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The Devil is in the Sugar… Substituting your pantry ingredients

After a lengthy chat with some moms on a Facebook moms’ support group about sugar, I’d like to share my two cents on the subject, on the record. I’m not a nutritionist or an expert on the subject, but I can tell you about the decisions we’ve made for our kids.

The point is not to prohibit your kids completely from having any sugar… It will have an adverse effect, they’ll want it even more! It’s inevitable at birthdays and family get togethers, if they’re anything like my kids, you know they won’t finish that electric green cupcake or the ever so attractive food coloring saturated rainbow cake… In my humble opinion it’s HOW MUCH sugar they consume.

Yes, we do have a candy jar at home, albeit filled with mostly organic lollipops (from natural juice) and some carefully selected piñata candy taken home from birthdays, (after all the gross stuff was tossed in the bin), but it’s there, on a high shelf. Even though they ask for a “sweetie” regularly, they seem to forget about it after fruit time (lots of fruit) and the occasional super-cheeky smoothie filled with spinach, kale or other hidden good-for-you ingredients usually sweetened with a banana or a handful of plump dates.

How bad is it really?

White sugar is REALLY really bad for our bodies… I just read an article on Yahoo Health that sums it up:

So first, sugar: Yes, it’s as bad as you’ve heard. Studies have linked the stuff to obesity, heart disease, cancer, and impaired brain function, while many simply dub it “poison.”

Choices for substitutes:

If you read the full article, you’ll know that agave is out the window… You can read more about the exact pros and cons of every sweetener but I can tell you what I’ve chosen to use to kick the white devil out of my kitchen:

  • Maple syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Molasses
  • Pure coconut sugar
  • Honey
  • Bananas
  • Dates
  • And for adults (a teaspoon a day in your coffee): Xylitol

And in moderation, the key here is to give your kids (and husband) SOME natural sugar substitutes, in m-o-d-e-r-a-t-i-o-n. Having said that, I’m an avid home baker. I show my love in my baked goods, so I try to use fruit and as little sugar as possible in my daily baking and do tend to let go on big occasions, once a year on their birthdays.
Other substitutions worth considering

If you’re going ahead and making healthy choices, might as well go all the way! Here are some substitutions that I believe are essential:


Bleached all-purpose flour is also another evil to kick out of your kitchen and there is a myriad of possible substitutions, to name a couple:

  • Unbleached Flour (organic if possible) treat it exactly like bleached flour.
  • Whole wheat Flour (also organic if possible) when a recipe calls for all-purpose flour, you can substitute it with 2/3 unbleached flour 1/3 wheat flour.

Oil & Fat:

  • Olive oil is fantastic but has a very low smoking point, which means it loses its good qualities when heated and actually becomes bad for you. So stick to having it raw.
  • Vegetable Oil: I prefer using organic canola oil instead of mass-produced corn or sunflower oil.
  • Butter: we all know it goes right to our hips so I avoid it wherever possible (the occasional frosting here and there), but in baking I always substitute it with:
  • Coconut Oil: I’m absolutely in love with it, a friend told me to never let the measuring cup go without rubbing the residue on ur hands, elbows, hair or face! I substitute butter with coconut oil every chance I get, use unrefined if you really like the taste of it in your final product and refined if you’re using it to fry up an omelette. Refined coconut oil withstands higher heat. Another dentist friend of mine mixes is it with baking soda to make homemade toothpaste!
  • Buttermilk: I like substituting every cup of buttermilk in the recipe for 3/4 Greek yogurt (Laban) and 1/4 cup whole milk.

Some of my favorite things:


2 thoughts on “The Devil is in the Sugar… Substituting your pantry ingredients

  1. im experimenting with Ghee right now (clarified butter) but its not going too well. i am getting the same butter chest pains. lol is that just me?! maybe i shouldnt just chug jam and butter! so coconut oil it is! will it work in cookies? thanks for the tip. can you write something about making some gluten free lactose free cookies? you know, because you love a challenge. hehe.

    1. Thanks Nadine! I hope the coconut oil worked for you, I switch it with butter in most of my recipes, even cookies! Gluten free lactose free? Hmmm… I’m thinking gooey avocado chocolate cookies!

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