Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tossing My Cake (and a request for ideas!).

Don't worry, this post is not about puke.  I don't write about that, because I don't like thinking about it, writing about it, or, for that matter, reading about it.  Blech.

This post is actually about cake.  And the kind of sugar that goes into it.  I made an awesome carrot cake over the weekend.  I say that, of course, with all humility, as it wasn't my recipe in the first place.  I merely worked to re-create someone else's awesomeness.  I did play with the recipe a bit, though, and while some of them were healthy changes that are great for non-birthday cakes (ie, the changes that allowed it to be made with all whole-wheat flour), some of them were....well, I don't know.  Intended to be healthy, but didn't turn out that way?

When I went to add the sugar to the cake, I found that all I had was Splenda, as I don't really do that much baking that involves white, refined sugar - I mostly make whole grain breads, rolls, and muffins.  Although the cake turned out tasting good, I have, over the course of the week, decided that I don't like using that much "fake" sugar in my food.  I've still been using Splenda in my coffee (partly because we have a Costco-sized bag of it that I refuse to waste, and partly because I haven't found another alternative).

So I'm tossing the rest of my cake.  Even though it tastes delicious.

From here out, though, I need to figure out an alternative solution.  I still don't want all the calories and such that comes from regular, refined sugar.  And I don't really want all the fake sugar in my diet, either.  And yet, I have a relentless sweet tooth that refuses to quit.

I've used agave nectar in the past, but it affects the moisture content of a recipe since it's a liquid, so I found it to be a better alternative for brown sugar than white in recipes (although maybe some of you  readers have a good suggestion about how to alter a recipe to accomodate that?) .  A friend recommended Truvia, but I've only found that in the individual packets at the one store where I looked for it.  I'm definitely not ripping open 50 packets next time I need a cup of sugar, so I'll have to look elsewhere to see if they carry it in a non-packet form.

So, I think I'm going to be experimenting with more natural sweeteners over the coming months.  Besides, it will probably be better for our upcoming kiddos, anyway (and I still mean that in a very vague way.  We haven't received any news yet).  I  don't really know wether kids should have fake sweeteners, but my instinct says it's probably not a good idea.

Do any of you have experience with natural-based sweeteners?  I'd really like to learn more about what can be swapped for white sugar.  Please comment if you have any ideas to share!

In the meantime, I think I'll make bread tomorrow, since my recipe uses honey anyway.  Hopefully it goes better than it did the last time!


  1. I am curious to see what you find, as I'm asking the same question about sugar! :-) I had a coupon for Truvia the other day and it showed a "bin" of Truvia (not the packets) so I'm sure they sell them. Maybe Amazon? A few of my friends use it and love it.
    MSM uses turbinado, which is a (much) less processed form of sugar, although you probably already know that since you introduced me to her. :-) I'm thinking about looking into those two things. If you get to it before I do, let me know how they work out and I'll do the same.
    -This is Sarah A, but it won't let me post my comment using my Google account... strange...

  2. I think if you were to substitute raw sugar for now, that will help. I know it is strange for the big pieces, but I just put them in the coffee grinder and let it go so it becomes the smaller bits when I bake. I use truvia and find it is really great for baking (no artificial sugar issues at all).

    I hope that helps,
    Amanda Wise

  3. I definitely recommend against artificial sweeteners and agree that you should not give them to your future kiddos. We use refined white sugar, but only in small amounts, and usually at a reduced quantity. We mainly use Rapadura (raw sugar in the truest sense). Turbinado has been refined, just not as much as white sugar. So if you're going to go raw, use Rapadura or Sucanat. Otherwise you are losing valuable nutrients in the refining process. Other good options for sweeteners are raw honey, maple syrup, and maple sugar. Don't use agave unless it is raw and directly from the plant (not it's root). Stevia is also a good alternative. It is an actual plant, so you can buy it as a crushed plant leaf (we have a big bag of crushed leaves) or you can buy the purified, concentrated Stevia. It is widely sold now in the stores. (I believe that is what Truvia is). Definitely always sub out brown sugar with raw sugar. Brown sugar is just processed sugar with molasses in it. Unsulphured molasses is also another good one, especially for bread.

    I know this may sound weird, because it feels wrong to down a big hunk of oil (but there is also a lot of literature out there on it), BUT take a tablespoon of coconut oil about 20 mins before you eat and you will be amazed at how it curbs your appetite and suppresses your sweet cravings.

    Sorry, just rambling on! Healthy eating is a passion of mine. :) Good luck, there's so much out there. I've got lots of books I can suggest if you're interested.

  4. @Sarah - I have seen's use of turninado. I haven't actually checked it out for myself, but I might have to do that at some point.

    @Amanda - That's a great idea for raw sugar! I have thought about using it, but was always put off by how huge the crystals are. Thanks!

    @Jennifer - Thanks for all your suggestions - you've given me a lot to think about and try. I'm always interested in books if you'd like to send me a list. I enjoy healthy eating as well, and figuring out healthy sweetening options has been on my healthy eating "project" list for awhile now.

  5. Books I recommend: Nourishing Traditions by Mary Enig & Sally Fallon; Eat Fat, Lose by Mary Enig & Sally Fallon; Food Matters by Mark Bittman, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, both by Michael Pollen; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver; Cereal Killer by Alan Watson; The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid.

    I highly recommend eliminating all HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) from your diet. This is hard at first, because, literally almost everything has it in it. But it gets easy after awhile. I would seriously do this first before worrying too much about the other sugars.(We actually make all of our bread, bagels, hamburger buns, etc) There are also interesting articles on how GM corn causes liver & kidney failure, and then death in mice after only 90 days, and how processed foods are linked to depression. (I can post those links if you're interested). Stay away from soy. Especially for your future kiddos, and most definitely if you have a baby that needs formula.

    If you are interested in food coops I have a couple of suggestions. They specialize in healthy, generally organic or responsibly grown food. Glad that you are cancer free, btw!!

    Would you tell Dave that Tad says 'hi'? thanks :)