Would you love to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet? Whether it’s the extra sugar/ honey/ sweeteners in your porridge or all the baked goods that are packed with sugar, I’ve got you covered!
Luckily, mother nature has provided us with a variety and abundance of different tastes, flavours and textures that can come in handy when looking to ditch processed sugars and looking for a more natural solution to support health and wellbeing.
Ancient cultures successfully used spices, herbs and fruits before refined sugar existed in many forms that it does today. Let’s follow in their footsteps and see how we can use sugar in its more natural and more balancing forms, as well as harness the power of spices.
Although many of the suggestions below you may know as something that comes together with sugar, I really encourage to use these substitutes alone and notice how effective these can be to use without any sweetness at all.
If you’re lucky enough to get ripe berries, crushing them and adding them to sweeten breakfasts, create desserts or oven make a fresh berry puree to top the bread with can be a fantastic alternative to processed sugar. If you’re using berries that are not ripe enough, the sweetness will be replaced by a sour taste, which can work as a pleasant distraction for the tastebuds. Frozen berries are particularly useful and convenient for adding to smoothies and breakfasts.
Vanilla makes everything taste so much more luxurious and special. Just the smell of a natural whole vanilla pod is divine. Sprinkle a tiny amount of vanilla from a vanilla pod in your yoghurt to replace any sweetener, sugar or honey. Particularly useful to add when making desserts, if you’re aiming to reduce sugar. You can even try and sweeten your coffee with vanilla for a different option.
This spice has been used in ancient cultures of India and China for centuries. Recognised for its healing benefits and health qualities, such as balancing blood sugar, cinnamon is excellent to sweeten foods naturally. Add to your morning porridge or cereal, sweeten your coffee or get some cinnamon tea if you fancy a sweet nourishing drink in the afternoon.
Now, you may not agree with me on this, but adding particular vegetables as a substitute for sugar and sweeteners, in fact, is a fantastic alternative! Not only will you replace sugar and eliminate blood sugar spikes and crashes, but you will also add some extra vitamins, minerals and the much-needed fibre. This is especially useful when making desserts, such as a chocolate brownie or tray bakes.
Experiment with all of the “sweeter” vegetables, such as carrot, beetroot and sweet potato- you might be (pleasantly) surprised!
If you need extra sweetness to improve the taste of a sauce, sweeten berry or apple compote or add to your pancakes, freshly squeezed orange juice is a great alternative to try. You only need a splash, so make sure to always keep a fresh orange (or even better, a blood orange when it's in season) to sweeten foods on the spot. Add to salad dressings for extra sweetness and zing.
The beauty of coconut is in its many forms and textures. Anything from coconut oil to shredded coconut to coconut butter. Because coconut is so versatile, it can be added to an array of foods and plenty of combinations can be made to enhance food flavours. Coconut contains quality fats and coconut scent creates a “sweet” association in the mind that makes it a perfect substitute, which will trick your tastebuds into feeling satisfied and curb cravings for sugar.
Add coconut oil to a smoothie or a protein shake for extra satiety, add shredded coconut to sweeten breakfasts or desserts or simply snack on coconut chunks.
Stewed apple and homemade apple puree/ sauce is a brilliant natural way to sweeten porridge or overnight oats, baked muffins and sweet bakes with. In addition to great taste and texture, apple puree contains pectin and is excellent to make the digestion smoother and get the pipes moving.
Make it a double whammy and add cinnamon to your apple puree for a maximum natural sweetness that fills the entire house with a delicious scent of baked goods (and helps balance blood sugar when eaten together).
Just like cinnamon, liquorice is an ancient spice with recognised healing benefits, that may contribute towards soothing digestion and supporting the adrenals. Liquorice is fantastic in teas (you can find many fruit teas sweetened with it, no sugar needed), as well as simply chewing on a liquorice stick if you feel the cravings kick in.