Low Fat Cinnamon Walnut Loaf (Xanthan-free) for New Year, New You!

Pretty much anyone who knows me from this blog (or anywhere else) knows that I don’t consume refined sugar. In fact, since I started the anti-candida diet in March, 2009, I’ve abstained from almost all sweeteners, refined or otherwise.  (I’ve also abstained from about 1,182 other foods that are verboten on the ACD, but that’s a whole other kettle of seaweed. )

Given my sugar-free stance, I was very excited when Hallie and Lexie revealed the theme for this week’s posts in their New Year, New You event: “Swap the Sweeteners”! The event takes place each Thursday this month and is designed to share tips and tricks to help you initiate–and maintain–healthful changes this year.  Previous topics include Eat More Produce and Snack Smart.  Be sure to check out Hallie’s post today to see what she baked up (yum!) and to enter to win a fabulous package of natural sweeteners, including stevia, agave nectar, unsulphured molasses and raw natural honey!

Looking to Swap Out the Sugar? Here Are My Favorite Naturally Low-Glycemic Alternatives.

Though the ACD prohibits most sweeteners, there are a few permitted (and thank goodness for that!).  Here are my top picks for low glycemic sweeteners that you can use while fighting candida (or any time you wish to replace cane sugar with a healthier option).


[One of my favorite breakfast muffins, sweetened only with stevia.]

Stevia (Stage 1 and beyond):

It seems that the popularity of stevia has really exploded over the past year or so.  This zero calorie, zero glycemic sweetener is my all-time favorite, and I continue to use it pretty much daily as my sweetener of choice.  I’ve already written at length about this all-natural herbal sweetener, so I’ll direct you to this post to learn more.

How to Swap It: Remember that stevia can be up to 100 times sweeter than sugar, so it’s difficult to use as a replacement for all the sugar in a recipe (you’ll be swapping out perhaps 1/2 cup (120 ml) for just 1/8 of a teaspoon (0.5 ml)stevia, for instance, which would alter both the chemical makeup and consistency of your final product).  After years of experimentation, I’ve found a few ways to use stevia successfully in baked goods. For my latest favorite, see the recipe at the end of this post.

[Raw Gingersnap Cookie Bon Bons. . . the spices in these confections pair perfectly with yacon syrup.]

Yacon Syrup (Stage 1 and beyond):

This dark, thick and sticky syrup is derived from the yacon plant, a tuberous plant from the Andes region. It registers low on the glycemic index (reports range from zero to 28), so it’s recommended for Type II diabetics (listen up, Paula Deen!) or anyone seeking to cut back on sugars.  With a texture and flavor similar to molasses (and, I find, with a slightly fermented flavor), yacon can be used in place of other sweeteners.

How to Swap It: Because of its fairly prominent flavor and not-too-sweet taste, I tend to use yacon along with another sweetener in baking; it works especially well with carob, cocoa or winter spices, the flavors of which are assertive enough to stand up to the yacon.

[Black Bottom Almond Mousse Pie with Chocolate Shortbread Crust and Chocolate Ganache Drizzle. . . sweetened with coconut sugar.]

Coconut Sugar or Syrup (Stage 3 and beyond):

Another instantly-popular newcomer to the realm of natural sweeteners, coconut sugar and coconut syrup, extracted from the coconut palm flower, are natural, minimally processed sweeteners that have been used for ages in Southeast Asian countries; the sugar is sometimes known as jaggery. Both are low on the glycemic index (around 35), with a rich, butterscotch or caramel flavor; coconut sugar also contains a good amount of potassium and Vitamin C.  I love the taste of coconut sugar as well as the depth it adds to baked goods.

How to Swap It: Coconut sugar can be used one-for-one instead of regular sugar; the syrup can be used as well, but you’ll need to adjust the levels of liquids and dry ingredients to compensate.  I often use coconut syrup in non-baked desserts such as ice creams, fudge, or truffle balls.

[Mint Chip Ice Cream acquires part of its sweetness from pear purée (no ice cream maker required!)]

Fruits (Stage 2 and beyond):

One of the best ways to replace sugar in your baking and cooking is to use fruit purées instead.  My favorite choice is dried dates (simply soak for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and blend to a paste in your food processor); prunes (aka dried plums) work equally well. However, since I’m not permitted dates on the anti-candida diet, I’ve turned to other fruits for that purpose.  I find that pear purée works wonders to add sweetness and binding power to baked goods; and its mild flavor won’t overpower other ingredients in your recipe.  Applesauce is more commonly used, and works very well, too.

How to Swap It: As a rule, you’ll need to reduce both your liquid ingredients and your sugar to swap it for fruit.  However, note that the texture may be altered as well.  Normally you can replace up to 1/3 cup (80 ml) of sugar with fruit and achieve good results.

Although I’m now able to use coconut sugar in baking, I decided to create a recipe for today’s post sweetened only with stevia so that anyone could enjoy it, whether or not they’re allowed higher glycemic sweeteners. I’ve also used psyllium husks as a binder for the first time, after seeing several recipes with it recently on various blogs I read.  I had some psyllium already in my pantry from a raw foods class I took a while back (it’s a fairly common ingredient among those who eat live foods), so it seemed the perfect time to start playing with it in the kitchen.

It took a couple of tries, but I finally found the correct ratio to produce a tasty bread that binds well without xanthan gum.  As a bonus, the only fat in this loaf is from the nuts and nut butter–no added oils.   The version with quinoa is higher protein (always a good thing for a vegan bread), but I have to admit I preferred the flavor of the amaranth,which offers a more delicate crumb. While it’s not terribly sweet, the flavor is subtle and pleasing–a perfect bread for breakfast or snacking.

The HH has been munching on this for breakfast the past week and seems blissfully unaware that he’s eating something “healthy.”  And I’m entirely delighted that I could swap his regular Tim Horton’s muffin for a treat that’s actually good for him!

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway over at Hallie’s!  And here are this week’s other participants to offer more tips on swapping out the sugar:


This recipe is linked to Cybele’s Allergy Friendly Fridays.

Last Year at this Time: Raw Asian Slaw with Fennel, Beet and Carrot (gluten free; ACD, All Stages)

Two Years AgoRaw Nori Rolls with “Salmon” Filling and Spicy Ginger Miso Paste (gluten-free; ACD All Stages)

Three Years Ago: The Biscuit and the Scramble (to Woo Your Rake) (not gluten free; ACD Maintenance only)

Four Years Ago: Mini Sweet Potato-Chocolate Chip Muffins (not gluten free; ACD Maintenance only)

© Ricki Heller

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  1. So much great information nestled in this post, Ricki! I am totally bookmarking it to re-read over and over again. 🙂 Thanks so much for participating in NYNY.

  2. Love this comprehensive run-down of your sweeteners of choice, Ricki! You basically just largely described my own pantry 😛 I have been experimenting lately, though, with xylitol and erythritol. Have you done much with those?

    • Amber, I don’t use either. I’m just not comfortable using them as I know they must be prepared in a lab–these ingredients aren’t available naturally (ie, without some kind of chemical alteration). If I could make xylitol in my own kitchen, I might consider it. I’ve also read that the wood alcohols can cause quite a bit of digestive upset in some people.

  3. Printed and ready to try. I love that it’s xanthan free. I find that the more multi-grain gluten free flours I use when I bake, the less (or none) xanthan gum I have to use. Thanks for sharing this with us. I’m psyched to try it. I do so love a little crumb of something with my afternoon spot of tea!

  4. Looks delicious and very wholesome, too!

  5. i love how i can eat every ingredient in this bread! thanks so much for this recipe!

  6. So neat that your hubby has been loving your bread and doesn’t even realize it’s good for him. I learned long ago if I told Joe it was healthy I ruined his whole experience. I keep my lips sealed. 🙂

    Love all your tips, Ricki. 🙂


  7. Looks delicious! If (when?) I can eat grains again, I will definitely be making this!

  8. What an awesome breakdown and tutorial here!! And I learned a long time ago that as long as I tell NO ONE in the house that it is healthy until AFTER they are done eating it, then they will totally devour it. Once they know it is healthy, for some reason they are not as inclined to eat it. I, on the other hand, will eat twice as much of something once I know it is good for me. Just another difference between men and women. Go figure! LOL
    And I just printed out this recipe! It sounds absolutely amazing!!

  9. I just pinned your Black Bottom Pie recipe because I MUST make that!!

  10. the cinnamon walnut loaf looks so good! thanks for sharing!

  11. This is great. There are so few healthy sugar free recipes around which I find surprising. I have made a thumbprint cookie that was really nice but have misplaced the recipe sadly. It used a combination of xylitol, 1T to what was, I think, 1t stevia. I know I have the xylitol correct but not positive about the amount of stevia. It worked very well so I need to have a really good search or experiment until I find it again. Your recipe sounds really good.

  12. Well, this is quite the post! Thanks for breaking down the sweeteners Ricki. You are incredibly resourceful and incredibly creative. You inspire me every time I read your recipes! This bread looks amazing – and the ingredients are so nutritious too. That said, please make me the Black Bottom Almond Mousse Pie when I come to visit you and the Girls. xo PS Loved the Paula Deen shout-out!

  13. A perfectly warm, cozy, inviting winter recipe. Thanks Ricki!

  14. Love this bread you’ve created, Ricki! I’ve got an abundance of walnuts right now so I’m looking for delicious ways to use them. 🙂 Great post! I always learn something when I visit and learned several things this time! Thank you for the recipe and all your info! 🙂


  15. I would love to find ways to lower my sugar intake, I have a love for candy. Love this round up, really great tips I never thought of to use to sweeten my sweet treats:-) So happy I didn’t miss this lovely post, thank you! Take care, Terra

  16. Love the recipe, but your adjustments for making it grain free are wrong…both amaranth and quinoa are grain-free (they are seeds)…it’s the teff flour that is NOT grain-free. I will be trying this, as it looks great. 😀

  17. You know what? this post just so makes me want to try these recipes! 🙂

  18. Great ideas here – I haven’t ever got into the stevia cheersquad but I notice they are now selling it at the supermarket so I have no excuse not to try it. I wish they would sell coconut sugar in the supermarket – I love it but it is so expensive and so hard to find. And I have discovered some neglected psyllium husks that I still have no idea how to use – so would love to see a bit more about these here. Love the sound of the walnut bread – am all in favour of less sugar and more flavour.

  19. So glad to see the use of psyllium. I have been wondering about that for a friend who is sensitive to flax. Coconut sugar – have to watch that one, it can be addictive but I love it. It seems sweeter than cane sugar, white or brown.

  20. Coconut sugar, you say? Why, I have a priceless bag of that beautiful stuff right here, don’t I? 😉

    Lovely looking loaf!!

    (Why does that sound like a euphemism?!)

  21. This is going to be our new breakfast bread! Great job Ricki and thanks for a wonderful recipe. 🙂

    Be Well,

  22. Love getting all that info in one spot 🙂

    I must have a crazy sweet tooth; I don’t find stevia to be much sweeter than sugar. Maybe it’s the brand I’m using…it is cut with something else, but I can’t find pure stevia – at least in the store. I need to place a giant onlne order of goodies.

  23. i was just thinking of getting some psyllum husk to use for some gf yeast bread experiments! the loaf and those raw gingersnaps looks amazing!

  24. You are a goddess! As soon as I have some free time, I’m making this! Pinned it 🙂

  25. Great post- thanks for the information. Is there anything to replace the whole psyllium husks? I can’t find those around here.

    • Jen, you could probably use ground flax seeds, but you’d need to use a bit more. I’ve found that they don’t bind quite as well as the psyllium. Xanthan gum, if you use if (or guar gum) is also an option–maybe 1/2 tsp (5 ml) per cup (240 ml) of flour? But note that I’m just guessing here, as I’ve never made it that way! If you try it with a different binder, please let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  26. So informative!

  27. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I am GF and Xanthan gum seems to destroy my stomach for some reason. Can’t wait to try this one out!

  28. Great post, very helpful. 🙂 One day I will experiment with stevia!

  29. I’ve made this a few times now with the same substitutions, and it’s always delicious! Moist, not too sweet, and with just the right amount of crumb. I substituted 2 1/2 Tbsp ground chia seeds for the psyllium husks, 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice for the apple cider vinegar, and an equal amount of arrowroot powder for the potato starch. Thanks for another fabulous recipe! My kids have numerous allergies, including to many grains that make GF cooking extra challenging (like rice, oats, and corn). I can always count on your blog as a source of inspiration in the kitchen.

  30. THank you so much, Melissa! I’m thrilled to hear that the recipes work for you and your family. And glad to hear that the chia worked for you, too. 🙂

  31. Dear Ricki again another fantastic recipe! I’m hooked on your recipes! And although I’m not strict with my candida diet at the moment, I try to do my best when I can. Can I ask you why this lovely cinamon bread is only allowed from stage 3 and beyond? I’ve checked the ingredients twice and I’m not quite sure which ones are not allowed on stages 1 and 2.
    Thank you so much!

    • I think that with so much flour AND potato starch, this may be too “carby” for some people on the ACD earlier stages. It obviously depends on which diet you follow, though. I was being cautious just in case. 🙂

  32. I just wanted to say thanks for this amazing bread recipe. It is so versatile, I have made sweet and savoury versions now and it is the best bread I have made or eaten since developing an intolerance to gluten. I went on the anti-candida diet and gave up gluten two years ago and I have been vegan for over 20 years. I almost cried with delight when it came out of the oven and again when I sliced it! Bread, lovely soft sliceable bread! Beats anything I have tried, and so much more economical to make AND without all those bizarre sounding ingredients that the horrible shop bought stuff has in it. I so used to love sandwiches and toast, now I can have them again. Thank you Ricki, your recipes are the best!

    • Oh, my, Bev, thank you so much for your very kind words! I’m thrilled that you like the bread so much–and great idea to make it savory as well! It’s funny, I was never a huge “bread person” before I went on the ACD, but I do like a bit now and then. . . so glad I came up with this so other people can enjoy their bread, too! 🙂

  33. Ricki, I have just discovered your website recently and am so grateful for your recipes! I have cut out sugar recently, but am also gluten-free and vegan, so your recipes are perfect for me! I am learning so much from your website, thank you! 🙂
    I made this loaf with buckwheat and brown rice flours as I didn’t have teff and quinoa, but it turned out just delicious! Thanks again for your recipes and I look forward to trying many more.

    • Hi Mel,
      Thanks so much for your comment–I am thrilled that the site is working out for you! And thanks for letting me know about the loaf, too, so that other readers will know they can make these kinds of adjustments, too. Great to know it works with other flours! 😀

  34. justice says

    Can I use oat and brown rice flour instead? Also flax instead of husks

    • I haven’t tried it with different flours, so can’t guarantee results, unfortunately. Flax doesn’t work the same way as psyllium, though. It would be too gummy with flax. You could try using (less) xanthan gum instead, but again, I haven’t tried it that way. Sorry!

  35. FYI, coconut sugar is not known as ‘jaggery’, that is incorrect! Jaggery is used in Indian cooking and it’s essentially raw cane sugar and is dark brown in colour and very sticky in consistency.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know, Tessa! I guess I was misinformed. Sounds more like a cross between brown sugar and pure molasses than what I know as coconut sugar (though both sound yummy to me). 😉

  36. Hi Riki love it! Can I replace teff flour with anything?

    • Shaz, you could try either brown rice flour or quinoa flour. . . but since I’ve never made it with those, I can’t guarantee the results (I’m just guessing here). 🙂 If you do give it a try, please come back to let me know how it turns out that way!


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