Baked Goods from the Garden

As the urge to bake strikes with the winter weather, give these healthy treats, sweetened by nature, a try.

almond pumpkin

Photo by Karen K. Will

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Winter beckons baked goods. From sugar cookies coated with icing, to pies, pastries, and breads accompanying the holiday meals. Granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar, and white flour conspire to put us all into a food coma for a month straight. Not to dampen the holiday spirit, but sugar — particularly white granulated sugar — isn’t the healthiest “food” to put into our bodies; it depletes our B vitamins, weakens our immune systems, and promotes inflammation.

At this time of year, there is an abundance of natural sweeteners right outside your door, in the garden, in the root cellar, or at the farmer’s market in the form of pumpkins, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots and other vegetables; and fruits like apples, pineapple, bananas, and berries. Packed with nutrients and subtle sweetness, Mother Nature’s candy beats Nestle’s any day, in my opinion. 

Depending on your body chemistry or food philosophy, grains of various types may not be acceptable fare either. Whether you cook and eat grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, vegan, or what have you… these restrictions make it difficult, but not impossible, to turn out the baked goods we all know and love, especially around the holidays.

This past year I have been on a quest to clean up my diet and replace mainstream ingredients with healthier, natural versions. White, brown, confectioners’, and cane sugar have been replaced with coconut palm sugar, agave nectar, pure organic maple syrup, and raw, organic honey for sweeteners. White flour has been replaced by organic spelt and grain-free flours like coconut flour and almond flour. For oil and fat, I use organic, pasture-raised butter, organic virgin coconut oil, organic extra virgin olive oil, and nuts. As you can see, organic products are encouraged. An organic diet is the only way to avoid GMO food and its ubiquitous sidekick, glyphosate (a broad spectrum, systemic herbicide found in Roundup). 

I love baking, and baked goods have always brought me joy in the kitchen. Some of my favorite recipes have been easy to change with healthy subs; others have required rounds and rounds of “do-overs.” The recipes here are some of my new favorites. Keep in mind, these goodies aren’t as sweet (cloying, really) as those made with traditional ingredients. I think you will love them all the same.

Here are the links to the four recipes:

Sweet Potato-Rosemary Biscuits Recipe

Apple-Cranberry Pecan Tart Recipe

Pumpkin-Maple Muffins Recipe

Carrot-Pineapple-Banana Bread Recipe