The Season for Sweets

A Native American elder once told me that the reason so many people consume so much sugar and have type II diabetes is that life isn’t as sweet as in the days of his youth. I wonder if that is because we are caught up in more acidic and bitter events, these days. Watching the news sure leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. A recent World Economic Forum report and an article by professor Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution concur that, while the U.S. economy seems to be thriving and growing, happiness and our social fabric may be at stake as well as health and even longevity due partly to the ravages of despair. Sounds like our diet: we are (collectively) overweight and undernourished.


But what if we acknowledge and respond to this other craving for sweetness, not just processed sugar? We can spot sugary junk-food almost anywhere, so why not seek the other kind, the little life-candies?


Right now, for example, I can smell the recently picked pineapple quince, great fat fruit produced by a skinny little tree on its first attempt at fruiting. It struggled to hold it all up, but now its fragrant, floral-smelling fruit is waiting to be cooked.

Fall sunlight glows on my orange feral cat,  the de facto “barn cat”, as he hints that he’d like a meal this evening.  I can’t touch this kitty yet, but I can just feel the sun-on-fur sensation in my mind. The autumn sun/breeze combination is pretty good on my own skin, too.


Outside my window two flickers are playfully flirting and chasing each other around, occasionally dropping a feather for me to collect.  Meanwhile the crows and magpies line up on the fence to get their peanuts and have their own party.


With cool nights, all three of my dogs fit themselves into one big bed like jigsaw pieces, no grumbling or growling. Sweet!


Canning and dehydrating projects put up summer sweetness for colder months, while providing a sense of satisfaction and a little food security just by sitting there on the shelf, ready when needed. Quince butter!


My big red hens scratch happily in fallen yellow leaves.


The acrid arguments over pumpkin-spice-everything can be hushed with truly rich and delicious pumpkin recipes – thai curry with pumpkin and coconut milk, gnocchi, creamy soups, roasted fall veggie combos, low/no-sugar pumpkin bread, pumpkin flan, etc., the REAL stuff!


Soon the last winter squashes will be picked and cured before turning them into savory-sweet dishes, the sweet potatoes will be dug up, too, and then the end-of-summer turnover will make a clean slate for rows of winter greens. I guess that’s bitter-sweet – goodbye to summer, but hello to cool season plants.


Real, unadulterated, fresh-pressed cider. Enough said, right?


And it’s time to get out those favorite sweaters and bundle up in a knitted hug. Then go outside at night and check out those crisp, brilliant stars. Breathe in that smoke-free, almost peppermint-y air.


The addictive properties of processed sugars may have warped our taste-buds and our cravings, just as our harried, hustling, lifestyles may have caused us to rush past moments of pure deliciousness happening right around us.  We can take back that genuine sweetness by being a bit more mindful about what nourishes us, both food-wise and mentally/spiritually/emotionally. Don’t we all crave real connection, real food, and real quality time? Treat yourself!


Are you watching your sugar intake for health reasons? Try some of these natural substitutions. Once they break down in your system, sugars are essentially the same, but unlike refined sugars, these have redeeming qualities such as fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. Do your research to see which fit your health needs and your recipes best.


Sweetener Sub for 1c Sugar Adjust liquid Notes
Honey ½ – ¾ c Reduce by ¼ c

If there’s no other liquid, add 3tbsp flour

Reduce baking temp by 25°
Maple syrup ¾ c Reduce by 3 tbsp Add ¼ tsp baking soda
Date sugar 2/3    – 1c Burns easily, doesn’t dissolve
Stevia 1tsp – 1/3 c Add 1/8 c Adjust as you experiment
Molasses ½ c Darker flavor
Piloncillo/rapadura 1 c Darker flavor
Coconut Sugar 1c Darker flavor, not great with lemon recipes. Coarser – let dissolve in liquids.


For more information on eating to support your wellness and for stupid-easy, madly tasty, secretly healthy recipes, visit

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