Oh my gosh! I can’t believe that I’ve almost finished Sugar Free February! A whole month of no added sweeteners or dried fruit! I’ve given you recipes for oat cakes and no fail pancakes, but no refined sugar free baking so far!

Today I want to introduce you to Jo Hodson, a health coach, wellness crusader and recipe developer, who has found a way to ditch the refined sugar but keep sweet treats in her diet.

“I’m Jo from Including Cake, and yes I too smile at the irony of a such a blog name in the land of sugar free discussions.  In actual fact the name of my blog came from the fact that as I was transitioning to a plant-based whole food lifestyle, free from animal products, refined wheat or sugar, I was determined to prove to my doubters that plant-based life wasn’t about lettuce leaves and that I could still satisfy my sweet tooth!

jo hodson health coach


I am passionate about going refined-sugar-free, because I believe that whilst there may be no one size fits all approach when it comes to diet, whatever your dietary preference- plant-based, paleo, low carb, high carb etc quitting sugar is the ONE thing that EVERYONE can hugely benefit from. Quite simply there is no need to include refined sugars in our diets, and what’s more I believe getting creative with natural sugars in fruits can be a lot of fun and no compromise once you get into the swing of it!

I love the fact that Rachel and so many others have taken part in ‘Sugar Free February’ and stepped up to the challenge of cutting out all sugars including dried fruits (super hard core!) This forces creativity and thinking outside the box. When I support people in going sugar free, I too initially suggest cutting out the high sugar fruits and dried fruits such as dates, as it can be very easy to rely too heavily in ‘energy balls’ and the like to fill the ‘chocolate bar void’, whereas allowing out palette to adjust to eating less sweetness is absolutely key.  It surprising how quickly you do adjust, and in just a few weeks your desire for the same level of sweetness as before vanishes. Flavours of all foods often become more intense and ‘flavourful’ when you cut out the refines sugars too, little bonuses like this which you might never anticipate.

I am a certified health coach, yet whilst I love ‘nutrition’ what really lights me up is ‘creativity’ around food (and life in general). I believe it is creativity that is the key to overcoming overwhelm and fear and it is those two negative emotions that can often sabotage our goals. What better way to get creative with food than find clever ways of getting a natural sweet hit.


Sugar Free Cake Recipe

I would love to share with you one of my favourite recipes, this recipe was actually a finalist in PETA UK’s bake-off last year and has since been made (and loved) by so many people. It contains mainly store cupboard ingredients with nothing fancy. It does include a little maple syrup but you may well find it sweet enough without this as the ripe bananas and dates offer the majority of the sweetness. You can swap the spelt flour for ground oat flour if you prefer a wheat free substitution.

sugar free baking - including cake

Click on the recipe to open it in a new tab


Jo’s Top Tips for Sugar Free Baking

My no. 1 tip for healthy low sugar baking…. use less sweetness than you think you will need (or what a recipe call for) taste test the batter than add extra if needed. Another top tip to rescue a cake that you misjudged and is just not sweet enough once cooked- add a naturally sweet glaze on top to boost it, or combined with fresh fruits to make a dessert.


Need Help reducing your sugar intake?

If you are feeling curious about going sugar free but would love some extra support, I have also created a 4-week guided workbook that leads you step by step to cutting out sugar over the course of 4 weeks. I focus not only on nutrition, but more deeply on the practical tools and the powerful mind-body interaction. It’s a fascinating journey and you can check it out in more detail here.”

sugar free workbook FCOV


I have so many more sugar-free treats over at includingcake.com and I am always fired up by discussions about creative ways to cut sugar, so please come and join me in my two favourite hangouts… Instagram and Facebook.”


I absolutely love Jo’s approach to sugar free baking and would encourage everyone to approach it with an open-mind and have fun being creative. You never know what wonders you might create.

Have you ever done any reduced sugar / sugar free baking?
How did it turn out?


P.S. Don’t forget to check out the guest posts from nutritionists Jenna Hope and Sara Jackson on reducing sugar intake.


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