Sweet Smart recipes are adapted from my favourite cookbooks and websites. I usually adapt the recipes by replacing the sugar with unsweetened applesauce and fruit, if possible.
Most recipes that I adapt turn out quite well, although there have been some flops. Sometimes the applesauce does not produce a pleasing texture, or doesn't provide enough sweetness to make the end result palatable. Each recipe I publish is one that I really enjoy and would make again.
Most of the recipes on this website are what I'd call "mildly sweet", although the intensity of the sweetness will vary depending on how much fruit or unsweetened applesauce the recipe contains. I include a nutrition chart below each recipe so you can check the sugar content per serving to help determine roughly how sweet the final product will taste.
The Sweeter Option is a variation on the Mildly Sweet recipe. While the Mildly Sweet recipe uses unsweetened applesauce as a sweetener, the Sweeter Option calls for roughly half the sugar that a regular recipe calls for. Use this recipe variation if you are looking to:
Provide healthy homemade treats: the whole grains and lower sugar in these recipes assures you that what you are feeding your kids is healthier than most store bought options. Most recipes are so overly sweet and your kids may not even notice that there is less sugar.
Move toward a lower sugar diet: baking with whole grains and lower sugar will help you get used to a less sweet taste while still allowing you to enjoy baked goods.
Find a balance between good tasting and healthy: the Mildly Sweet version of the recipe may not be sweet enough for everyone's taste. The Sweeter Option allows you to tweak the amount of sugar or sweetener in the recipe to suit your taste while still keeping it healthy.
You may also want to experiment with other sweeteners. See About Sweeteners for more information and nutrition facts on honey, maple syrup, stevia and other sweeteners.
First, I need to share my personal problems with sugar, and then I can better explain how unsweetened applesauce and fruit work perfectly with what I am trying to achieve with my Mildly Sweet recipes.
For me (and many others), eating sugar, or even sugar substitutes with a very sweet taste (such as aspartame), causes 3 main problems:
1) Physical Problems: such as blood sugar highs and lows and all of the uncomfortable feelings that go along with them such as feeling sweaty, jittery, irritable, foggy-headed, etc.
2) Mental Health Issues: such as anxiety, depression, anger, lethargy and moodiness.
3) Increased cravings: strong, uncontrollable cravings for sweets and feeling of always being hungry. I describe it as a "hole in the pit of my stomach" feeling.
In order to address the first 2 problems, I needed to chose a sweetener that would be fairly low in sugar, but still provide enough sweetness that would make the recipes taste good.
I find that unsweetened applesauce works well for this. At only about 23 grams of sugar per cup, it adds very little sugar to a recipe. I can add a cup of chopped apples, peaches, pears or berries and still keep the total sugar count of the recipe quite low, while adding more sweetness and flavour.
To address the 3rd issue of cravings, I actually want to keep the recipes from tasting too sweet. This is the reason I don't include artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or Splenda in the Mildly Sweet version.
If you are just starting to bake with less sugar, feel free to experiment with other sweeteners, as the mildly sweet recipe may not be sweet enough to please you or your family.
Even just making the change to baking with whole grains rather than white flour, and using less sweetener or sweeteners with a lower sugar content will make your baked goods healthier, change your taste for sweetness, and reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.