Beyond the Yoga Mat - A column by Megan Huylo
It’s no secret that refined sugar is public enemy #1 for those who are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, but yet we still continue to consume it in massive quantities. In fact, according to the Associated Press, American adults consume 22 teaspoons of pure refined sugar every day and teens eat a whopping 34 teaspoons a day. Yuck. So how about we look at some sugar alternatives?
Look, let’s be honest, we all know that it would be in our best interest to completely remove added sweeteners from our diet, but what if you had a really bad day and just need that piece of cake, or you just went an entire week on a plant-based diet and want to reward yourself with a scoop of mango sorbet? Here are some sugar alternatives that you may want to consider using next time around:
1. Maple Syrup
When I was in middle school, one of our classes involved collecting maple tree sap from the forest nearby and learning how the syrup is produced. At the end of the course, we all went home with a rather large bottle of the sticky stuff and most of us used it to smother pancakes. I never really considered using it in cooking until a few years ago. Maple syrup is one of the least refined sweeteners available and many chefs and bakers use it in place of refined sugar for healthier treats. It’s also a great source of iron. Starting to like these sugar alternatives?
2. Dried Dates
Soaked and puréed dried dates are commonly used as sweeteners in raw diets and it’s one of many super simple refined sugar alternatives. Soak a handful of dates over night in a bowl of water and puree in a food processor until smooth and preserve-like. Gradually add it to whatever dish you’re preparing and taste test for desired sweetness.
Ever use applesauce when baking as a substitute for oil? How about a banana as an egg substitute? Well, they also provide sweetness to your dishes allowing you to reduce the amount of additional sweeteners the recipe calls for. Try it out!
What are your favorite natural sweeteners?