No Added Sugar

ANNA GLADSTONE-BUCHANAN, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK

Originally published November 2015 and republished with the express permission of the author.

Sugar is BAD for us. You cannot escape this message in the media about how sugar addiction is harming us and our children. Sugar consumption has been linked to everything from obesity and dental caries, to cancer and heart disease. We are starting to understand. Take a look at the food section of the bestseller lists to see how popular books are that focus on sugar-free, nutritious, whole-food recipes.

The American Heart Association’s recommendation is that women should consume fewer than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons) and men less than 150 per day (about 9 teaspoons). To put that in perspective, a 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar, so drinking even one can a day would put all women and most men over their daily limit.

I have managed to pretty much quit sugar and I feel so much better for it, but the big challenge has been my two young sons. Despite my good intentions, it wasn’t long before they discovered chocolate, cake, and biscuits at their grandparents’ and at children’s parties. I wasn’t going to deprive them, but how could I treat them to sweet things without loading them up with nutritionally empty calories?

I bought a few of the healthy cookbooks, I experimented, invented, burnt out a food processor, bought a new one, and continued. Two of our most successful recipes that have no added sugar yet provide a sweet treat are raw “bounty” bars and carob chip flapjacks.

Raw “bounty” bars

Please note that blitzing dates will take a toll on a less powerful food processor—my first one started smoking!

for making 10 bars

  • 400g/16oz of medjool dates, pitted (weight before stones have been removed).
  • 125g/5oz of pecans/almonds/walnuts/hazelnuts (I’ve tried them all with equal success, but tend to omit the coconut if I use hazelnuts to savor the hazelnut flavour.)
  • 2–3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (unsweetened cocoa powder will also do)
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (optional)
  • 4–6 tablespoons desiccated coconut (depends how much you love coconut)

Blend the nuts in a food processor until they form a crumbly mixture, then add the dates, a few at a time, and blitz again before adding the cacao, coconut, and maple syrup.

Place the mixture into a baking tray and either put in the fridge for three to four hours or freeze for one to allow them to set. Then keep them in the fridge for freshness. If you find them particularly soft, you may like to store them in the freezer.

Carob chip flapjacks


  • 5 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
  • 175g/7oz oats
  • 175g/7oz dates chopped
  • 2 mashed medium sized bananas
  • A handful of carob chips (being vague as I just go by eye)

Melt the oil or butter in a large pot.
Stir in the oats until they have absorbed the oil/butter.
Add the dates, bananas, and carob chips and mix well.

Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined baking tray and bake at 175C/Gas Mark 5 for about 25 minutes.

Cut the flapjacks while they are still warm.

Anna Gladstone-Buchanan is wife to Lewis and mother to Monty, Irving and Senan. Although from Dublin, Ireland, she lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, UK, where she is a La Leche League Leader and IBCLC.