The American Heart Association recommends that children consume less than 25 grams of added sugar per day. That’s exactly six teaspoons. But kids love sweets, and there’s no need to eliminate them entirely. It’s all about minding the portions.

How can you help your kids be mindful and enjoy sugar in moderation?

One great way is to swap out packaged sweets for home-baked treats and to do the baking together with your kids. Many store-bought foods are overloaded with sugar. But if you bake some of the very same treats with your kids instead, you can control how much—or how little—sugar you use.

Bonus: you get to spend time together. Spending time with your children, especially when baking, is a great way to teach the importance of healthy eating or being mindful of the foods they are placing into your bodies. And it’s fun!

Here are two of my favorite ways to control the sugar in home-baked treats:

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1. Measure out smaller amounts of sugar than a recipe calls for.

2. Use ingredients that are naturally lower in sugar: Fruits like raspberries and strawberries, for example, and 80% dark chocolate or above.

Ready to try? These three easy recipes are always a big hit to bake, and to eat:

Fruit with Chocolate Shavings: 

  1. 1 cup of fruit. Fruits that are lower in sugar are raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, grapefruit, watermelon, oranges, peaches, cantaloupe.
  2. Add shavings of 80% dark chocolate which contains many health benefits. Dark chocolate is rich in minerals including iron, magnesium, and zinc. The cocoa in dark chocolate also contains antioxidants called flavonoids.
  3. You can even add cool whip for a little fun! On average, 2 tablespoons of cool whip contains only 2 grams of sugar. 

Ricotta Cheese Cookies:
Makes 30-40 cookies

1 ricotta (whole)
Two eggs
½ cup of sugar
1 cup of butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon of vanilla
4 teaspoons of baking powder
3.5 cups of flour

Directions:

1. Combine butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat with mixer until fluffy. Add ricotta and mix together. Add one tablespoon at a time of flour; mix in baking powder and continue to mix batter with beater. Once the mixture has all the added ingredients, use a tablespoon to gather the mixture onto your hands and make a ball. A tip? Add a little water to your hands then work with the batter to form a ball (the batter won’t stick to your hands). Once completed, cover a tray with parchment paper and place the ricotta cookies on the tray. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes.

Apple cake

6 eggs
1 cup of sugar
8 ounces of oil
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
4 medium-size apples- peeled and sliced

Directions:
Beat eggs and sugar together until fluffy and then add the rest of the ingredients. Using a glass tray covered with parchment paper, add half of the mixture. Place the sliced apples into the mixture and add the remaining mixture to cover the sliced apples. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place tray in the oven for 40 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see if the cake is baked through. If the toothpick is dry then the cake is done.