at all, let’s begin with Cottage Cheese. I loved all of the ideas you mentioned about ways you eat cottage cheese! Who knew there were so many great ways to eat the cute little curds. There were two questions that were asked several times in that post:

1. What kind of cottage cheese do you buy? I’m afraid of the cottage cheese in my store because it has all kinds of added ingredients!

Ah, indeed. All the yucky additives and whatnots that we can’t pronounce on the label. If I can, I like to buy Organic Valley Cottage Cheese from my health food co-op. But, I have found that at my Walmart, I can get Nordica brand, which is not organic, but is at least without hormones. It has a very good taste, unlike the cheaper brands that really freak me out.

2. Do you make your own cottage cheese? Will you tell us how to do that?

I have made cottage cheese a few times, but I’ve never been pleased with the results. If I ever get a good cottage cheese thing going on, you’ll be the first to know. (Second, actually, because I’ll be standing on my porch yelling, “WAHOOO! I just made cottage cheese that tastes good!”  It’s okay, my neighbors already know I’m weird.)

Okay…now Sucanat questions:

1. What is sucanat? Is it healthier than other sugars?

I’ve addressed sucanat and other natural sweeteners here.

2. Where do you buy sucanat?

I try to order it through my health food co-op, Azure Standard. It’s much less expensive there. Otherwise I save my swagbucks and buy it through Amazon. If at all possible, buy it in bulk…it’s much less expensive! The best price I’ve found is just over $2/pound. Sounds expensive, but that’s a great deal for what you’re getting!

Last but not least…Brown Rice:

1. Where do you buy brown rice?

Again, Azure Standard or Amazon. I always buy organic, but that’s just me.

2. Is Minute Brown Rice healthy and okay to eat?

I’ve never used the Minute brand of brown rice and because it’s processed, I guess my OPINION is that I’d prefer to avoid it. However, at the store the other day, I peeked at the box and the ingredients only list “brown rice” as an ingredient. Can’t be that bad, I guess. :)  If the choice is white rice or Minute Brown Rice…I say go with Minute Brown Rice if it helps you transition to this whole ingredient. In fact, here’s a coupon:  $0.50 off any one (1) Minute Rice Product

3. I cooked my brown rice for over 45 minutes but it still isn’t cooked all the way. What am I doing wrong?

Altitude and who knows what can make a difference in your rice being cooked the way you want it. I found this article at Pinch My Salt. Interesting and helpful! 

4. Have you ever tried soaking your rice, Nourishing Traditions style?

No, and I don’t know why. I should add that to my list. Do you ever get tired of hearing me say that? Do you ever wonder what “my list” looks like? 

I don’t think you really want to know. ;)

Local Food is THE Best!

I love this time of year best!! All winter long I have lived without sunshine and fresh, local produce. Parden the whine, but I neeeeed the sun. I neeeed a fresh tomato. That’s all there is to it.

This week, our local farmer’s market had its opening night! Selection is limited at this point, because the growing season in Nebraska is just beginning. But lookie what I got…

farmers_marketCost for everything…$7. 
Value to me right now to fulfill my desparate need to eat fresh food…priceless.

Right out of our garden (for free), we’re enjoying all kinds of salads! 


Joy of joys…my friends with a huge strawberry patch 
invited me over for some strawberry picking fun!!!! 

strawberriesOh yes…I did have fun.

I then proceeded to trade my friend some strawberries for some fresh eggs. What a deal!


And well…while he isn’t produce or eggs…this little fella does happen to be locally grown too. After our travels over the weekend and a busy day playing hard in the sun yesterday, he just laid down on the floor and fell asleep. On the floor.  Now that’s one tired kid.


Great food…cute kids. Isn’t summertime the best?

Have you scored any great deals on local food lately? 
What’s in season where you live?

The Most Nutritious Sweeteners


Raise your hand if you ever feel overwhelmed and confused about which sweeteners/sugars are the best to use in your treats?

Uh-huh…me too. There are dozens of different sweeteners out there and all kinds of  arguments trying to convince you to eat one over the other.

While I’m certainly no sweetener expert (although I do consider myself an expert taste tester of all things sweet and sweeter), I will share with you what I’ve learned through the past few years of researching.

Better Sweeteners (in no particular order)

Sucanat/Rapadura – “Dehydrated Cane Sugar Juice”

This is by far my favorite sugar to bake with. It is processed in the traditional way that people of India have used for thousands of years and leaves most of the minerals intact. It substitutes one for one in recipes that call for sugar and has a delicious, rich flavor.

Rapadura is a brand name for Sucanat, so in general I find that Sucanat costs a bit less. Be very careful to buy Organic Sucanat however, as some ‘regular sucanat’ brands I’ve seen are NOT dehydrated cane sugar juice…but some form of processed sugar with molasses added back in making it MUCH less nutritious.

Raw Honey

If you can find raw honey from a local bee keeper, go for it! Raw honey (honey that has not been heated over 117° to kill healthy bacteria) contains many nutrients and digestive enzymes.

Raw honey is a wonderful addition to buttered toast or granola. Honey is also wonderful to bake with (although then of course, it won’t be raw anymore). If a recipe calls for one cup of sugar, I usually substitute 1/2-2/3 cup of honey.

Real Maple Syrup, Grade B

Mmm…I love maple syrup! I never bake with it, but find it works wonderfully in liquid recipes like Strawberry Milkshakes, Smoothies, Warm Vanilla Soother, Creamy Orange Cooler, etc. Oh, and it’s great on Pancakes and Waffles too!

Because real maple syrup is kinda pricey, I am the designated syrup pourer on pancakes…otherwise we’d have a lot of this “Liquid Gold” wasted all over our pancake plates.

Organic Grade B Maple Syrup is better than Grade A as more nutrients are present. Plus, non-organic maple syrups may contain formaldehyde or other synthetic defoamers.

“Mom, can I please have some more formaldehyde on my pancake?”  I don’t think so.


Molasses is the “waste product” that comes from the production of refined sugar. It is rich in many minerals. I don’t use molasses much for baking, except in recipes such as Molasses Cookies. Mmm!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of “healthy sugars”…these are simply my favorites and the sugars I’m most familiar with. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section if you have researched and know of a great sugar to try!

Sweeteners to Avoid

Refined Sugars

Unfortunately even many organic sugars (turbinado, raw, natural) are quite refined and contain very few nutrients. I use these occasionally because AT LEAST they are (unbleached, organic, a little less refined) and better than…

White Sugar

This sugar is so refined that there are no nutrients left in it whatsoever. It is also usually bleached to make it prettier. Because it is not sugar in its whole form…it has a dramatic effect on blood sugar levels in the body. I can actually feel the effect white sugar has on my body (can you?!).

But, if you have a choice between the two, choose regular sugar over…

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Dr. Mercola can explain why High Fructose Corn Syrup should be avoided way better than I can! Read his professional information on the subject…

Agave Nectar

While I used to believe that Agave Nectar was a healthy substitute for sugar, it seems I should have done my homework more thoroughly. Agave Nectar should usually be avoided as apparently, it is almost worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup.

By the way, I think I’ve changed any recipes I have here on my site that included agave nectar as an ingredient…but in case you find it anywhere, please let me know so I can edit it!

Artificial Sweeteners

Ooh, I can’t say enough about fake sugar!!! Please don’t make the mistake of believing that you are eating/drinking healthier if you avoid sugar but use aspertame, splenda, or whatever the latest “fake sugar” is out there. They are worse than good ol’ refined sugar and can cause so many long term health problems. I have reasons to be passionate about this subject…so if you want to picture me down on the floor grabbing your feet begging you to avoid these…that truly is what I’m doing right now.   You can read more information about aspertame here.  I believe these testimonials may say more than I ever could.

I’d love for you to share your experiences, thoughts on this subject, and favorite sugar choices with us!