No Sugar Added, No Taste Subtracted
From the very first bite, babies have an affinity for sweets. There’s no learning involved. It’s innate. It’s how God made us – to enjoy the taste of sweet.
Because we have a culture that is inundated with the marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods, these foods tend to be demonized. Once we do this – once we label a food ‘bad’ or ‘good,’ we then begin to project this label on ourselves when we eat it. Thus, the dieting cycle continues.
If we get rid of the restrictive mentality – that sugar needs to be eliminated – then how do we create a lifestyle and eating plan that helps us manage sugar appropriately and enjoy the flavors we love?
One strategy is to begin satisfying your desire for sweets with naturally sweet foods. Before you knock this idea, insisting that a banana will never replace your favorite chocolate chip cookies, it’s possible your taste buds might be surprised.
The Sugar Shock
It’s true almost ¾ of the foods on the grocery store shelves have added sugar. It’s true that most of us consume more sugar than is ideal. And, it’s true that there are more than 45 different names for sugar on food labels. But, it’s also true that there are some clever and easy ways to make sweet treats that have nourishing, good-for-you ingredients.
These are 5 sweet treats that are simple to make, include little to no added sugar and are surprisingly satisfying:
Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondie Bars
Gooey and decadent, you will never know these chocolate chip blondies are made with good-for-you ingredients! If the idea of chickpeas in your chocolate chip dessert bar sounds odd, you are not alone. BUT, if you are willing to give this recipe a try, I bet it will become the recipe you tell your friends they need to try!
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) replace the flour giving this dessert a boost of fiber and protein. This swap also makes this dessert gluten free for those who cannot consume gluten. Almond butter is subbed in for butter and adds a light nutty flavor and a nice boost of healthy monounsaturated fats. The sweetening power comes from pureed dates, and the chocolate chips, of course. This recipe couldn’t be easier as it is blended up in a food processor and then ready to go in the oven.
This Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondie Bar is yummy warm when the chocolate is just slightly melted! But it’s also fantastic just out of the fridge for a cookie dough texture!
Oatmeal Date Balls
5 ingredients and 5 minutes – that’s all you need to whip up the perfect sweet bite. These oatmeal date balls have absolutely no added sugar and are perfect for the after lunch treat or as a mid-afternoon snack with a cup of hot tea or coffee. The dates and oatmeal contain a specific type of soluble fiber, beta-glucan, that research continues to affirm plays a positive role in insulin sensitivity, heart health, and immune function.
Store extra oatmeal date balls in the freezer to help with portion control. These are also a fun treat to serve at book club, Bible study or your next party.
Super Simple No-Guilt Blueberry Syrup
Sweet and juicy, summer blueberries are cooked down with a bit of water to create a guilt-free blueberry syrup perfect to drizzle on pancakes or stir into yogurt. Once it cools and sits in the refrigerator, it becomes a preserves-like consistency and can be spread on toast, muffins, or peanut butter and blueberry jam sandwiches.
This is one recipe you can’t mess up! These antioxidant-packed berries are good for you and good eats! Whether you have taken the family to a blueberry patch for some weekend fun or just picked up an extra pint on sale at the grocery store, this blueberry syrup will become a new family favorite.
Carrot Cake Snack Balls
This sweet treat embodies everything you love about carrot cake – all in a portable bite-size package. When raisins are pureed, they add the perfect level of sweetness to these carrot cake snack balls, without having to add any extra sugar. Unlike the Oatmeal Date Balls, these have protein powder added to give a little extra boost of protein.
These snack balls have a nice balance of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrate to help keep blood glucose and insulin levels in check, which is important for those who do and don’t have diabetes. Who knew that eating veggies for dessert could be so tasty!?
Flourless Blueberry Muffins
Grab a blueberry muffin at your favorite coffee shop and you will take a bite into 29 grams of sugar with virtually no fiber. BUT, make your own blueberry muffins at home without any added sugar by using pureed dates. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor and in less time than it takes to drive to get your java, they will be hot and ready!
All of the traditional white flour is replaced with a can of garbanzo beans making these muffins flourless and gluten-free. You’ll be amazed at how moist, light, and fluffy they turn out. For an easy on the go breakfast, make a batch (or double) on the weekend and then rewarm and smear with almond or peanut butter for an easy weekday breakfast. No fuss and full of flavor!
So, what’s the play call?
God didn’t mess up. He didn’t give you taste buds to enjoy sweets only to make them off-limits. He wants you to enjoy them! But, when you choose foods (and recipes) that nourish your body and give you sustainable energy, you can live your day with vitality, instead of fighting off foggy brain and lethargy, often common after a big dose of sugar.
Give 1 or 2 of these recipes a try and see what you and your family think. It’s a lie that you have to cut out sweets entirely, but it’s also a lie that nourishing foods are dull. Remember – you are in charge of your temple and you decide what to believe.
Small but strategic substitutions are what helps you (and me!) create a sustainable healthy living plan that we love, tastes great, and allows us to eat and live well!