Sweeten It, Naturally!

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Nature's Sweeteners

I've done a few articles recently on sweeteners. Here's the run-down, in case you missed them:

The bottom line is that neither sugar, nor artificial sweeteners are anything that you absolutely should avoid 100% of the time. However, they are both things that you make seek to consume only in moderation. Especially given the amount of sugar that the typical American consumes. It's in a lot of things that you may not even realize!

The typical American consumes 23 teaspoons of added sugar EVERY DAY!

Woah!

Other sugar stats:


  • 23 tsp is almost 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 200 years ago, the average American ate 2 pounds of sugar in a year
  • Today, it's 3 pounds a week!
  • Sweetened beverages account for the largest percentage of sugar intake
  • One 12 oz. can of soda has ~11tsp of sugar

Enough craziness!

My suggestion to you is to buy things plain.

Yes - plain cheerios, plain corn flakes, plain yogurt, plain oatmeal, plain tea. 

PLAIN PLAIN PLAIN!

Why? Because then you get to control exactly how sweet it gets and exactly what type of sweeteners you want to add. Call me a control freak, but something has to get this under control and it's not going to be the profit making food companies. At least not until consumers demand it.

How Do I Sweeten Naturally?

Ok, so now that you've bought everything plain, you're wondering how you can get it to taste good enough to eat, right? I mean, plain yogurt tastes like sour cream! Personally, I love sour cream... but not usually with my granola. It's great on chili though!

Here are some ways that you can add sweetness to your foods that are pretty close to how the food was produced:

  • Dates are great to blend or mix in (smoothies if you have a good blender, or purreed and mixed with baked goodies if you have a food processor). If you cut them into small chunks, they're awesome in oatmeal!
  • Fruit, especially perfectly ripe fruit, can be a great way to add sweetness. chopped fruit topped with plain cereal and plain milk is pretty dang good!
  • Honey or maple syrup are simple sugars like white or brown sugar but may have a few extra plant chemicals that you wouldn't get from the sugar. I like to use maple syrup or honey mixed in the plain yogurt, or in my oatmeal.
  • Stevia leaves. NOTE that this is an actual plant you can grow! I have one growing in my yard right now. Last year I couldn't keep it alive because my daughter kept eating all the leaves til it was naked! Seriously, the leaves are super sweet! These are great for blending into smoothies or purees, or brewing with your hot tea for added sweetness.
Let me know what you think! I'll be sure to share some of my favorite recipes that taste sweet but aren't loaded in sugar.

- Julie

PS - below the references is a very telling infographic. Wow!

References:
Center for Science in the Public Interest
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

sugar infographic.jpg
[Infographic by OnlineNursingPrograms.com]



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1 Comment

Great article! Everything nowadays contains some amount of unessecary sweetner. I switched to plain yougurt four years ago - adding my own sweetners. Now I can eat it without any sweetner. Your tastebuds adapt and evolve if you encorage them!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Julie Lanford MPH, RD, CSO, LDN published on August 4, 2014 2:09 PM.

Vegan Peanut Butter Pie Recipe to Try and Upcoming Programs was the previous entry in this blog.

Are They A Quack? Nutrition Information: Who To Trust? is the next entry in this blog.

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