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From the Archives: Ah, the Season of Sweets

By Natalie Criscione

“’Tis the season to be jolly, but not careless about our eating habits,” says Patty Martin in the January 1979 edition of the Coop Scoop.  She knows this isn’t easy, though, writing,“During the holidays, many tables across America will be heavily ladened with delectable sweets” and “Most of us have many fond and flavorful memories from our childhood of these ‘wonderful’ goodies that were so carefully and lovingly prepared by our moms and grandmas.”

Every year we look forward to the traditional cookies, cakes, and pies, which are as much a part of the season as a special holiday candle or a decorated tree. 

“But, what danger lies so cleverly disguised in these holiday treats?” asks Martin.  

I have no doubt the 1979 readers of the Coop Scoop had the answer to that question, just as we do today.

Yes, that’s right. Sugar.  Processed sugar, no less, of which it is estimated, Martin reports, “that the average American citizen eats about 120 lbs … per year.” And such consumption can be “correlated with the rise of cases of diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, obesity and hyperactivity in children.”   

This is not new news for those of us inhabiting the 2022 version of planet Earth where, despite scholarly articles and studies warning of its dangers, sugar consumption remains high (around 50-75 or more pounds per person, per year). Nevertheless, Grandma’s famous sweets keep making their annual appearance. And, we keep eating them!  

Is it possible to still have the sweets but reduce the sugar, you ask?

Yes, it is.  

Martin leaves us with some timeless advice about altering ingredients, and provides a recipe worthy of anyone’s health-conscious holiday repertoire:  

When converting an old family recipe, it is a good rule of thumb to use 1/2 the measurement for the [sugar] substitute (ex. 1 cup of sugar= 1/2 cup of honey). Also, cut down on the liquids in the recipe.

While writing this article, “visions of sugar plums danced in my head”. So I thought that a good, wholesome holiday recipe might be in order.

This recipe was reprinted from The Tassajara Bread Book.

Banana Nut Bread


2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup honey

1 grated lemon rind

2 beaten eggs

2 cups banana pulp

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup raisins


Sift together flour and baking soda. Blend oil, honey and lemon rind until nearly smooth. Beat in eggs. Add sifted ingredients in three parts alternately with banana pulp, beating until smooth after each addition.  Fold in chopped notes. Place in greased loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees or until fork or toothpick in center comes out dry.  Cool five minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy!

Material for this article came from the pamphlet “Sugar” by Pure & Simple, 795 W. Heading St., San Jose, CA 95126, and The Tassajara Bread Book,  Shambhala Publications, inc, 1123 Spruce St., Boulder, Colorado 80302

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