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A Homecoming

February 8, 2010

My mother-in-law came home yesterday after being gone for several months.  Now that Ali and his sister are older she divides her time between Los Angeles, London, and Pakistan.  We definitely missed her a lot.  Especially Maya.  My daughter would happily move in with my in-laws and spend her days in bed watching cartoons and polishing off the numerous boxes of Godiva my father-in-law showers her with, while my mother-in-law spoon-feeds her toast and scrambled eggs.

Enjoy it Maya because when I pick you up tomorrow?  You’ll be lucky if I can muster enough energy to make you toast and scrambled eggs, never mind feed it to you. 

As I’ve mentioned before, Ali’s mom is amazingly generous and sweet.  Naturally, she came bearing gifts for me from her travels:



An Apron:

And a few other things I didn’t photograph. 

I am always trying to think of ways to thank Ali’s mom for everything she gives/does for us.  Honestly, there isn’t too much we can do except make her things we think she’d like.  So yesterday morning Maya and I woke up bright and early to bake up a batch of muffins. 

Since Ali’s mom is a fan of Stevia (and I am doing everything I can to stop her from eating Splenda), Maya and I decided to try using the NuNaturals Baking Blend that NuNaturals, Inc. was so kind to send me.  We’ve literally made Date Muffins 100 times before and have received SO many compliments and requests for the recipe.  So I was very interested to see if our muffin fans would notice a difference in taste with the Stevia substitute.

Date Muffins

1 3/4 cups of flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat and 3/4 cup white)
2 tablespoons of NuNaturals Baking Blend or sugar
2.5 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup of dates, chopped
1 egg
3/4 cup of milk (I used Almond Milk)
1/3 cup of canola oil

1. In a big bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together and add the dates. Stir, making sure the dates don’t stick together.
2. In a separate bowl combine the egg, milk, and oil. Add to the dry mixture.
3. Stir until just mixed (the more you stir, the less fluffy the muffins become).
4. Grease a muffin tin and divide the mixture among 9 muffin cups (or more if you want smaller muffins. My family likes BIG muffins!)
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

While we waited for Ali’s mom’s flight to arrive, we shopped my muffins around my parent’s house to see what my family thought about them:

  1. My brother is a picky eater. About as picky as me. He chowed down 2 muffins with no problems and no comments about them tasting different.
  2. My mom has been making these muffins for as long as I can remember.  She doesn’t approve of my using whole wheat flour to health-ify her recipe but she didn’t notice I used Stevia in lieu of sugar. You win some, you lose some.
  3. Maya and Ali shared a muffin…they both said they it was good. Maya said it would have been better with chocolate chips instead of dates.  I ignored her.
  4. My mother-in-law had half of one as I begged her to toss all her Splenda away and to use the Stevia I put in her kitchen instead.  I think she was exhausted after her flight and probably didn’t want to listen to a lecture from her ungrateful daughter-in-law so she said she would.  I really hope she does.
  5. My dad is on his second week of The Fat Flush Plan (yay for him!) so he couldn’t eat these, but as a diabetic he uses Stevia and Agave and is pleased with both sugar substitutes.  I promised to make him these when he can eat wheat again.

I obviously couldn’t try the muffins but I did put Stevia on my oatmeal and it tasted pretty good.  Ali and I agreed that it had a bit of an aftertaste though, and unfortunately I got a slight stomach ache the three times I tried Stevia.  Since nobody else complained about this I will just chalk it up to my numerous stomach issues and learn to live without sugar or sugar substitutes.  That aside, I think Stevia is a fabulous sugar substitute when baking, especially for diabetics and those watching their sugar intake, and I will be using it again in the future. 

What are your opinions on sugar substitutes?  Have you had any adverse reactions to them?

34 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2010 4:26 am

    I used to use a lot more Splenda. I never really noticed an adverse reaction to it. Now I just avoid it and will use the real stuff the rare occasions I have something that calls for sugar. 🙂

  2. February 9, 2010 4:52 am

    I hate artificial sweetners, they’ve always given me headaches and stomach aches. But more importantly what amazing shoes!

  3. February 9, 2010 5:00 am

    I’ve become a complete agave nectar convert, although I’m curious to try stevia. But I’m trying to consciously stay away from white granulated sugar, for sure, and hate the taste of Splenda.

  4. February 9, 2010 5:07 am

    I always get stomach cramps when I use artificial sweeteners.It is not a pleasant experience but I like agave syrup.

  5. February 9, 2010 5:18 am

    You are so funny. Honestly , I love the off-handed remark that Maya ought to soak it up cause she ain’t getting it from you …so real 🙂
    Your MIL is a busy traveller!
    The muffins look great. I usually use anything: sugar, agave, maple syrup, I use stevia all the time…i think splenda is stuff is fine too…unless u down the whole box 🙂
    I used to make date squares as a kid, good stuff….have to make those again.

  6. February 9, 2010 5:29 am

    I haven’t had any adverse reactions to sugar substitutes. I think they are ok in moderation. I do drink a diet coke about once a month and if I get coffee out (very rare nowadays) I usually add a splenda.

  7. February 9, 2010 5:30 am

    Oh my gosh!!! What a wonderful mother-in-law to bring you such nice things!!

    I’ve been using Stevia, and I’m growing to like it more and more…I like the truvia brand the best!

    Your muffins look delightful!

  8. February 9, 2010 6:54 am

    I’ve never used any artificial sweetener before – never saw the need to do so. Most of the time it’s either maple syrup or honey (for oats), or normal sugar (for baking). Or best still, use natural sugars like from raisins/dates!

    I love how “untamed” your muffins look – the crackly uneven top and all. Your in-laws are so kind!

  9. traynharder23 permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:22 am

    i’m not a fan of sugar in general, and still avoid sugar substitutes. i used to drink coffee with 12498712498splendas, but then i realized it tasted funny and wasn’t healthy.

    anyways, sory about your tummy problems! i don’t know if you talked about them before, but what are you intolerant too?

    delicious muffins tho!

    • February 9, 2010 4:07 pm

      Hi Tra – just about everything…soy, gluten, wheat, most dairy. That is why I live on eggs!!

  10. February 9, 2010 7:27 am

    Nice sandals for yr so cal summers. Only my daughter got presents when relatives come from abroad – I am not a vip now. So lucky you. i like honey and brown sugar or no sugar. Nice ymmy muffins.

  11. February 9, 2010 7:30 am

    What wonderful gifts!!! And muffins is such a sweet gesture.

    I have some opinions on artificial sweetner. But I don’t want to take over your comment section 🙂 My advice to my clients is to try to minimize it as much as possible, if not eliminate completely.

  12. erintakescontrol permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:39 am

    Agave nectar all the way for me! I still bake with organic sugar, but when I bake, I tend to give everything away. If I’m baking something for my home, I definitely use agave!

  13. Danielle permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:41 am

    That was so nice of your mother-in-law to bring you clothes! And the muffins sound really good 🙂 I like to use Steiva but I still haven’t gotten the “converstion rate” down. That it, a tsp. of Stevia equals a cup of sugar or something huge like that

    • February 9, 2010 4:08 pm

      Hi Danielle – I just substituted stevia for the equivalent amount of sugar…2 tablespoons.

  14. February 9, 2010 7:43 am

    Oh I’m so guilty of it! I use Splenda all the time. ALL the time.

  15. February 9, 2010 7:50 am

    I’m so jealous of those shoes!! And the saris (?) are sooo pretty. I’m always jealous of Adam’s friends from India at big parties like their dental school graduation. Everyone looks so BEAUTIFUL in their attire 🙂

  16. February 9, 2010 8:21 am

    I use sugar substitutes, and I’ve never had an adverse reaction to them ever. However, I’ve read enough to know that too much of ANY of them is not a good thing over time. I tend to hope from one to another. I never buy the same one twice in a row.

    I think moderation is really important when it comes to anything artificial, no matter how natural it claims to be.

    I love those clothes, by the way. I have a wonderful mother in law too. Isn’t it wonderful? It makes life better to have such great in-laws.

  17. February 9, 2010 9:44 am

    Sugar substitutes scare me, though my husband is infatuated with them to the tune of drinking Splenda-infused Diet Coke 4-5 times per day. I usually just use real sugar, or honey if it’s a tea or oatmeal situation.

    The muffins look great! And that’s so sweet that your mother-in-law is so generous. My mother-in-law has no idea when my birthday is.

  18. February 9, 2010 9:50 am

    I was actually raised to fear artificial sweeteners, so I never consciously tried any. I’m still not too sure what I think about stevia either… I use it lightly on occasion, but never in big doses. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable subbing it in for a real sweetener though.

    Those muffins sound really good though! The last batch of muffins I made are coming to an end, so I might try these out 🙂

  19. whydeprive permalink
    February 9, 2010 11:07 am

    I use agave instead of sugar, Im scared of ALL sugar substitutes. Stevia is supposedly ok – but I havent gotten up the nerve to try it.

    Its so nice of your mother in law to bring you gifts!! Can never get enough of that kind of treatment!! Its also flattering because she must really like you!

  20. February 9, 2010 11:18 am

    I LOVE that apron!! It’s adorable 🙂

  21. February 9, 2010 12:26 pm

    ….I have three pairs of shoes (that I wear). Can we still be friends?

  22. February 9, 2010 1:25 pm

    So THAT’s why you have so many shoes!! How sweet of your mother in law!!

    Those muffins look great!! 🙂

    • February 9, 2010 4:09 pm

      Absolutely! My MIL buys me just about all my clothes and shoes. Otherwise I’d have about 5 pairs!!

  23. yoda permalink
    February 9, 2010 1:28 pm

    I stay away from artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and yes splenda, too. I don’t think they are really that safe.

    I use SweetLeaf brand of stevia, which is a very pure stevia extract that has 0 calories, 0 carbs, and a 0 glycemic index. It is probably the only stevia brand I’ll ever use. The more I learn about Truvia, for example, and the reaction people have had to it, the less I want to try it.

  24. February 9, 2010 5:32 pm

    Oh you lucky lucky girl! Look at all the awesome stuff your MIL brought you! I’m loving the shoes and clothes. 😀

    I haven’t tried Stevia or Agave yet, but I hear so much about them. I keep both sugar and Splenda in the house and I drink diet soft drinks, so I’m not the best person to ask about these things.

  25. louisianagrown permalink
    February 9, 2010 6:02 pm

    Okay, there are no words for your mother-in-law. As far as sugar substitutes, I’ve been trying to cut out the Splenda and use more Agave recently. I have never noticed any stomach aches or anything like that, but I know that stuff just isn’t good for you.

  26. February 9, 2010 6:32 pm

    I love stevia. It’s definitely my sweetener of choice. I use either the packets or a drop or two of pure stevia extract. When I was using Splenda, I noticed that it actually increased my cravings for more sweets, but not so with stevia!

    love your blog, by the way =)

  27. fitandfortysomething permalink
    February 9, 2010 6:39 pm

    Gosh look at all of your cute stuff especially the shoes. I tend to just use sugar, honey or agave. I NEVER use artificial sweeteners-they are death!

  28. February 9, 2010 7:16 pm

    Hey darlin! Omg, awesome gifts. Your mother in law is so kind. Awesome shoes and clothin! Gorgeous! I am so in love with this muffin recipe. Looks fabulous! I really like stevia alot and its the only sugar substitute that I use. I use stevia in alot of things from oatmeal to tea. Either than that I just use maple syrup or agave. Have a great day hon!!!

  29. traynharder23 permalink
    February 9, 2010 7:58 pm

    just ucla. i am thinking about joining another gym, but it’s very different from a 24 hour fitness. it’ll be on san vicente. CFLA.

    I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY DISLIKE THE PEANUT BUTTER! my mom has weird ideas that it causes breakouts!!!

    HAHHA. asians are weirder!

  30. February 10, 2010 11:01 am

    I am a user of Stevia and love it. I have tried all the different kinds. I actually love Stevia in the Raw now. It is a great product and not chemically altered. Glad the recipe came out great.

  31. February 11, 2010 2:55 pm

    What beautiful clothes! Your MiL sounds very generous!

    I have not tried any fake sugars! My crazy uncle was talking up Stevia to me the other day though. He said I had to make sure I used the natural green powder, not the refined sugar. Blah blah blah…

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