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One of my healthy living goals for our family this year is to cut back on the amount of sugar we consume. Sugar consumption has been in the news recently because we eat A LOT of it! And the consensus is that it is definitely not good for us!
I know, I know. You’re probably be thinking, “Aw, come on! What’s so bad about added sugar? We can’t completely deprive our kids of sweet treats! Stop trying to spoil our (their) fun!”
However, the reality is the average American child consumes 21 teaspoons of added sugar per day, just 1 teaspoon less then the average adult! And the recommended daily consumption for a child is just 4 teaspoons of added sugar, and 4 to 6 for adults. So clearly our sugar consumption is a little out of control!
And sugar is definitely not on the list of healthy foods for the New Year! Here’s just a few of the 21 reasons you might want to think about cutting back on your family’s sugar consumption, from the Sugar Detox Challenge:
Sugar is commonly known as an “anti-nutrient,” meaning it uses your body’s stores of essential vitamins and minerals during digestion. So, even when you think you are eating enough healthy foods, you’re really losing more than you’re putting in if your diet contains a lot of sugar.
Sugar contributes to weight gain, not only because of the empty calories, but also because when your body responds to a rising blood sugar level, it produces insulin to bring it back down. Once it comes down, it drops too low, signaling you that you need to eat in order to bring it back up to functional levels. So, you may be eating even when your body doesn’t really require nourishment.
Sugar also feeds yeasts in the digestive system, including Candida. This causes everything from lowered immunity and general fatigue to eczema and even depression.
So while it’s obviously important to kick the sugar habit, I do agree with you that it’s nice to have a sweet treat every now and then. (Or lets be honest — every day!) And it’s not really a great idea to just replace sugar with artificial sweeteners either. Your best choice to to choose treats that are naturally sweetened with fruit or use healthier natural sugars, like raw honey.
Fortunately for us, there are plenty of UH-mazingly delicious no-sugar-added desserts and sweet treats! Here are a few of our family favorites!
1. Chocolate Pudding
1 can of coconut milk
4 to 6 pitted dates
Put a can of coconut milk upside down in the fridge overnight, or for at least a couple of hours, so that all of the coconut cream sinks to the bottom (top) of the can. Keeping the can upside down, open the bottom of the can with a can opener. Use the lid to strain and pour the liquid out of the can and into a bowl, leaving the coconut cream at the bottom of the can.
Take 4 to 6 pitted dates and slice them into smaller pieces. Place them in a blender or food processor with a small amount of the liquid from the coconut milk and chop them up until they are as fine as possible.
Add the coconut cream from the can to the blender along with 2 tablespoons of baking cocoa and blend together with the dates, adding a little more of the coconut milk liquid and scraping down the sides of the blender when necessary, until smooth and creamy like pudding.
2. Whole Wheat Oatmeal Jam Bars
These bars use raw honey and maple syrup to sweeten them in place of refined sugars, and are quick to throw together for a great afternoon snack! Get the full recipe at My Humble Kitchen.
3. Rich Berry Sherbet
Delicious homemade berry sherbet sweetened with honey. Get the full recipe at Nicole V. Bennett.
4. Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
You can’t really go wrong with oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate chips together in a cookie, and these are our family’s favorite kind of cookie. This recipe is gluten and refined sugar free! Get the full recipe at Red and Honey.
5. Raw Brownie Bites
Sweetened with dates and sneaking in avocado, these raw brownie bites are not only full of chocolately goodness, they’re also nourishing! Get the full recipe at Live Simply.
6. Frozen Fruit Ice Cream
1 to 2 bananas
frozen berries of your choice
Cut a banana or two into chunks and freeze it for at least 12 hours. Add the frozen banana chunks to a food processor along with a few frozen berries of your choice – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc. The more berries you add, the more it will be like sorbet. Using fewer berries and more banana will make it more creamy.
Process in the food processor until it becomes nice and creamy, just like ice cream. No one will know it’s only made with fruit!
7. Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are one of my favorite candy treats. I’m happy to have this great recipe for homemade peanut butter cups that fills my craving without the refined sugar! Get the full recipe at The Humbled Homemaker.
8. 3-Ingredient Custard
This gluten-free, Paleo-friendly custard has just 3 ingredients: 3 eggs, 2 ripe bananas, and 1 can of coconut milk. Get the full recipe at The Greenbacks Gal.
9. German Chocolate Pecan Pie with a Coconut Crust
This gluten-free version of German chocolate pecan pie is rich and decadent, yet not overly sweet, perfect for dessert after a special dinner! Get the full recipe at My Humble Kitchen.
10. Chocolate Peppermint Cake
Need a healthier cake for your next birthday celebration? Decadent chocolate peppermint cake that’s grain and refined sugar-free, oh my! Get the full recipe at Just Making Noise.
11. Zucchini Walnut Muffin in a Mug
This muffin in a mug is a fast, easy, and delicious guilt-free treat! Get the full recipe at Simply Healthy Home.
12. Salted Caramel Dip
Dips are always popular at our house. This Salted Caramel Dip would make a great afternoon snacks with apple slices! Get the full recipe at Edible Harmony.
13. Homemade Gelatin Squares
Kids love Jello, but the ingredient list leaves much to be desired. Fortunately, you can make a homemade gelatin snack that your kiddos will love and you’ll love knowing it’s healthy and nourishing! Get the full recipe at The Curious Coconut.
14. Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
No list of sweet treats is complete without a basic homemade vanilla ice cream! Enjoy it on it’s own, as a side to a slice of pie or cake, or smothered with a delicious topping! Get the full recipe at Live Simply.
15. Honey Sweetened Orange Curd
Curd is a simple and protein-rich dessert made with just eggs, honey, zest, butter (or coconut oil) and orange juice. It’s so delicious you’ll want to eat it right out of the jar, but it’s also a perfect ice cream topping or spread on top of a crust to make delicious bars. Get the full recipe at Just Making Noise.
Have you considered cutting back on your family’s sugar consumption? What are some of your favorite sugar-free treats?