Guest Post: Getting Creative with Sugar Free Baking + Recipe (Jo Hodson)

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 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.



  1. Lynne Harper
    February 27, 2017 / 10:59 am

    What a fabulous post. Im a sugar craver and I hate the felling it gives, the incredible high then the crash. Its something I have been thinking more about lately so this has been extremely informative x

  2. February 27, 2017 / 11:15 am

    That cake recipe looks great – I’m really keen to try and give up refined sugars so I’ll give this a go x

  3. February 27, 2017 / 12:30 pm

    Jo has a great approach to living without refined sugar and I like her ideas about being creative with fruits and their natural sweetness. The cake recipe here looks really delicious and easy to make as well x

  4. February 27, 2017 / 4:39 pm

    That cake looks insane! Will definitely try this in the coming week 🙂

  5. February 27, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Yum I love dates! What a great alternative. I need to eat less sugar, I just have such a sweet tooth so you could really help me!

  6. February 27, 2017 / 5:27 pm

    I am trying to cut out my sugar intake. I think i am truly hooked! I believe in everything in moderation, but sugar can really tire you out. It is nice to hear of ways to “treat” yourself while being healthier x

  7. February 27, 2017 / 9:47 pm

    What a great, guilt-free cake recipe – I know what I’ll be doing this weekend when I’ve got a bit of time to bake!

  8. February 27, 2017 / 10:10 pm

    The choc banana brownie bread sounds great I might give that ago. I need to try cutting sugar down a bit further and have been working on it for a little while now.

  9. February 27, 2017 / 10:22 pm

    Wow can’t believe that your sugar free feb is nearly over. It is amazing how creative you can get without refined sugars and this date cake is a beauty x

  10. February 27, 2017 / 11:05 pm

    Oh that recipe looks good. Well done on doing sugar free February I definitely wish I could quit sugar for thst long.

  11. February 28, 2017 / 7:32 am

    I’m so glad I found this. I mostly follow whole30 which is sugar free as well.

  12. February 28, 2017 / 9:13 am

    You are my hero! I start and finish my day on sugar and am truly addicted. I need to bookmark this and give it some thought!

  13. February 28, 2017 / 9:25 am

    I can’t believe you’ve almost gone the whole month that’s amazing. It shows you can still make yummy things which are sugar free x

  14. February 28, 2017 / 10:45 am

    oh wow that brownie looks so lovely x

  15. February 28, 2017 / 11:54 am

    Well done on your achievement, this cake looks amazing am always looking for new things to bake x

  16. Dannii
    February 28, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    That cake looos amazing. It’s so hard to give up sugar, but it makes you feel so much better.

  17. February 28, 2017 / 8:45 pm

    Oh wow, that cake looks incredible!! so moist and chocolatey!

  18. March 1, 2017 / 4:58 am

    I need to check out your four-week workbook on you cutting sugar. By the way, I droll for a moment on the cake! haha

  19. March 1, 2017 / 10:43 am

    What a great post – and really fascinating to read about the effect of removing refined sugars on our sense of taste. I love the tip for rescuing a cake with glaze too – so simple!

  20. March 1, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    I eat refined SugarFree too – this is a great post. I have a bit of honey every now and again but that’s it. Great to show people that SugarFree baking isn’t that hard!

  21. March 1, 2017 / 5:41 pm

    I love the idea of using natural sugars in fruits etc!! I would love to try this recipe especially for the kids that could do with having less refined sugar!

  22. March 1, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    Sounds great and very useful! I have just given up sugar for lent!

  23. March 1, 2017 / 10:35 pm

    I’ve never baked refined sugar free but have been saving recipes to try. We try to eat as much natural sugar products as we can and limit the refined sugar products as it’s healthier for my kids

  24. March 1, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    OMG the chocolate banana brownie bread looks absolutely delicious! I would really enjoy a piece of that! xxx

  25. March 2, 2017 / 1:04 am

    Ohh the brownie looks fab I really should try this out as I’m healthy eating but I love sweet treats! L x

  26. March 2, 2017 / 7:28 pm

    wow, looks an amazing cake and so glad that you share this with us, I would love to try this cake

  27. nicol
    March 3, 2017 / 11:59 am

    ooo I’m bookmarking this. that cake looks absolutely amazing. i really want to make it. hopefully tonight

  28. March 3, 2017 / 9:13 pm

    I’m aware that I eat far too much refined sugar and intend on doing something about it. Great to know that my love of baking cakes won’t be hindered too much too.

  29. March 6, 2017 / 12:14 pm

    I was searching for the Cake recipe (sugar-free) and found yours recipe. It really helped be in making cake. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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