It’s so natural to crave sugar. We are predisposed to like sugar from infancy. Babies smile and laugh after drinking something sweet and frown and cry after drinking something bitter. Sugar makes us happy. Eating too many high sugar foods every day such as soda, sweet tea, pies, candy, and my Starbucks hazelnut latte may result in health problems and unintended weight gain. The good news is there are plenty of natural ways to sweeten our food and beverages with additional nutritional benefits.
You want me to drink tea with no sugar?
Drinking natural tea flavored with spices like cassia cinnamon, and ginger may improve your health. Cassia cinnamon may lower blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, and ginger is a natural remedy for nausea. Drink these natural teas without honey, sugar, agave nectar, Stevia or artificial sweeteners like Splenda.
Healthier ingredients for desserts
Looking to reduce the amount of fat but not taste in your baked desserts? Try unsweetened applesauce and bananas, good sources of fiber and low in calories. Unsweetened applesauce adds moisture and flavor in place of vegetable oil or eggs in cakes, quick breads, and muffins. Use a 1:1 ratio in recipes. Example: ¼ cup of oil replace with a ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce. Mashed bananas are a healthier replacement for butter and eggs in a vegan dessert recipe.
Just add a pinch of cinnamon or a spoonful of monk fruit syrup
Cinnamon on whole grain toast or in lattes instantly adds a boost of flavor. Several studies have shown Cassia cinnamon, a certain type of cinnamon may lower blood glucose levels in people living with diabetes. Try sprinkling a teaspoon of cinnamon to oatmeal, smoothies, and coffee to satisfy a sweet craving.
Monkfruit syrup is made from this Southeast Asia fruit’s extract and blended with other ingredients to create a low-calorie alternative to regular syrup. Add a teaspoon of this syrup to sweetened plain Greek yogurt and mix with unsalted nuts and a tablespoon of chia seeds. This sweetener is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the Food and Drug Administration.
My favorite food sweetener
In addition to the list of sweeteners above, I want to add one of my favorites: Medjool dates. Medjool dates satisfy my sweet tooth because they are rich in flavor and provide essential B vitamins, potassium, and manganese. I put two dates in my Banana Berry smoothie (see recipe below) for sweetness and flavor. Sugar isn’t needed. It’s so easy to overeat these tasty treats so be aware two Medjool dates are 133 calories. For a quick and tasty snack, get two Medjool dates, split in half, take out the pits and replace with a teaspoon of almond butter. Then sprinkle with cinnamon. Yum!
Banana Berry Smoothie Recipe
Serving Size: 1
¼ cup of blueberries
6 oz unsweetened soy milk (or 2% milk)
1 Medjool date (chopped without the pit)
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 ice cubes (optional)
Place in a blender and mix until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!