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How to Say Yes to Sweet While Saying No to Sugar

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

Satisfying your Sweet-Tooth

By: Pam Smith, RDN

If you think healthy eating means a prison sentence, especially when it comes to desserts, you are in for a surprise!

Yes, the truth is that as long as you continue to use sugar-laden foods or sugar substitutes, you will keep your taste buds trained for sugar. The healthy goal is to cut back on its use so you no longer need everything to taste sweet. Allow your taste buds to change so that the desire for sweetness can be met in a safe way – from fruit and other naturally sweetened foods. Relying on the sweetness of fruit and using only small amounts of honey, leaves you flavor – and lots of it!

If a recipe doesn’t rely on sugar for texture (like certain cakes and cookies), I try to eliminate or replace sugar with concentrated fruit juices, applesauce, pureed bananas, prunes, or apricots. I also replace sugar with smaller amounts of honey or pure maple syrup. Although these are still forms of sugar, the benefit is that they have a higher sweetness concentration so a smaller quantity may be used. The addition of cinnamon or vanilla will enhance the sweetness of the dessert even more.

No Sugar Recipe Modifications

When a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you can instead use:

  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup or 1/4 cup honey (reduce liquid by 3 Tbs. or add 3 Tbs. flour); reduce baking temp by 25 degrees

  • 3 mashed bananas, plus 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and touch of vanilla

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup

  • 1 cup apple juice plus 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder as a substitute for 1 cup milk in a recipe

  • 1/2 cup dried fruit puree (pureed apricots, unsweetened pitted dates, prunes) with a touch of cinnamon

  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, crushed pineapple or mango puree with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and a touch of vanilla

“Chai Pear and Blackberry Crisp with Orange Vanilla Ricotta Cream” gives us a delicious example of how this can be done – replacing Sugar in the Raw with the a small amount of honey. This scrumptious crisp that can be used for brunch or dessert is completed with a nutty, crunch topping for extra texture, and uses P.S. Flavor!™ Mai Chai in the ricotta rather than a heaping amount of sugar. When selecting fruit for your crisp, choose fruits that are seasonal (pears and blackberries are wonderful for the fall and winter, while peaches and raspberries will be most sweet in the summer months) and buy them ripe – giving the most natural sweetness, and many times eliminating the need for more. It’s a perfect addition to the high-protein, flavor-packed brunch bar that was featured in the December 2020 P.S. Flavor!™ Cooking Club! To get the full menu and recipes, click here.

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