Written by Lisa Dreher, MS, RDN, LDN
Top 5 Alternatives to Sugar-Laden Treats

Top 5 Alternatives to Sugar-Laden Treats

So many of my patients say they don’t have enough “willpower” or “strength” to overcome their cravings for sugar. Rest assured your cravings go beyond willpower. Not only is sugar addictive, but as human beings, we are wired to desire sugar! To our ancestors, sweet meant safe and quick fuel that would help them outrun danger and keep energized until they foraged for their next meal. Today, sugar is everywhere and added to 74 percent of our packaged foods! Unfortunately, because we typically don’t travel miles across barren terrain to get our next meal, this excess sugar is fueling nothing more than heart disease, diabetes and much more. With all that said, does this mean we should never have an ounce of sweetener or enjoy any treats for the rest of our lives? Of course not.

Every person is different, and if you have diabetes or certain medical conditions, you may in fact need to abstain. However, if you eat a balanced, whole food-based diet and are moving your body, there is definitely room for a sweet treat or two. My recommendation is: if you want something sweet, try making it yourself! Also, try swapping the processed sugar for a more natural alternative such as honey, molasses or maple syrup. Keep in mind that these forms of sugar are still sugar and therefore, should be used and eaten in moderation. Here are 5 sweet treats that demonstrate what moderation” looks like:    

  1. Raspberry coconut “ice cream”
    Most ice cream, even dairy-free alternatives, are loaded with sugar. The average ½ cup serving of ice cream contains 4 to 5 teaspoons of sugar! Try this recipe in place of your regular ice cream for a sweet treat with less sugar.
  1. Berry crumble
    In place of pies and cakes, you can make a satisfying alternative with your very own berry crumble. Here is a delicious recipe:

    •  ½ cup almond flour
    • ½ cup rolled oats
    • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • ½ teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
    • 2 cups of mixed berries

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Add the flour, oats, cinnamon, oil and vanilla to a large bowl and mix together. For a little extra sweetness, add an optional tablespoon or less of maple syrup. Place the berries in a baking dish and cover evenly with the crumble mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes if berries are fresh or 30 to 40 minutes if berries are frozen. This makes 2 servings. Enjoy!

  1. Chocolate avocado pudding
    • 1 ripe avocado
    • ¼ cup unsweetened raw cocoa powder
    • ¼ cup coconut milk
    • 1 tbsp pure honey or maple syrup
    • ½ teaspoon alcohol-free pure vanilla extract
    • Optional: almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, nut butter, cocoa nibs or berries

Purée the avocado in a food processor until smooth. While processor is running, slowly add the cocoa powder and milk a little bit at a time and process until combined. Lastly, stir in the sweetener and vanilla extract. Transfer the mousse to individual bowls and store in the fridge until chilled. When ready to serve, add the toppings of your choice and enjoy! This makes 2 servings.

  1. Chia seed pudding
    •  2 1/2 cups coconut milk
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
    • 1/2 cup chia seeds

Add all ingredients to a 1-quart Mason jar.  Add the lid and shake the contents thoroughly to combine. Refrigerate until very thick and pudding-like, at least 4 hours or overnight, shaking or stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, feel free to add chopped almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, nut butter, cocoa nibs or berries.   

  1. 70% or darker chocolate 
    If you are dairy-free, make sure to check the allergen list at the bottom of the nutrition label. Enjoy up to 1 ounce  or less daily.  

 

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