Natural Sweeteners at Your Local Shop

Natural Sweeteners at Your Local Shop

Refined sugar has been around since the dawn of the industrialised nations, but its effect on humankind has been less than sweet. 

It’s played a leading role in the spike of obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, heart conditions, and even cancer.

Luckily, there are plenty of other plant-based options with natural sugars that are far kinder on your body, and add lots of fun to your cooking. 

These nine fantastic natural sweeteners are a brilliant alternative and, best of all, they’re easily available from supermarkets and health food stores.

Extra little note: stay away from artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin. These are ‘tested’ safe but like most man made chemically-derived foods, I usually suggest to avoid them completely.

Stevia

Stevia is a plant that looks a bit like mint and is 200 times sweeter than refined sugar. You can get it in powder or liquid form. It has zero calories, zero carbohydrates and none of the nasty side effects of artificial sweeteners. Use just a tiny amount in recipes, not as a 1:1 replacement!

Honey

Raw honey is a true superfood and one of the best natural sweeteners. It’s packed with enzymes, antioxidants, and nutrients, and feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. 

Some people worry about blood sugar levels and honey, but one tablespoon of raw honey (it must be raw, not heat treated) has less impact on glycemic load than a banana. Heating honey damages its properties, so choose a different sweetener if you’re planning on adding it to cooked recipes.

Maple syrup

Good quality maple syrup – not maple flavoured syrup, which is basically all sugar and artificial flavours – is minimally processed and heat stable. The darker the syrup, the more virgin it is. It adds a beautiful caramel taste to baked goods (and of course, it’s divine on pancakes!).

Blackstrap molasses

Tasting a little bit like licorice or aniseed, blackstrap molasses is essentially all of the ‘good stuff’ (think nutrients, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, vitamin B6 and so on) that’s taken out of the sugar cane when its refined to create white sugar. It’s delicious in chocolate smoothies and any recipes with ginger as a feature. It’s strong though, so only use a tiny bit!

Check out this delicious gingerbread biscuit recipe featuring blackstrap molasses!

Rice malt syrup

Also called brown rice syrup, RMS is free from fructose and has minimal impact on blood sugar levels. It contains complex carbs that your body uses as a slow release of energy. RMS and maple syrup can be used interchangeably in recipes that call for a liquid sugar and a beautifully rich, deep taste.

Coconut sugar

Coconut sugar is the new kid on the block, but it’s a fantastic 1:1 replacement for white sugar in recipes. It’s full of polyphenols, iron, calcium, antioxidants and potassium. 

It is a little high in fructose, so use sparingly, and it is a little less intensely sweet compared to refined sugar. To increase sweetness, I add blueberries or sultanas to the recipe.

To make a healthier brown sugar, add two tablespoons of molasses to ½ cup coconut sugar. Blend together in a food processor or blender until combined.

Dried fruit: Dates, raisins, goji berries

Dried fruits are a great way to add a pop of sweetness to recipes. They’re full of nutrients and many dried fruits help reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood. Just add them right into cakes and muffins, pancakes, even curries!

Read this recipe for an amazing date paste to use in recipes.

Bananas

Bananas get a bad rap for being really high in sugar, but they’re actually not bad for you. They are really high in the potassium we are lacking in our modern diet. In terms of sugar, they contain the same amount of natural sugar as an apple or pear.

Mash or puree bananas to use as a natural sweetener. It’s cheap, sweet, adds volume and texture, and basically covers a multitude of baking sins (thank you, bananas!).

Berries/fruit paste

Berries are an amazing addition to baking projects to give a burst of sweetness, so you can cut down on the other types of sugar. They’re also really low in fructose and don’t cause insulin spikes. I throw raspberries on top of black bean brownies and blueberries in banana bread and muffins.

The other thing you can do is create a super simple fruit puree that you can use as a topping on pancakes, muesli, or as a liquid sweetener.

The recipe can be found right here, and trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Versatile and simple Fruit Compote

Versatile and simple Fruit Compote

Fruit compote is one of the easiest, most delicious little condiments you could ever whip up in your kitchen! It works for a huge range of fruit and even combinations of your favourites. Add preferred spices for flavour, and pop it on top of pancakes, granola or muesli, homemade baked apples or pears, porridge, coconut yoghurt – there’s nothing it won’t take to the next level!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of your preferred fruit, fresh or frozen (peel and de-seed fresh fruit if needed – see fruit ideas below in Notes)
  • Splash of your preferred sweetener, to taste (maple syrup or rice malt syrup are great options)
  • Water to desired consistency
  • Any additional flavours from the list below, if you want to try something different!

Method: 

  1. Pop the fruit and a dash of sweetener and water to a pan. Bring it to a low boil and then lower the temperature and simmer for 5-10 minutes, depending on whether you’re using fresh or frozen fruit.
  2. You can either mash the fruit with a fork or potato masher, or if you prefer a really smooth texture, you can blend it once it’s finished cooking.
  3. Continue simmering for another 5-10 minutes until the compote has reduced. Depending on the fruit you use, you may need to add a little water to get the desired consistency.
  4. Remove the compote from heat and test for sweetness and flavour. You can adjust any flavours at this point, including adding a little more sweetener if you feel it needs it.

NOTES

Suggested fruit:

Blueberries
Raspberries
Strawberries
Cherries
Pear
Apple

Additional flavour ideas:

Vanilla extract
Zest from lemon or orange
Ground cinnamon
Fresh or ground ginger

 

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Diary of a 7-Day Armpit Detox

Diary of a 7-Day Armpit Detox

Pop on a peg people, we’re going straight to the stinky zone!

You might be asking, what is an armpit detox? If you’ve been using conventional deodorants, or you feel like your ‘pits are more smelly than usual, then you’ll definitely want to find out the answer, just like I did.

I switched from conventional deodorant to a natural one about 10 years ago. Everything was fine, until I got a super painful rash on both armpits in 2018. It itched, hurt and felt like it was on fire. It was not pretty.

I treated it as a staph infection with no results. Doctors told me to take antibiotics (I didn’t). It wasn’t until I stopped using anything at all on my underarms that the rash quickly disappeared.

I was devastated, because it had taken years of trial and error to find a good anti-odorant. Not only that, but – excuse the TMI – my underarm smell was really bad. Like, it was acrid and really strong. I literally stuck tissues under there some days because the smell was so bad!

I contacted the company to find out if they had ever heard of a similar reaction to mine, and what they said turned my world upside down.

Try an armpit detox.

Like the Googler I am, I went straight to the internet. Totally mind-blown! I knew conventional deodorants were bad, but I didn’t realise the extent of the damage they are doing. 

We’ve been taught our whole lives that pit-stink is gross and perspiration is embarrassing, when in fact, the whole sweat system is pretty darn cool for detoxing your body and dealing with stress. 

Slathering that cool system with chemicals is doing bucketloads of harm:

  • We have 20 lymph nodes in our armpits. The skin on our armpits absorb 100% of anything topical you apply – which means the chemical bomb called deodorant that you’ve been popping on every day for years is going right into your lymphatic system, which transports it right through your whole body.
  • Those deodorant and antiperspirant chemicals include endocrine disruptors that mess up our hormone system. That can lead to issues with endometriosis, early puberty, infertility, immune function, respiratory problems, and a whole host of other life-destroying issues.
  • Sometimes, when we switch from these chemical bombs to a natural anti-odorant, the results can be less than stellar, and rashes (as well as more sweating and inefficacy of the product) are common complaints.

The problem is not the product – the problem is that our skin, bacterial balance and perspiration system is totally out of whack. We need to wipe the slate clean.

Enter, the 7 Day Armpit Detox!

The recipe is really simple, and you only need to apply it once a day for up to an hour:

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs bentonite clay
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • Enough water to make it a thick paste (it needs to be able to stick to your skin

Notes

If you have colloidal silver, you can use it in place of the water

You can also replace a tablespoon of the bentonite clay with diatomaceous earth if you have it on hand.

Never use anything metal with bentonite clay. Use plastic, wood or glass containers and utensils.

Ready to see what my seven days looked like? Okay, you got it!

My 7-day Detox diary

DAY 1

Made up the recipe in a small glass jar. I pasted it onto my unshaven underarms and was pretty surprised that it stuck as well as it did. I went about my day at home, but after about 10 minutes, I could feel it starting to burn a little. I decided to listen to my body and wiped it off with warm water and a cloth. There was a red circle around my armpit, but it didn’t hurt. What I did notice, however, was that I didn’t smell for the rest of the day, even though it was the hottest week on record for the year!

DAY 2

I lasted 45 minutes on day two before wiping it off, when it started to feel a little uncomfortable. It had started to dry and fall off a bit, so if you do try it, stay away from carpet once it gets flaky! Again, I had a red circle around my underarm, and again, no smell for the rest of the day. I was pretty stoked about that!

DAY 3:

Today, I completely forgot I had the paste on, and ended up removing it at the one hour mark. Less red around the armpit this time, and no itching or burning while I had it on at all. Again, no smell for the rest of the day, even though it was 36 degrees and I was sweating A LOT.

DAY 4

I forgot to put the paste on today, but I think that kind of made the test interesting. I wondered if I would be smelly again – and yes, I was. So, I guess three days is not long enough to create effective change.

DAY 5

Back to lathering on the paste, and again left it on for an hour. No itching or redness, and no smell for the rest of the day. If nothing else, this makes a pretty good natural daily anti-odorant.

DAY 6 & 7:

Yes, I’m putting these days together because the results were the same. I left the paste on for an hour. I had no reaction, no irritation, no redness, and no smell for the rest of the day.

It’s been three months since I did the armpit detox. I’ve been using my anti-odorant again and it’s all been fine. In fact, there are lots of days that I don’t use anything on my underarms and I’ve noticed a huge reduction in smell. The rash hasn’t returned, and I plan on doing the detox at least once a year, just to reset the skin.

What I won’t ever do is go back to conventional deodorants. The risks are too high, especially for our young people. This is another area that we can so easily change for better health and longevity.

So, are you going to join the ‘pit crew’ and try a 7 day detox too?

 

 

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Why does my body feel worse when I eat better?

Why does my body feel worse when I eat better?

“If kale is supposed to be sooooo good, why do I feel like garbage now that I’m eating it?!” (said dieting women everywhere).

I LOVE this subject, because when you dig into it, you start to see how incredibly adaptable and super smart our bodies actually are.

Here’s why: your body was designed to function on a diet high in plant foods, good fats, fibre and protein. Instead, our typical modern diet is high in processed sugars, trans fats, and refined carbs that offer virtually no nutrition and create a host of issues.

Would it surprise you to know that scientists say when we were first introduced to ‘bad food’ like hamburgers and pizza, our cells revolted? This stuff is not helpful, they said!

But then, your amazing little cells transformed and adapted so they could recognise those foods as the new norm, and you wouldn’t keel over and die.

Those ‘unhelpful’ foods don’t contain phytonutrients, amino acids, proteins and all the good stuff that feeds your cells and resists disease, so when you do suddenly start eating high-nutrient foods, your cells don’t have a clue what they are anymore.

So, your body is going to have to change and adapt AGAIN. And while it’s doing that, you are going to feel a whole lot of uncomfortable.  

Here’s what’s going on:

       1. Your body releases toxins from fat cells, which increase oxidative                     stress  (aka, flu symptoms).

Eating a diet high in whole foods will naturally help to reduce oxidative stress, but during the transition (especially if you go cold turkey), the release of toxins stored in fat cells can make you feel a bit like you’ve got the flu: fatigue, pain in your muscles or joints, brain fog, and nasty headaches.

2. Foods high in sugar and rubbish fats release ‘feel-good’ dopamine in your brain, so essentially, you’ll start going through withdrawals.

Yes, that’s right, like a smoker, or a drug addict, or an alcoholic, your body is going to go through serious withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, headaches, and even nausea. You just cancelled Christmas on your body, and it is not going to be happy.

Until, of course, it realises it feels MUCH better having more sustainable and nutrient-fueled energy sources to thrive on (in 3-7 days, for example).

       3. Good foods feed different gut bacteria, resulting in some unpleasant             airborne side effects.

Farts. I’m talking about farts. And bloating, and gas. The good news is that as you feed your good bacteria all those yummy good foods, the inflammation inside your body will reduce, which starts to move you further away from chronic illnesses, asthma and allergies. And yes, no more embarrassing farts.

     

How do we make the change a little easier?

Start slow, and take some care and time to prepare. That includes recognising that discomfort is normal during the transition, and staying strong.

Here’s some simple tips to help you out:

  • Drink lots of water to help with digestion and to flush out your organs during the detoxification process. 1.5 to 2 litres a day is average.
  • You can change your diet slowly; add in a salad for lunch for a few days, then eliminate soft drinks and muffins over the next week, then replace chocolate milk with a smoothie, and so on. It’s ok if it takes 2 to 3 weeks to transition out of bad habits and into healthy eating. It’ll make the change less extreme for your body.
  • Blended foods like green smoothies are easier for your body to handle.
  • Eat fats and protein for breakfast. These foods help your cells to send out the right signals and help with long-lasting energy.
  • Don’t eat less; eat the same amount you always have, just eat lots of wholefoods, good fats and protein. Starving yourself or skipping meals will only add to your woes.
  • Don’t give up! I have literally heard people say, “My body doesn’t agree with greens.” Um no, it’s highly unlikely that you have an intolerance to vegetables, the source of life!

Treat your body with the respect it has earned and give it some time to get reacquainted with an old friend: nutrients. It’ll love you for it… eventually!

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Feeling blah every day? Mamas, think about this.

Feeling blah every day? Mamas, think about this.

If you’re reading this, it’s pretty likely you’re a mum too. So, I think it’s time we had a little chat about that iddy biddy feeling of ‘blah’ that some – not all, but, well, a lot – of mums feel while their kids are little.

I’ve spent a fair whack of my time as a mum feeling a bit blah. Unmotivated. Bored. Unfulfilled. (Gasp! Am I allowed to say that?)

Maybe you feel the same way. Like maybe the groundhog-day-ness of parenting small people just saps some of your energy and mojo.

To get totally straight-up honest, we just need to recognise that while some mums are 100 percent fulfilled by the role of being a mum, others aren’t. That doesn’t mean we love our kids less; it just means we need the elusive ‘something else’ to stop that blahness from clouding our days.

Becoming a mum means becoming someone new

Let’s take a bird’s-eye perspective here.

The change from independent, functioning adult who accomplishes things on a personal level every day, to stay-at-home mum who wipes bums, cleans endlessly and doesn’t sleep anymore, is a massive identity shift.

And while becoming a mum is wonderful and breaks open parts of your heart that you never knew existed, you can begin to feel lost.

It took a long time to work out what was going on with me; why I just didn’t feel like myself anymore, and where the lacklustre doldrums were coming from.

That little thing every mum needs

Here’s what it is, mamas: purpose. When we lack purpose, we lack passion and enthusiasm. Without purpose, we don’t get that excited, squishy feeling in our tummy in the morning that makes us want to bound out of bed to get the day started.

Yes, kids form part of our purpose. But, the reality is, I just don’t get that excited feeling in my tummy about making the 745th round of lunches and breakfasts anymore.

I do, however, get excited about the things I love. I love studying, so I enrolled in online nutrition courses. I started a side business. I joined a women’s business group. I started blogging. I started playing guitar again. I borrowed a bike and rode by myself on warm evenings.

I juggled all that around three kids, and I can tell you know, nothing shooed away the blah feeling faster than reigniting my personal purpose.

Purpose isn’t just fun…it’s fundamental

Setting goals for yourself on a personal, financial, spiritual or physical level is fundamental to that bounce-out-of-bed feeling. Often, it’s those goals and kick-butt achievements that are missing from the day-to day of motherhood.

Purpose in each day inspires and uplifts, and the beauty of being in that season of young motherhood is that we can follow our purpose alongside our role of caring for our kids.

In fact, modelling to your children that you can practice self-love as well as loving others, is an incredible gift.

Easy questions to ask yourself right now

What do you miss about your pre-kid life? What are the hobbies that you really love? What lights you up on the inside? If you could imagine your perfect day, what would you be doing? What would you love to learn more about, or teach others? Who would you love to partner with and start up a new venture or mission?

None of the answers to those questions need to involve your kids. This is all about you! When you set your purpose, you’re not putting your family second.

You’re just lighting that fire again.

There’s a very, very big chance that giving yourself permission to do something you love will make you a happier, more energetic, generous and flourishing mama.

Over to you: what’s going to light your fire again?

(And if you want to discover how Mummies on a Mission helped me on my journey check out our Ambassador page here: https://mummiesonamission.com/become-an-ambassador/)

Love our vibe?

Learn about becoming a part of our tribe of Mumpreneurs… 

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My dad is a terrific cook, he was the first one who managed to convince my daughter to eat cooked vegetables.   I know lots of mums who also struggle with getting greens into their kids, so here’s dad’s secret: Dragon Food. He made a simple and delicious stir fried...

read more
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