Guest Blogger Wednesday: Sugar in the Kitchen

Today’s  post comes from Melissa Roessing: the wife of Jeff, who is the farm manager of Eighth Day Farm.

“Despite my desire to be crafty and creative, I don’t seem to possess much in that department. My goal is to keep trying simple projects so I can achieve little artistic victories but as I debated what to share for this post, I decided to stick with what I know: the kitchen.

As the farmer’s wife, I like to try new recipes with the veggies Jeff brings home from the field. I’ve really become more interested in cooking and baking in the last 5 or 6 years as our knowledge about healthy eating has grown. In addition to increasing our consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, we have made significant strides in decreasing our sugar intake through the years.

We threw out our refined white sugar 5 years ago and haven’t missed it yet! There are so many  substitutions that can be used for white sugar. We typically use Sucanat (dehydrated can juice crystals), maple syrup, honey, and agave nectar. I have a great cookbook (Baking with Agave Nectar by Ania Catalano) that shares 100 delicious recipes using agave. It is also full of information about what agave is & how to use it. A couple notes to share if you’re interested in trying it: If you use agave to replace white sugar in a recipe, use 25% less agave because it’s sweeter than standard sugar. Also, you’ll want to reduce the total amount of other liquids in that recipe by 1/3. One more adaptation is to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees since baked goods with agave brown more quickly. When substituting agave for honey, you can use it at a 1:1 ratio.

Since it’s fall, I thought it would be fun to share a couple of our favorite cooler season recipes:

Applesauce

  • 8 medium apples
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp sucanat
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Peel, core & chop apples. Cook 20 minutes in water over medium heat. Remove and mash. Add remaining ingredients. Between the spices and the natural sweetness of the apples, there is little need for excess sugar. And the scent of cooking apples is so inviting!

Another inviting smell is pumpkin pie. I never really liked pumpkin pie when I was young. However, we got a hold of this recipe, tweaked it, and now I am a pumpkin pie fan!

Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 cup sucanat
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 5 large eggs
  • 4 cups pumpkin, pureed
  • 18 oz evaporated milk (we substitute 12 oz of goat’s milk)

Mix well using a hand blender. Pour into 2 deep-dish crusts (homemade or store-bought, you choose). Bake at 425 for the first 15 minutes, then turn temperature to 350 and bake another 55-60 minutes until done. This pie has so much flavor and only ½ cup of sugar for each pie! You’d never guess. Happy baking!”