Three Simply Sugar-Free Recipes

by HEAB on June 15, 2011

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Amy Green’s new cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.

Screen shot 2011-06-15 at 8.57.09 AM.png

The title alone got me so excited, and I couldn’t wait to try some of the recipes.

First up, Amy’s Lemon Cream Cheese, with vanilla stevia drops instead of agave.

Blueberry Bread.jpg

Lemon Cream Cheese + Lemon Blueberry Cornbread = Heaven!

Next up was Amy’s Sweet Curried Carrot Soup


So easy. So Delicious.

Like my motivational spoon? It was a gift from a good friend, and it makes me happy.

The third recipe from Amy’s cookbook was another winner…


My first attempt at homemade refried beans!

Based on Amy’s recipe for refried beans, I used black beans, subbed butter for the oil (not a fan of canola oil), added chicken chorizo sausage, and topped things off with a spoonful of homemade guac. This bowl was so good, and I will never again buy canned refried beans! (That’s a lie by the way. As good as this recipe was, I love Trader Joe’s refried beans with salsa, and I’m lazy.)

For the most part, all of the recipes in Amy’s book are super simple, and the three I made tasted great. My only problem with the cookbook is that most of the sweet recipes contain sugar, just not white sugar. In my opinion, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, etc. = sugar. Therefore, if you’re looking for a truly “sugar free” cookbook, this may not be the one for you. However, if you simply want quick, easy, and healthy recipes, then this is a good one. Thanks Amy!


Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner June 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I WANT!! 😀 These all sound amazing! I love how they are all sugar free!

artha June 19, 2011 at 11:56 pm

It’s true, sugars are sugars, but let’s face it, bodies are made with a sweet tooth. they just are. sweet teeth can be disciplined, just like other aspects of our physical presence. why make them out to be bad guys? enjoy sensible sweets daily in moderation (fruits and sweeteners derived from fruits – date syrup from organics are for everyone is my nutritionally favorite sweetener) and be thankful! They delight the senses just like art, music and relationships.

Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli June 17, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I’m definitely a sucker for TJ’s refried beans with salsa too! I’ve never even thought to make refried beans at home…I guess I always thought that was just something you have to get in a can! Hmm, now I’m imaging canned refried bean plants in a garden between the peppers and the tomatoes! Haha!

And by the way, your soup pic looks gorgeous! I love how you added the mason jar filled with soup in the background!

Paige - Everyday Belle June 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I’m definitely with you on the whole maple syrup/honey/etc being essentially the same thing as white sugar. I’m especially freaked out by agave. Do you know of any good cookbooks that truly are low-sugar or sugar free? btw, i love your soup picture! I seriously thought it was a professional photo from the book you were reviewing before I read the caption. I remember reading a while ago that you went to a food photography class at Fido. I so wanted to go to that, but I think it was during our spring break (I’m a Vandy student :D). Anyway, just wanted to tell you that your photos are lookin’ amazing lately!

HEAB June 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Oh my gosh – thanks so much. Having a lot of fun learning about photography. The workshop at Fido helped, but honestly, purchasing a DSLR is what made the difference. I loved my point and shoot, but my new camera (Rebel XS) takes much better photos. Also, now that I have a better camera, I guess I am putting more thought into the set-up of my photos. Before, I would just snap a quick shot of my bowl outside. Never would have thought to use props. 😉

Honestly, I don’t know of any good cookbooks, but I can direct to you some great sugar-free blogs. I listed some in this post not too long ago: The Chili Flake blog is no more though. 🙁

caroline lunger June 16, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Hi heather, i have commented on your blog before and i read it everyday! i love it, you, Summer, and CD are all perfect together and i love reading about you guys and your journeys. I had a question and was wondering if you could help me. I know you are into healthy living and nutrition and was wondering if you could help me with a research paper i have to write. It is an argument essay with research that has to be about a controversial issue. I was hoping to do something about healthy living/eating and was wondering if you had any good recommendations about a topic. thanks a ton. Love the recipe by the way. looks delicious!!

HEAB June 16, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Hi Caroline,
Thanks for your sweet comment. As far as your research paper goes, the Paleo diet is a hot topic these days – whether we should eat and workout like cavemen did – no grains, more meat, fasting, etc. Or you could write about the food pyramid and whether or not the government is right or wrong – another hot topic, especially after Gary Taubes published Good Calories Bad Calories. Or you could write about food/healthy living blogs – do they have a good or bad impact? Good I hope. 🙂

Ellie@fitforthesoul June 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm

this sounds great heather!! And I love refried beans and would like to make it someday~ Mmmm 😀

Eleanor@eatinglikeahorse June 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm

It always confuses me when recpies are sugar free but have agave or honey in them! That said, I love Amy’s blog and recipes.
I know what you mean about the beans too; I made some baked beans and they were great – but it’s much easier to open a tin of Heinz 🙂

Katherine June 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm


O, and you totally just reminded me to make my black bean recipe I got in Guatemala!

Jen June 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

Tantalizing photos and intriguing recipes! Been regularly reading your site since the fall and find such inspiration in your innovative recipes and beautiful family. You also turned me on to Roost and Aura Joon — such inspiration on the worldwide web. 🙂 I keep a hopefully inspirational blog too — not food-related, but I’d be honored if you checked it out. All best, Heather!

CookiePie June 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

Great recipes!! And I love TJ’s refried beans, too 🙂
I think a little bit of honey, agave, maple syrup, etc. are ok, as long as it’s just a little bit. Everything in moderation, right?

Nikki June 16, 2011 at 8:14 am

Good point about there still being various sugar types in it, however, I suppose I’d rather use some of those than refined, white sugar. Ah well, the recipes look good and the ones you did seem easily modifiable to one’s own needs.

Where do you get a spoon like yours??

HEAB June 16, 2011 at 9:10 am

Here are two artists that make spoons, and both will print whatever phrase you choose. 🙂

Heather June 16, 2011 at 8:07 am

Thanks for including the info on the book. I think that title is a bit misleading, and should be more like “Simply Refined Sugar Free”, but that doesn’t sound as good, does it?? It’s frustrating when I feel misled by cookbook’s titles. And it happens often. Perhaps the “Simply” is a vague reference to the types of sugars. I’m sure the recipes are delish, though.

HEAB June 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

I could not agree more. I love the simplicity of the recipes, but I was really disappointed when I saw all the agave. 🙁

Kristen June 16, 2011 at 7:32 am

I’m so excited to hear about this cookbook! Our blog is dedicated to making recipes healthier by using natural sugars. You are absolutely right that maple syrup, agave, honey, etc. are all still sugar, but they take longer to digest so they don’t cause the huge surge and drop in blood sugars that processed sugars do. Thanks for sharing this cookbook–I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

L. B. WINDLEY June 16, 2011 at 3:53 am


Averill June 16, 2011 at 5:47 am

hint LB

Double click on writing above that is light blueish. Goes right to the recipe.. Now get moving on those, and have a good lunch ;-} Sounds like you could use it…

HEAB June 16, 2011 at 9:13 am

I linked to the recipes that Amy has published on her site. The phrases in color are the links. CLICK ON THEM.

Dea June 16, 2011 at 12:56 am

So with the sugar talk… I have a question, perhaps you or someone else can can answer it.
I’ve read that artifical sugars, splenda and the like, are as bad for you as we all know… your brain registers the sweet, but doesn’t get the calories so it causes more sweet cravings to get the calories it was denied, so does stevia do the same?
Anyhow, personally I’m still doing well with little to no sugar, but where my children are concerned, I’d rather them have “natural” sugars than processed sugars, but in moderation. We use maple syrup and honey.
But mostly, YAY new cookbook. I love reading cookbooks!

HEAB June 16, 2011 at 9:16 am

I’ve read the same thing, and I think it’s true, for me at least. I find the more I used stevia the more sweets I want to eat. I know I’m better off without it, but truth be told, I like it. The thing is, I would give the HEABlet a little maple syrup over stevia any day…so why am I eating it myself? I don’t know – guess it goes back to my fear of excess calories when I can avoid them and still satisfy my sweet tooth. I’m still a work in progress.

Kristin @ STUFT Mama June 16, 2011 at 12:43 am

Okay, I want the cookbook AND spoon now!!! 🙂 he he! Ooo… and that lemon cornbread.. I’m already drooling for breakfast tomorrow……

Baking 'n' Books June 15, 2011 at 10:05 pm

LOVE that spoon! Can you get different phrases?

I appreciate your honest review. I seen this book in the bookstore and sat down and read through it – but I was very disappointed. I’m sure the recipes taste great – and they are still healthy (I still used maple syrup and sweeteners like stevia or succanat and buy baked goods that I KNOW have sugar 😉 ) –

BUT this book was filled with agave, syrups, palm sugar, etc. NOT sugar-free at all. Again – I’m sure it’s a great cookbook and that she’s a great baker/cook – but I feel the title is really mis-leading.

As an aside – is there a specific reason you avoid canola oil?

Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) June 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

These recipes look great! This post reminded me of something, though- have you ever done the Paleo diet/lifestyle? My boyfriend does CrossFit, and a lot of his friends from the gym are obsessed with Paleo (grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free). I find it interesting, although I personally am not interested in being grain free – hello, pancakes? Anyways, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

HEAB June 16, 2011 at 9:19 am

CD is a big fan of the Paleo lifestyle as well. I think it’s a guy thing – they want to feel like manly cavemen. 😉

Honestly, I think eating Paleo makes sense. Our bodies don’t seem to really need grains, but I also think that some people have adapted to them and handle them better than others. I’ve tried life without oatmeal, and it sucked. No thanks. Grains make me happy, and therefore I eat them.

Alexandra (Veggin' Out in the Kitchen) June 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Yum! That cookbook does look fabulous! I really want to try homemade refried beans and curried carrot soup sounds like something I would LOVE!! (carrots + curry = amazingness)

And I absolutely LOVE your spoon!! 😀

I hope you and your family have a wonderful rest of the week!

<3 <3

Kim @ Spoonful of Sass June 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

So glad you pointed out that honey, agave, etc. are still sugar! So many people forget that sugar is sugar and being natural doesn’t always mean better if you’re looking to cut back! 🙂

Kelly June 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I totally agree that honey, agave, maple syrup, etc is all sugar. Your body metabolizes it just like simple white sugar. So I don’t think these recipes can be truly called sugar-free.

Pure2raw twins June 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

awesome, this book sounds like something we would love

tea-bag June 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm

thanks for the review! i completely agree w/ you regarding sugar. sugar is sugar, regardless of the form it takes. honey, agave, & brown rice syrup are just liquid sugars!

Kath (My Funny Little Life) June 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Aww, the carrot soup! Yum yum yum! And I love the spoon! 😀

CB June 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Did a dingo steal that baby? We want Summer pictures!!!

The Delicate Place June 15, 2011 at 5:46 pm

i love the spoon! yeah i agree, those are just other words for sugar. def not truly sugar free! still look tasty though i admit it ha.

Carey @ Positively Blonde June 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm

That spoon is too cute!!!

Kate (What Kate is Cooking) June 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm

It’s my goal this month to have one sugar free day a week, so these recipes are perfect!

Emily June 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I totally agree! Agave, honey, maple syrup etc. are all sugars and all affect the body very similarly.
Also, I love the spoon!!

Angel7 June 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Your homemade refried beans sound so good, especially with a spoonful of homemade guac. 🙂

Samantha June 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for sharing the etsy seller who does the spoons, now to think of a phrase!

I think I’ll add that cookbook to my amazon order along with Heidi Swanson’s new-ish one. We’re trying to cut back on the amount of sugar/agave/honey/maple we use but still like to make real treats sometimes.

Every time I click on your blog, I just sigh and smile, the header is so simple and soothing, your designer hit the nail on the head!

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Thanks Sam. My new header makes me smile as well. 🙂

Katie June 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I am with you on the sugar thing. I think people freak out over white sugar, but agave, maple, date syrup, etc are all the same thing from a biological perspective. Maybe they are less processed, but most people that give up sugar do so for the metabolic reasons, and all the “natural” sugars will have the same effect. When I did a sugar free challenge, I went all out – NO sugars of any kind. I allowed stevia, since its an herb. Loop hole? Maybe. 😉

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

‘In my opinion, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, etc. = sugar. ‘

YES, mine too.

Which is why when people say they are sugarfree or dont cook with sugar or there’s no white sugar called for in raw/unbaking recipe, I am always like…well, let’s think about that.

If you’re using a vat of agave or tons and tons of dates…sure, it’s probably healthier than dumping cups and cups of white sugar into something but if we’re talking about the metabolic effects, food chemistry, and so forth…it’s all glucose. The glycemic index may be different, how it’s used by the body may be different but…not that different. My .02 only of course 🙂

I seriously have no issue eating sugar (on an level..body, mind, rationale, etc) but can appreciate recipes and ways to reduce it and why it’s beneficial to not go hog wild with sugar, in any form. So in that sense, very cool book and what you made from it look awesome.

That soup picture is beautiful! 🙂

Nicole @sugarcoatedsisters June 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

The curry carrot soup looks great… I just checked the recipe and I think I have most of the ingredients in our house! I’m thinking of making it for dinner 🙂

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I loved that soup. Hope you enjoy it!

Maria @ Beautiful Busy Bee June 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Sounds like a cool cookbook! By the way, honey and agave both have lower glycemic index than sugar, so I think it makes a difference. 🙂

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Agave and honey are mostly fructose. Not a fan.

Debra June 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I just want to say how much I enjoy the blog and love your recipes! I just have to comment on the spoon message, Never Give Up.It is my personal motto.I am having major and unexpected surgery next week.Naturally I feel very anxious about the surgery and recovery,and feel discouraged.I can’t tell you how amazed I was to see the spoon!I took it as a sign I’ll be just fine!

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Wow, really? So cool – thanks for letting me know. Your surgery is going to be fine – everything will be okay. Don’t give up. 🙂

Hannah June 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm

That cornbread looks so good, though I might use raspberries instead because lemon and raspberries are one of my favourite flavour combinations ever.

And, yeah, homemade refried beans are so worth it, ‘cos they’re about a thousand times better than the canned stuff.

Meghan @ StruggleMuffins June 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I’m with ya there – honey, agave, brown rice syrup and all their cousins are just sugar by different names. Not that that’s inherently bad, but I think they should be treated as sugar – consumed in moderation. I love love love my vanilla stevia drops – have learned to incorporate them into a lot of my recipes. Looks like a good book, I’ll have to check it out.

Claire @ Live and Love to Eat June 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I’m refried bean obessed – those look amazing!

Victoria (District Chocoholic) June 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Ugh, I hate that when people call things sugar free when they just have non-white sugar. Honey can really spike your insulin levels. I like truvia best :).

Rachel (tea and chocolate) June 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I agree sugar = maple syrup, honey, etc., but those recipes do look fantastic. Homemade refried beans are so much better than the kind in a can.

Sylvia @ LifeIsGoodWithFood June 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I love how our minds are mentally in sync (or I’m just crazy). I was just googling on how to make homemade refried beans and there you were, a post about it. 😉 <3

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I’ve said it before – we’re kindred spirits. 🙂

katie @KatieDid June 15, 2011 at 11:52 am

oh this seems right up my ally!! sugar has not been agreeing with me lately either, and gluten hasn’t for a long time so this seems perfect. haha I laughed about the refried beans. I always think I love making homemade versions but sometimes when it comes down to it just buying something premade is so much easier!

Lauren @ Sugar Coated Sisters June 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

I love how you fess up to that lie about refried beans so quickly! The Sweet Curried Carrot Soup sounds amazing… I’m going to buy 5 lbs of carrots and make carrot cupcakes and carrot soup so everything stays balanced 🙂

thought: carrot cupcakes with lemon cream cheese… hmmm

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I like the way you think. 🙂

birdie to be June 15, 2011 at 11:06 am

That cream cheese & cornbread sounds AMAZING!

Holly @ The Runny Egg June 15, 2011 at 11:01 am

I think all of this food looks fantastic — especially the refried beans with the guac on top. I wish I had that for lunch today!

I agree with you about sugar = maple syrup, agave, etc.

Fallon June 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

Sounds like a nice cookbook! The beans sound delicious. I said I would never buy canned black beans after soaking my own and cooking them because the taste was unbelievable delicious. But I was in a hurry and the canned beans just worked for dinner the other night. 😉

Maggie @ Say Yes to Salad June 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

I must get this! I’m always trying to avoid sugar 🙂

Kelly @foodiefresh June 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

Have you tried TJ’s refried black beans? I’m a big fan!

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Yes, and I love them. TJ’s canned refried beans are the best – they are not dry at all. Love them!

Monika @ Powered by Paprika June 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

Oh my, that curried carrot soup looks SO rich and delicious

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) June 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

I love Amy! She has such great ideas. Everything looks and sounds amazing!

jen @ taste life June 15, 2011 at 10:13 am

Even though I love making beans from scratch, I almost always buy refried beans in a can! I think I’m just afraid they won’t turn out well 🙂

Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} June 15, 2011 at 9:50 am

I agree with you on the sugar thing. Honey is still sugar. Just in a different form. It’s really hard to find true sugar-free recipes, especially for sweets. Thanks for the review!

Desi@ThePalatePeacemaker June 15, 2011 at 9:46 am

Homemade refried beans have been on my “to-make” list of recipes for just about FOREVER. I think seeing them here on your blog is a sign the time has come. 🙂 In fact, Amy’s book has been on my Amazon wish list forever too… I may or may not have to just buy myself a little present! haha!

carrie (Moves 'N Munchies) June 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

the cookbook looks great!! i defs agree that those wud be added sugars! !

Sarah June 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

Oh wow the lemon cream cheese and blueberry cornbread looks amazing.

Shay June 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

I love your spoon so much that I literally tracked my way to etsy and am now searching for a stamped spoon. And find one I will! I must have one! (Thanks!)

HEAB June 15, 2011 at 10:05 am

You can order spoons from this artist on Etsy: I have several from her, and she will stamp any word or phrase on your spoon of choice. 🙂

Carolyn June 15, 2011 at 10:11 am
Shay June 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

OOooh la la! Thank you so very, very much! Now I know where my next paycheck is going…:)

Krysta June 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

I love TJ’s refried beans too! We get the black beans with jalapenos… so good and so easy when trying to whip dinner together.

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