Half the Sugar All the Love, a bookbook review

I know this doesn’t happen with everyone, but my tolerance for sweets has declined with age.  For example (and this is a true story), I drank chocolate milk every morning for probably 75% of my life. For most of those years, it was Nestle Quik.  Once I thought it was tasting too sweet, I started making my batches with cocoa powder and experimenting with things like black walnut bitters. And then, one day, I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I still like the occasional hot chocolate but it’s just that… occasional.

On top of that, I have a close family member with type 1 diabetes, so I try not to bake sweets for my family anymore.  (Instead, I’ll hoist my baking adventures onto my work colleagues.)

So with a title like “Half the Sugar, All the Love”, the latest cookbook by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Anisha Patel really got my attention.

The book is sectioned into:

  • Breakfasts
  • Snacks
  • Lunches and salads
  • Dinners
  • Desserts
  • Beverages
  • Basics and Condiments

 

I like that the book makes a distinction between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar.  There are nutritional guidelines, and explanation about the different kinds of added sugar.

Personally, I focused more on the recipes for breakfasts, snacks, and desserts.  I feel like they are the area where added sugar is the biggest culprit. The lunches/salads, and dinner chapters almost felt like “filler” chapters.  Don’t get me wrong, all the recipes sound good. Some of the recipes you’ll find in the lunches/salads, and dinner chapters are:

  • Salmon yaki onigiri
  • Alphabet soup
  • Fall harvest mason jar salad with creamy poppy seed dressing
  • Romaine and cherry tomato salad with miso dressing
  • Vietnamese chicken noodle soup
  • Beef and broccoli teriyaki bowl
  • Pineapple teriyaki salmon burgers with sriracha mayo

 

If you ate these dishes out, there probably would be added sugar.  But since these are all savory dishes, if you cook them at home, they don’t have much added sugar.  I think the only exception would be the teriyaki sauce.

I really wanted to make something from the dessert chapter.  The chocolate and peanut butter snack cake speaks to me personally, but I’ve been doing more baking more desserts than usual, so I ended up picking Blueberry Oat Muffins as my introductory recipe.

The muffin recipe does not use any granulated sugar.  It gets its sweetness from homemade date syrup. I also liked the amount of whole grain being used, which is a blend of oat flour, whole wheat flour, and flaxseed.  It’s actually quite a bit of ground flaxseed – a whole ½ cup! This is not something I see a lot of in muffin recipes, so I was quite curious.

I made a few minor changes that I don’t think had much of an impact on overall flavor.  I used raspberries instead of blueberries (because I had them and I’m trying to clean out my food stores right now), spelt flour instead of wheat flour (because commercial wheat flour generally tastes like cardboard), and I baked this in a dish instead of making individual muffins (I’m just lazy).  

It makes a lot of batter!  I can usually swap a 12 muffin recipe with my favorite baking dish and estimate the oven time without a problem.  This time I had to cook for a lot longer than I was anticipating. So, I think there’s a really good chance you’ll get more than 12 muffins out of this recipe.  That’s not a bad or a good thing. It’s just a comment.

The batter itself came together pretty easily.  Expect to take a little longer to put this together than other muffin recipes because you’re making your own date syrup and your own oat flour.  As for final results, I really liked this but it does taste very healthy. The sweetness from the dates is really mild. I wouldn’t be surprised if other people don’t like this muffin much.  I ate mine with some Fage Greek yogurt, and it made for a great breakfast.

Other recipes that I am interested to make are:

  • Cherry-oatmeal breakfast cookies (I love breakfast cookies)
  • Fruit and nut granola
  • Overnight French toast strata with raspberry sauce
  • Blueberry scones
  • Maple brown butter corn bread
  • Blondies with white chocolate and almonds
  • Double chocolate brownies
  • Pecan pie bars
  • Chocolate and peanut butter snack cake
  • Double chocolate layer cake with whipped chocolate frosting
  • Hot chocolate blocks

 

The book isn’t being released until Christmas Eve, so it’ll be difficult to gift it for the holidays but I think this is a great book for someone is health conscious or someone who is just looking for a good all-around family cookbook.  I look forwarding to baking from this book and feeling like it’s ok to share with my diabetic family member.

 

Disclaimer – I kindly received this book from Workman Publishing for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.  

 

Reference Links:

https://www.52newfoods.com/half-sugar-cookbook/

https://www.workman.com/products/half-the-sugar-all-the-love

 

 

Asano-mama’s Trial-By-Cupcakes

It just occurred to me that I never posted about the coconut-lychee cupcakes that I made for the Equinox party. I’m too lazy to write it all up again, so here’s what I put in my LJ more or less:

I arrived at the Awesomesauce at about 1:45 or so and started working on my cupcakes probably around 3pm and was working on them for a good two to three hours. You wouldn’t think cupcakes would be so labor intensive, but the bulk of the work for these involved getting the flesh from the fresh coconut. I’d never worked with a coconut before so it was a lot of fun to drill, drain and smash the thing. Lots of flashbacks to Tom Hanks in “Castaway.” Separating the flesh from the shells was really work-intensive as well.

Brute force needed

Smashed coconut!

When I shredded the flesh in stealth_eater’s Cuisinart, the coconut oil gunked the hell out of the machinery. Man, it made a humongous mess. I cleaned it up but for a while there it was like I made a disaster zone out of the whole kitchen.

Still, after tasting the end result, I don’t think it would have tasted nearly as delicious had I used pre-dried shredded coconut. The fresh stuff was just so chewy and gave the cupcakes a fun texture. Plus I got to hit a coconut with a hammer, and that was cool 😛

Somehow the cupcakes were perfectly spongey and soft. I don’t usually have much luck with getting baked goods the *perfect* consistency but I lucked out this time.

Cupcakes fresh out of the oven

The dough itself was actually a lot drier than I was expecting, which is great. Lychee are so juicey I was afraid I’d get a really goopy dough and end up pouring the stuff into the cupcake molds, but the liquid was just right — the recipe calls for a little bit of coconut water, which I didn’t imagine I’d even need, but you really do! Otherwise the dough is *too* dry. I never would have thought that! So the dough was very easy to handle and the fruits cooked very well.

The frosting also took a while to make — it was a huge amount of creamcheese with just a touch of vanilla, grated fresh ginger and powdered ginger, but the effect was a wonderfully delicate flavor, so it was VERY VERY popular.

Coconut lychee cupcakes with ginger-cream cheese frosting

I left the frosting off four of the cupcakes you see in the lower right corner so one of the guests, who is lactose-intolerant, could enjoy these as well 🙂 I just sprinkled some coconut powder and powdered sugar on those.

…And it seems the cupcakes all went over really well, which made all the effort very well worth it!
I am horrible at frosting cupcakes (I … just lack the inherent ability to do it properly for some reason) so Omni volunteered to do it. Here she is doing what I simply cannot — frosting the cupcakes:

That giant bowl of frosting you see there… I still have most of it in the freezer.

I don’t know why the recipe called for SO MUCH frosting but now I have enough ginger-creamcheese frosting to last several millenia.

The garnish was a tiny piece of crystallized ginger.

Here is the recipe for the cupcakes I made from the CupcakeBlog, which is one of my favorite websites EEEEVAR.