By Alicia Uhl
We’ve all heard that too much highly processed, refined sugar can have devastating effects on your metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases. This is no joke…Here’s why:
- The average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. That adds up to over 130 pounds of the stuff every year.
- Sugar contains tons of calories with no essential nutrients. All it does is cause tooth decay by literally feeding harmful bacteria in your mouth! (Just ask your local dentist.)
- An excess amount of sugar can have a devastating effect on your metabolism.
- Sugar is highly addictive. When you eat sugar it causes a huge release of dopamine in your brain, which keeps you coming back for more.
What many people don’t realize is that there are so many healthier, alternative sweeteners and desserts out there that won’t damage your health as much and taste just as sweet, if not more!
So put down the donut and the caramel macchiato with whipped cream and caramel drizzle. I’m about to share some of my favorite substitutes with you, starting with six high-quality sweetener alternatives.
Let’s dive in:
- Agave – Produced from the leaves of the Mexican succulent plant, Agave
– It is about one and half times sweeter than table sugar.
– Lowers the glycemic index more than table sugar does.
– Make sure to buy Organic Agave.
- Coconut Sugar – From the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm plant
– Same sweetness as table sugar.
– Has a low glycemic index and contains some nutrients and fiber.
– Look for labels that say coconut sugar, coconut crystals or coconut palm sugar.
- Lucuma Powder – Produced from the subtropical fruit native to South America
– Sweet, maple flavor.
– Can help boost the immune system, has no effect on blood sugar and contains nutrients.
– Be sure to buy 100% lucuma powder.
- Maple Syrup – Made from the sap of sugar, red or black maple trees.
– About 3 times sweeter than table sugar.
– Lower fructose content than table sugar, but don’t be fooled it’s still sugar.
– Buy Organic pure grade B maple syrup.
- Medjool Dates – Made from the Date Palm tree that thrives in desert conditions
- Known as “Nature’s Candy”
- One serving, 2 dates, provides 8% of the daily recommended value (DRV) for potassium, 12% for dietary fiber and 4% for magnesium, as well as important vitamins and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and vitamin B6.
- Monk Fruit – Made from a green melon that grows in the mountaintops of Asia
– About 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar
– Non-caloric, no impact on blood sugar and may be anti-inflammatory.
– Buy pure monk fruit or pure lo han gou sweetener.
Now that you have the secret to high-quality sweeteners, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are some of my favorite guilt-free dessert recipes that won’t make you run for the hills when you step on the scale:
Frozen Fruit Sorbet – or as I like to call it, “Nice” Cream 🙂
Frozen fruit can be such a treat, especially when blended into a beautiful and vibrant sorbet. Try adding frozen bananas or berries to your blender and blend until you achieve a thick sorbet consistency. If using frozen bananas, add a tiny bit of water, which will help blend into a more creamy “ice cream” consistency.
Try my Peanut Butter Spirulina Nice Cream recipe below:
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
- 1/4 tsp green spirulina powder
- Toppings: sliced peaches, frozen blueberries, granola, shredded coconut
- Add frozen bananas, peanut butter and spirulina to a high speed blender with a splash of water. Blend on low until you achieve a creamy ice-cream texture.
- Transfer to a bowl and top with your favorite fresh or frozen fruit, coconut and granola. Enjoy!
Berries with Yogurt and Granola
No longer just reserved only for breakfast, yogurt with berries and granola is a perfect dessert to satisfy those sweet tastebuds, without derailing your health!
Fruit and Veggie Ice Pops
Bye-bye corn-syrup laden popsicles of the past. Say hello to ice pops packed with real fruit ingredients…and veggies too!
- 1/2 Green Apple
- 1 Lime, peeled
- 1 large handful of Spinach
- 1/2 inch fresh Ginger, peeled
- 1/2 ripe Banana
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. Pour into ice pop molds. Freeze for at least 3 hours before eating.
Oat, Coconut, Chocolate Delight
- 1/4 cup shredded coconut flakes
- 1/2 banana
- 1/2 cup uncooked raw oats
- 2 Tbsp dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
Mash banana with a fork, set aside. Grate the dark chocolate on a cheese grater to get small flakes. Mix all ingredients together and serve raw.
By simply replacing refined sugars with these high-quality alternatives you’ll begin to notice that your tastebuds will start to change. Fruit will start tasting sweeter and you’ll find that you crave sweets less often.
Now this isn’t to say that you won’t ever crave sweets again, because let’s be real, we all have sweet tastebuds that deserve to be nourished. So the next time you get a hankering for something sweet, treat yourself to a dessert that your body and health will thank you for!