Recipes for a life without processed sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Easy As Pie!

                                                            Sugar-Free Apple Pie

This pie has no added sugars or artificial sweeteners.  Instead, it relies on the natural sweetness of the apples.  If you like your apple pie to have a little zip in it, use tart apples like Lodi or Granny Smith.  For sweeter pies, use sweeter apples like Fuji, Macintosh, or Red Delicious.

This recipe makes 2 pies, so you can freeze the extra one or give it to a friend!

Pie Crust:

1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vinegar
cold water

Using a pastry cutter, blend shortening, flours, and salt until you have a fine mealy texture.  Beat the egg with the vinegar, then add enough cold water to make 1/2 cup of liquid.  Stir the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix well.  Knead the dough together with your hands to make a firm ball, then divide the ball into quarters.  Roll two of the quarters out to about 1/4 inch thickness and place in 2 prepared 9-inch pie pans.

Apple Pie Filling:

8 cups peeled, chopped apples (about 1 kilogram/ 2 pounds)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp corn starch

Peel and chop apples.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and toss well to coat.

In a small saucepan, combine apple juice, butter, maple syrup, and corn starch.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until thickened.  Let cool slightly, then pour over apples and toss well to coat.

Pour half of the filling into each prepared pie crust, then roll the remaining crust sections to make a top crust.  Place top crust over filling and crimp well.  (Remember to cut a steam vent into the top crust!)

Brush the tops of the pies with an egg wash: Beat 1 egg with 3 TBSP cold water.  Using a pastry brush or a sheet of paper towel, brush liberally over the tops of the pies.

Bake in a 350° oven for about 40 minutes or until the tops of the pies are golden brown.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream (no sugar added, of course!), or cool and enjoy with a big slice of old cheddar.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Well, hello there!  And welcome to my new blog.

I've been blogging for years over at As the Whorls Spins, blathering on about fibre arts and other loosely related topics, but this is a new venture.  I will warn you now, though, that I am a sporadic blogger at the best of times.

So why Life After Sugar?  Because I am seeking to live a life without sugar, and because it is hard to do.  You see, about 2 months ago, my apparently fit and healthy husband was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  This kind of took us by surprise, because he has none of the risk factors for Type 2.  I, on the other hand, have many of them, including a family history, past gestational diabetes, and (ahem) an extra 25 or 30 pounds.  My blood sugar is fine, my husband' the chart.

Now, if someone with no risk factors can develop Type 2 diabetes, what were the odds that I would develop it eventually, too?  So we decided that we would adjust as a couple.  We did all the right things, getting a blood glucose monitor, adding exercise to our daily routines, and, of course, adapting our diet.  Since I am the family cook, this made me examine our eating habits pretty thoroughly and make the changes that I needed to to make things a little healthier for my husband.  Our habits were already pretty healthy, with a diet fairly high in green leafy veggies and low in fat and sugars, aside from desserts.  And here is where I hit the big stumbling block.

My husband has a sweet tooth.

He likes 4 spoons of sugar in his tea.  He drinks powdered iced tea like it is mother's milk.  And he loves his desserts.  And, coincidentally, I love to bake desserts.  It's been a good arrangement for 30 years, but this diabetes thing has thrown a monkey wrench into the works.  He stopped eating desserts, and I was afraid to make them.

After a few angsty days, I decided that the solution would be to find sugar-free dessert recipes and gradually replace all of our old favourites, making it possible for him to have his sweet fix, and for me to continue baking.  And that's when the real angst began.  I consulted the World Wide Web for recipes, only to find that the vast majority of the sugarless recipes online called for artificial sweeteners, which I had hoped to avoid.  I went to the library.  Not much luck there, either.  Lots of recipes, but once again, calling for artificial sweeteners or, better yet, esoteric ingredients.  Diabetic publications are filled with recipes sweetened with sucralose, maltose, aspartame, or saccharine.  Where were the healthy, natural alternatives?

I have had some success with vegan and gluten-free websites and cookbooks, and they have pointed the way for some experimentation of my own.  However, I cannot easily find suitable substitutes for many of our favourites.  So, I have decided that instead of spending my time perusing websites, I am simply going to go into the kitchen and make my own recipes.  I am working my way through my personal cookbook, re-inventing recipes to suit our new, sugarless lifestyle.  This blog will be the place that I record that journey and share my new recipes with others who are seeking sugarless alternatives.

I am not a dietician, so I will not be including dietary information on the recipes, nor will I be preaching about lifestyle.  I will be recording my attempts to cook and bake, using natural sweeteners found in fruits, honey, maple syrup, agave, and whatever else I stumble upon.  And I will share the recipes that work. (I will not subject you to the failures, except, perhaps, to tell the woeful tale of a recipe gone terribly wrong.)  Maybe we'll all learn something from this little adventure.

So, armed with my wooden spoon and a big jar of applesauce, I venture forth into the kitchen...