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Sugar sugar baby – a guide to sugar alternatives

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the options when it came to sugar were white or brown. Maybe there was a packet of muscavado sugar languishing at the back of your mums cupboard for when the Christmas cake needed baking, and obviously there was the little clickers of splenda that someone had in their coffee because they ‘were trying to be good’.

Sugar is a natural substance that is derived from sugar cane. It is separated from the molasses and then washed and filtered. This process creates white sugar. Brown sugar is made by adding some of the molasses back into the white sugar. Raw sugar is the white sugar before it has been washed and filtered. Sugar gets a bad rep because excess amount of it confuse the body. It causes our blood sugar to spike as well as causing changes in our insulin response. It causes an acidic reaction in the body which is often blamed for many inflammatory illnesses.

Now sugar alternatives are everywhere and it is super confusing as to which ones are a healthy alternative but also how to substitute them in baking or cooking. I thought I would write a little guide to help us all out & keep checking back as I will keep on adding to it as I encounter and test out more alternatives. This is part 1…


The original healthy alternative honey has a huge diversity in flavor allowing you to alter the end taste of recipes. When untreated it contains natural anti bacterial properties (which is why you can put it on a cut) as well as some B Vitamins and antioxidants. It is still high in sucrose though and will cause some blood sugar spike. This is my favorite go to raw honey with a mild taste which is perfect on porridge or in tea.

Best for: puddings, ice creams, gelato and in smoothies or tea. Can be used in very soft cakes & to top porridge, yoghurt etc

Cons: can’t be used where you need to cream ingredients as it doesn’t create the pockets of air that you need to create a rise so not great in traditional cakes like sponges.


Made from the sap of maple trees (it is the trees natural anti freeze) it is suitable for plant based diets and is rich in calcium, iron and zinc (although raw honey contains more). You can get crystalized maple syrup too. Like honey it can’t be used in recipes that need you to cream ingredients. We love this 100% maple syrup on buckwheat pancakes with coconut butter.

Best for: caramels, sweets, puddings and gelato or on top of porridge or pancakes

Cons: can’t be used for creaming. Watch out that it is pure maple syrup as it can be mixed with artificial ingredients and fillers.


Extracted from dates using a heating and pressing process it is natural product. Dates are known to cause less of a sugar spike thanks to their naturally low GI levels. As with any syrup you can’t use it where you need to cream but it is great in caramels with its rich taste. It is naturally high in iron and a good source of vitamins. You can easily make it yourself too. This stuff is addictive, amazing for sweetening yoghurt, making granola and eating off the spoon.

Best for: puddings, caramels,flapjacks, oat bars, soft cakes as well as a topping for porridge etc

Cons: it has a distinctive taste and can leave cakes very sticky


Made from coconut blossoms (rather than coconuts), this sugar has a lower GI, contains some fibre and is softer than normal sugar. You can substitute it 1:1 in baking recipes that use traditional sugar. This one is the one I tend to use in baking and to top plant based creme caramels.

Best in: bakes that require a dryer texture. As it is a softer sugar you won’t get as much air which leads to a naturally denser bake.

Cons: can be very expensive and as it is not as sweet you often end up using more.

Once hailed as the golden alternative to sugar, this syrup has fallen from its spot lately. The harvesting of it causes damage to the environment as agave is a natural bat food. Less agave means less bats which means less pollination. It is naturally twenty times sweeter than sugar so you use less. It has a lower GI than sugar but contains high levels of fructose. This agave has a mild taste and is great when making granolas

Best in: smoothies, caramels, deserts

Cons: Can lead to sticky bakes so make sure to grease or line your tins/pans, also needs to be combined with fat to stop it separating


Once hailed as the golden alternative to sugar, this syrup has fallen from its spot lately. The harvesting of it causes damage to the environment as agave is a natural bat food. Less agave means less bats which means less pollination. It is naturally twenty times sweeter than sugar so you use less. It has a lower GI than sugar but contains high levels of fructose. This agave has a mild taste and is great when making granolas

Best in: smoothies, caramels, deserts

Cons: Can lead to sticky bakes so make sure to grease or line your tins/pans, also needs to be combined with fat to stop it separating


Molasses is the left over product when white sugar has been evaporated from sugar cane. Blackstrap molasses has very high levels of iron and B vitamins. It is often used by breastfeeding women to boost their iron levels and milk supply. It is naturally acidic which means that when combined with baking soda, you get very light airy cakes. I used these molasses in ginger muffins and lactation cookies just after I had the little one and it was delicious.

Best in: gingerbread, granolas and savory dishes

Cons: has an intense taste and will overwhelm other flavours


Fruit is natures sugar and puree apple and grated fruit can easily sweeten a cake or granola. You can also get fruit syrups which can be used in the same way as date syrup or honey. They taste amazing and often have more vitamins. This one is my absolute favorite and I always stock up when i see it. Spices like cinnamon and vanilla can top porridge and yoghurts. Seasonal fruit tastes sweeter and roasting fruit caramelizes its natural sugars for extra sweetness. It’s really important to remember that sugar is sugar, even if it comes in the form of honey or from coconut blossom. Each alternative has its benefits but non of them can really be considered a health food. As with all things, eat them in moderation and be mindful.


A juice buying guide

I love the fact that healthy options are becoming more widespread. It is so easy now to get a gluten free sandwich, a great salad or a vegan desert. Vegan pop ups are flourishing and more and more chains are making sure that they offer a wider variety of natural, wholefood based options. Alongside that it is now really easy to get smoothies and juices on every corner. The health benefits of juicing have become more and more apparent. A great way to deliver huge amounts of vitamins to your body in an easy to digest way. The problem is, not all juices are created equal and you need to be savvy to see which ones will boost your health and which ones will boost merely your blood sugar. So here is my guide to ‘Which juice should I buy?’

My juice buying tips:

Read the label – just because it is a great colour doesn’t mean that it contains great things

Look at the ingredients – what comes first? Ideally you want it to be vegetables

Check the quantities – out of 100% how much of the juice is made up of vegetables? If the juice is 90% apple, 10% kale.  You are drinking green flavoured apple juice not green juice.

Is it cold pressed? – Cold pressing is the most nutritious way to obtain juice..more on this later

HPP – this is the next best thing to cold pressing (and is often used in conjunction) and is high pressure processing. It retains freshness but increases shelf life. It is a much better alternative to pasturising.

Is it local? – the produce that goes into the juice matters and how many miles it has traveled matters too. The more local the produce, the higher the vitamin content

Is it seasonal? – this is similar to the local train of thought. If you are making a fresh juice or having one made for you, making sure that you pick seasonal produce will guarantee a better vitamin content. Kale is only in season during the frosty months…

I have taken a long time researching the market and trying to find great brands that i can support and love. My absolute favourite juice brand is B-Fresh. They are relative new comers on the market but they are amazing! They are doing it slightly differently to most others as they grow the produce and then juice it. They understand provenance. They understand seasonality. They understand the value of picking and bottling quickly. They are run by a passionate team, headed up by a third generation farmer. A man that understands how to grow high quality produce.
B-Fresh cold press their juice on site in a custom build juicery. They use HPP to ensure that it stays fresher for longer and also to keep it safe and bacteria free. You can order them online and they will be delivered in a chilled box ready for your fridge. Our favourites are #leanandgreen, #greenwarrior and #rockthebeets. Let me know if you try them and which one is your favourite…
Happy juicing x

A few of my favorite things

Beetroot – I’m happy this made it to the top of the list alphabetically. I love beetroot. I love it juiced, I love it as carpaccio, I love it roasted on salads. Beetroot is an excellent liver tonic and they are packed with iron and too. Like bananas they are an great source of potassium. Don’t discard the beetroot leaves, you can use them too and they too are dense with iron, Vitamin A & C and even calcium.

Berries – I love all fruit but berries top my list. Blueberries on porridge, strawberries in salads, blackberries fresh off the bush. Picking berries is one of life’s greatest treasures for me. Try to buy organic and local where possible and always wash them well. If you have an abundance lay them on baking sheets and freeze overnight before pouring into bags and storing in the freezer – summer goodness all year round!

Broccoli – or rather all cruciferous vegetables. I love them all: Swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage. To me they are one of the most versatile groups in the kitchen and they boost the goodness of any meal.

Buckwheat  – one of my favourite seeds to cook with or use raw. A seed rather than a grain, buckwheat is closely related to rhubarb. Its easy to digest, packed with protein and naturally gluten free. It is one of the easiest flours to use in baking and I think it makes the yummiest, crunchiest granola.

Cocoa – oh raw cocoa. I love you. I love the fact that you are packed with antioxidants and flavanoids, but most of all I love that you make chocolate. Raw cocoa is different from standard cocoa as it has not been heated and thus the nutritional benefits are far higher. Cocoa is a great mood booster and can help slow down the ageing process. Making your own chocolate is easy and takes five minutes and best of all – you control the added ingredients.

Coconut oil – you only need to massage coconut oil into your skin to know how amazing coconut oil it. You can heat this oil to high temperatures without affecting in and you can use it in place of any butter or oil in baking or cooking. It has a sweeter, mild taste which i love with roasted root vegetables. The fat in coconut oil is a preferred source of energy for the body (rather than being stored) and so when used properly it can actually help with weight loss. Outside the kitchen you can use coconut oil to clean your teeth as it has antibacterial properties (oil pulling), give your hair a deep condition or simply as the most natural moisturiser.

Dates – these are natures sweets to me. I use them in place of sugar in so many baked recipes. I use them instead of honey to bind ingredients together, I put them in tajines to give a sweet undertone and I stuff them with walnuts or pumpkin seeds and snack on them on rainy afternoons. Dates have a perfect calcium:magnesium ration which i find can help promote restful sleep…a few dates blended in warm milk is the greatest insomnia tonic ever!

Legumes (and beans) – I don’t know where I would be without them most days. Lentil stew, homemade hummus, black bean chocolate brownies, baked falafel. They are one of the best sources of fibre and thus an amazing blood sugar regulator. Its best to buy heirloom varieties and if you are buying them dried make sure they have been dried in the last year and store them in a cool dark place. If you are buying them tinned make sure the cans are safe.

Nuts – yes they are high in fat but it is monounsaturated fat which can actually help protect your heart.  When buying nuts try and buy organic as many commercial nuts are sprayed to extend their shelf life. You can also buy (or make) activated nuts. These have been soaked and then often baked and are easier to digest.Walnuts are my favourite for snacking on but almonds still make the best milk.Homemade nut milk, nut butters, nut crumble, power balls and bars – nuts have a permanent place in my kitchen.

Oats  – porridge makes me happy as does baked oatmeal. I grind my own oatmeal flour to bake with and love making bircher muesli and overnight oats. I also use them in homemade face masks and soaks as oats are naturally anti-inflammatory

Turmeric – I had to sneak a spice onto this list. Turmeric has amazing health benefits, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is known for alleviating joint pain. Turmeric, in Ayurveda medicine is used to support the liver and aid in detoxification. I love it in lentil stews or coating roasted cauliflower.


Getting started

This blog is not a place to preach. Its not a place to make you feel guilty or to put me on a superfood soapbox. This is my place to share my experience of learning to cook with natural foods. It is a place where I can share recipes that have helped me heal my body and where I can show how to make that leap to eating a clean diet.

There is a lot of room for improvement in most European diets. Whilst we imagine that obesity is an American phenomenan I was shocked this year to learn that there are now more people who are obese that there are people who are starving. People are eating food that bears no resemblance to its natural state. Foods that are full of highly refined sugars and oils. Foods that keep for years unaffected. Foods stuffed with grains stripped of their nutrition and animal products of dubious origins. Many of these foods contain high levels of hormones and antibiotics. They have been sprayed, shipped, processed and packaged. Vitamins and minerals removed, additives and flavour enhancers added. They are addictive, mood altering and dangerous. The good news is that switching to a clean natural diet is actually an easy and delicious process.

Food to me should nourish. It should provide us with the nutrients we need to function at our best. It should boost performance, energy and mood. It should leave us satiated and satisfied. It should make us feel calm and happy. It should be grown, sold and shared. It should be cooked and transformed in your kitchen rather than a processing plant. Olives become olive oil, oats are ground to oatmeal, chocolate is separated into cocoa and cocoa butter, legumes are dried and fruit is picked.

You dont need to become a crazy person. You dont need to rip that chocolate from your childs hand as you frantically run through the kitchen with a bin bag. Don’t start making rules. Im not obsessed. Im living and in life there are always moments for cake…and whiskey. It is however a  shift, and as you make the changes your tastebuds will change too. Your body will function better, your skin will glow and your will crave new things. Foods that before were off limits and exciting will give way to new tastes and flavours to be savoured.

The first step. My first step was throwing away the white food. Chuck out the white flour and white sugar, the white rice and white pasta. Replace them with ancient grains that can be cooked and eaten in much the same way but that are full of fiber and minerals. You could try wild rice, quinoa pizza bases and spelt pasta. In baking you could try out nut flours and new sweeteners like honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. After you have made the initial switch you’ll see that this was a quick and easy way to make world of difference.

My starting steps to better health

1) Cook it yourself – making your own sauces, stocks and stews is a great place to start

2) Eat colour at every meal – the colours in fruit and vegetables are what gives us the most powerful antioxidants and vitamins. Use them.

3) Drink water – simple but the best

4) Shop at markets – at markets you can have a relationship with the stall holder. You can ask questions about the produce, its origins and how  its best cooked or eaten