This is from the website – direct link to the below article is as follows. To summarise, before you go on, basically the only vaguely safe sweetener is currently considered to be Stevia (plant-based) and brand names include Truvia and Canderel Green …. :

Quick Guide To Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes
by Evita Ochel

on Feb 13, 2009

Most of us out there have been brought up with a very clear understanding of what sugar is. Most of us love it and are in fact quite addicted to it.

However during the past few decades more and more negative research and press continues to come out about sugar. This has been hard for many to ignore – given our weight, diabetes and other health problems.

Thus as sugar’s popularity began to decrease, the popularity of artificial sweeteners began to grow. However, unlike our familiarity with sugar, most of us today did not grow up with many of the artificial sweeteners that are around today. Most of us have no idea where they come from, how they compare to sugar and even if they are safe for us to consume.

Therefore, today I want to present you with a quick guide to understanding artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes.

Why Go Artificial?

Artificial sweeteners gained popularity the most for no other reason than the fact that we want to have our cake and eat it too – literally. By now most people have caught on to the fact that sugar = quick weight gain.

Thus the main reason why people have turned and continue to turn to artificial sweeteners is that we want the sweetness of sugar in many common foods, but without the unnecessary calories. Thus, this brought about the popularity and age of artificial sweeteners.

These are often, many times sweeter than sugar, but contain few, if any calories. Sugar on the other hand, biochemically exists either as a single or double sugar which is full of calories and needs minimal if any digestion, thereby going straight into our blood stream.

Since sugar is an energy source and our body quickly gets overwhelmed with too much energy, most of it gets packed away into our fat cells, as there is only so much that our cells need or can store in their short-term reserves. That is only the tipping point where the problems with sugar and our health are concerned.

The second biggest reason why some people look toward artificial sweeteners is because they may have diabetes and thus have to avoid increasing their blood-sugar. Some artificial sweeteners completely do not act like sugars in our body and thus became a perfect option for diabetics – sweet taste, minus the high if any blood-sugar health risks.

So let us examine the artificial sweeteners out there and learn a little bit more about what some of us may be putting into our bodies.
1. Acesulfame-K

– is 200 times sweeter than sugar

– was introduced in 1967, approved by FDA in 1988 and had its use expanded in 1998

– breaks down into acetoacetamide, which has been linked to thyroid problems and tumor formation

– thought not to be metabolized by the body and excreted in urine

– has no calories

– to date has not been tested properly and is considered the worst sweetener by some due to the great lack of information and testing done on it

– FDA has no plans of removing it from the market anytime soon or to push for proper testing
2. Aspartame

– most commonly known as Equal or NutraSweet

– is about 200 times sweeter than sugar

– has essentially no calories (due to small amounts used)

– discovered in 1965, refused at first by the FDA in 1974 and approved by FDA in 1980

– made from amino acids and metabolized by body through various toxic reactions

– breaks down into the amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid, as well as methanol (or wood alcohol – known poison) and possibly formaldehyde

– is considered a neurotoxic substance that has been associated with numerous health problems including dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, numbing of extremities, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures, multiple sclerosis like symptoms and depression, as well it is suspected of causing birth defects and chemical disruptions in the brain
3. Saccharin

– most commonly known as Sweet ’N Low

– is 200 – 700 times sweeter than sugar

– has no calories

– originally synthesized from toluene/coal tar in late 1800′s

– thought not to be metabolized by the body and excreted in urine

– is the most tested artificial sweetener to date

– studies have continually proven links to cancer

– considered for official ban in 1977, but instead got removed from carcinogenic list in US in 2000
4. Sucralose

– most commonly known as Splenda

– is about 600 times sweeter than sugar

– discovered in 1976, approved by Canada in 1991 and by FDA in 1998

– made by chlorination of sucrose

– has no calories

– considered a safe alternative to aspartame, saccharin and acesulfame K by most

– studies however have been inadequate and some have pointed at links between sucralose and thymus and immune dysfunction, as well as possibly being mutagenic
5. Stevia

– most commonly known as Truvia

– is about 100 – 300 times sweeter than sugar

– breaks down into steviol, which some suspected of being mutagenic

– rejected by FDA for approval in 1990 and earlier for oddly unjustified/political reasons

– extracts of Stevia got approved by the FDA in December 2008

– comes from natural plant origin, but commercially sold in chemically altered form

– considered by many natural health proponents as the ultimate safe sweetener
6. Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol and Xylitol

– are chemically known as sugar alcohols

– are half as sweet as sugar

– are not well absorbed by the body

– produce a laxative effect in large quantities
7. Neotame

– is about 7,000 – 13,000 times sweeter than sugar

– chemically related to aspartame

– has no calories

– approved by the FDA in 2002

– not widely used to date, mostly due to the known problems with aspartame
8. Cyclamate

– known as the original Sweet N’ Low

– discovered in 1937 and banned by FDA in 1970

– a petition has been currently filed to the FDA for re-approval

– animal studies showed product to be carcinogenic
9. High Fructose Corn Syrup

– commonly referred to as glucose/fructose in Canada

– in use since about the 1980’s

– produced by processing that increases the fructose content

– depending on the formulation may be sweeter, just as sweet or slightly less sweet than sugar

– cheaper than sugar

– contains calories equivalent to regular sugar

– greatly linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease

The above is just a condensed summary of what each of the sugar substitutes is all about. If you ingest any of the above, it would be very wise to conduct more of your own research on the product if you intend to keep using it, as each one carries with it a certain risk.

My personal health advice to you is not to go up and down the list and see which one is the better option to rely on. Aside from perhaps Stevia, the sugar alcohols and high fructose corn syrup, all of the other sweeteners are nothing more than chemical substances which should not be ingested by anyone in any amounts.

While some of us can rely on the FDA or other governing bodies to make the decisions for us, I strongly urge you not to be a guinea pig yourself. The fact that these substances are being used by people today is nothing short of perhaps one of the best long term studies that is taking place at our own personal expense. Unfortunately, many people are learning the hard way and paying for it with their health, that these substances are not safe or at least do not lead to average, never mind optimal health.

While your concerns about calories, blood-glucose stress and dental health are valid when it comes to eating regular sugar, what we really should be moving towards are not sugar replacements, but complete sugar removals. Yes, this may sound unrealistic to many, but again it comes down to how serious you are about your health and how open minded you are to break out of the clever brainwashing that has taken place in society up until this point. Several companies are making billions of dollars off of the sugar industry, while we pay both financially and with our health.

We can continue to come up with any and every excuse why we need sugar, crave sugar or want sugar, or we can just break the vicious cycle, detoxify and get off of the addictive substance once and for all, to live out our best health ever, processed-sugar free!

For detailed information on artificial sweeteners, check out the following sites:



3. From Dr. Mercola “New Study of Splenda Reveals Shocking Information about Potential Harmful Effects“

For more information on sugar and its effects, check out sugar expert Dr. Scott Olson’s site, OR his book Sugarettes
*Photograph provided by abbyladybug


“We’ve all seen the little numbers living inside the telltale recycling arrows, and most of us know that they refer to the composition of the containers, which also determines whether or not they can be recycled. Recently, word has spread that some of these plastic leach toxic chemicals and nasties like hormone disruptors into whatever they are in contact with; not something you want to be putting on your lips or in your mouth. So which is which?

#1 – PET or PETE: polyethylene terephthalate is used in many soft drink, water, and juice bottles. It’s easily recycled, doesn’t leach, and accepted by most curbside municipal programs and just about all plastic recycling centers.

#2 – HDPE: high-density polyethylene is used in milk jugs, detergent and shampoo bottles, and, because it hasn’t been found to leach, will replace polycarbonate in a new Nalgene bottle more on that in a sec. It has also has not been found to leach, and is widely accepted and easily recycled.

#3 – PVC: Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride is a bad, bad plastic. Soft PVC often contains and can leach toxic phthalates, and can also off-gas chemicals into the air. It’s used in some cling wraps yikes!, many children’s toys, fashion accessories, shower curtains, and detergent and spray bottles. To top it off, PVC isn’t recyclable, either.

#4 – LDPE: low-density polyethylene is used most plastic shopping bags, some cling wraps, some baby bottles and reusable drink & food containers. It hasn’t been found to leach, and is recyclable at most recycling centers and many grocery stores take the shopping bags but generally not in curbside programs.

#5 – PP: polypropylene can be found in some baby bottles, lots of yogurt and deli takeout containers, and many reusable food and drink containers you know, the Tupperware- and Rubbermaid-types. It hasn’t been found to leach, and is recyclable in some curbside programs and most recycling centers.

#6 – PS: polystyrene is used in takeout food containers, egg containers, and some plastic cutlery, among other things. It has been found to leach styrene–a neurotoxin and possible human carcinogen–and has been banned in cities like Portland, Ore. and San Francisco. Still, it persists and is not often recyclable in curbside programs, though some recycling centers will take it.

#7 – Everything else, and this is where the waters get a bit murky. First, and perhaps most notably, includes PC, or polycarbonate, which has been making headlines lately because it’s used in Nalgene’s reusable water bottles and has been found to leach bisphenol A, a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen; as such, Nalgene is switching to HDPE, a less harmful plastic.

But that’s just the tip of the #7 iceberg; though you’re less likely to see them in the grocery store than some of the others, the burgeoning crop of bioplastics made from plant-based material rather than the usual petroleum base for plastic also falls under this umbrella, for now, at least. Most common of these is PLA, or polyactide, which is most commonly made with corn, these days. It isn’t easily recycled, though it can be composted in industrial composting operations–your kitchen composter most likely doesn’t create enough heat to help it break down.

So, while cutting back on plastic packaging is probably the greenest way to go, when it comes to accruing new, we recommend you stick to the less toxic, more recyclable numbers. Learn more from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s ::Smart Plastics Guide.

via Get to Know Your Recyclable Plastics by Number – Planet Green.

“ANZAC biscuits are a sweet biscuit popular in Australia and New Zealand, made using rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Anzac biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I. It has been claimed the biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation.”

WELL well well – as per my current aim to up the homemade … I followed a very basic recipe (on the back of the dessicated coconut packet!) but with a few alterations:

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
2 tbsp golden syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp boiling water
75g (approx.) butter (that’s about 1/4 of a normal size block – because it’s all we had left)
3-5 tbsp Virgin Almond Oil …

We didn’t have enough butter left and are clean out of olive oil – so given the option of vegetable oil or almond oil, I chose the latter. I did a quick google search to see if it would fly and there was general consensus that this would be an excellent substitute. The recipe had also said 1tbsp of golden syrup and 1 cup of sugar but I was loathe to put that much sugar in …

Preheated oven 150 degrees c for 15-20 mins … and if you’re a first time baker, remember to cool them on a rack after you’ve taken them out.

Result? Amazingly, delicious!! Next time will experiment with making them a bit better for you 🙂

[tags cookie, anzac cookie, biscuits, snack]

Tim came home with a barracouta (not barracuda!)  He seasoned it with olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper and put it under the grill – giving each side around 7 minutes (important to cook it through as, like swordfish, barracouta meat can host worms).  I sauteed the zucchini with some garlic and steamed the potatoes, all of which we’d picked up from Paul & Cynthia’s Camp Creek (organic / bio-dynamic) market garden.   Another truly King Island meal.

Homemade Granola Recipe:

3 cups (300 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

3/4 cup (75 grams) sliced or slivered almonds

1/2 cup (45 grams) raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup (45 grams) raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 tablespoon (5 grams) wheat germ (optional)

1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons canola oil or 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup (120 ml) pure maple syrup (preferably Grade A Dark Amber)

1 cup dried fruits (cranberries, cherries, apricots, dates, figs, and/or raisins) (optional)

Read more:

Never again will I be okay with paying almost $5 for rubbish-ridden supermarket houmous.

If you have a blender try this:

1 tin (400g) chickpeas

3-5 tbsp olive oil
Half / whole lemon (squeezed and to taste)
3-5 drops sesame oil OR 1.5 tbsp tahini OR 3 tsp sesame seeds (whatever is available)

1-2 cloves garlic (peeled & crushed)
Salt / pepper season to taste

Drain the chickpeas but keep the liquid.  Chuck it all into the blender with a tbsp or 2 of the chickpea water, then blend and add more liquid as necessary to achieve desired consistency.  Either keep back some olive oil and drizzle it over the finished dip or add more to the blender if you like it that way.  I love olive oil so I just put loads.   You can add cumin to give it a bit more spice, or parsley.  And the posh thing to do is keep a couple of chickpeas whole and add as garnish at the end 🙂

I found the tahini paste quite overpowering so would reduce the amount I add – but Tim loves it and says it’s perfect that way.  So … !

(Adapted from original recipe at

[Notes from me: I put them in the oven at 175 c for just over 15 mins and they were browned but still soft.  Because I like more crunch, I then put them on a rack but left them in the oven while it was still hot but switched off and when I eventually took them out to cool they did harden up a bit – any other advice on how to crunch up the cookie is welcome!]

(photo and recipe courtesy Heidi Swanson –

Nikki’s Healthy Cookie Recipe

You can use unsweetened carob, or grain sweetened chocolate chips, or do what I did and chop up 2/3 of a bar of Scharffen berger 70%. I sort-of shaved half the bar with a knife and then cut the rest into bigger chip-sized chunks. You can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand – don’t go too far or you’ll end up with almond butter. And lastly, the coconut oil works beautifully here, just be sure to warm it a bit – enough that it is no longer solid, which makes it easier to incorporate into the bananas. If you have gluten allergies, seek out GF oats.

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm – so it isn’t solid (or alternately, olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 – 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don’t worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning the bottoms and they were perfect – just shy of 15 minutes seems to be about right in my oven.

Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.