Tag Archives: sugar-free

How to correct too-tart tomato sauce without adding sugar or sweetener

how to correct tomato sauce without adding sugar

“Unless you are using sweet, height-of-summer tomatoes, chances are your tomato sauce will taste more tart than you might like. Many recipes call for adding a pince of sugar… but sugar doesn’t eliminate the tartness; it just makes the sauce sweeter. Nevertheless, I did that for years until my scientist husband reminded me that the way to neutralize an acid is with a base. He suggested adding a pinch of baking soda to overly tart tomato sauce.

“It works like a charm. You don’t need much baking soda to have an impact, so start with a pinch. The sauce will foam briefly as you stir it in. Let the sauce simmer for a minute or so, then taste again. Add a little more baking soda if necessary. Be careful not to add too much or your sauce will taste soapy.”

From the cookbook Four Seasons Pasta, by Janet Fletcher, p. 26.

Image source: Wikimedia

Super-simple creamy Italian dressing

creamy Italian dressing - sugar-free option

Creamy Italian dressing is one of my husband’s favorite salad dressings. It’s getting harder to find in the grocery store, and the ones that we had tried tasted so fake and sugary — the side effect of making pretty much all your salad dressings from scratch.

Then I found this one! The original recipe is on AllRecipes, but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own; I reduced the sugar and made a few other minor tweaks. Make it without the sugar, and use homemade mayo, and you’ve got a Paleo, Whole30-compliant Italian dressing!

Tried it; loved it; it’s a keeper!

I made it as a spread/dip for homemade submarine sandwiches a couple nights ago. My husband still misses a sub that Pizza Hut used to have on the menu, which had a similar spread on it, and this recipe is a good fit. Then the next day for lunch, I had a sub-sandwich-inspired salad (shown in the photo above). Romaine lettuce with diced ham, pepperoni, and salami; mozzarella cheese, and diced tomatoes. And pickled onions — which are also a great sandwich topper.

It’s really quick and easy to make. Tastes best if you make it a few hours or a day ahead, but I’ve made some notes in the recipe about how to adapt it if you need to serve it right away.

Yay! No more store-bought creamy Italian dressing!

Creamy Italian Dressing (low or no sugar)

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. water
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. granulated onion
1/4 t. white sugar*
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Place the minced garlic and olive oil in a small dish and microwave for 30 seconds.

Combine this and all the other ingredients in a 12 – 16 oz. jar and shake well.

Refrigerate for a few hours; better overnight.

*If you will be storing it 24 hours before use, you might skip the sugar. If you are living sugar-free, you can leave it out or replace it with your favorite sweetener. If you will be serving it right away, you might want to reduce the vinegar slightly and increase the sugar to taste.


Emergency peanut butter cookie recipe

emergency peanut butter cookie recipe
Midnight: you’ve got a bad cookie craving. What to do? Making a whole batch of cookies is a recipe for waking up to regrets! This is perfect: a quick, easy peanut butter cookie recipe with a batch size of two.
Oh, and by the way, they’re sugar-free. Sweetened with good ol’ maple syrup! (Which is important for vegans, and those of us trying to avoid white or brown sugar. Learn more.)
This recipe is from Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog, but I’ve neatened it up a bit.

Quick, easy sugar-free peanut butter cookies

Makes two cookies.
  • 2 T. flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/16 tsp baking soda
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1.5 T. peanut butter
  • 1.5 T. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • optional: add some chocolate chips if you wish!
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a cereal bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and form into two blobs on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Flatten into cookie shapes (use a fork, and wipe it clean between the first and second cookie).
Bake in preheated oven for 8-11 minutes. Check at 8 minutes, and add one to two minutes at a time until it’s lightly browned in some areas.
Let cool for as long as you can stand it. Enjoy with a glass of milk, if you like. Wake up in the morning with no regrets about having devoured too many cookies the night before!


Key Lime Laraballs

Call them nut balls, energy bites, or no-bake cookies. No matter what you call them, I love ’em! First of all because I LOVE the flavor, but also because they are a totally guilt-free treat!
Let’s just list all the things these have going for them:
  • Quick and easy to make; no bake.
  • Raw, vegan, gluten-free.
  • Acceptable as an occasional paleo-friendly treat.
They are very dominantly lime-flavored. I LOVE LIME! If you don’t love lime or you’re a wimp when it comes to sour things, you might want to make mix it up it as-is, then taste before you start rolling the dough into balls. You can add a few extra dates, a little extra maple syrup, and/or a splash of vanilla to sweeten it up a bit, if needed.
Try them! YUM!
(Here’s the original recipe, from peasandcrayons: Key Lime Larabars.)
And here are my tweaks:

Key Lime Energy Bites

1/2 cup chopped dates (pre-chopped; coated w/ dextrose)

1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (+ extra for coating)

1-2 Tablespoons raw, unsalted walnuts

2-3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon real maple syrup

1 splash vanilla extract

Combine in food processor till it starts sticking together. You may need to stop a scrape things down a couple times. Taste and add more dates and/or syrup as needed.

Put mixture in a small bowl and chill in the fridge for about five minutes. Remove, roll into balls, and roll the balls in shredded coconut. Place in a closed or plastic-wrapped container and store in the fridge.

Crazy for quinoa? 14 quinoa dishes to try.


If you’re into healthy eating at all — or Pinterest — you’re probably seeing quinoa everywhere. If you’ve tried it once before and been unimpressed, try it again. The first dish I had was leftovers from a homemade dish, and was mushy and bland. The second was at a great bistro: the texture was like perfectly-done, nutty brown rice, and the flavor was amped up with some other great ingredients such as sweet potato and balsamic vinaigrette.

And why is it so hot? A dietition on FitDay says that, compared to rice, quinoa “has many more nutrients: it is a complete protein (contains an essential amino acid lysine, which is good for tissue repair and growth), high in iron and fiber, and contains Vitamin E, zinc, and selenium.” She also says that quinoa is related to spinach. Huh! I didn’t know that. Texture-wise, it makes a great, higher-protein substitute for not only rice, but also orzo pasta and couscous.

 I’ve created a quinoa salad inspired by that yummy restaurant dish, and also made a simple pilaf by adding sauteed onion and mushrooms. Loved them both; now I want more!

So I’m on the lookout for great quinoa recipes. Because I’m compiling this list for myself, I thought I’d share it here. But to make this a quick post, I’m not including pics of each one. (The photo above is of “super berry quinoa salad,” by Angela Simpson, via Eat Spin Run Repeat.)

But trust me: they’re all lovely and colorful!

I started this list with 12, but I keep finding more. So far I’m up to 14…

Super berry quinoa salad  (pictured above)

Quinoa with toasted pine nuts

Quinoa pilaf

Colorful quick quinoa Greek salad

Black bean quinoa with basil-lemon dressing

Warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa

Avocado quinoa salad

BLT quinoa salad

Cilantro-lime quinoa

And some orzo dishes to try with quinoa…

Spinach and orzo salad

Sun-dried tomato orzo

Mexican orzo salad

I’d like to try making this wheat-based salad with quinoa…

Strawberry Wheatberry Salad

And a rice dish from Kalyn’s Kitchen…

Christmas Rice with Bell Peppers, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts

Have you tried quinoa yet? If not, here’s a primer on how to cook it.

Seven simple salad dressing recipes

One of the easiest and most delicious things you can do to put healthier food into your body is to learn some recipes for homemade salad dressings. Once you start, you’ll probably never buy the bottled stuff again! Homemade dressings just taste so much fresher.
Plus, they’re so much healthier! Most “Lite” salad dressings you buy in the store are low fat, but that just means a higher percentage of the product is carbs, and almost always sugary ones. When you make your own, you can be sure there’s no corn syrup or {insert evil sweetener of your choice here} in it! I usually use Splenda, but use whatever you want.
Update: I rarely use Splenda any more; usually stevia. I’ve found that one small scoop of stevia extract powder equals one packet of Splenda, but every brand is different, so you might need to experiment.

Here are seven of my favorite homemade salad dressing recipes I’ve posted here in the past. For a healthy body, and happy taste buds!

Buttermilk Ranch (made with Greek yogurt)

simple salad dressing recipes - ranch

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

easy balsamic vinaigrette recipe

Tex-Mex Dressing (just three ingredients!)

simple salad dressing recipes - Tex-Mex

Ginger-peanut Salad Dressing 

simple salad dressing recipes - ginger sesame

 Almost-Panera’s Asian Chicken Salad Dressing

simple salad dressing recipes - Asian salad dressing

Lemon (or Citrus) Poppyseed Dressing

easy citrus poppyseed dressing recipe

 Caesar Salad Dressing

Easy Caesar salad dressing recipe


Update: bonus recipe…

Creamy Italian Dressing

antipasto salad

Sugar in food: sneaky and surprising

Having been diagnosed at a young age with reactive hypoglycemia, I’ve long been aware of the fact that modern food products hide alarming amounts of sugar, and conceal sugar in foods you’d never think contain it.

Like in food labeled as “Sugar Free”:

Or ketchup:

Britain’s FSA (Food Service Authority) defines high-sugar content as being 10%. Heinz Tomato Ketchup contains 23.5%. (British info source. Percentage from Heinz U.S. website.)

The following facts are just a taste (sorry!) of what investigative reporter Michael Moss uncovered in his book Salt, Sugar, Fat, about America’s food industry. (Via buzzfeed. More fun facts there!)

The American Heart Association’s recommendation for women’s sugar intake is just five teaspoons a day. That’s half a can of Coke. Or one and a half Fig Newtons.

Another source puts it like this: The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than  six teaspoons of added sugars per day or nine teaspoons for men. But, one 20-ounce bottle of soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugars from high-fructose corn syrup. In other words…

(By the way, Coca-Cola executives refer to consumers who drink more than two or three cans a day as “heavy users.”)

And as I said before, sugar is hiding in unexpected places. There’s as much sugar in 1/2 cup of Prego tomato sauce as there is in three Oreos.

This fact alone (reported in Moss’s book) is particularly telling…

Some packaged food executives don’t actually eat the products their companies make.

John Ruff from Kraft gave up sweet drinks and fatty snacks. Bob Lin from Frito-Lay avoids potato chips. Howard Moskowitz, a soft drink engineer, doesn’t drink soda.

Go thou and do likewise.