Mini Vegetarian Pot Pies

Mini Vegetarian Pot Pies | Dietitian Debbie Dishes Are you all dressing up for Halloween this year? Normally, I don’t really do anything but this year we were invited to a Halloween party. Cue the frantic search for a costume! I’ve never done a couple costume before, so I asked Will if we could do something together. Since we are big nerds, we wanted to do something along the theme of the tv show Dr. Who. Do you know it? Will basically has the wardrobe of this Doctor, so his costume was easy. I debated about trying to dress up as one of the girls from the show, but none of them seemed to fit. After some googling, I found this cute costume for the tardis (i.e. Dr. Who’s time machine). I may feel a little ridiculous, but it should be a fun time!

Mini Vegetarian Pot Pies | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

On a different note, did you notice my new blog logo?! After hearing great things from a few other local bloggers, I got in touch with Lindsay from White Oak Creative here in Chicago to work on rebranding my site a bit with a new logo. Behind the scenes I have been struggling for over a year to try and put something together on my own in Photoshop. Everything I came up with was soooo bad! Learn from my mistake and just invest in the professional from the beginning. It has totally been worth every penny!

Finally, let’s talk about these pot pies! I was craving some kind of comfort food and had been wanting to make homemade pot pies for a long time. I picked up these 5″ round ramekins at the store over the weekend, just so that I could experiment with these vegetarian pot pies. This recipe makes about 6 cups worth of filling so you may be able to fill more ramekins or bowls if you use smaller ones. Those ramekins were definitely a worthy investment because I have a feeling I’ll be making this recipe on repeat over the winter. These pot pies are hearty, filling, and chock full of vegetables. To make things a little more interesting, I used a chopped rutabaga I picked up at the farmers market instead of potato. Rutabagas have an interesting flavor that is just a bit bitter, but works well in a mixed dish like this one. If you can’t find any rutabagas as your local store (or you aren’t feeling very adventurous), feel free to substitute with a large peeled potato.

Mini Vegetarian Pot Pies
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A vegetarian friendly version of one of the ultimate comfort food dishes - pot pie. These mini vegetarian pot pies are perfect for chilly fall or winter evenings.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 3-4
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, quartered
  • 6 ounces mushrooms chopped (button and/or shitake)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rutabaga, chopped in ¼" pieces (Can sub a potato)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2½ tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Dash of salt and black pepper
  • 14 ounce container of puff pastry
  1. Two to three hours before you plan to make this dish, put the puff pastry into the fridge to thaw.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a large stock pot, melt the butter. Add the onions, carrots, and mushrooms. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent and mushrooms begin to shrink.
  4. Stir in the minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the rutabaga, peas, and celery and stir. Let cook another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables in the pot and stir to coat. Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Let pot simmer for 7-10 minutes. The liquid in the pot should begin to thicken.
  6. Stir in the oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Allow to simmer another 1-2 minutes and turn off the heat.
  7. Arrange 3 or 4 small ramekins onto a baking sheet. Cut the puff pastry into squares that are the diameter of your ramekins.
  8. Evenly divide the vegetable filling between each of the ramekins. Top with a sheet of puff pastry. Poke 4 small holes into the middle of the puff pastry to allow steam to escape while cooking.
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until filling is bubbly and the puff pastry is golden brown.

  Mini Vegetarian Pot Pies | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Parmesan and Herb Crusted Fish

  Parmesan and Herb Crusted Fish | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Will is an avid reader of a website called Reddit. Like YouTube, it can literally steal hours of your time by enticing you with cute animal pictures and click bait type news stories. However, it can be a source of useful information like this recipe for something called “heroin chicken”.  With such a funky recipe name and the promise that it is “so good, it’s addicting” we couldn’t pass it up. We thought the parmesan and herb crust would go well with fish as well so we tried it out last week. We were right! The first time, we followed the crust directions for the chicken as written and found it to be just a bit too buttery/oily. This time around we adjusted the fat/cheese/herb ratios and found it to be just right. 

We used a mild white fish on the first go around of this recipe and weren’t able to get it again at the market this weekend. Instead, we picked up some lake herring which is similar but a little more fatty than white fish. Either way, the recipe was still a success so I knew then that I needed to share! Feel free to experiment with other fish you may have on hand like salmon, tuna, or tilapia and let me know how it turns out.

Parmesan and Herb Crusted Fish | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

As you may have already guessed, this is one of those simple recipes that you may just end up adding to your weekly rotation. (It has become one for us!) We had it for dinner last night with some of these caramelized brussels sprouts and baked sweet potato. 

Parmesan and Herb Crusted Fish
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This simple and delicious parmesan and herb crusted fish is sure to be a new addition to your weekly rotation of meals.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Pescatarian, Gluten Free
Serves: 2
  • 8 ounce fillet of white fish (or tilapia)
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  1. Lay fish skin side down on a baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, toss together the parmesan, oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
  3. In a second small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (~10 seconds).
  4. Brush butter on the upright side of the fish. Sprinkle evenly with the parmesan and herb mixture.
  5. Turn your broiler to high heat. Put fish on a broiler rack ~4-5" under the flame. Let broil for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and fish has reached an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 ounces Calories: 248 kcals Fat: 14 g Saturated fat: 5.3 g Carbohydrates: 0.8 g Sodium: 276 mg Fiber: <1 g Protein: 28 g Cholesterol: 84 mg


Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Bites

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Bites | Dietitian Debbie

Hey there! I just wanted to pop in real quick to say that you should definitely check out the recipe for these dark chocolate pumpkin bites which I am sharing on Jill Conyer’s blog today. She has such an inspirational healthy lifestyle blog, so if you don’t already follow her, you should definitely visit today! 

Will and I are looking forward to a bit of a lazy weekend after traveling last weekend. Honestly, I am thinking of spending a good chunk of time curled up on the couch with tea and a book. How about you? 

If you are feeling like doing a little reading to start off your weekend, here are a few posts that have been on my radar this week:

10 Recipes to Try This Fall

10 #Recipes To Try This #Fall | Dietitian Debbie Dishes Will and I just got home from our nutrition conference last night, so I am trying to catch up on work and process all the new nutrition information I learned over the last few days! I love going to the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (ie. FNCE) because I always leave feeling inspired after hearing from speakers who are doing great things in the world of dietetics. If only I could get half as far as they in my career! I made sure to attend as many social media geared talks as I could, so I have lots of new ideas for this little blog of mine. As I browsed through some of the posts I missed over the weekend on my favorite blogs, I thought I would share some fall recipes that are on my list to make this season. Some healthy, some not so much – but all are vegetarian-friendly and guaranteed to be delicious. I can’t wait to get started on whipping them up in the kitchen. Here are the top 10 recipes on my list to try this fall. (It was hard to choose only 10!)

1. Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad from Edible Perspective

2. Pumpkin Spiced Waffles from Spoon Fork Bacon 

3. Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers w/Baked Cheddar Beer Onion Rings from Half Baked Harvest

4. Cinnamon and Raisins Knots from What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today

5. Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto from Hello Natural

6. Kale and Apple Butternut Salad from Love & Lemons

7. Maple Pumpkin Parfaits from Oh My Veggies 

8. Garlic Spaghetti Squash with Herbs from Pinch of Yum 

9. Steel Cut Oats and Cinnamon Stewed Fruit from A House in the Hills

10. Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Minimalist Baker

What recipes are on your list to make this fall? 

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Pepitas

Smoky Butternut Soup with Roasted Pepitas

Will and I recently discovered the bulk spice bins at Whole Foods and have using them to stock up these days when we run out of our pantry stock. It’s fun to browse and they are actually a really good deal. For those spices you only need for one recipe you want to try, it can be a great way to save money since you don’t have to commit to a whole shaker full. A spice we have recently fallen in love with is smoked paprika. So much so that I included it in my recent 10 vegetarian pantry essentials!

Smoky Butternut Soup w/Roasted Pepitas

Using just a little bit of this spice adds a flavor that reminds me a bit of bacon minus the actual meat of course. It is definitely a flavor that I wasn’t expecting that I would be able to recreate in vegetarian dishes until I discovered this spice. Paired with sweet butternut squash in this dish, it is absolutely delicious. The recipe redux for this month was to try out a new-to-you spice – so what better time to share my love for smoked paprika!

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Pepitas
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This smoky sweet butternut squash soup is perfect for chilly fall evenings. Top with a few roasted pepitas for a little crunch and interesting visual appeal.
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4-5
  • For the Soup:
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil if vegan)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • For the pepitas:
  • ½ cup pepitas
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Dash of garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and salt
  1. For the soup:
  2. In a large stock pot, melt butter and then add onions. Cook over medium heat until translucent and soft. Add the garlic, butternut, sweet potato and broth. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for ~20 minutes.
  3. Uncover the pot and stir in the spices and coconut milk. Test a piece of squash or sweet potato. If it is tender, transfer ingredients in batches to a food processor and puree until smooth.
  4. For the pepitas:
  5. In a medium, non-stick skillet add the pepitas. On medium-low heat toss pepitas for 3 minutes. Add the oil and spices and stir. Cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve with prepared soup.

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Southwest Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

Southwest Quinoa Salad w/Roasted Butternut Squash | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Before I head out for this big annual food and nutrition conference for dietitians in Atlanta today, I wanted to share this super easy and delicious quinoa salad recipe with you all! I love the interesting dichotomy of summer and fall veggies at the farmer’s market the last couple of weeks. Hence the combo of super sweet cherry tomatoes and roasted butternut squash in this recipe!

Southwest Quinoa Salad w/Roasted Butternut Squash | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

To get started on this dish, you have to tackle that butternut squash first. Let’s just say, I count it as a bit of an arm workout… Ever wonder how to get uniform cubes from such a curvy vegetable? Check out this helpful post from The Kitchn for step by step instructions and photos for dealing with a butternut squash. Once it’s all cut up, things get super easy! I roasted the squash pieces in the oven after tossing in some olive oil and salt (as usual). While this are roasting, you can cook the quinoa and chop up the rest of your veggies. 

I made this salad over the weekend and packed the leftovers in my lunch for the week – so good! If you are planning on eating leftovers, I would add the avocado as a topping rather than mixing them into the salad since they will begin to brown. A little queso fresco would go really well with this salad if you don’t want to keep it vegan!

Southwest Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
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Add an interesting twist on your typical southwest quinoa salad by adding some roasted butternut squash. Queso fresco would be a delicious addition if you don't want to keep the recipe vegan.
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free
Serves: 4-5
  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dash of Salt and Pepper
  • 1 cup rinsed quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 2 cups (~one 15 oz can) cooked black or kidney beans
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Handful of chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Toss cubed butternut squash in olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread into a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly browned and soft.
  3. To make quinoa, bring quinoa and broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to a simmer and cover partially with the lid. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid in the pan is absorbed by the quinoa.
  4. To make the salad, combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and toss until well mixed. Serve warm or chilled with chopped avocado on top!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅔ cup Calories: 295 kcal Fat: 9.9 g Saturated fat: 2.2 g Carbohydrates: 44 g Fiber: 5 g Protein: 9.2 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

Southwest Quinoa Salad w/Roasted Butternut Squash | Dietitian Debbie Dishes


10 Healthy Vegetarian Soups for Fall

Healthy Vegetarian Soups for Fall | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Now that fall is officially here, I have been craving soup all the time! I mean, it’s basically just another meal you can serve in a bowl… which I LOVE! (As you can see here, here, and here…) For inspiration, I looked to some of my favorite food blogs. I only included 10 here in the round-up, but you can check out my fall soup Pinterest board for even more recipes. All these are either vegan or vegetarian friendly and delicious, of course! Now if I could only decide which one to make first…

1. Mushroom Millet Soup with Cheezy Garlic Bread from Oh She Glows

2. Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds from Half Baked Harvest

3. Creamy Vegan Broccoli Potato Soup from Edible Perspective

4. Quick Red Lentil and Spinach Curry from Naturally Ella

5. Kabocha Squash Fennel Ginger Soup with Spicy Coconut Cream from Dolly and Oatmeal

6. Creamy Potato Kale Soup from Pinch of Yum

7. Roasted Red Pepper Tortilla Soup from Cookie and Kate

8. Loaded Veggie Nacho Soup from Minimalist Baker

9. Caramelized Cauliflower Soup from The Sprouted Kitchen

10. Harvest Vegetable Soup from Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn

Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Last week, the guest on the Jess Lively podcast was a blogger who talked about creating a “capsule wardrobe”. I was absolutely fascinated by the idea and immediately read through her blog, Un-Fancy. Saturday afternoon I set to work cleaning out my closet and dresser. I had gotten into a rut recently where I would keep trying on outfits and hating all of them. However, with a capsule wardrobe, I would limit myself to only a few pieces and hopefully no longer have indecisive 10 outfit change days. So I was brutal. I set aside everything that didn’t quite fit right or I hadn’t worn in a really long time. I now have a significant pile of clothes to take to the donation center today. My closet feels so much more streamlined now! I am still working on pairing down to about 35 pieces, but I am well on my way to achieving that.

Since I am so indecisive about buying new clothes as well, I used wardrobe planner to figure out what additional things I really need to add to my closet to round out the outfit options I had left after purging my closet. I am so excited to see how it all works out!

Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn | Dietitian Debbie Dishes After all this closet cleaning, I was happy to relax while watching some Dr. Who and snacking on some of this delicious, new-to-me Quinn popcorn. We had the rosemary parmesan flavor with our show and I was super impressed! Finally, a microwave popcorn that isn’t full of trans fat and chemicals! I love their mission to completely transform microwave popcorn – they even have a farm-to-bag program so you can see where every ingredient is sourced. Take a peak at the label and you see that even their flavored popcorn have super short ingredient lists which makes my dietitian-heart happy.

It also happens to be national popcorn month, so what better time to enjoy a bowl! This simple salty peanut butter popcorn comes together in a matter of minutes and is literally only 4 ingredients. If you want to add a little more sweetness, toss a couple of chocolate chips into the bowl while you are snacking.

Salty Peanut Butter Popcorn
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Satisfy any salty/sweet craving with a bowl of this all natural salty peanut butter popcorn. Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 3
  • 1 bag Just Sea Salt Quinn popcorn
  • ½ cup all-natural peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional:
  • Toss a few chocolate chips into the bowl when serving for a sweet treat!
  • You could also try drizzling with dark chocolate.
  1. Prepare bag of popcorn in the microwave. Pour into a large bowl and pick out any un-popped kernels. (You don't want to run into those when eating your peanutty popcorn!)
  2. In a small saucepan, add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla extract. Heat over medium-low heat until it starts to thin and become sauce-like. Once the consistency of gravy/cheese sauce, turn off heat and pour over popcorn.
  3. Toss to coat. Pour popcorn onto a sheet of wax paper and spread into a single layer. Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Cup Calories: 384 kcals Fat: 22 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 40 g Sugar: 27 g Fiber: 4 g Protein: 12 g

  Salted Peanut Butter Popcorn | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Healthy Travel: What’s in My Bag?

Healthy Travel: What's in my Bag? | Dietitian Debbie Dishes

Happy Friday! After Wednesday’s lengthy post about sugar, I thought I would take a little break today and write about travel. I am leaving for a conference next weekend, so I have packing on my mind.  Plus, the holidays are coming up and many of you may be traveling soon as well! So, I thought I would share a few of the things you will always find in my carry-on for a healthy/enjoyable trip:

1. The BAG: Will bought this camera bag for me on my birthday last year and I have been using it every time we have travelled this year. It has enough padding to keep my camera safe in addition to extra room for all of my other carry-on items. 

2. My Camera: These days, I don’t go anywhere without my camera. I made the investment in a DSLR so I might as well get my money’s worth! I have a lot to learn when it comes to taking pictures of anything other than food though…

3. Sunglasses:  Forgetting your sunglasses on a sunny day is the worst. So, I always try to make sure I have at least one pair of sunnies in my carry on. Find a pair with UV protection to help prevent the development of cataracts and skin cancer. 

4. Scarf: One of my favorite accessories is a scarf. I almost always wear one when traveling since it can be used as a wrap around your shoulders for warmth on a chilly plane ride or as a pillow for an in-flight nap.

5. Water Bottle: It can be difficult to stay hydrated when traveling. I found that bringing my own water bottle and refilling it frequently at water fountains makes it more convenient for me to drink more water and saves money since I am not buying (and losing) new bottles of water while traveling. 

6. Healthy Snacks: As a dietitian, I don’t go anywhere without a healthy snack or two hidden in my bag. Typically, I stash an apple or two and some almonds. This trip, I plan to have a few of these gluten-free This Bar Saves Lives in my bag. (They can be found at Whole Foods!) I love the mission behind their company who partners with a non-profit to send packets of food to the hungry with each purchase. Something else to keep in mind is that all of these snacks pair well with yogurt from the hotel breakfast bar for a healthy on-the-go breakfast. 

7. Chapstick: The dry air on the plane always leads me to get chapped lips. These days, I always try to keep a stick or two on hand in my bag. I am a big fan of these ones from Burt’s Bees. 

8. A Good Book: As a book nerd, I can’t possibly travel without at least one good book in my bag. (Often two… one in my carry-on for the trip out and one in my suitcase for the return trip – ha!) Right now, I am reading and loving Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. 

Other things you may find in my travel bag? Tea bags, sunscreen, a small notebook, Excedrin, and gum

What types of things do you pack in your carry on? What are your favorite healthy travel snacks?

Guide to Sugar, aka “The Sweet Stuff”

   Guide to Sugar | Dietitian Debbie Dishes As a dietitian, I am frequently asked about sugar. Is brown sugar better than white sugar? I heard that this type of sugar causes cancer. Is honey good for you? And so on… Since I get these kinds of questions at work and when out and about, I figured you must have them too!

What is “sugar”?

There are actually several different types of sugar which differ based on their molecular structure. However, we use the word “sugar” as kind of an umbrella term to cover them all. In the simplest terms, sugars are paired into two groups based on whether their individual molecules are paired with a second molecules or not. Those without a partner are monosaccharides and those married to another molecule are disaccharides. For example, the sugar that everyone is most familiar is the white, granulated sugar you use in baking which is made of two smaller sugar molecules bonded together – glucose and fructose.


  • Glucose: The most basic molecular building block of sugar. In your body, glucose is important for providing fuel to almost every cell in your body. 
  • Fructose: Fructose is the form of sugar you find in fruit. You may recognize the word “fructose” from the much debated “high fructose corn syrup” ingredient, but we’ll get to that.
  • Galactose: A form of sugar that is only found in milk.


  • Maltose:  Maltose is a combination of 2 glucose molecules. It is created when barley is fermented so you’ll find it in beer, cereals, and pasta.
  • Lactose: Lactose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and galactose and is only found in milk or milk products like yogurt and cheese. In those with lactose intolerance, their body doesn’t have enough of the enzyme lactase to properly digest this sugar which leads to unpleasant digestive side effects.
  • Sucrose: Sucrose is composed of a fructose and glucose molecule. Also known as table sugar, sucrose comes from sugar cane or sugar beet. 

What is high fructose corn syrup and is it bad for you?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made from corn syrup which has been processed with enzymes to convert some of the glucose to fructose. The intent is to mimic sucrose (table sugar) so the ratio of glucose to fructose is very similar. It has increased in popularity since the 1980′s because it is much cheaper to produce since it is derived from corn. Currently, high fructose corn syrup is used in the majority of packaged foods sold at the store: bread, cereal, yogurt, beverages, cakes, cookies, etc. 

Since high fructose corn syrup is so similar to table sugar (sucrose) it can be hard to pin down a direct association between HFCS and negative health outcomes. Over the last 30-40 years, consumption of sugar in general has increased along with the rate of obesity. In fact, the USDA reports that from 1970 to 2005, calorie intake from added sugars/sweeteners has increased from 76 kcal/day to 400-476 kcals/day! So yes, high fructose corn syrup has made it easier to consume even more added sugars each day, but at this point can’t be given all the blame. Rule of thumb, the less fructose you consume in the form of table sugar or high fructose corn syrup… the better!

What about artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, are manufactured sugars that are exponentially sweeter than natural sugars. You’ll find these sugars used in “sugar free” and “diet” products. They are typically calorie free so they are toted as a good alternative to actual sugar in foods. However, research has yet to show that those who consume artificially sweetened foods actually consume less calories overall each day. Here are a few of the most common artificial sweeteners you may find in food.

  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal)
  • Acesulfame-K (Sweet One)
  • Neotame
  • Saccharine (Sweet’N’Low)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Stevia (Truvia and PureVia)

Are maple syrup and honey healthy?

Since maple syrup and honey are more natural, many people encourage the use of these as a replacement for table sugar. However, just like table sugar both maple syrup and honey when used in excess can contribute to weight gain. Honey is relatively high in fructose. In fact, some honey is illegally “stretched” by adding high fructose corn syrup because of their similarities. Honey does have some redeeming qualities as it contains some B6 and vitamin C. Maple syrup on the other hand is high in the sugar, sucrose. In addition to sweetness, maple syrup offers some iron, calcium, zinc, and manganese. Bottom line, although both honey and maple syrup offer a few more nutrients than table sugar for example, they are still added sugars and should be used in moderation.

Is brown sugar better than white sugar?

Raw sugar is light brown because it still contains some molasses. When sugar is bleached to make it white, the molasses is removed. This is sold as table sugar. To make brown sugar, some molasses is added back into the bleached sugar to add color and some flavor. So is brown sugar better for you than white sugar? Unfortunately, no. They are both almost identical except for the addition of some molasses for color to brown sugar.

Added Sugar vs. Natural Sugar

Natural sugars are those that are found naturally in a food. For example, fruit naturally contains quite a bit of sugar in the form of fructose. On the other hand, added sugar is sugar added to foods when cooking, baking, or processing. Currently, the American Heart Association has recommendations for the amount of added sugar in your diet, but no one has set any limits on total sugar consumption at this time. However, too much of either sugar can contribute to negative health effects over time. 

When you start reading food labels, you may be surprised that there are more added sugars hiding in food than you once thought. It’s almost everywhere – salsas, salad dressings, tomato sauce, etc. This means that if you eat a lot of packaged goods, even if they aren’t desserts, you could be eating more added sugar than you realize. 

Is sugar bad for you?

The short answer is… yes. Sugar is important as a quick source of fuel for exercise, but as I already mentioned, Americans in general are eating way too much of the sweet stuff. Consistently eating too much sugar (in all its forms) over the course of years can contribute to excess weight gain, elevated triglycerides, increased risk of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their consumption of added sugars to no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories per day and for men, no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories per day. The only problem with this recommendation is that it can be hard to know how much added sugars are in a food since these aren’t yet listed on the nutrition label. If you aren’t sure, you could look for some of the sugar based ingredients listed below.

The food label does list “sugars”, however this includes both added and natural sugars. If you are curious how many calories from sugar the food has, you can simply multiply the grams of sugar in the food by 4. (1 gram of sugar = 4 calories.) Another way to monitor sugar intake is to convert grams of sugar to teaspoons as 4 grams of sugar is one teaspoon. 

Sugar Has Many Names…

As you may have guessed, when you look at ingredients list on a food label it is unlikely that you’ll see the word “sugar” listed. There are so many different forms of sugar! A good rule of thumb is to look for syrups or words ending in -ose. This will give you an idea of whether a food has any added sugars. (You may find it hiding in foods like salsas, pasta sauces, and more!)

Natural and Processed Sugars: 

  • Agave nectar
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-Fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm sugar
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Turbinado sugar

Artificial (Non-Nutritive) Sugars:

  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet and Equal)
  • Acesulfame-K (Sweet One)
  • Mannitol
  • Neotame
  • Saccharine (Sweet’N’Low)
  • Sorbitol
  • Stevia (Truvia and PureVia)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Xylitol

As a friendly reminder, here is a printable PDF you can take with you to the store or hang on your fridge! –> Guide to Sugar

Guide to Sugar | Dietitian Debbie Dishes