You’ve been working diligently at improving your eating habits. Long gone are the days of sodas and vending machine cookies – no more added sugar for you. You’ve embraced healthy foods with fervor, incorporating more whole foods into your meals and snacks. But, on occasion, you want to indulge in foods that taste like heaven – something sweet and gooey you can sink your teeth into and savor each and every bite.
Is there a solution for attaining such sweet pleasure without succumbing to foods with added sugar?
Take heart! There is!
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Before we get to the goodies, let me remind you why you should continue your pursuit of refraining from added sugar in your diet – even when your sweet tooth has seemingly taken your brain hostage. Mounting evidence indicates the connection between added sugar and health maladies. A recent review from the Mayo Clinic reports the links between increased fructose consumption (in the form of sugar and concentrated sweeteners found in processed foods and fruit juice) and diabetes, high blood sugar, and other metabolic disturbances. The overwhelming conclusive evidence shows that a diet full of foods without added sugars – aka whole foods such as fruits and veggies – can help reverse the adverse effects of a highly-processed diet. Though fruits and veggies contain natural sources of fructose; the water, fiber, and phytochemical content of these whole foods dilute the effects of the natural fructose on blood sugar and cholesterol levels. You’re scoring a win-win when you choose whole foods to curb your sweet-tooth cravings! Here are five of my go-to foods without added sugar that still taste like heaven:
1. Grilled, ripe peaches
Sweet, messy, gooey, aromatic…are you drooling yet? Top these babies with a little plain Greek yogurt and you’ve got a decadent dessert! Or, sprinkle feta cheese crumbles and chopped basil to add a hint of savory. This concept spills over into baked fruit – apples, pears, grapes and bananas. Roast veggies such as sweet potatoes, acorn squash, parsnips, and cherry tomatoes to enhance their natural sweetness. Add creative toppings such as roasted coconut flakes, chopped dried apricots, or pumpkin pie spice.
2. Dehydrated fruit such as bananas and mangoes.
Drag out the dehydrator and start making delightful “candy.” Slice ripe bananas and pears for a sweet, chewy treat. If you can find ripe mangoes – those are great too! No dehydrator? No problem. If you purchase dried fruit from the store, make sure it does not contain added sugar.
3. Frozen grapes.
Oh, heavenly little sorbet bites! Freezing the fruit concentrates the natural sweetness and provides the frozen texture you’re jonesing for.
4. The banana
I needed to devote an entire category to the banana because it is ridiculously versatile. Frozen bananas blended with a little plain yogurt, cocoa powder and natural peanut butter make a whipped ice-cream substitute. Mashed bananas mixed with oats and baked create a base for a cookie without added sugar. Ripe bananas blended with berries (straw, blue, rasp, black) make no-added sugar popsicles. Baked bananas offer a creamy texture you can add to hot cereal or toast. Seriously, embrace the banana.
5. My most favourite go to food without added sugar that tastes like heaven is ripe fruit.
We don’t get much of that at my home in Alaska. But, there are very few foods that rival sweet, juicy, wild raspberries and blueberries native to our state. Picked right off the branch – now that is heaven!
It is possible to enjoy tantalizing treats without added sugar. Whole foods such as fruits are a natural source of heavenly sweetness. Not only do they help curb the sweet tooth, they offer health benefits as well. I encourage you to try some of my favorite sweet-treats. Let me know what you think! And, while you’re at it, tell me what you do to stay true to your whole foods approach without sacrificing flavor.