Sometimes we feel all of our efforts to stay in shape and eat healthily during the summer are slowly trumped by temptation of the holiday season’s treats and sweets.
Sugar can be the single ingredient in our diet that separates us from our skinny jeans. Since we would all like to have our cake and actually eat it too, here are some sugar alternatives that will help you alleviate the extra pounds, and better yet, may even provide a healthy dose of nutrition.
Stevia is a zero calorie, natural sweetener that can be used in anything from morning coffee to pumpkin pie. This is an ideal option for those who struggle with diabetes or blood sugar issues. Stevia comes from a plant, so is natural in origin; however, some packaged sources are not as healthy as they seem, as many commercial brands mix it with unnatural ingredients. Real stevia is a green leaf ground up into a powder which sometimes can have a bitter after taste that some don’t like. Improvements were made over the years to remove bitterness, resulting in a liquid extract. Sweet Leaf, a non-GMO brand with no additives, is my favorite and comes in different flavors to make baking even more fun.
Raw honey provides many health benefits. Used in many ancient medicinal remedies, it contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols which help heal the body, anti-inflammatory properties, and even antimicrobial compounds that fight off bacteria, especially in the mouth.1 Take note that not all honey is the same. Manuka honey is ideal for most of the medicinal properties. If Manuka is out of budget, raw honey sweetens recipes and supplies high antioxidant content. Locally sourced, raw honey has been long thought to help with seasonal allergies and the immune system. Avoid regular store brand honey which is usually processed, as it is void of the health benefits and acts just like cane sugar.
Dates are the greatest source of nutrition of all the above-mentioned sugar alternatives. Dates supply calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. This autumnal fruit also contains vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, folate, and vitamins A and K. Dates have been reported to help with constipation as they also have high fiber content. Dates are not considered low in sugar by any means, but from a nutrition perspective, they beat plain sugar any day!
Coconut Sugar is the easiest replacement for white sugar in any recipe. You simply swap sugars in equal amounts. Derived from coconut water, it supplies electrolytes and is high in potassium and other nutrients. Since it also scores low on the glycemic index, you can keep blood sugar more stable and increase your nutrition at the same time.
Please know that if you are using regular sugar in your baking and cooking, the majority of today’s sugar usually comes from genetically modified beets and corn. Artificial sweeteners are no better, as they are toxic to the brain and body.
This season, create a more nutritious version of “treats you can’t say no to” by using one or a mix of these healthier options.
Tiffany is a certified nutrition consultant and functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner and can be reached at (760) 285.1221. www.GlutenFreeWithTiffany.com