Managing the sugar chaos over the holidays

You can probably guess that I’m not a fan of sugar or artificial sweeteners even though I do have a sweet tooth. With the holidays fast approaching there is going to be lots of cooking and baking and perhaps you are wondering how best to handle sugar consumption over this celebratory period of indulgence.

We all know the negative health effects of eating too much sugar, especially “added sugars” like those in flavoured yogurts, soft drinks, salad dressings, cereal, pasta sauce and ketchup. (I could go on but I’ll stop here). Added sugar is hiding just about everywhere in the grocery store. Ingesting this refined sugar spikes our blood sugar levels and insulin, and increases our risk for a whole host of issues. Always read labels on processed foods to see how much sugar there is on a per serving basis.  Remember that four grams of sugar is about one teaspoon.

How about artificial sweeteners?
Research shows us that consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners may promote weight gain as well as diabetes.

Your best bet? Stay away from artificial sugars and limit added sugars.  If you are baking, use 25% less sugar. You will be surprised how sweet the dessert will still be.

To add some sweetness without adding sugar, try the following:

Raisins
With antioxidants and fibre, they will sweeten any baked good. For a creative spin on things, blend a cup of raisins in a food processor, and add it to your batter or dough.

Cinnamon
Spice up your coffee with cinnamon. This super spice adds a subtle sweetness, boosts your immunity and helps stabilize blood sugar levels without adding any calories.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
For a warm winter treat, mix some unsweetened cocoa powder in a glass of warm almond milk. It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth without the extra sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla of peppermint extract for extra flavour.

Processed Dates
Substitute two-thirds of a cup of dates for one cup of sugar in a brownie batter. Or, use them as a base for homemade granola bars. Dates have a low glycemic index and add a subtle caramel-like sweetness.

Puréed Fruit
Try using extra-ripe bananas and eliminate the sugar when baking banana bread. The fruit naturally becomes sweeter as it ripens, so there’s no need for extra sugar. Apples, pears and pineapples are also good options for adding sweetness.

Syrups and honeys
Maple syrup is nice alternative to white sugar as is raw honey which has a high level of antioxidants and also contains antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Lucuma powder
Made from whole Peruvian lucuma fruit that has been dried at low temperatures and milled into a fine powder. Yellow lucuma powder has a unique, maple-like taste.

And last but not least, ENJOY! If something really tempts you, go ahead and eat it. Just eat a small piece to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Here is a favourite treat of mine. I often make a batch and leave them in the freezer for when I want something sweet.

Chocolate Bliss Balls
 1 ½ cups walnuts
8 pitted dates
1/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp of water if needed

Optional:  add a few teaspoons of ground espresso (my fave) for a coffee flavour or cayenne pepper (hubby’s fave) to make them spicy.

Process the walnuts in a food processor until crumbly.  Add dates and process until mixture starts to stick together.  Add cocoa, vanilla and maple syrup and process until mixture becomes wet enough to roll, add a tsp of water at a time if needed.  Roll in to 1” balls and store in the fridge or freezer.

 

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Comments (4)

  • Avatar

    Sandy

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    The agave has been omitted in the chocolate bliss balls recipe.

    • Avatar

      Karen Gilman

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      Thanks for pointing that out! I actually replaced the agave with maple syrup but forgot to modify the directions. You can use either as a sweetener but I find that most people have maple syrup on hand but not agave.

  • Avatar

    Vicky

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    Gosh, “non-nutritive sweeteners” – that’s a term I’ve never heard before!

    So many people talk about lucuma powder, I must look into it. I also love maca powder which has a lovely caramel flavour and is great at sweetening too, without the sugar.

    • Avatar

      Karen Gilman

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      Yes, maca is good too! Nice to add to raw bliss balls or in a smoothie.

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