Maple Alps

sugar free

Easy Ways to Cut Down on Refined Sugar

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

I have a definite sweet tooth. I didn’t always have one, and actually, as much of a sweet tooth I have, I prefer savory things. I do, however, go through periods where it seems I can’t get enough sweetness into my mouth. It’s a strange thing. Or is it? After reading up about refined sugar, I found the obvious: that too much can be really detrimental to our health!

I also found that sugar can be found in many of the products we buy in the grocery store. I had no idea about that until I took a no sugar challenge, where not even trace amounts of added sugar were allowed. I was reading every single label on every single product in the grocery store and found that there is a lot of unnecessary sugar out there!

Now, I’m not against a sugary treat every now and again, but I think it is important to limit how much sugar we put into our bodies! Your mother always told you that too much of a good thing is not good. And she was right.

Easy Ways to Cut Down on Refined Sugar |

Cut down on sugary drinks

This is pretty straight forward. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Beware of bottled juices though - some hide large amounts of sugar that are not naturally occuring. Try some of the following if you think you absolutely cannot handle plain water:

Infused water

If you can’t stand the taste of water (I personally love it), feel free to infuse it with fresh fruit, vegetables, or herbs. Not only does it spice up your water, it makes it look extra pretty too! You can easily do this by adding them to your water pitcher or glass, or even buying a fancy one that is made to infuse (check this one out from Amazon).

Herbal Tea

I love having some herbal tea in the morning or before bed. It’s hot, so it’s more comforting to drink than water, but contains zero sugar when you don’t sweeten it!

Make your own food staples

There is a lot of refined sugar hidden in a lot of staples you buy in the store, like bread and granola and even sauces in a jar. You can even find extra amounts of sugar in canned foods (like canned fruit) that are unnecessary. By making your own, or cutting your own, you can avoid these ingredients and choose exactly what goes into your food.

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Cut Out Sugary Desserts

Many desserts are just calorie dense and provide few nutrients. If you need something sweet after you eat, try to have a bit of fruit or splurge and have a small piece of dark chocolate.

Eat full, whole-food meals

By eating full, whole-food meals, you can generally reduce the temptation to snack in between. Especially the sweet kind. Personally, my parents never really allowed me to eat between meals growing up, so this isn’t hard for me, but I know it can be a challenge.

Replace Sugary Condiments

Many condiments such as ketchup and BBQ sauce are filled with sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup, for example, may have up to 4 grams of sugar in it! Use some low sugar options to substitute for condiments. There are plenty of options, including different fresh or dried herbs and spices and homemade sauces.

Beware of Processed Snacks

Watch out for foods that are marketed as healthy. Things such as granola bars and protein bars and dried fruit can contain large amounts of sugar - sometimes even more than a chocolate bar. You can make your own trail mixes that don’t contain extra sugar, or make your own crackers to add to soups!

Read Labels

Did you know there are at least 56 names for sugar?! Check your labels for sneaky sugars hiding out in the ingredients list. Watch for anything ending in “-ose.” Here are some common names you should look out for: High-fructose corn syrup, Cane sugar or juice, Maltose, Dextrose, Invert sugar, Rice syrup, and Molasses Caramel.


Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting (vegan + gluten free)

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps24 Comments

Have you ever had a chocolate beet cupcake? What about frosting made with avocado? Intrigued? So was I when I decided to try!


Once in a while, I'll get bored or curious, and find myself in the kitchen making something really random. These beet cupcakes are definitely a product of that. I had heard of people putting beets into everything, and so I figured, why not a cupcake? There is only one problem with cupcakes in our house: nobody eats them. The husband doesn't care for them, and I prefer to go on long runs. 

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes With Avocado Frosting |

I am now taking applications for new guinea pigs to cook for...

Despite all of this, these turned out better than I expected in the sense that I ate one, my husband ate one, and we both liked what we tasted. They weren't too sweet, nor did they taste "too healthy," even though they are vegan and gluten free. The frosting is sweetened with a little bit of maple syrup, and has no refined sugar in it. 

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting (vegan and gluten free) |

I am always a little weary of gluten free experiments especially, but these rose wonderfully - which I attribute partly to the baking powder added into the mix. The tops even had that perfect crinkle to them. I'm not going to lie, I ate one still warm, and it was heavenly. It was so light and so fluffy I almost died.

Did I taste the beets? Well, no, not really. The gluten free flour has a very distinct taste to it, however, so that may have overpowered it. I almost used regular all-purpose, but the gluten free mix was calling to me - it really was. 

The avocado frosting, I made the next day, just before serving. It's best fresh on the day of. Again, it doesn't taste like avocado, which is cool.

Though I personally preferred the cupcakes still warm, they were fine the next day. This was all that was left by the time all was said and done:

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting (vegan and gluten free). Yup, that good. |

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all purpose gluten free flour

  • 1/4 cup ground almonds

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 small roasted beet, diced

  • 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar

  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted

For the Frosting

  • 1 very ripe avocado

  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • pinch of sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

What to do:

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F then grease or line a muffin pan for 10 cupcakes. 

2) In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients

3) Stir together the almond milk and the apple cider vinegar in a blender or a food processor and allow to curdle. Add the roasted beet, cane sugar and vanilla extract. Blend on high until a smooth liquid forms.

4) Pour the liquid into the bowl with the dry ingredients then add the melted coconut oil. 

5) Fold together, making sure there are no lumps. 

6) Fill each muffin cup about 1/2 full to make 10 cupcakes. 

7) Bake for 20 minutes, or until cupcakes pass the toothpick test.

8) Make the frosting by combining all of the ingredients in a blender or a food processor and blending until smooth. 


* Make sure cupcakes are completely cool before frosting them. 
* Icing is best fresh!
* Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (if they last that long).

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Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting (vegan and gluten free) |

Are you going to give these a go? Let me know if you do!

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting (vegan and gluten free) |