Did you hear the news? Oreos are just as addictive as cocaine!

I was kind of shocked to find that out, actually, because it’s not at all my experience with Oreos. I generally feel more of a heroin-like effect when I eat them. Oh, wait…that’s probably because sugar is the same as heroin to the body. Yeah, it all makes sense now.

Ok, friends, I hope you know I am totally joking here. I have zero experience with either cocaine or heroin (and I haven’t had more than a handful of store-bought Oreos in many years). I’m going to share a recipe for Homemade Oreos with you in this post, but first I have some other things to say.

Homemade Oreos | Healthy Green Kitchen

I’m getting really tired of all of these “this food is the equivalent of a street drug” references out there (I mean…seriously? Can we stop with this already? It’s just wrong on so many levels). I’m sick of all of the articles that scare people into thinking they are poisoning themselves if they consume cookies or anything else containing sugar, too, without any mention of context or dose.

I’ve never been anything but completely honest with you, my readers, so I have no problem telling you that I used to believe all that sugar is toxic/addictive/what have you stuff. That’s right, I did. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may recall that I’ve even written statements like that in the past. I am being very up front about this right now because I’ve changed my mind about it being helpful (or true) to refer to sugar that way. Well-designed scientific studies have not proven that sugar is either toxic or addictive when consumed in reasonable amounts by healthy individuals so I’m no longer going to use terminology that suggests it is.

Below are some quotes folks left on my Facebook page just the other day:

“Addictions are all the same! They control your life and often ruin it! Sugar is an addiction!”

“Proven fact sugar addiction is as tough as heroin”

“This whole country is addicted because our food manufactures add sugar to everything”

“People can become addicted to simple carbs just as they can to smoking or alcohol”

I did not make those up: they are real comments left by real people when I recently challenged the concept that sugar is as addictive as drugs. The people who left these comments were rude and argumentative when I asked them to back up their claims with scientific evidence. They claimed I was in “sugar denial” for not agreeing with them.

My intention here is not to call people out for being ignorant…it’s to draw attention to how damaging it can be to not have correct information…to be trapped in dogma that’s not evidence based.

In the sugar = heroin article I linked to at the top of this post, a certain doctor asserts that “when you eat sugar, it stimulates the release of dopamine into the nucleus accumbens, which makes you feel pleasure. The brain recognizes and likes this feeling and begins to crave more. It may startle you to learn that heroine, morphine and sugar all stimulate the same receptors in your brain.”

This is a quite a provocative statement, yes? It’s worded in such a way that you are very likely to come away from the article feeling:
a. guilty for enjoying sugar because enjoying sugar is just like enjoying drugs
b. convinced that you need a detox to heal yourself from sugar’s addictive grasp.

Guess what? Playing with kittens stimulates the pleasure centers in your brain, too, but I don’t see anyone recommending a detox for that. Just because you enjoy something does not mean it’s terrible for you, you have to feel guilty about it, and stop doing it altogether (not talking about doing drugs here, folks).

I have taken some flack as of late for not being willing to demonize sugar. For questioning the existence of sugar addiction. I really don’t care: I’ve hopped off the “sugar is ruining your health” bandwagon because there’s just no credible science to show that sugar abstinence is healthier than a diet that stresses balance and eating sugar in moderation. (For the record, I’ve always been a cheerleader for moderation…this is nothing new.) In fact, I think obsessing over this one thing, and running around screaming “SUGAR IS THE WHITE DEVIL”, is not really helping people figure out out how to live full, happy, healthy lives.

Do I believe eating lots of sugar fosters optimal health? No, of course not. I know full well that when sugar is consumed in large amounts, one is likely to run into health problems. I personally ran into health problems in the past when I ate too much sugar. There are certainly reasons to watch the amount of sugar you eat (I do). But am I concerned that a small amount of sugar will harm me? Poison me? No, I am not concerned. Not even a little bit. I enjoy treats made with sugar (like ice cream, cake, and cookies…mostly homemade, but sometimes not) and I don’t think they’re “bad” for me. Not in the least. They are a small part of my health-promoting, real-food diet and I enjoy the heck out of them.

Listen up: it’s more than fine to be concerned about food quality and nutrient density. I am obviously concerned about these: those concerns are at the heart of this blog and my book. But being concerned about those things does not mean one can simply ignore the realities of biology. The fact is that your body thinks sugar is sugar. I don’t really use much white sugar (and I do recommend against its use in my book); I choose organic sugar most of the time because it’s produced sustainably, it’s free of GMOs and pesticides, and because I believe buying fair trade is important, and I use many other unrefined sweeteners. Organic sugar, however, is not metabolized by my body in a measurably different way than white sugar. Raw honey? It’s lovely and I adore it. But again, it’s the same as sugar once it gets into my body. Maple syrup? It’s delightful and I couldn’t live without it, but my body doesn’t give a hoot how much I paid for it…my body still thinks it sugar. Coconut sugar? Sugar. Fruit? Sugar. I could go on and on.

There are absolutely valid reasons to choose unrefined sweeteners and fruit over white sugar, such as concern for source, processing, nutrient value, and the environment. But it’s not necessarily correct to say your body metabolizes one type of sugar in a vastly different way than another. (I’m not talking about high fructose corn syrup here, folks, because it does appear to be metabolized differently.)

All sugars, and all starches, are carbohydrates. All carbohydrates break down in the body into sugar. This does not make all carbohydrates bad for you…far from it. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you can damage your metabolism.

It’s really hard to know what to believe these days, isn’t it? Maybe you saw a documentary or read a book or news story in a major magazine and the message you took away was that sugar is addictive and toxic and it scared the heck out of you…gave you the impression that sugar is to blame for every health problem that exists in the world…made you think you should never eat sugar again.

It’s a real problem, though, when your body seems to want sugar while your mind is telling you not to have it. This can do a real number on you…it can makes you think there’s something wrong with you…it may “confirm” your fears that you do indeed are addicted to sugar.

Guess what? There is nothing wrong with you if you like sugar. Want sugar. Crave sugar. This is normal. It does not mean you have an addiction and that you need a detox. We evolved to want and need sugar. You heard me right: your body needs sugar. Once you have a clear understanding of this fact, you can move beyond the hyperbolic nonsense (because that is what much of the anti-sugar propaganda is) and give your body what it wants when it wants it. You can eat sugar without fear, even refined sugar, if you want to eat it sometimes.

I am open to the fact that you may have experimented with some form of sugar abstinence and that you have found you feel better without it (whatever “it” may be…all white sugar? all types of sugar besides fruit? all types of sugar designated bad by a diet guru?). Fine! Then don’t eat it. No skin off my back. But please don’t go out and tell everyone else, including me, that we’re sugar addicts and we’d all be better off giving it up, as well.

If you haven’t given up sugar, but you’ve been struggling with your perceived terrible relationship to sugar, if you are convinced you you are addicted to sugar, I want you to know something. I too once thought I had a real problem with sugar. I craved it constantly. I overate sweet things every time I took one bite. I thought I was addicted to sugar.

But then I radically overhauled my diet. I learned I wasn’t eating enough food overall. I dealt with my food sensitivities. I “discovered” real food and completely changed everything about how I ate. I figured out that I do best when I have protein at every meal. I incorporated high quality fats into my eating strategy and figured out how many carbs I do best with, and what kind. It’s been twenty years that I’ve been at this, and I am still making changes now and then. My diet now includes some sugar (generally unrefined sugar, but occasionally white sugar). When I want something sweet, I eat it. End of story.

Before you banish sugar from your life, please take the following into consideration:

1. Are you eating enough food? As in: enough calories to support your activity level? When you consistently under eat, it’s very common to crave sugar.
2. Do you eat breakfast and other meals at regular-timed intervals throughout the day? If you don’t, your blood sugar is prone to swings and this may make you crave sugar.
3. Are you eating enough protein? As in: protein at every meal and snack? When you don’t eat enough protein, it’s very common to crave sugar.
4. Are you eating enough healthy fats? Diets too low in high quality fats can lead to sugar cravings, too.
5. Might you have food sensitivities? When I had them, I had crazy cravings for sugar. Once I sorted them out: no more sugar cravings.
6. Is it possible your body is out of balance in some way? Is something hormonal or metabolic going on? Vague, I know, but entirely plausible. Sorry for not being more specific but this is a blog and I am not a practicing physician.
7. Do you get enough sleep? This one is so common…many people don’t…often leads to an increase in sugar cravings.
8. Do you have a lot of stress in your life? Again, so common. More sugar cravings.
9. Have you considered that your dependence on sugar is psychological? It’s very possible…this is different than an addiction. Have you tried removing the “bad” label you’ve given to sugar? Sometimes when we make things off limits we want them more than when we allow ourselves to eat them when we want them without any “judgement”.
10. Is it possible you over eat sugar because you have a binge eating disorder? Please, please, please talk to a professional about this.

Again, I want to be really clear that the point of this post is not to make a case for eating lots of sugar. It’s about making a case for consuming sugar in moderation. I repeat: I am not giving you the go ahead to eat a whole bag of store-bought Oreos nor am I telling you to eat the whole batch of my homemade version. That’s not moderation. Moderation isn’t about living your life in a constant state of swinging from one extreme to the other. Moderation is the opposite of extremes. It’s not eating a whole bag of something and then spending a week on a “cleanse”. It’s about finding balance…a place in the middle that works for you on a consistent basis.

Every single time I mention moderation in the context of eating sugar (both online and in my real life), someone tells me “that doesn’t work”. I vehemently beg to differ. Moderation may not be sexy enough to get someone on the bestseller’s list, but there’s plenty of scientific evidence that it does indeed work. Can you “do” moderation overnight if you’re more accustomed to swinging from one extreme to another? No, probably not. It may take some time, and you’ll have to put in some work. but I believe the payoff for doing that work is big.

Before I get to the cookie recipe, I am quite sure some of you are currently thinking something along the lines of:

“But Winnie! Sugar causes type 2 diabetes! Why are you telling people it’s ok to eat sugar?

or

“But Winnie! Sugar causes obesity! Why are you telling people it’s ok to eat sugar?

To the first point: Sugar does not cause diabetes. Saying so is a vast oversimplification of the situation. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder. Over consumption of sugar may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, but it is not the cause. Want to prevent and/or treat insulin resistance? Exercise. It’s pretty much the best thing you can do to improve insulin sensitivity.

To the second point: Sugar does not cause obesity. No one thing causes obesity. Not sugar (nor high fructose corn syrup)…not carbs…not GMOs…not food from fast food restaurants. Over consumption of sugar may contribute to obesity but sugar is not the cause. I hope to address weight in a future post or posts…this one’s already way too long to dive into that issue.

Recipe for Homemade Oreos

Yield: about 20 sandwich cookies

I haven't had an Oreo in recent memory so I can't say these taste just like Oreos. They are delicious, though!

Make sure you do not over bake the cookies: it can be a bit hard to tell when they are done because they are so dark to begin with.

You may end up with extra filling...depends on it you "double stuff" these or not ;)

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

*1/2 cup salted butter, preferably organic
*1/2 cup sugar, preferably organic
*1 egg yolk, preferably pastured
*1 cup flour, preferably organic Einkorn flour
*2 tablespoons raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder (I used 1 tablespoon of black cocoa powder from King Arthur Flour and 1 tablespoon of organic raw cacao powder
*1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

For the filling:

*½ cup salted butter, softened, preferably organic
*1 2/3 powdered sugar, preferably organic
*1 tablespoon heavy cream, raw and organic if possible

Directions:

1. Cream butter with sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg yolk and mix thoroughly.

2. Whisk flour together with cocoa powder in a medium bowl, then add to the butter/sugar/egg yolk mixture. Beat on low speed until combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix on low until the dough comes together. The dough will be quite soft at this point, and that’s fine.

3. Form dough into a log (about 12 inches long) and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate overnight, or at least for a few hours.

4. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to stand for about 5 minutes while you prepare the icing by beating the softened butter with the powdered sugar and cream in the bowl of an electric mixer.

5. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into thin slices (about ¼ inch). You should have about 40 cookies. Place them on parchment-lined baking sheets and transfer to the oven.

6. Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch (the thicker you slice them, the longer they will take to bake).

7. Allow cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire rack and allowing them to cool completely.

8. When cool, spread about one tablespoon of the icing onto the bottom of one cookie. Top with a second cookie. Repeat until all of the cookies are filled.

Homemade Oreos | Healthy Green Kitchen

For a similar cookie recipe with a coconut cream filling, see my guest post over on Nourished Kitchen.

Many thanks to my friend Kaela of Local Kitchen for sharing her science-minded perspective on this issue with me over a long and quite enjoyable phone call.

Related Articles For Your Reading Pleasure:

No, Oreos Aren’t As Addictive as Cocaine by Jason Koebler
The Bitter Truth About Fructose Alarmism by Alan Aragon
Good Insulin, Bad Insulin : Its Role In Obesity? by David Despain
Your Problem with Sugar is The Problem with Sugar by Joy Victoria
Sugar Addiction by Go Kaleo
Sugar Addiction Part 3 by Antonio Valladares
Diabetes, Dangerous Fat, and Protective Sugar by Andrew Kim
The Balance of Moderation by Alta at Forgiving Perfection
Sugar On Trial: What You Really Need to Know at New Scientist
No, Your Favorite Food is Not Like Crack by L.V. Anderson

*Disclosure: Jovial Foods sent me the Einkorn flour I used to make this recipe. Also, this post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something via one of those links, I may collect a small commission from purchases made. I greatly appreciate you doing your online shopping via my links…this helps to support all the time and energy I spend on my blogging activities.

 

98 Comments

  1. 1

    Olivia — October 21, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

    This is amazing. Thank you so much for being reasonable and logical about the issue. It’s alarming the way people propound slogans like “sugar is the worst thing you can eat” without doing any real research.

    • Winnie replied: — October 21st, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

      Yeah, I am amazed by the things people are saying these days…it’s crazy! Thanks for reading, and for leaving this comment.

  2. 2

    Tanya Patrice — October 21, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

    Wow – you’ve said what I wanted to say on the internet for quite a few years now! As a food scientist, I’m pretty much aware of the deal with sugar – but here’s what I’ve learned about the internet, and why I keep my mouth shut most of the time – It’s a huge black hole of regurgitated information that’s often wrong. People seem to believe that whatever works for them – well, then it must be the ONE and ONLY way to go, and it will work for everyone else! So bravo for taking this on.

    • Winnie replied: — October 21st, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

      Yes. So much regurgitation of dogma, propaganda, etc., but very little truth. Thanks for your comment…I really appreciate it!

  3. 3

    Jen @ Savory Simple — October 21, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

    I really really love this post. Thank you.

    • Winnie replied: — October 21st, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

      You are welcome. xoxo

  4. 4

    Liz — October 21, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

    Besides being factually incorrect, these statements that equate consuming sugar in moderation with addiction shows deep ignorance and insensitivity to actual addiction to drugs.

    • Winnie replied: — October 21st, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

      I agree with you 100%.

    • Winnie replied: — October 21st, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

      I hope you know I was poking fun at the people who really do say those things (even though it isn’t really funny at all).

  5. 5

    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — October 21, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

    Thank you for this post, Winnie! In the past, I craved sugar frequently throughout the day. At that point in my life, I wasn’t eating breakfast or getting enough sleep, and I’d often live on coffee until 2pm. A few years ago, I overhauled my eating. I now start the day with breakfast, added in protein, eat at regular times, etc. My sugar cravings are almost nonexistent. I eat dessert regularly for the sake of my blog, and love to bake, but I no longer find myself needing a sugary snack to make it through the afternoon. Here’s to moderation – and to homemade Oreos! :)

    • Winnie replied: — October 21st, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

      Yay for all the great habits…it does make such a difference, right? I never understand why people jump to the extreme measures rather than change the obvious, easier things!

  6. 6

    Robyn — October 21, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

    I agree that sugar is not the problem. I think that sometimes it’s really uncomfortable for people to look inside and figure out where the “addiction” to sugar is coming from so they vilify sugar as a way of avoiding having to do that hard work (maybe the avoidance is subconscious?).

    Quick recipe question – the filling says 1 2/3 powered sugar – I am assuming this means 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar?

    • Winnie replied: — November 1st, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

      Sorry for the delay in posting a reply, Robin. I do agree that for some people, it appears easier to blame something external (such as sugar) because it absolves them of repairing what is internally wrong. It is indeed hard to do that work (and maybe they don’t even recognize there is work to be done). Yes: it’s 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar :)

  7. 7

    Nicky — October 22, 2013 @ 3:07 am

    Great and informative post!

    • Winnie replied: — November 1st, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

      Thank you!

  8. 8

    Kristen — October 22, 2013 @ 5:45 am

    Totally agree, Winnie!

    Although it is true that there are some people who are better at abstaining than at moderating, and so for them, giving up sugar entirely might be more sustainable.

    Me, though? I’m definitely a better moderator than abstainer…I do things like eating a piece of dark chocolate every meal, and I’m usually good with just one piece.

    • Winnie replied: — November 1st, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

      I am really terrible abstainer, Kristen. I can go through life eating very little sugar as long as I am “allowed to” have it whenever I want. If you tell me I can’t have any, however, I’d want it all the time!

  9. 9

    Marygrace — October 22, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    WELL said. I, too, am tired of hearing people demonize white sugar only to sing the praises of coconut sugar, maple syrup, whatever. None of them are that great for you, and in small amounts all of them are fine.

    I also have a theory that people who cut sugar out of their diet completely do it because they simply can’t control themselves with sugar. That’s an unhealthy behavior. Better to learn how to consume sugar in moderation than spend your life avoiding it and trying to curb your cravings with substitutions.

    • Winnie replied: — November 1st, 2013 @ 11:39 pm

      Absolutely. I agree with you 100%.

  10. 10

    Kathryn — October 22, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    This is such a great (and important!) post. Demonising any food, whether sugar or fat or whatever, does nobody any good. If there are things that your body feels better without, then don’t eat them but there’s no one size fits all solution and it’s not as easy as defining a food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • Winnie replied: — November 1st, 2013 @ 11:39 pm

      Thanks for your comment Kathryn!

  11. 11

    Jennie @themessybakerblog — October 22, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    This is such a great article. Everything in moderation, right? These homemade oreos look fabulous!

  12. 12

    Chelsea Young — October 22, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    Thank you so much for this post! As one who has a habit of trying the newest “trend” in detoxifying diets and once believed she was intolerant to most foods (thanks to obsessing over food blogs without any scientific evidence to back up claims), I am so happy to come across your site. It has taken years for me to come to peace with my dietary choices and find what works for me, not what someone dictates online. Thank you for your research based blogs!

    • Winnie replied: — October 22nd, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

      Aw, Chelsea.
      I appreciate this comment a lot.

  13. 13

    isa — October 22, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    Go on Girl—tell it like it is. You’re the BEST. I’ve always loved and admired your critical thinking skills. Loved this article.

    • isa replied: — October 22nd, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

      so sorry for the multiple comments. OOPS

  14. 14

    isa — October 22, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    Go on Girl—tell it like it is. You’re the BEST. I’ve always loved and admired your critical thinking skills. Loved this article. Thank you

    • Winnie replied: — October 22nd, 2013 @ 12:35 pm

      Haha Isa,
      I love that your comment got left multiple times. The older I get, the more I do hone the critical thinking skills. It’s fun :)

  15. 15

    isa — October 22, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    Go on Girl—tell it like it is. You’re the BEST. I’ve always loved and admired your critical thinking skills. Love it.

  16. 16

    Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama — October 22, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

    What a great post! I have been watching the discussions about sugar unravel on your Facebook page the last week or so. I have to say I agree with you.

    Also, the idea that Oreos are addictive is absolutely absurd. I’ve eaten many in my life and I can stop at just one ;)

    However your homemade version looks completely delicious, I might have to eat a handful.

    • Winnie replied: — October 22nd, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

      Thanks Carrie!

  17. 17

    cassie — October 22, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

    Really appreciate your non-alarmist view on sugar! Thank you for this post. Will be sharing…

    • Winnie replied: — October 22nd, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

      Yeah, food alarmism is for the birds as far as I am concerned :)

  18. 18

    annelies — October 22, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

    I have gone round and round on this one topic, at one point breaking up with sugar (we got back together not long after) and then adopting the more realistic perspective of making the refined sugar I eat count, as in not often and must be exceptionally good. All other times, fruit holds down the fort.

    • Winnie replied: — October 22nd, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

      The fact that it is so hard to break up with sugar says to me that we are not meant to break up with sugar. When I ate no sugar I thought about sugar all the time. Now I never think about it! Your approach sounds like it makes tons of sense.

  19. 19

    Shaina — October 22, 2013 @ 5:32 pm

    I am 100% with you here. I like dessert. I just look to make sure I’m eating it infrequently. Thanks for a wonderful post!

  20. 20

    Nutmeg Nanny — October 22, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

    I think Art would disagree with you about needing a detox from kittens. I ask him at least once a week if we can get one…haha. Also I love you and your sugar stance. While I try to no eat a lot (for reasons you are aware of) I have been feeding my cravings and notice I tend to do a lot better when I don’t deny my body what I want. I also think eating meals is a help too. It’s amazing how great you feel when you actually eat the way your body intended too.

  21. 21

    Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas — October 22, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    I agree with you. It seems there always has to be some sort of demonized food for the media to go crazy about (like when eggs were “bad”). I try to consume sugar in moderation and really savor the flavor and sweetness when I have a cookie, cake, etc.

  22. 22

    Sharon Miro — October 22, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

    As always, common sense. Which is not very common anymore. Well done.

  23. 23

    kaela — October 22, 2013 @ 6:54 pm

    Nicely done, Winnie! And I love that you argued vehemently in favor of moderation. :)

  24. 24

    Elaine — October 22, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

    Bless you. My dear 90- year old father’s favorite saying is ‘moderation in all things’
    I spent two years on a sugar free, wheat free, dairy free diet to clear up a problem with my digestion, and in that case it was warranted. But it’s extremely stressful and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone unless medically necessary. These days, I try not to eat sweets that aren’t home made. . . that cuts out a lot of the nasty chemicals and additives, and certainly limits the intake, because I’m too busy to bake most of the time. It’s not like you’re telling folks to go out and eat a whole box of twinkies. . . ;-)

  25. 25

    Aggie — October 22, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

    This is such a smart post!! Everything you said is on mark, moderation really is key.

  26. 26

    Hannah — October 22, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

    Love this post – it’s all about balance and moderation. Thanks for sharing, Winnie!

  27. 27

    Laura Kumin (MotherWouldKnow) — October 22, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    Yippee for your sensible outlook, your welcome and well-explained facts on sugar and for the recipe. I was a great fan of store-bought Oreos at one point in my life and I look forward to moving my oreo-loving to a new, higher plane with your version. Bravo Winnie!

  28. 28

    Lizthechef — October 22, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

    So with you! Keep writing and think about book #2 – truly.

  29. 29

    Jessica @ Floptimism — October 22, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

    THANK YOU for writing this.

    I don’t like that there is sugar put in practically all foods, in some form, and often times, in multiple forms. I don’t like HFCS. I don’t like that people think things like “agave” are not only not UNhealthy, but are actively healthy. I don’t like most of the alternative sweeteners.

    I do think we consume too much sugar. I do think it’s contributing to our health issues as a society. I do advocate for eliminating excess sugar from the diet, appreciating the natural sweetness of fruits. I do think GMOs — and the majority of granulated sugar in our diets is GMO — is an issue.

    I’m a registered dietitian who advocates whole, natural, minimally processed and often (though not always) even organic foods as much as possible.

    And despite ALL of that, I completely, 100%, wholeheartedly agree with you, and I’m so glad you wrote this even though you met some opposition through comments on Facebook.

  30. 30

    Beth (OMG! Yummy) — October 22, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

    AGREE w every word Winnie. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  31. 31

    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — October 22, 2013 @ 9:51 pm

    Thanks so much for your perspective, Winnie! I am so sick of reading all of the extremist perspectives on food lately… This post was refreshing to read. And, those homemade Oreos look fabulous!

  32. 32

    Barbara — October 22, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for bringing a voice of reason to the sugar debate. I’ve worked in addictions treatment. Sugar = heroin/cocaine? Puh-leeze. Moderation is such a more helpful message.

  33. 33

    Leah — October 22, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

    Heck yes Winnie! So much YES!
    Thank you for writing and sharing – both your thoughts and the recipe.

  34. 34

    this abundant list | this abundant life — October 23, 2013 @ 1:48 am

    […] Thoughts on sugar and homemade oreos. […]

  35. 35

    Elizabeth — October 23, 2013 @ 7:14 am

    My son adores homemade oreos, they are one of the best things you can make for kids, they think you are some kind of genius for producing these, as one of my son’s friends said they’re just like the bought ones only better. My grandmother who lived to the age of 99 in excellent health, never drank water (she didn’t like it) but ate and drank everything in moderation including sugar, full cream milk and butter. I think the problem today is we are just so extreme swinging from one thing to another and live in the belief that diet can cure just about anything.

  36. 36

    Barbara — October 23, 2013 @ 10:00 am

    I am new to your blogs and I’m convinced we are sisters separated at birth! Really enjoy reading your posts and blogs and I’ve learned so much from you. THANK YOU is all I wanted to say :)

  37. 37

    Abbie A — October 23, 2013 @ 11:50 am

    I am with you 100% – nothing is bad per se (OK, well, crack is) just don’t eat ALL of it ALL of the time, right? Common sense prevails. Plus – without sugar there would be no Jr Mints and no Jelly Bellies and those two things must be consumed approximately bi-annually in order to ensure long term happiness :-)

  38. 38

    Allison — October 23, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

    With all due respect– and I mean that– This is a very well put and thought out opinion, but that is all it is, an opinion. Forgive me if I say that it is unfair for you to ask for scientific evidence that sugar is addictive and destructive, and refute what studies there have been on the subject without adding any scientific evidence to the contrary. I think its fabulous that you question those studies– we should all be more like that rather than follow blindly like lemmings without our own thoughts and research, but just as you wish to be allowed your opinion, you need to allow others theirs, and not make people feel bad or ignorant for believing that it is addictive or harmful.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

      Of course it’s an opinion…I am a blogger, after all. Not a scientist. I am not trying to make anyone feel bad or ignorant… I am simply pointing out that there’s a lot of dogma out there, and it should be questioned. There’s a big difference between saying sugar is harmful at a certain dose and it being as addictive as drugs. I am in agreement with the first part, but not the second. Thanks so much for for your comment: I appreciate it very much.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

      The other thing to keep in mind, though, Allison, is that it isn’t actually up to me to prove that sugar is NOT toxic or addictive to healthy individuals in moderate doses. My job, as far as I can see it, it simply to point out that science has not proven these things. As long as science has not proven them, then no one should be using the terms addiction and toxicity with respect to eating sugar in moderation. Gurus with sugar detoxes and such to offer have a bias that’s not based in evidence. Following their recommendations is fine if that’s what people want to do, but I don’t think they should do without thinking critically about what it is they are doing.

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    Kate @ Our Best Bites — October 23, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

    THANK YOU for a sane, rational response!

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    Janet @ Rainbow Plate — October 23, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

    I could jump through the computer screen and hug you! Thank you for your well-grounded comments and your thoughtful voice of reason! I couldn’t agree more with your perspective and how you articulated it. I fell as though I have a new soul-mate :)

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    Leigh — October 23, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

    I am pinning your recipe, just, for the record, but … why do you say that not consuming enough carbohydrates will damage your metabolism? Do you have a scientific study that shows this?

    The reason I ask is that, since the end of summer, I have been doing a lot of reading about our modern diet. I have read “Nourishing Traditions,” “Fat Chance,” “Why We Get Fat,” “The Great Cholesterol Myth,” and “Salt Sugar Fat.” I also read Dr. Atkins’ new book, which was a little like reading an infomercial, and I am currently reading “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” All of these books reference a huge number of scientific studies. The take-away from all of these books is that our modern diet is really, really bad for us. The take-away from most of these books is that the main reason that our modern diet is so spectacularly bad for us is the total dominance of sugar and refined carbohydrates in it. (trans fats and too much salt are also bad, but I’m asking about carbs here).

    I am very interested to know if you have any scientific evidence countering these claims. Please let me know if you do – I will add it to my reading list.

    Thanks!

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

      Even Dr. Atkins cautioned about doing low carb for too long lest it down regulate your metabolism. All of the books you mentioned, with the exception of Nourishing Traditions, have a low carb bias, so the studies they show are cherry-picked to support that bias. Those books, and in particular the ones by Gary Taubes, provide one viewpoint, but not a well-rounded look at the research. I suggest you look through some of the links I added at the end of the post because they offer a different viewpoint, and many do link to studies. I am not disputing our modern diet is bad for us. I am offering up the possibility that you can eat a diet that’s very much not an industrial foods diet, along with some treats, and still be quite healthy. Exercise is extremely important for health and it’s very hard to exercise consistently when you don’t eat a lot of carbs. Gary Taubes seems to think exercise is not relevant to health…pretty sure he’s not right about that.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

      Some individuals do seem to do fine on a low-carb diet, but I am not one of them. I prefer to eat a diet that includes protein, carbs, and fats in pretty balanced amounts and that works very well for me. This is the diet I see the most support for in the community of nutrition researchers that I trust.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

      But my biggest beef with low-carb diets? They don’t offer a model of sustainable health and weight loss. Most people put back all the weight they lose on these diets right back on after they are done. Which is almost always inevitable, since it’s very hard to stay low-carb for the long haul. It requires a lot of discipline to do low carb for a long time, which is why I prefer to make more moderate recommendations. Something people can stick to, along with other healthy habits like exercise, you know?

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

      I am finding the studies for you as we speak…I will comment with them shortly :)

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

      Hi again Leigh,
      In this post are links to many studies that look at the connection between low carb and thyroid/metabolism:
      http://anthonycolpo.com/is-a-low-carb-diet-bad-for-your-thyroid/
      The problem is that many studies don’t looks at this stuff long-term, however, and that’s when you’d potentially see the negative effects,
      That said, anecdotal observations suggest that many people, particularly women, who do low carb for a prolonged period of time develop symptoms such as hair loss, fatigue, and others that suggest down regulation of the thyroid gland.

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    Allison — October 23, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    Perhaps Winnie, sugar can be compared to Alcohol– many find that they can consume in moderation, but many find they are unable to do so without it being a destructive force in their life. I believe there are many things diet-wise that we are not “meant to have,” and may or may not do us harm– Alcohol and sugar to name a couple. I truly don’t believe that we are “meant to have” certain forms of sugar, and clearly you do. Thats ok– we can respectfully agree to disagree. My problem is that you seem to be on attack mode with regard to those that dislike sugar:

    “My intention here is not to call people out for being ignorant…it’s to draw attention to how damaging it can be to not have correct information…to be trapped in dogma that’s not evidence based.”

    To me this sounds as if you are calling people ignorant and incorrect if they disagree with you. I’m happy you have found what works for you in your life, but please don’t be so insulting with people who have found that something different works for them. Both sides of the debate can offer up piles of evidence and it won’t matter at all because studies on either side of the equation can be flawed and so it boils down to the fact that neither of us have absolute truth and we all do what makes us happy.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

      Not in attack mode at all. I am the one who gets attacked when I talk about moderation. I have been called a sugar addict by lots of people whenever I say it…that is rude and offensive to me. I know we will have to agree to disagree and this is 100% fine. My point with this post was to provide another perspective, a counterpoint to the sugar demonization that is currently in vogue. I don’t care if anyone agrees with me…I just want more people to start thinking critically, do their own research, and come to their own conclusions. That’s really all we can do :)

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

      Allison I am wondering, though, what types are sugar, if any, are ok in your book, since all carbs do break down into sugar? And how do you determine which ones are ok for you? I am asking an honest question…I do want to know what you have found works for you and what doesn’t.

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    Lindsay Curren — October 23, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

    Well, in the year 1700 the average American consumed 7 1/2 lbs of sugar a year. Today we consume 150 pounds a piece. Even in 1900, a little over a century ago, we consumed about 50 pounds, so we’ve about tripled our intake in 113 years. And it’s not like sugar offers vitamins or minerals, or is desperation sustenance for starving American masses.

    Don’t “demonize” it if you don’t wanna. But how come we take in so much of the stuff? Mainly because it’s hidden in so much processed food which, whether you demonize sugar or not, is the average American SAD diet.

    Over those centuries we’ve nearly quadrupled in physical size, and diets of modernity have run amok, troubling lives, and raising costs both emotional and economic for everyday people.

    So it may not be time to boomerang on sugar and set out to “save” the poor beleagured non-nutrient.

    Balance and moderation can only come about when we know, definitively, and can talk clearly about how we got to this 150 pounds of sugar a year. And we don’t, because it’s buried in the circuitry of so much ordinary existence.

    Maybe there’s a balance point between 7 1/2 pounds a year and 150 pounds a a year of sugar, but that sure isn’t going to happen just by having occasional sweets. It’s a massive reevaluation of everything we consume. And that doesn’t happen with a “moderate” attitude since the task itself is radical.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

      Lindsay,
      Since this is the first time you have commented, I am guessing you are not familiar with my site and what I do. I advocate for people to eat real foods and cook at home which is indeed a radical change for many people. Within that context, I do believe sugar in moderation is fine.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

      I am not trying to save a non-nutrient either; I am trying to have people understand they don’t need to live in fear of it. There’s a difference.

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    Allison — October 23, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    Winnie,

    I’d be happy to let you know what works for me:

    I have found after years of experience that *for me* I have to stay off white and brown sugar in any variety, all artificial sweeteners and wheat. I allow myself as much fruit as I want, and small amounts of honey and real maple syrup.

    I can probably guess what you are thinking, and I can’t explain it, but thats how my body functions. I have tried various permutations of this and this is the only thing that keeps me sane and happy. If I eat that kind of sugar or wheat, my digestive tract stops functioning properly and my cravings are out of control– I actually can’t stop thinking of food and it takes over.

    I have also faced plenty of criticism for jumping on food trend bandwagons and not thinking for myself etc. This may not make sense to anyone else, and truthfully it doesn’t always make sense to me but it works– it really works for me and I’m a happier person because of it.

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Allison. I am always interested to hear what “works” for each person…we’re all so different, after all. I am honestly not thinking anything…I don’t discount any individual’s experience…not one bit.

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    Juliet Wood — October 23, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

    I really enjoy your recipes and the blog. Of course sugar alone is not addictive but what I have read is that the combination of sugar, fat and salt in the same recipe makes it very moreish (English expression meaning you want more!) if not addictive and these are things to look out for. It is interesting to me though that usually if you eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh veg, fruit and enough protein the cravings are lessened considerably. I love the idea of home-made Oreos and am definitely going to try this one. Thank You!

    • Winnie replied: — October 23rd, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

      Sugar, fat, and salt together is a magical combination, isn’t it? Yes, I do believe a balanced diet makes a very huge difference in terms of cravings as I for one don’t have any now but when I ate a poorly balanced diet, I had them all the time.

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    Lindsay Curren — October 24, 2013 @ 9:20 am

    I wanted to follow up on my comment by saying first of all, just because I am offering a counter-analysis doesn’t mean I am attacking you or your blog’s aim toward moderation. And honestly, I’m sure we have more in common on this issue than views which diverge.

    But I still maintain that it is extremely difficult except for the most ardent ascetic in our society to take a “moderate” approach to sugar which, in its refined form (and taken in excess, which is the state of the average American consumption) does spur inflammation, which is at the root of many diseased states.

    A healthy “fear” of this non-nutrient is actually a moderate approach in that it brings awareness to one’s mind of just how vigilant one would need to be to skirt the immense amount of sugars hidden in incredibly ordinary foods.

    Mother Jones has an article out right now about hidden sugars in ordinary food found here: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/9-surprising-foods-have-more-sugar-krispy-kreme-donut

    The bottom line is that, even with wonderful blogs like yours where one is encouraged to cook from scratch and eat all things in moderation, we all do dwell in the larger society. Few of us are ascetic enough to escape routine encounters with the larger society, meaning we’re already getting this massive megadose of sugar even when we’re vigilant in choosing “healthier” foods.

    I’m no exception, so don’t think I’m posting this because I’m the anti-sugar saint…because I’m not. I source most foods from local farmers, cook as much as I can myself, but I eat out (mostly at foodie places, but not entirely) a lot, and I go to a lot of parties, conferences, and events. This is where my best intentions (and those of many folks like me) meet the larger world, which basically has none of our best interests in heart (or in health).

    So I continue to maintain that a message of moderation, while nice, isn’t enough in a world that is so far out of balance that it is important to be more awake, more conscious, and more engaged — and therefore not advocating that we not “fear” sugar. We should fear it because we don’t get to make the majority of decisions about it either personally, or societally. Going from 71/2 lbs of intake 300 years ago to 150 lbs/yearly today should be enough of a statistic to make us look a little more deeply into the issue, even if we’re doing so while downing homemade cookies.

    • Winnie replied: — October 24th, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

      Thanks for adding another comment, Lindsay. I absolutely hear and respect what you are saying and if your approach is working for you, then absolutely keep doing it. But I simply do not share your opinion that it’s important to be fearful of foods. That’s never worked out well for me in the past- it made me orthorexic- nothing particularly healthy about that. But everyone is different, and again: do what’s right for you :)

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    Kate in the Kitchen — maple apple cake {gluten free} — October 24, 2013 @ 9:51 am

    […] if you’re one of those folks who think sugar is the devil itself, please read her current post containing her thoughts on the whole sugar uproar. It’s worth a few minutes of your […]

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    Karla — October 24, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

    I’m not sure if this is the first time I’ve commented here, but I’ve been lurking for a while. (The idea of having a glass of water ready on my nightstand to drink first thing has worked really well for me! When I remember to set it there, anyway.) This is a really well-done post. Your point in a comment above about our being meant to use sugar is supported by that we actually make an enzyme called sucrase, which breaks the bond in sucrose between its two component sugars. That allows us to use that sucrose for energy – not a good sole source, but a means to make the energy carriers (ATP, NADH, etc.) that sustain a lot of cell work. (In contrast, we can’t break the bonds linking glucose molecules in cellulose, which is why plants are fiber sources for us rather than high-energy foods.)

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    Chocolate Makes Me Happy… And That’s Not a Bad Thing | The Nourished Life — October 24, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

    […] My friend Winnie couldn’t have said it better in this post: […]

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    stacie — October 24, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    awesome winnie. thank you for taking this on and being so honest. it’s so nice to hear a measured, thoughtful voice that is at once respectful of choice and the relative nature of healthy eating, while still being committed healthy, whole foods. this is so helpful and reminds me what i hear from experts over and over… the best sugar to choose is the one that requires the least amount to achieve the taste you want. because, at the end of the day, as you point out, sugar is sugar is sugar to our bodies.

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    Olivia Gregory — October 25, 2013 @ 2:14 am

    Excellent post, Winnie! It is, indeed, unreasonable to expect everybody to give up sugar completely simply because a few think they are toxic. As with everything else, sugar in moderation won’t cause harm at all. Besides, like you said, almost all fruits, and some vegetables too, have sugar in them. You’re going to end up ingesting sugar anyway.

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    Sariana — October 27, 2013 @ 11:36 am

    I’m trying to add this recipe to my “recipe box” but is not letting me. I’m the only one?

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    Jessica @ Floptimism — October 27, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

    I also wanted to drop back in to quickly say — I featured this post on my blog’s Weekend Wrap-Up yesterday, and wanted to make sure you knew. I’ve left the link below in case you’re interested — thanks again for writing this, and I hope you’ve been enjoying your weekend!

    http://www.floptimism.com/2013/10/weekend-wrap-up-irrationality.html

    • Winnie replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

      Thanks so much Jessica!

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    well, hello monday… | my. b e a u t i f u l. rescue. — October 28, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    […] my family has a giant chocolate cake downstairs make it a little harder. still no cheats. loving this article on sugar from healthy green […]

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    Cheryl Rerick — October 28, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

    Just wondering how long these would keep for? And should they be refrigerated?

    • Winnie replied: — October 28th, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

      Hi Cheryl,
      Good question. If these won’t all get eaten right away, I suggest storing the cookies unfilled (they will keep for at least a week) and put the filling in a covered container in the refrigerator. Allow the filling to come to room temp before using.

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    Marisa — October 28, 2013 @ 11:32 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I recently read a Hank Shaw post in which he wrote that humans are meant to eat a little of a lot, not a lot of a little. I love that, and I guess it’s stuck with me!

    • Winnie replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

      I adore Hank, and I love the idea of “a little of a lot”. Yes: I surely do not understand the trend to restrict the diet in the name of health…I would much rather see people put a greater variety of healthy foods on their plates, and just eat less of each one ;)

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    Valentina @ Hortus — October 29, 2013 @ 6:33 am

    Hi Winnie and hi everyone,
    I would like to answer to Leigh, and contribute to the low-carb thread by sharing a personal experience.
    Now, we don’t all work the same and I am pretty sure some people might do fine on a low carb diet, but it was definitely not my case. I cut most carbs for a long period of time (about 8 months, if not more). The result? My intestinal activity came to a screeching halt. Everything inside my belly seemed to just have stopped working and I stupidly ignored this fact. I went and got a blood test, only to find out that my cholesterol levels skyrocketed to above 300 (when it should be no higher than 90-100).
    I still don’t consume much sugar, and I definitely eat very low amounts of bread and pasta. But I love lentils, oats and brown rice. I haven’t gained back any weight, I keep doing sports and, even though I still keep carbs low-ish most days of the week, I do have my weekly ice cream and my Sunday pasta. Is it gonna kill me? I’m sure not.

    An overall unbalanced diet will surely harm you. But a bit of indulgence every now and then is really a part of a balanced diet. There’s really no need to be so overly obsessed over any of our creeds.

    That said, thank you for the great post! :)

    • Winnie replied: — October 29th, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

      Thanks so much for chiming in. I hear many, many horror stories of people who’ve gone low carb “for their health”, but ended up doing themselves harm :(

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    Cel — November 4, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

    I think everyone commenting here (and in general) should read the 801010 diet by dr Douglas graham. It will change the way you view ‘sugar’

    • Winnie replied: — November 4th, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

      Hi Cel,
      I’ve read everything and this is the conclusion I’ve come to. Thanks for chiming in, though…I do appreciate it!

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    Kate — November 11, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

    Go you!
    Some folk have been too entirely wrapped up in the hodge podge of which they’ve devoted themselves, i.e. the idea that sugar is Satan. I’m so glad to see your reaction post. You keep on trucking!

    Kate.

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    Jay — January 21, 2014 @ 11:33 am

    Hello, I would just like to say that I greatly appreciate what you had to say. Too many people think that just because something works for them at one point then it’ll work for everyone. Each person’s body is different and has different needs at different times. It’s up to the person to figure themself out in every single way. Mind, body, and spirit, because focusing one one for too long will put the others out of balance. Sure, you can focus on one for a certain amount of time in order to bring balance back to that aspect. Then, once they’ve fallen into place, one needs to maintain that balance throughout their lives, which, life itself is one of constant change.
    I noticed people have pointed out that indeed America does consume a lot more sugar than in the past years (as a whole). I think this is mostly due to the fact that most Americans still drink soda and sugary drinks (think lattes, drink mixes, iced teas, frozen concoctions, alcoholic mixes, etc.). When one takes in these drinks, they are taking in excess calories through excess sugar. Note that I mentioned calories before saying sugar because we all know that excess energy results in weight gain if not used up in some way. Plus, drinking drinks like this on a regular basis can slow metabolism seeing that it imparts the qualities of cold, sweet, and liquid all of which can dampen one’s digestive fire (aka metabolism). Of course, this does depend on a number of factors but I’m being quite general here. ‘Just something for the rest to consider. ‘Keep on blogging! :)

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    Weils — August 6, 2014 @ 10:41 am

    you have listed one egg yolk in the ingredients but have not mentioned it anywhere in the instructions. When do I add the yolk or not at all? First time I’ve come across your blog and loving all your healthy recipes. Thanks!

    • Winnie replied: — August 9th, 2014 @ 8:52 pm

      Hi there,
      Thanks for pointing out my error. I have updated the recipe to include the directions for use of the egg yolk.
      Thanks again!