A Sweet Sensation
So much of eating wholesomely has to do with eating the foods we love. It is the antithesis of a diet; rather than being a system of restrictions and guidelines, eating whole, real, unrefined foods is about the celebration of food at its greatest.
We all want a little bit of sweet in the foods we eat. To forbid any form of sugar in what we eat is to deny ourselves one of the five basic tastes our palate so desires. To enjoy a wholesome and well-rounded diet, we need the sensations of savory, salty, bitter, sour, and sweet.
Under the umbrella of sweet sensations, we have a vast variety of sugary things to choose from. This is where things get tricky. In our food culture of America, sugar has been highly abused by processing. It is pervasively added to unassuming “foods” in conniving and deceptive ways. It’s a big job to limit sugar these days.
Keeping a Treat a Treat Indeed
I am a big proponent for harboring my child from our sweet-crazed society. Everywhere we turn—birthday parties, church events, potlucks, store samples—we are encountered with sugar-laden treats.
According to government research, 100 years ago the average consumption of sugar was 8lbs per person per year. Fast forward 100 years to today, and the average sugar consumption is 76-100lb per person per year. Some research puts the number closer to 150lbs per person per year—that’s a lot of sugar!
Now don’t get me wrong, I won’t deny my son a cupcake at his friend’s birthday party. The child needs to live a little! However, with sugary delights ready, available, and enticing around every corner, I must be diligent to pick and choose wisely, keeping a treat a treat indeed, rather than a regular affair. I want to instill within our children at an early age an appreciation of the real-food alternatives for sweet treats.
How Then do we “Deal” with Sugar?
In our home, we’ve chosen to eat sweets to a different beat. So much of our “food philosophy” revolves around replacing poor food choices by simply bringing in the good stuff—making it prevalent in our home. These wholesome ingredients then begin to take over and crowd out the fake, processed, and refined “foods”. We find no exception to this strategy when it comes to sugars.
We bake with only natural sugars in their most unrefined state. It’s important to remember that sugar is sugar, and the body processes all forms of sugar in much the same way. However, in their natural and unrefined state, sugars retain their nutritional qualities.
In our home we use local honey and raw turbinado sugar. We also showcase our desserts and sweet snacks around fresh fruit, dark chocolate, and coconut.
Desiring the Real Stuff
Because of the natural sugars we enjoy in our home, my son has a lower threshold for sweets. He often turns away at processed cookies, cake, and ice cream after a bite or two. At the ripe young age of 2, he knows what “too sweet” is. I only wish I held the same discretion for myself.
The other day as we were walking through Trader Joes, one of the first items I placed into the cart was a bag of organic apples. My son, Ezekiel, quickly reacted by making his desire known—to have one of those apples, now! I obliged—it’s an apple, after all.
For the rest of our trip, he contentedly munched his apple. He paid no attention to the cookies and candies placed so strategically at the eye-level of a young child sitting in a shopping cart. I know it won’t always be like this, but I’ll do everything I can to instill within him an appreciation for naturally sweet treats over processed, fake concoctions.
Cinnamon Apple, Pear, and Almond Crumble
I am a big fan of any dessert that can double as breakfast. I am also a big fan of any dessert that celebrates fruit, nuts, and whole grains; and relies very little on sugar to sweeten things up.
I count it a crime to overload a crumble with sugar. That’s one thing I love about this recipe: the entire 8 X 11 baking dish calls for only ½ cup sugar, in which case I use raw Turbinado sugar. The “lack” of sugar in this dessert allows the fruit to showcase itself in all of its natural, sweet fructose splendor!
Along with nutritional sugars, this crumble also brings in various health benefits from oats, whole wheat flour, real butter, Ceylon cinnamon, and almonds.
How Sweet it is to Eat Real Food
Our diet should not be a sore spot in our life. Rather than something that holds us back and restricts us, it should be something we celebrate; something which brings us much enjoyment and adventure in life.
My family began eating wholesome foods for our health; we continued in it for the enjoyment. I honestly believe that if we had denied ourselves things we enjoy so much–sweet things–we would have given up on this adventure long ago. Rather than tossing sugar out the window, we’re finding delicious ways to celebrate it in it’s most natural, unrefined grandeur.
If you’d like more information on the types of sugar my family enjoys and why, see my recent post, “How Sweet it is to Eat Real Food” on my blog, From Famine to Foodie
- 1 cup oats
- 3/4 cup + 1 tbs whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup raw almonds, chopped small
- 2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
- 6tbs cold butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 3 large pears-peeled, cored, thinly sliced
- 3 large apples-peeled, cored, thinly sliced
- 2tbs fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 375°. Coat an 8-by-11-inch baking dish with oil.
- In a medium bowl, mix: oats, 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, salt, chopped almonds, 1tsp ceylon cinnamon. Cut in butter and incorporate with hands until crumbly. Mix in apple sauce.
- Place peeled, cored, and thinly sliced apples and pears into a large bowl. With hands, gently mix in lemon juice, 1tbs whole wheat pastry flour, and 1 tsp ceylon cinnamon.
- Pour fruit mixture evenly into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the oat mixture on top. Bake for 35 minutes. Cover with tinfoil, and bake for an additional 10 minutes until fruit is tender and topping is golden.
If you choose to use a different type of cinnamon, use slightly less than 2tsps. Ceylon cinnamon is a very mild cinnamon.
I used 3 large pears and 6 small apples. Adjust the amount of fruit to your liking.
This recipe is originally inspired by a recipe by Suki Hertz at: Food and Wine
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What are some of your favorite ways to use natural sweeteners?