Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sugar Free Brownies made with Honey

Brownies. There's just nothing else like them. And when you go Sugar Free you think there are a lot of things you'll have to give up. Well, friends, this isn't one of them. These brownies are fantastic! Everyone in my home (my 48 year old sugar-addicted husband, 17 year old sugar-addicted teenager, and 6 year old chocoholic) all adore these...usually taking two and three of them at a time.

I don't panic when they do, either. They're sugar free and they're delicious.

I was inspired by Nikki Goldbeck's original recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks NIKKI & DAVID GOLDBECK'S AMERICAN WHOLEFOODS CUISINE. I tweaked Nikki's New Brownies to my liking and this is the outcome. These babies stay moist for days. This recipe is definitely a keeper...even if you're not trying to live sugar free. Honey is a healthy alternative and the chocolate and vanilla die down the honey flavor. The three together make a great marriage. (See more about three in a marriage below.)

Here's what you'll need:

3 squares (3 oz.) UNsweetened baking chocolate
6 tablespoons of milk
3 eggs, room temperature

1 cup honey (or you could use 3/4 c honey and 1/4 maple syrup or agave)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup pecans, broken
...nuts are optional, of course

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a small saucepan combine chocolate and milk
Cook over low heat until chocolate is creamy.

It looks really yummy, but it isn't. So don't bother tasting it.
Remove from heat and cool a little bit.

Beat eggs with wet ingredients.
TIP: I always spray my measuring cup with non-stick spray before I put in the honey, syrup or agave. And if you use a silicone spoon, you can get it all out easily.

Next, blend in the chocolate mixture. (Now it tastes good.)

Add the rest of the ingredients, combine gently but thoroughly.

Pour into an oiled pan. The original recipe calls for a 9 x 13. Honestly, I don't think they could cook up high enough in a 9 x 13. I used an odd shaped dotty ceramic dish my Grandmother gave me. It is a 10 x 10. The brownies were around an inch and a half thick. You gotta have something to hold onto. And of course, if you baked them in a 9" or 8" square, they'd be even taller. You get to choose. Don't you love baking?

Bake them for 20-25 minutes. They should NOT pull away from the sides. If they do, you've baked them too long. You know chocolate burns keep an eye out. Batter on your toothpick dipped in the center means they need a little longer. A few crumbs on the pick but not really batter is good. Take them out.

Stash a couple for yourself somewhere before your family comes in and eats them all!

And now, about that marriage of three.

If you are having marital problems my suggestion to you is to humble yourself to God and ask Him to forgive you for the way you've acted in your marriage. Don't get uppity right now. You KNOW you have a part to play in the problem. There are three people in a marriage (if you are a Christian or you made a vow to GOD during your vows....seriously. Maybe you didn't really care about God or not when you said "I DO" to those marriage vows that included God because you wanted to make some family member happy by including God in your ceremony.) God takes it seriously. He wants your marriage to work. And YOUR marriage can work! You say, "No, Jenn. You don't know what's gone on here. It's too late, I think." Well, if you're still reading this...some part of you is saying..."No, it's not. No, it's not too late! Keep reading!"

Rod and I were on our way to divorce. I felt an intense disappointment in him. He did not live up to my expectations. I wanted him to fulfill me. I expected him to be the MAN. But, he kept failing me. And truthfully, I emasculated him emotionally and verbally on a constant basis. I watered our marriage with bitterness and sarcasm and it was dying. He withered under my nasty barbs. I wanted him to fight against my nastiness with chivalry, but he would just walk away. I wanted him to take hold of me in a dashing embrace and demand I stop talking that way to him. He sank deeper into rejection. Eventually, he turned to lusting after other women (get my drift here) in the solitude of our home office behind closed doors. The rejection I felt from my husband intensified. I didn't realize that I WAS REJECTING HIM! (Dumb. Huh?)

Sometimes we are so busy dealing with how WE FEEL and WANT TO FEEL, that we completely forget they we agreed to do our part: To LOVE HIM, To HONOR HIM, To CHERISH HIM til' death do us part. Not til the death of our marriage do us part. And honestly, when I said "I DO" I was thinking that. "I DO until our marriage dies and then...I DON'T." I was planning my divorce during my vows. And I've talked to lots of other people who were doing the same thing. And honey, we live in America...where EVERYTHING seems disposable.

One day, near the end of our three year old marriage, I heard my husband tell my daughter (that seventeen year old I mentioned earlier was 8 at the time) that she was a sinner and she needed a Savior. He told her she wasn't a Christian just because she went to church. (Yeah, as an effort to "fix" our family, we started going to church.) I thought I was a Christian because I went to church, too. And my sweet Grandma was a Christian, so I thought I was one, know, since she was. And I went to church with her. I must have been good with God, right? Right?

Um. No. That's not how it works. I overheard my husband telling his step-daughter that she was a sinner and needed Jesus to be her Savior because He is the only One who could ever be anyone's Savior. He is God's sinless Son and He allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross so that anyone who believes in His death, burial and resurrection and places all their faith in that and that alone will be Saved from the wrath of God that is coming on ALL SINNERS who do not REPENT.

Hm. I didn't know what "wrath" meant or "repent". But, friends, something deep inside me moved and I felt sick. It was the first moment I realized I was a sinner. And I needed Jesus. I sunk there in the bedroom (I'd been eavesdropping on that stepfather of my child's) and I wept long and hard asking God to forgive me of my sins. I blubbered and blurted out all the sins I could think of through my life. My knees got numb in the berber carpet. I didn't think about my husband's sins. I didn't think about my daughter's sins. I just realized I needed God to forgive me for 34 years of my sin-spent life. And, when I got up...all snotty and spent, I was different. Can't tell ya how. Don't really know what happened, except the Word of God tells us that a divine exchange happens when we believe and confess. I traded my guilt and my shame for the righteousness of God that He provided through His Son on the cross.

My husband was a BACKSLIDDEN former missionary. He had never three years (well 4 and half counting the time we lived together) ever told me about Jesus. Shame on him, huh? But, when I told him what happened to me the next morning, he got very quiet. I knew it made an impact...even though it really did result in a fight at the moment. (The flesh just doesn't want to die.) And I picked the fight...just so you know.

A few silent days later Rod called me into our kitchen. He handed me a 3x3 piece of paper with a triangle drawn on it. At the top of the triangle was written GOD. At the bottom of one corner he wrote ROD and my name was written at the other corner: JENNIFER.
"What's this?" I asked. I think this was the first time he spoke to me after the fight when I told him I asked Jesus to be my Savior and God to forgive me.

My dear husband said tenderly, "This is our marriage. There are three in our marriage: God, you and me. We made a vow to God, remember?"

I nodded.

He continued in a soft voice, "The closer we draw to God, the closer we draw to each other. I promised I would take care of you. And I haven't done that well. I'm sorry. Would you please forgive me? I've been unfaithful with my eyes and my heart and I've asked God to forgive me. I think we need to start over right now. What do you think?"

Okay...I don't know where the tough girl went but I was there with tears rolling down my face and my heart was in my BIG mouth. I remember trembling as I tried to speak. And I just got out an "Uh-huh." My husband hugged me to himself and prayed over us. He lifted us to the LORD and told Him that we longed for His forgiveness and His blessing and that we promised we would never talk of divorce again. We asked Him to help us walk with Him and grow. We asked Him to help us stop living the way we had been living, practicing and getting really good at our sin. We told Him we wanted to live lives that pleased Him. We asked Him to help us every day. And He did.

My husband got me a Bible I could understand. It was an NIV. I began reading my Bible every morning while I drank my coffee. I had to get up a half an hour earlier to start my day this way. But, the more I read my Bible, the more I wanted to read it and the more I began to pray. The more I read and prayed, the more I began to really understand that God is real. He is alive and He really loves us. He wants us to live a full life of blessing. And His way is the best way to live.

So, it's 9 years later. Rod and I went on to adopt a baby girl born to a drug addicted mother. She's six now and really loves chocolate. (Smile.) And after all we've been through...we still pray together, we still read our Bibles every morning while we drink our coffee and we are living a very blessed life because marriage is about three. God wanted our marriage to work. So, He fixed it when we asked Him to.

"Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

For Valentine's Day this year, I washed my husband's feet. We both cried. I think it was the best gift either of us has gotten each other.

You can always email me at

God bless you and thanks for reading and baking and eating good things.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Homestyle Sugar Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

"My son, eat a little honey because it is good..." Proverbs 24:13a

I get a hankering every now and then for a homey cookie to dunk in a glass of icy cold milk. I'm big on texture and flavor. I tinkered with this recipe for awhile before I got it just right. This is one delicious cookie. Even my anti-sugar-free mom likes them! (You should see her pantry.'d think a teenager lived there alone!)

Now, I'll have to let you know right up front that I hate artificial sweeteners and I never use them. So, if that is the type of recipe you're looking for...this isn't the right blog spot for you. I use honey, agave, pure maple syrup, honey powder (rolled with wheat starch) and molasses in my recipes. That's it for sweeteners on this site. The closer it is to how the LORD made it, the better it is for us. That's my food philosophy and I'm sticking with it.

On my handwritten recipe I actually titled these cookies Agave Honey Oatmeal Raisin Cookies...yeah, it's a mouthful, but so are these big babies!!

Here are the ingredients you'll need:

1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 2 Tablespoons softened salted butter
1 egg, room temperature
1 box raisins (I used the 1.5 oz size that I slip in my hubby's lunch sack)
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (DON'T LEAVE THIS OUT!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey powder (the kind that's rolled in wheat starch, not in sugar)
in a glass measuring cup pour: 1/3 cup honey, and then add up to the 1/2 cup line with Agave Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon molasses
just under one cup of whole wheat flour (unless you don't have the honey powder, in that case...skip the honey powder and use the whole cup of whole wheat flour)

Here's what you do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with the honey/agave mixture

Add the egg, vanilla and molasses, mix well...
it might look a little iffy but that's okay

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl

Incorporate the dry into the wet

Put parchment on your cookie sheet
(Parchment is your best bud in the baking world)
You don't have parchment? Grease your sheets, as normal for baking.
Tomorrow, go get yourself some parchment. You'll be glad you did.

The dough is thick, really thick. Here's the fun part:
Take a handful of dough...a little more than a Tablespoonful and pat it out in your hand like a hamburger patty.
Pat them a little thin. I like my cookies to be the same size as my palm. I do have small hands. You make them how you like them. Remember, I'm shootin' for milk dunkers here.

Place 9 of these on your sheet (they don't spread, don't worry).

Bake them for 12 minutes. Let them cool on racks.

Pour an icy cold glass of moo-juice and sink that yummy thing!

Uh, Gracie says to tell you, "If you have kids, let them lick the bowl."

Okay, questions...

Q:What is honey powder and where do I find it?
A:Honey powder is something the LORD clued me in on a couple of days before my birthday last July. I like cake for my birthday (duh) and baking sugar free means that I have to have a heavy, majorly dense cake if I make it with liquid sweeteners. So, I wondered (in prayer, really) had anyone thought of dehydrating honey so that it would produce a lighter, fluffier birthday cake for ME! Yes, honey powder is the answer to this problem. I bought mine at The one I bought is rolled in wheat starch. There are other varieties out there on the world wide web that are rolled in sugar. (Defeats my whole sugar-free purpose and plan. So, I got the wheat starch one.) I learned right away, that you MUST reduce the amount of flour that you bake with in the recipe when you use honey powder because the wheat starch around the honey dries everything out. Dry cake is yucky. So, reduce the flour. And if you don't have honey powder...just make these cookies without the darn stuff...they'll be just fine...I promise!

Any other questions?
Q: I'm new to the blog and I'm wondering why you bake sugar free.
A: I'm addicted to sugar so I don't eat it anymore. I like sweets, so the LORD is teaching me to adapt to a new way of baking. So far, so good.

Here's another gander at this goodness!

Thanks for reading My Sugar Free Kitchen. If you have trouble commenting or would like to send me an email, please do:!
God bless you and enjoy your cookies!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Welcome to My Sugar Free Kitchen!

I really wanted to call this blog "My Sugar Free Life", but that title was already taken by a brave (wounded?) soul who made only one post and then has ditched her blog since February, 2010. I read her bold statement about giving up sugar forever as she posted on DAY 1. I imagine the enemy came in and tempted her brains out, so that day two was back to the old sugar-fix. Just a guess on my part.

As for's not that my kitchen is sugar's that my particular walk in life as of July 10, 2011 is sugar free. Why? Well, I'll share a bit of confidential info with you...I'm addicted to sugar and just as my husband was addicted to alcohol and several dear friends of mine were once addicted to drugs, I they did, to the only One Who could help me with my addiction...JESUS!

I had been "fasting" sugar on and off for the past several years. The first time I "fasted" sugar I went without it for a month. It takes three days to get the sugar out of your system. The first day is difficult, but you pray your way through and the LORD hears you and gets you through it, just like any fast. This thirty day fast I did...I prayed about a certain circumstance that needed a major Spiritual breakthrough from the LORD. So, every time I pined for something sugary, I prayed about that issue. Believe me, in that thirty days...that situation was BATHED in prayer. I do remember there was a breakthrough at the end, too. Hurray for Jesus!

The second day is the HARDEST. No doubt. I have fasted sugar (like I said) for what seems like dozens of times and the second day is ALWAYS the hardest. By four o'clock in the afternoon of the second day of the sugar fast, I'm dying for a cookie, a bite of candy, a mouthful of creamy ice cream...ANYTHING!!!! Again, pray your way through. Realize that this particular moment is THE ABSOLUTE MOST DIFFICULT MOMENT of your fast and let the LORD carry you through it. It's just a moment. It passes. Pray and hang in there. It's totally worth it! Praise Jesus!

Day three is where you can see the victory on the horizon. No really, you can. Look ahead and you can see the balloons and everyone in heaven is cheering you on. I guess that's how I always feel. Seriously, by three o'clock in the afternoon on day three you think to yourself, "Who was that maniac standing in my skin around this time yesterday afternoon?" By bedtime on day three of the sugar fast, you feel like a whole new person entirely. I love that.

After the first week off sugar you begin to notice little things (at least I do) that are different about what you see, hear and feel in that temple of yours. People are talking slower, it seems. Everyone and everything appears to be brighter and more defined. Your sleep is just amazing...peaceful and restful. Like you wake up and hear the birds singing and you want to sing with them. Your spouse doesn't make you cranky now. Your kids blow butterflies at you instead of boo and hiss at you when you tell them to do something. Am I being silly? Sort of. But, you just FEEL different when you're off sugar. And it feels really good.

My addiction is actually just a manifestation of my "disease". My "disease" is one all humans share and it is called SIN. It's the human condition. And apart from the saving grace that my God offers through sending His only SINLESS Son to die on a cross to pay the penalty for MY sin, I'm doomed forever because of this SIN condition. When I asked Him to forgive me and said YES to God, my life was changed forever. I said to Him, "Yes, I believe You sent Your Son to die in my place so that I can be forgiven by You AND given eternal life with You forever in Heaven" that moment everything in my Spiritual life changed.

Now, I had to do the changing of many things in my physical life. Changes in my life choices is where the difference began. The desire to give up sugar at 9 years old in the LORD was (HONESTLY) not something I chose. He did. Sometimes you have to let God choose for you. I resisted this choice of His for a couple of years. And I paid for it, too.

Why couldn't it be alcohol? I don't really care about alcohol at all. I can drink it and forget about it. But, then...alcohol is NOT my addiction. Sugar is. I cannot eat "one serving" of anything laced with sugar. And whenever I eat or drink anything that has sugar as an ingredient, a door is thrown open somewhere in my body and I am on full-speed ahead towards a binge that will make me sick as a dog and have a migraine to boot. Plus, it makes my heart sick and my pants tighter.

It has been said, "Nothing good ever came from drinking alcohol." My husband has clung to this quote throughout his recovery. You can write it down and save it. It's the truth. And yet, in my mind...I think of the Apostle Paul telling his dear Timothy to "drink a little wine" for his stomach ailment. Yes, but my husband is not Timothy and he never drank a "little" anything. He drank BEER in GREAT BIG AMOUNTS, to his own destruction and to our marriage. Enter JESUS! Tah-Dah! He is the Great Fixer of ALL Things Wrong With The World! It's true. My husband asked the LORD to help him stay clean and God has done it. Rod's sober nearly ten years, now. He's never been to an AA meeting in his life, either. How does he do it? He doesn't. Jesus does.

This is the great secret to my husband's sobriety: He reads his Bible every single day of his life and he tries to do what it says. He confesses when he blows it and he repents (quits it and turns in the other direction...home toward God). He prays to the God he reads about. He trusts in that God to keep His word. He loves God so much that the thought of backsliding makes my husband sick. Really sick. He would rather go without alcohol than to return to "his vomit" Proverbs 26:11.
And THAT is the secret to my husband's sobriety.

So, back to the sugar issue. I'm addicted to it. I know it. I can't stop eating it. I want to, so I "fast" it from time to time and then I END THE FAST eventually and start the whole nasty process all over again. My mother sweetly pointed out to me that a "fast" is meant to be broken and that if I keep "fasting" sugar, I will be fooling myself into thinking I am OFF sugar. My mom used to be an alcoholic, too. So, I listened to these wise words she gave me: "Rod and I do not "fast" alcohol. We just don't drink it...not a sip, not ever. We don't DO alcohol. If you think you are truly addicted to sugar and IF the LORD is asking you to give it up, then you must give it up and He will help you, just like He has helped us!"

My husband has taught me to read my Bible every day of my life and to pray throughout my day, all day, every day. Now, my God is the One I trust in to keep me and help me in every situation. But, giving up sugar for the rest of my life? Are you kidding me? Can it possibly be done? How on earth could it ever be done? This was my incredulous, tearful prayer to that God I love so much. I was standing in my kitchen, wondering what my sugar free life would be like? After all, my own birthday was twelve days away. And we all know what the best part about a birthday is....the cake and ice cream! (You probably like the presents, huh? Guess you're not addicted to sugar, if you like presents better than cake.)

But the LORD showed me something, right there, right then in my own kitchen. I didn't go looking for it. It was hanging there RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE!

(Last summer I had a bit of wrestling match with the S-Word. This "dirty" (no pun intended) word was ever at the tip of my lips. I let it out whenever ANYTHING didn't go my way. My husband (many people don't realize this about him) HATES foul language. He absolutely hates it. And what he hates more than anything is a woman cussing! And what he absolutely without a doubt hates more than that is his WIFE cussing. So, he posted two pieces of paper onto my main kitchen cabinet. On each one are handwritten by him a verse of scripture to aid me with my cussing issue. Please, dear ones, notice with me that neither of these verses address actual talking...and these pieces of paper were the LORD'S answer to my tearful urgent plea: "How are You, LORD, going to help me give up sugar for the rest of my life?"

Sticky note number one says, "Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips." Psalm 141:3

Sticky note number two says, "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles." Proverbs 21:23

The Lord is going to help me live a sugar free life with His Word. I cried for joy at that realization and snatched those scraps of paper off the cabinet and raced down the hall to our bedroom dancing like David in front of my husband. He rejoiced with me that the LORD had a word for me "in season". I just love Him...both of them!

So, here's the deal with My Sugar Free is August 3, 2011. I've been off sugar since July 10th. God gave me the recipe for a great birthday cake made with Agave and Honey. I found ice cream made with evaporated cane juice (instead of sugar)...which, after eating it, I realized...makes me feel just like I did when I was eating it's now off the menu. My hope is that this blog will be the place I can share my recipes and victories with you. In the last couple of years I have armed myself with the knowledge about baking with honey, agave, molasses and maple syrup (the real thing...not sugar plus flavoring). I don't eat fake sugars and I don't like Stevia. No corn syrups, brown sugar or sucanat either. My body doesn't like any of those things. So, here we go: sugar free. Let's make it with honey, molasses, agave or pure REAL maple syrup. Yes, it's more expensive, but it's your life and you can do this. Ask the LORD to help you. He will. You know that old saying, "He's dying to hear from you?" Well, He did hear from you.

My next post will be a great sugar free recipe!