It seems like sugar has been all over the news lately. We are learning each day about more and more dangers associated with a high sugar diet. Personally, I have known I should cut back on my sugar intake for awhile, but I've never been able to commit to it (see all the cupcake recipes on the old blog) and for very good reason: sugar is addictive! Fortunately for me, my sugar 'addiction' has never manifested into any health issues, but too much sugar can lead to diabetes, obesity, food cravings, heart disease and behavior issues in children. In my opinion, one of the biggest issues with sugar today is that we aren't finding our sugar in our nightly after-dinner bowl of ice cream. No, today we're finding loads of it in our morning breakfast cereal, in that mid-morning granola bar or the soup/sandwich combo at lunch. Simply put, once you start reading the labels, you see that sugar is in nearly everything we eat. Trying to cut it out is so very, very hard. For that reason, I was super excited to find this brownie recipe that uses honey instead of white sugar!
One of my passions is teaching my young daughters how to choose healthy foods or even crave them. My older daughter is definitely my bigger challenge. She loves sweets! And lucky for her, some sort of sweet is provided to her nearly every day. She has been offered (and usually accepted) cookies/lollipops/candy/mints at more places than I can even count - school (this is a big one!), the grocery store, restaurants, CCD, story time at the book store and even boutique shops! I don't want to be the parent who always says 'NO' but I want my girls to understand that those things should be thought of as a 'sometimes treat'. If I can't control what is going on 'out there' at least I can control what I am doing 'in here'.
We recently went camping and s'mores were a requirement for my daughters. I found a more wholesome option for the chocolate and graham crackers we used to buy, but when it came down to finding better marshmallows, they just didn't exist. I did find vegan marshmallows, but they too had sugar listed as the first ingredient. What to do? Find a recipe without sugar and make them myself!
This recipe uses honey to sweeten the marshmallows. Honey has been found to have more nutrients than white sugar so it is slightly healthier, but it raises the blood sugar and is quite dense in calories so it should still be consumed in moderation. I, personally, prefer honey over sugar because it is less processed and in a more natural state than sugar.
These marshmallows were extremely well received by my two toughest critics - Jordan and Brecken! They melted nicely over the campfire and oozed out of the graham cracker just like they were supposed to! The honey flavor is very predominant, so you can have a lot of fun with different flavors of honey - orange blossom would be amazing!!
DIY (Sugar-Free) Marshmallows
1 cup water
4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pour 1/2 cup of the water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water. Whisk until combined.
Pour the other 1/2 cup of water into a small saucepan with the honey. Heat the mixture over medium heat until a thermometer registers 230° F - don't stir the mixture! Keep the heat at medium and 'swirl' the pan if necessary. This step could take a few minutes.
With the mixer running on low, very slowly pour the honey/water mixture into the gelatin mixture. Once the mix is incorporated, turn the mixer on high. Whisk on high for several minutes (5-10) until the mixture turns white and fluffy. Do not overmix.
Pour the mixture into an 8x11 pan lined with parchment paper. For thinner marshmallows, use a 9x13 pan. These come out pretty thick and were great for roasting over the campfire! Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Allow the marshmallows to set in a dry place (not the refrigerator) for at least 8 hours before cutting. Cut into squares about 1x1 inches big. A pizza cutter dipped in coconut oil would work well here. Place them on a cutting board and cover with a dry, clean dishtowel overnight so that they dry out a little more. This step allows them to become easier to handle.
Store the marshmallows in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks. If you are planning on toasting them on the campfire, try to make them at least 2 days beforehand so that are sufficiently dry to the touch.
I see endless possibilities of the fun we can have with these marshmallows! I'm planning on experimenting with all sorts of flavors of honey...maybe adding some cocoa powder to the honey mixture....maybe some fresh mint leaves around Christmastime.... let your imagination go crazy!
Adapted from An Organic Wife
Pittsburgh area mom striving to provide clean, healthy, REAL food for her family!