‘Tis the season for holiday eating.  These days, it starts early and lasts through the new year, doesn’t it?  Although weight gain is one problem we all think of with holiday treats (and we should), it may be time to look more closely at the actual sweeteners in our treats.

I used to worry about how much sugar people consumed; but these days just plain, real sugar looks to me like a big improvement over the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made through a complicated process of subjecting corn starch to bacteria, fungi, and enzymes to create a super-sweet liquid that is part glucose and part fructose. In spite of this elaborate and complicated processing, it is marketed as a “natural” sweetener. It has been linked to increases in blood sugar disorders, obesity, and hypertension to name a few. And it is everywhere.

At Halloween this year, I took the time to look at all the labels on one of those walls of Halloween candy designed for trick or treaters. I found only two brands of candy that didn’t use HFCS in their ingredients. But candy isn’t the only place you’ll find it. Try reading the labels on your soda pop, canned fruit and fruit juice, breakfast cereal, ketchup, toothpaste, and spaghetti sauce.

So this year, maybe it’s a good time to think hard about returning to the Christmas traditions of the past, and make your own holiday treats. That way you’ll know for sure what’s making your sweets sweet.

Here are a couple recipes to get you started:

Christmas Morning Apple Pancakes

1 apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated

2 eggs

1 tsp cinnamon


Squeeze the juice from the grated apple. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the apple and cinnamon and stir. Grease an omelette pan lightly with butter or safflower oil. Pour mixture into pan. While the mixture is still liquid, use a spatula to gently pull back the sides of the pancake to allow the wet mixture to flow under the part that has already set. This helps to make a fluffier, more evenly cooked pancake. Top with fruit or nut butter or honey.

“Chocolate” Pie

Crust: 1-2 cup ground nuts 2 tbsp. butter, melted

Filling: 2 pkgs. Mori Nu tofu, firm 10 oz. barley malt sweetened chocolate, carob or a mixture of chips (or if you buy regular chocolate chips, be sure to read the label for sweeteners) ¼ cup honey or to taste 2 tsp. vanilla

Grind up the nuts (I usually use pecans, but walnuts, cashews, almonds or a mixture also work well) and mix well with butter. Line pie pan with nuts and set aside. Melt chips in double boiler (these have to be barley malt sweetened chips; date sweetened chips just don’t work). Cool chips. Blend tofu until very smooth then add vanilla, honey, and chips. Blend all together thoroughly. Pour into pie pan. Refrigerate to set and serve cold.