Four Sweet Sugar Alternatives

4 Great Natural Sweeteners - Nourish With Karen

I used to be a sugar junky, riding the sugar rollercoaster.  I sought out the corners of the cake which had more icing, put two teaspoons of sugar in my morning coffee, and drank sugary iced tea every afternoon.  I rode out the sugar highs and ensuing lows, feeling lethargic every afternoon, seeking more sugar to boost me up! 

Becoming a nutritionist made me examine this love affair, because I now know sugar promotes inflammation, lowers immunity and promotes disease.  I feel so much better for reducing and replacing sugar, do not suffer the after-lunch-slump I used to experience and have even lost a few pounds!

I have lowered my white sugar consumption dramatically, eschewing artificial sweeteners and replacing it with natural alternatives which have some of their own health benefits.  Now, doing so does not allow my consumption of sweets to continue at its former pace because even healthier alternatives can lower immunity.  These are my favorite sugar replacements.


Honey is such romantic food, nectar collected by thousands of bees and refined into the honey we know.  It contains small amounts of minerals, amino acids and vitamins.  Sweeter than table sugar, it can be substituted for sugar in baking or cooking at a ratio of about 1 cup of sugar to 2/3 or ¾ cup honey.  Ensure you are purchasing pure honey and remember it cannot be consumed by children under the age of one.

Coconut Palm Sugar

This is an amazing sugar replacement!  High in potassium, nitrogen and a source of iron, this sweetener is an up-and-comer.  Its taste and appearance is similar to brown sugar and can be replaced at a 1:1 ratio with white or brown sugar.  It can be found in any health food store and I recently found it at Costco.


High in potassium, magnesium and fibre, dates are a great whole food alternative to white sugar.  Dates are a staple in the raw food movement, used in brownies, truffles, cakes and puddings.  They can be added to smoothies or oatmeal instead of other sweeteners.  There are date "sugars" on the market which I have yet to try.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is high in manganese, riboflavin and zinc.  Some studies have shown that it does not cause the same insulin spike as sugar.  It is my first choice for Sunday morning pancakes.  As it is expensive, I do not use it in baking, but may substitute it into sauces and marinades.

You will note agave is missing from my list of alternative sweeteners.  It is a highly refined product and lacks the nutrient profile of the above sweeteners.

I hope you will add these sweeteners to your grocery list and find your own ways to reduce and replace refined sugar in your diet!

Shared at the Let's Get Real Blog Hop and The Hungry Hippo Blog 


Why Eating Gluten-free Is Here To Stay

Gluten-free is here to stay

Sensational journalism is wreaking havoc in the strides many people are making to improve their health by eating gluten-free.  Case in point are recent articles posted by the National Post entitled Farewell to Gluten free Why We Are So Easily Fooled by Pseudoscience and another by Maclean’s entitled The Dangers of Going Gluten-free.

Both articles are written from the negative viewpoint that eating gluten-free is an expensive fad and people are jumping on this bandwagon looking for quick answers to weight and health issues. Buried in amongst the double speak and overemphasis, are a few good points.  I will agree the gluten free food market has expanded immensely and manufacturers are profiting from this trend.  I also agree most gluten-free foods aren’t any healthier than those containing gluten (see my article here).  A processed product whether gluten free or not is often highly refined, high in sugar, bad fats, chemicals and preservatives.   Finally, they make the point no one should start a gluten-free diet without being tested for celiac disease, as it is antibodies found in blood that begin this diagnosis process and they won’t be there if you don’t eat gluten.  There is no test, however, for gluten intolerance.

That is where my agreement with these articles ends.  These articles go on to say those who follow a gluten-free diet are elitists, gurus, even zealous and there is little proof or even science backing gluten intolerance as a cause of symptoms and finally disease.

According to Dr. Mark Hynman gluten sensitivity can be classified as an autoimmune disease caused when your body fights to remove the offending gluten protein molecules from your system, creating inflammation in any organ system including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more.  (see my article here)  According to a review paper written in the New England Journal of Medicine there are 55 diseases that can be caused by consuming gluten. These include osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, neurological symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and many autoimmune diseases.  This is far from the pseudoscience the newspaper/magazine articles claim. 

Eating Gluten-free

If you remove gluten, you remove the cause of disease.  You won’t just be treating the symptoms of the disease.  What if the answer to your health problems is as easy as eliminating gluten from your diet?  What if eating bread and buns is contributing to the disease you suffer from?  Or eating gluten-free eliminates the need for medications you taking?  What do you have to lose by trying an elimination diet to see if your symptoms vanish?  Why not look for a simple solution?

Remember, if you decide to try eating gluten free to alleviate any health symptom, you should consult your doctor first.  You should be tested for celiac disease, but don’t let your doctor discourage you from trying a gluten elimination diet.  Remember these are uncharted waters, your doctor may have gone to school 20 years ago and didn’t learn about gluten intolerance.  Your doc may not be on board.

Thousands of people have found relief of symptoms and lost weight eating gluten-free.  This is not a fad.  It is not going away. Those who find relief from negative health symptoms will continue to eat gluten-free regardless of media’s take, having to turn down delicious baked goods, the inconvenience of not grabbing a sandwich at lunch or the cost.  Their good health is worth so much more!


Hawaiian Chicken

Paleo Hawaiian Chicken

Easy peasy and delicious!  Sweet and sour, plus pineapple, this recipe for Hawaiian chicken is hard to resist.  Growing up a version of this recipe was a favourite in our household.  

Hawaiian Chicken

  • 1 1/2 - 2 lb chicken parts (breasts, thighs or a combination)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp soya sauce (naturally fermented, gluten free)
  • 1 Tbsp tapioca starch 
  • 1 1/2 cup pineapple (cut into chunks)

Brown chicken in a skillet and remove to a small baking dish.  For sauce combine next 6 ingredients in skillet and cook over medium heat to thicken, scraping the yummy chicken bits off the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle pineapple over chicken and cover the chicken and pineapple with sauce.  Bake at 325 F for 1 hour.  Serve over rice or stir-fry vegetables.  Enjoy!

Shared at Juggling Real Food and Real Life's Let's Get Real Food Blog Hop - Hop on over and check it out!


Six Non-Dairy Bone Building Superfoods

Our bones are living tissue, always being broken down and reformed, which explains why broken bones mend.  By the age of 30, although our bones are being remodeled, we are no longer in positive bone formation mode, but are either maintaining or losing more bone than we are rebuilding.

Experts have begun to understand it takes more than calcium to maintain bone health, vitamins D and K, magnesium, manganese, bio-flavanoids and trace minerals all play an important role.  If you are concerned about building and maintaining strong bones, you will want to include these bone building foods in your diet.

Bone Broth

Properly prepared, bone broth is high in calcium, magnesium and other bone building nutrients.  Find instructions on preparation here.

Canned Fish 

Canned sardines with the bones are a high source of calcium, but you have to eat the bones. If you don't like sardines, canned salmon with bones also contains calcium, but not in the same quantity as sardines.

Dark Leafy Greens

Collard greens, spinach, swiss chard and kale are loaded with bone building nutrients, particularly calcium, magnesium and vitamin K.  Salad anyone?

Chia Seeds

A relative newcomber and superstar on the nutritional scene, an ounce of chia seeds contains 17% of the daily recommended intake of calcium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.  Add to a smoothie, oatmeal, or top a salad.

Blackstrap Molasses

Not only a great source of calcium, molasses is a source of B vitamins and the trace mineral copper.  Molasses is a great sweetener alternative.  Use it to replace a portion of sugar in baking or cooking, or to top oatmeal.


Not only high in calcium, it is high in vitamin K and acts to detoxify the body.  Steam, stir-fry, or make into soup.

Bok Choy

A Chinese vegetable commonly found in the grocery store, bok choy has more calcium than any dairy source.  Steam or stir-fry.


Nuts are a rich source of not only calcium but other minerals and healthy oils as well.  While the almond is deemed the most nutrient rich nut, eating a variety of nuts provides a wide variety of nutrients.  Eat as a snack, top your salad, oatmeal or add to baking.

Bones aside, these foods are part of a healthy diet contributing to all round good health, so make them a part of your healthy diet.