Hi!  My name is Ashley. I’m a 20-something food lover living in New York City.  I have a passion for baking that is rivaled only by my passion for nutritious foods.  I believe in real food – whole, unprocessed, healthy.  Food that comes as close to nature as possible.  I also believe in sweet treats – brownies, muffins, cookies.  Who says these can’t be one in the same?

The baking bug hit me at an early age.  I remember the excitement I’d feel when Grandma came to our house each year during the holidays to make Christmas cookies.  We’d spend an entire day rolling sugar dough and cutting out reindeer, wreaths, ornaments and Santas.  Into the oven they’d go while we mixed red and green icing from scratch and organized different colored sprinkles into bowls.  Then came the decorating!  Grandma had these great time-worn metal piping tools that helped me create fun designs and made me feel like a very professional little baker.  We’d make hundreds of cookies.  It was wonderful.

As I got older, I started to bake on my own.  I scoured cookbooks and websites for recipes and was always eager to try a new baking creation.  We constantly had dessert in the house because as soon as one was getting low, I’d make another.  Caramel-filled chocolate cookies.  Pumpkin streusel bars.  Gooey butter cake.  Peanut butter-honey brownies.  I sometimes wonder if my family ever got tired of all the sugar!

When my interest in nutrition was sparked, I became more aware of what I was eating.  I wanted to fuel my body with wholesome food to keep me healthy and give me energy.  I began looking for healthier recipes and adapting the not-so-healthy ones.  It all started with the classic applesauce for oil substitution.  From there it was using whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose.  And now I’ve entered the worlds of agave nectar, date sugar, whole-wheat pastry flour.  I’ve learned about a lot of good tricks and new ingredients over the years and can’t wait to expand my baking repertoire by learning more.

I created Sweet + Natural as a way for me to combine and explore my passions for baking and nutrition.  I test recipes, create my own and muse on related thoughts along the way – sort of like an interactive cookbook.  Everything I bake on Sweet + Natural is made from whole foods.  No refined flours or sugars.  And no butter or unhealthy oils.  Just wholesome ingredients.  Deliciously sweet and all natural.

Hope you join in on my baking fun!  I’d love to hear about your healthy baking tips or favorite recipes as I share mine.  And feel free to contact me at ashley.sweetandnatural@gmail.com with any questions or comments.  Happy baking!

See Ashley Facts: Part I and Ashley Facts: Part II if you want more fun info on me!

55 Responses to “About”

  1. 1 Cassidy November 3, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I love the idea for your blog. Its great and reminds me of me. I am learning to love to bake. But I too am conscience of health and whole foods. I too do the oil and applesauce and Whole Wheat Flour. I cant wait to read your recipies and substitution ideas!

    • 2 Luisa August 12, 2011 at 10:07 am

      I just came across your website and I am very happy I found it! I have for years loved baking and of course sweets! I have recently started my new journey on raw foods and eating only natural unprocessed foods, however, along this new journey I have been trying to adapt my old baking reciepes as well! I am happy I have found your site and can gather some ideas and be creative in my new healthy baking!

      Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. 3 Hangry Pants November 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Great story. I love baking, too and can’t wait to read more of your baking adventures with wholesome ingredients. It’s something I try to do as much as possible!

  3. 4 sweetandnatural November 4, 2008 at 1:04 am

    Cassidy – I’m glad you like the idea! Hope to see you back!

    Hangry Pants – “It’s something I try to do as much as possible.” One of the reasons I started this blog was to make sure I devote time to bake! I love it, but work and life can get so busy that I don’t always get a chance. I’m trying to make it a priority. 🙂

  4. 5 Andrea November 4, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I’m so excited to have discovered your blog! I am always looking for baking recipes that substitute natural sweeteners for refined sugar. I’ve got a couple of favorites but have been wanting to do some experimenting…I can’t wait to read about what you come up with! Thanks for sharing… 🙂

  5. 6 sweetandnatural November 4, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Andrea – I’m excited to have started a blog! Hope you enjoy my recipes and share some of yours!

  6. 7 Bridget P November 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Ashley! Thanks for stopping by my blog- I look forward to reading about your baking adventures! I love to bake too and am always trying to make my favorite childhood recipes healthier.

    Even if you didn’t tell me you were from St. Louis…the gooey butter cake is a dead giveaway 🙂 I had never heard of it until I moved here – so good, but it’s almost TOO sweet for me!!

  7. 8 sweetandnatural November 5, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Bridget P – Hahaha. I totally forgot that gooey butter cake is an STL trademark dessert. Have you ever tried to make a chocolate gooey butter cake? Crazy sweet! Thanks for saying hello. 🙂

  8. 9 Heather November 6, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Hi Ashley– I love the idea behind this blog! I’m going to try your brownies soon.

  9. 10 sweetandnatural November 6, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Heather – Thanks! If you do make the brownies, try the adjustments I mentioned. I think they’ll make them even more gooey and flavorful! Let me know how they turn out!

  10. 11 healthy ashley November 14, 2008 at 11:12 am

    What a great theme for a blog- sweet and natural… because I love both!

  11. 12 sweetandnatural November 14, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    healthy ashley – Me too! It’s the perfect combo for me. Glad you like it. 🙂

  12. 13 WineDiva November 15, 2008 at 10:34 am

    Hi Ashley,
    I love to bake!
    I have substituted applesauce or prune pureed for oil in my browines for a long time.
    I look forward to read your blog and learning new recipies from you.

    Thanks !

  13. 14 ttfn300 November 15, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    ooh, i love that i just found your blog… right up my sweet alley 🙂

  14. 15 sweetandnatural November 15, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    WineDiva – I’ve heard about substituting prune in brownies, but I’ve never tried. I’ll have to give a shot at some point!

    ttfn300 – Hi! Glad you like it!

  15. 16 Megan November 24, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I love the idea of this blog! I am very into baking healthy…my mom and grandmother are incredible bakers. They definitely do not bake the healthy way, though 🙂 I am excited to learn how to and get recipes from you!
    I am excited to read more of your blog, and I am glad I found you!

  16. 17 sweetandnatural November 24, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Megan – Thanks! My grandmas are great bakers too. It must be in the genes. 🙂

  17. 18 inittoloseit December 5, 2008 at 10:12 am

    This is a great blog, Im glad I stunbled upon it. I too share a passion for cooking =)

  18. 19 sweetandnatural December 6, 2008 at 8:58 am

    inittoloseit – Thank you! Hope you continue to enjoy reading. 🙂

  19. 20 Erin January 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I love this blog. 🙂 Has anyone ever told you that you’ve got a gorgeous, strong chin?!

  20. 21 sweetandnatural January 5, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Erin – Hahaha – Actually, no one has ever told me that! But thank you! I should note that I’m kind of sticking my neck out like a dinosaur in that picture so the chin action might be a little more prominent than usual. I’ll have to post another pic sometime and you can let me know what you think. 🙂

  21. 22 Lauren April 20, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Hey there Ashley! I am also a twenty – something who loves healthy sweets. I love it so much that I’d like to learn so much more. Do you have any good ideas about finding a school to help me in this? Are you a pastry chef? I’m just not into baking with all that sugar either and fear if I go to my local college for a degree in pastry I’ll be stirring up tons of butter and sugar!! Thanks! 😉


  22. 23 sweetandnatural April 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Lauren – Sent you an e-mail!

  23. 24 magsmith July 9, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Wow, soooo happy a stumbled onto your site. Just what I was looking for. I’ve recently committed to cleaning up my diet and was worried I’d never be able to eat my favorite things …cakes, cookies, etc. I’ve already made your Almond Nut Cookies!! Wow, fantastic!!! Can’t wait to make more of your recipes. Thanks so much!!! maggie

  24. 25 Jenna August 26, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    great about me page! love your blog!

    i recently made my own blog and would love it if you could check mine out!

  25. 26 whitney August 29, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    just discovered your blog- it’s great. very jeal that you live in nyc! can’t wait to read more. finally started my own blog- check it out 🙂 xo, whit

  26. 27 dale311 September 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I discovered your blog while googling a recipe for peanut butter apple muffins. I immediately fell head over heels in love with your little corner of the universe…so much so that I’ve written a post about it on my blog. 🙂 I look forward to many more fantastic recipes!

  27. 28 Melissa September 21, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Hi Ashley,
    I too just recently stumbled upon your blog, looking for all natural carrot cake. I am in the VERY beginning stages of eating healthier. At this point, it is taking me extra long at the grocery store, looking at ingrediants, knowing whats good and what’s better. Thank you for creating this blog, it is truly a Godsend. I plan on making the carrot cake during Christmas, and giving to family and friends. I’m sure they will appreciate a healthy treat. Thanks again!

  28. 29 natalie (nono2yoyo.com) September 30, 2009 at 10:46 am

    You’re so darn cute! i love that picture,…you look so happy!!

  29. 30 Jeanne January 31, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I love your recipes. Tired the banana coconut tonight and the family loved it!! My daughter is four and asked for seconds!
    I really think that you need to get hooked up with the publishers of Clean Eating….you’d make a fortune. There is a spot on the last page of every issue that has a recipe of a dessert or something sweet. That should be your page!!

    Keep up the great recipes….I really appreciate them.

  30. 31 Marissa February 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    this is a fabulous website! i am sharing it! you are wonderful. so impressive. thank you. thank you. thank you.

  31. 32 Selina February 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Wow, I love your website! I’m bookmarking it right now 🙂 I have a lot of allergies (dairy, soy, peanuts, among others…) and so many of your recipes are adaptable for me. Love it!

  32. 33 Jenn N. March 21, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Hi there!! Thanks for stopping by my blog. How fun we have a friend (Alexi) in common. I’m also very excited about your blog as I have recently added naturally sweetened desserts back into my diet this year after a two year hiatus.

  33. 34 Justeen @ Blissful Baking March 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Hi, I know you haven’t updated in a while, but I just wanted to say how much I LOVE your blog! I absolutey love eating sweets and baking, and love your approach to sweet & natural baking. As soon as Lent is over (I have given up all added sugars), I will trying out your awesome recipes. They look SO good!

  34. 35 Heather September 21, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    My sister Melissa just told me about your website, you are awesome girl! 🙂 We love your recipes and we are planning to make the pumpkin brownies when I visit home Oct. 3rd. By the way, I love Peanut butter too!

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