As a teenager, I recognized my sensitivity to sugar, but did not actively try to work with it until May 2005. Since then, I have spent countless hours in the kitchen devising sugar-free recipes to enjoy and share with others. Of course, cooking is a chemistry experiment and sugar-free cooking takes the challenge of creating a pleasing dessert-like recipe to the next level.
I have discovered three key things that boost the sweetness factor in recipes. First, I incorporate naturally sweet vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and carrots into my creations. Second, I create ingredient combinations that do not require baking soda or powder, both of which contain sodium bicarbonate, a salt that decreases the sensation of sweetness. Third, I add sweet spices like cinnamon, ginger, vanilla prepared in naturally sweet glycerin, and sometimes curry to jazz up my dessert recipes. I find that when a dessert tastes satisfyingly sweet, I am able to enjoy a little at a time, guilt-free.
One of my recent creations is what I call Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Cookies. Pumpkin is a great indicator for where my taste buds fall on the sweetness appreciation scale: if I find it sweet – excellent; if I find it close to intolerable – my diet needs more vegetables, period. This recipe is gluten-free when prepared with gluten-free oats, vegan when prepared with ground flaxseed instead of egg, and is naturally dairy-free. Enjoy, and let me know if you have suggested modifications at email@example.com (Subject: Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Cookies).
Oatmeal Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit Yield: 20-25 cookies
1 cup instant oats OR 1 cup rolled oats (processed to a course meal)
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. finely grated fresh ginger,
1 Tbs. ground flaxseed meal plus 3 Tbs. water OR 1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla (I prefer alcohol-free vanilla)
1 cup pureed organic pumpkin (not the pie mix)
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds soaked for 5 minutes in steaming water to soften
Blend dry ingredients; add wet ingredients and mix well. Batter will be thick. Spoon by the tablespoon onto a parchment- paper-covered baking sheet. Bake at 350° Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes or until slightly brown on bottom. Cookies will be crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and will not rise. Enjoy!
Esther Piszczek is a former prosecutor who left the practice of law to live a more creative life. She lives in Charlestown, MA with her supportive husband, Paul, and cat, Haley. To read more of her writing, visit her blog at http://episzczek.blogspot.com/