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    Dear Reader,

    Thank you for joining us as we pursue a healthier and more energetic lifestyle! Whether you are new to sugar-free baking or have been at it for years, we invite you to explore the art of naturally sweet baking and join us in taking the sugar-free challenge. We have seen the benefits of omitting refined sugar and artificial sweeteners in our own lives and hope that you will do the same as you create healthier alternatives in your own kitchen.

    As sisters who live scattered across the country from each other, we find that good food truly brings us together. We have discovered we don’t need to sacrifice great-tasting food or our families’ favorite recipes in our pursuit of health because natural sweeteners help us create the foods we love. We are passionate about the effects healthy foods have on our bodies and we love creating and sharing recipes on our website www.naturalsweetrecipes.com.

    There is no greater gift we can give ourselves or our loved ones than to take care of our own health. It might seem daunting at first to eliminate refined sugar from your diet, but we are here to show you not only how to do it but also how delicious it can be! We can’t wait to help you get started!

    Annie, Holly, and Chelsea Forsyth

    Welcome to the EVERYTHING® Series!

    These handy, accessible books give you all you need to tackle a difficult project, gain a new hobby, comprehend a fascinating topic, prepare for an exam, or even brush up on something you learned back in school but have since forgotten.

    You can choose to read an Everything® book from cover to cover or just pick out the information you want from our four useful boxes: e-questions, e-facts, e-alerts, and e-ssentials. We give you everything you need to know on the subject, but throw in a lot of fun stuff along the way, too.

    We now have more than 400 Everything® books in print, spanning such wide-ranging categories as weddings, pregnancy, cooking, music instruction, foreign language, crafts, pets, New Age, and so much more. When you’re done reading them all, you can finally say you know Everything®!

    Answers to common questions

    Important snippets of information

    Urgent warnings

    Quick handy tips

    PUBLISHER Karen Cooper


    COPY CHIEF Casey Ebert





    Visit the entire Everything® series at www.everything.com






    Annie, Holly, and Chelsea Forsyth of


    Avon, Massachusetts

    To our Queen Mum, Leslie Forsyth, who inspires us in and out of the kitchen.



    1Going Sugar-Free

    Sugar’s Dirty Little Secret

    Trends and Statistics

    The Meaning of Sugar-Free

    Benefits of Going Sugar-Free

    A Guide to Natural Sweeteners




    5Main Dishes

    6Sauces, Dressings, and Spreads


    8Cakes and Cupcakes



    11Dessert Bars

    12Frostings, Glazes, and Toppings

    13Frozen Treats

    14Pies and Pastries

    15Sweet and Salty Snacks

    Appendix A: Additional Resources

    Appendix B: Recipe Index

    Standard U.S./Metric Measurement Conversions


    THE NATURALLY SWEET RECIPES found in this book feature whole ingredients and natural sweeteners. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that sustain and support life. These nutrients are what set the foundation for optimal health and help you attain the quality of life you deserve. However, most foods Americans eat every day do not contribute to optimal health. It is typically packaged, processed, and full of the food industry’s favorite preservative: sugar. Sugar is found on just about every ingredient list on foods in grocery stores today. Spice blends, yogurts, dried fruits, bread, and even meats contain sugar. It is difficult to find convenience food without refined sugar.

    Enjoying convenience foods such as a favorite soft drink or dessert on a regular basis may seem harmless, but when it’s done consistently, sugar begins taking its toll. Health threats and diseases linked to diets high in processed foods and sugar are ever increasing. According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, Americans consume roughly 130 pounds of added sugar per person per year. Excess sugar consumption is linked to diabetes and heart disease caused by chronic inflammation of the body.

    The Everything® Naturally Sugar-Free Cookbook will help you create satisfying meals and mouthwatering baked goods without refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. The recipes in this book are all-natural alternatives that are beneficial instead of detrimental to health and well-being. Reducing or even eliminating refined sugar and artificial sweeteners doesn’t have to be painful or boring. It’s possible to create delectable foods and treats that will please the eye and the taste buds without sacrificing long-term health.

    Going sugar-free might seem impossible, but the recipes in this book can inspire a desire to start. Take the sugar-free challenge by substituting one dessert a week with a naturally sweetened dessert or make one day a sugar-free day—for example, Naturally Sweetened Wednesday. Ditch the freezer waffle or artificially sweetened cereal and make a nutritious smoothie for breakfast instead. Another popular approach to this challenge is to completely abstain from sugar for a specific number of days or weeks. It doesn’t matter where you start, but making little healthy changes is the key. You will enjoy weight loss, improved mental clarity, improved dental health, and a stronger immune system, to name a few benefits. These rewards will encourage you to continue incorporating natural sweeteners in all your cooking and baking on a regular basis.

    The following pages are full of recipes that traditionally call for white sugar—such as candies, cakes, cookies, and ice cream—but are created here using healthy sweeteners instead. You might also be surprised by how much refined sugar is in non-dessert foods. Items such as salad dressings and sauces for common entrées are often packed with sugar to make them delicious, and this book includes alternatives for those as well. Since the goal is to make naturally sweetened recipes available to everyone, also included are recipes geared toward allergies and special diets.

    There is something in this book for every taste and skill level. Be adventurous and experiment with new ingredients and we know you’ll be smitten with the results.


    Going Sugar-Free

    In order to inspire positive health changes through the reduction of refined sugars, it’s crucial to understand why change is necessary. Understanding what sugar is, where it comes from, and why it’s harmful will allow consumers to make choices based on facts and not be swayed by tradition or current food fads. Knowledge of the body’s reaction to sugar will create more mindful eating as consumers begin to read labels and recognize hidden processed and artificial sugars in foods. “Every addition to true knowledge is an addition to human power.” —Horace Mann

    Sugar’s Dirty Little Secret

    The secret is out; sugar is everywhere! And it’s not the benign substance many manufacturers would have you believe. What was quite harmless a few hundred years ago has become, through the modern refining process, an unnatural substance that causes negative effects on the body. As the sugar cane plant makes its way through the refining process to become the white granules known as sugar, it becomes void of any nutrition and wreaks havoc on all systems of the body.

    From Living Plant to Lifeless Food

    The process of manufacturing sugar involves a series of chemical-laden steps. Sugar cane plants are often grown with the help of heavy fertilizers. Once the plant is harvested, it is crushed to release the juice and juice is then evaporated, boiled, and stored. While in storage it can become contaminated and take on an unpleasant taste. The refining process takes care of this by killing off any bacteria present and making the granulated sugar sweet and sparkling white. Any nutrients left from the original plant are killed during processing and the resulting product becomes lifeless.

    Why is lifeless food harmful to the body? In addition to the heavy chemicals sugar is exposed to during the refining process, consumption of unnatural food by living bodies causes serious problems. Sugar and other lifeless foods strip the body of vital nutrients, such as B vitamins, without giving the body anything back. Why are B vitamins so critical to humans? B vitamins are important for the absorption of calcium and allow the nervous system to function properly. B vitamin deficiencies affect mood and energy levels. Naturally sweet foods, such as fruits and whole grains, are inherently rich in B vitamins that help to metabolize the sugars that naturally occur within them. On the other hand, lifeless food such as refined sugar takes from the body and gives nothing in return.

    Besides being a lifeless food, sugar lowers the power of the immune system by slowing down the bacteria-fighting cells in the body. This suppression of the immune system happens for several hours after sugar is consumed. And typically, by the time the immune system has had a chance to recover, it is already being bombarded with more sugar.

    The Metabolism of Sugar

    The human body is not equipped to quickly metabolize processed sugar. The liver attempts to manage the consumed sugar by depositing some of the glucose from the sugar into the bloodstream, or stores it for later use. If the liver is already completely full of glucose it stores the extra as triglycerides, or fat. Fructose, another component of sugar, also has to be managed by the liver and is stored as glycogen. The liver can only hold about 100 grams of glycogen before it has to convert the rest to fat. Once the liver is filled with glucose and glycogen it becomes overtaxed and a whole host of problems can surface. When the liver is constantly overloaded with sugar, it becomes susceptible to liver disease. Also common for people with diets high in sugar, is insulin resistance, which can cause diabetes. Insulin resistance creates a highly toxic atmosphere throughout the entire body, allowing cancer cells to flourish.

    The “Sugar High”

    To make matters even worse, sugar is addictive. It causes physical reactions in the brain that result in manufactured feelings of happiness or relaxation. Dopamine receptors are located all over the brain and release feelings of pleasure whenever sugar is eaten, similar to the effect of heroin or cocaine, although on a smaller scale. This is where the term “sugar high” comes from. The mind and body begin to crave the dopamine high created by the sugar and the brain sends out powerful messages to the body reminding it to continuously feed this addiction.

    Eric Stice, a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute (www.ori.org), conducted MRI scans to illustrate what happens in the brains of overweight people when they consume soda, ice cream, and other sugary foods. He found that the brain actually builds up a resistance to the dopamine effect. In other words the more sugar they consumed, the more they needed to create the same level of pleasure. The body becomes addicted and desensitized at the same time. It craves more but is never satisfied. This overconsumption of sugar leads to the overconsumption of all foods and promotes habits perfect for obesity.

    Trends and Statistics

    On average, Americans consume approximately 130 pounds of sugar per person per year, or roughly 3 pounds per week. Children and teenagers on average consume even more, about 1 cup of sugar per day. Soda and other sweetened drinks are possibly the worst culprits because people become addicted to the high amount of sugar as well as to the caffeine that some drinks contain. A 12-ounce soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, and an average American drinks 53 gallons of soda per year. These high rates of sugar consumption are up 45 percent from sugar consumption thirty years ago.

    Sugar As Reward

    Societal trends also perpetuate the overconsumption of sugar. Sugar is often treated as a reward. Children are praised with candy and adults are treated with gourmet cupcakes at the office. If you’re having dinner at a restaurant, you might drink soda, lemonade, or sugar-laden cocktails, and have dessert as well. You could easily consume more sugar in one evening than you should have in an entire month! A traditional child’s birthday party is loaded with sugar. It seems that a party isn’t complete without a cake served with ice cream, a piñata stuffed to capacity with candy, and the ubiquitous favor bags with more candy and sweet treats.

    It’s a sugar-obsessed world, and it’s fun to indulge. Not only is sugar physically addicting, but sugary treats are associated with celebrations and holidays. Candy, cookies, and cake are used to say “Good job,” “I love you,” “Happy anniversary,” and “Thank you.” While there is nothing wrong with this on a small scale, it’s important to be aware of how, in excess, these rewards and celebrations perpetuate the sugar-craze.

    Sugar’s Effect on Health

    In 2013 Credit Suisse’s Research Institute reported that as a nation the United States spends $1 trillion annually on health-care issues directly related to the consumption of excess sugar. This figure represents 30–40 percent of the total health-care costs in the United States. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist from University of California–San Francisco, published articles stating that sugar is a big player in the current decline of health in America and that 75 percent of disease is brought on by a person’s lifestyle. Lustig believes that because of this health decline, today’s generation of American children could end up being the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This is the sad outcome of our overconsumption of sugar; it’s literally killing us.

    The Meaning of Sugar-Free

    The term “sugar-free” is often used to describe foods, such as cookies, gum, and drinks, that have chemical and artificial sweeteners in place of sugar. Artificial sweeteners approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include saccharin, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. These artificial sweeteners are found in products like Sweet’N Low, Equal, and Splenda. These products are indeed free of refined white sugar and are often calorie-free, but simply being “sugar-free” does not mean they are healthy. Diets heavy in foods with artificial sweeteners are as unhealthy as diets high in refined white sugar.

    Research shows that similarly to sugar, artificial sweeteners desensitize the body’s reaction to sweet food, leaving the body unsatisfied. This results in consuming food in excess to satisfy hunger. Artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than regular sugar, causing a person’s proverbial “sweet tooth” to be continuously overstimulated. Over time, that overstimulation changes tastes and preferences. Naturally sweet foods such as fruit don’t taste as good as they once did, and non-sweet, simple foods such as vegetables can become truly unappetizing.

    Studies also show that artificial sweeteners are just as addictive as white sugar. A 2007 study at University of Bordeaux in France found that rats overwhelmingly preferred saccharine to cocaine, suggesting the addictive quality of the substance. Researchers provided rats with a choice of saccharin-sweetened water and intravenous cocaine. The rats could press a lever and receive either a shot of cocaine or a sip of saccharin-sweetened water as often as they wanted. The animals chose the high from artificial sugar water 94 percent of the time. Researchers in the study believe their findings reveal that the concentrated sweetness of artificial sugars creates a more intense pleasurable sensation and addiction than cocaine does.

    Benefits of Going Sugar-Free

    The results of eliminating sugar and artificial sweeteners can be astonishing, and the long- and short-term benefits can be wide-ranging. Physical benefits go beyond just weight loss. By allowing more room in the diet for healthy foods, vital nutrients can promote increased energy, a stronger immune system, improved complexion, better digestion, steadier blood sugar levels, and improved sleep. In addition, long-term health risks of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and diseases associated with these conditions can be reduced, if not eliminated.

    Eliminating or even reducing processed sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet has the added benefit of promoting improved mental health. You may experience clearer thinking, decreased irritability, fewer mood swings, and an increase in self-control. Less mental energy directed toward fighting cravings or addictions promotes better overall health.

    A Guide to Natural Sweeteners

    Naturally sweetened recipes such as those found in this book are free of refined white sugar and artificial sweeteners. Natural, whole-food sweeteners including honey, coconut sugar, pure maple syrup, and molasses are used instead.

    * * *

    Please be mindful that although these natural sweeteners promote health and are full of vitamins and minerals, they should be used in moderation and with knowledge of how each sweetener affects the body.

    * * *

    Following is an overview of the natural sweeteners used in this book.

    Coconut Sugar

    Coconut sugar, often called coconut palm sugar, is made from the flowers of the coconut tree. Coconut sugar does not have the same tropical flavor usually associated with coconuts. Coconut sugar closely resembles brown sugar in appearance and has a distinctly sweet scent. It caramelizes like sugar, so it works particularly well in baking. Coconut sugar replaces sugar cup-for-cup in recipes and mimics the taste and appearance of brown sugar. It’s naturally full of vitamins and minerals like amino acids, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Coconut sugar is a whole food and does not drastically impact blood sugar levels. It’s a safe diabetic sugar substitute, with a low glycemic index of 35.

    Date Sugar

    Date sugar is dehydrated, ground-up dates. Dates are a healthy fruit, high in vitamins, fiber, and minerals, and they provide delicious natural sweetness to a recipe. Dehydrating and grinding the dates to sugar does not compromise the health benefits of whole dates and the dry product is a convenient natural sweetener. Because date sugar is dehydrated, it can drain baked goods of moisture, so most recipes with date sugar need a lot of liquid. Date sugar is a pure fruit, so it has a relatively high glycemic index and is not a good choice for diabetics.

    * * *

    When using date sugar in recipes, experiment to see how much liquid is needed to maintain moistness and enjoy date sugar treats within a day of making of them.

    * * *

    Raw Honey

    Raw honey is unfiltered, unprocessed, and straight from the beehive. It’s an alkaline food and contains the vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and water needed to sustain life. Raw honey contains B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids, and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, and phosphate.

    When a recipe calls for honey, any kind of honey wil


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