We’ve all heard that sugar is bad for you, and that it can be linked to causing a range of ailments from obesity and diabetes to tooth decay and liver problems. The reasons to quit eating sugar are endless. Of course, quitting is easier said than done. Year after year, like many others, I put my willpower to the test and swear off sugar. And year after year I fail.
Here at Sur La Table, we are food lovers, but more often than not the treat selection in our office is less than stellar as far as nutritional value goes. On any given day, once my 2pm sweet tooth hits, I can satisfy it by a number of outlets. Perhaps it’s my coworker’s candy dish, the vending machines, birthday cake, doughnuts, cookies or, during the holidays, pie. So this year, I devised a new challenge. I can eat sweets, but like all the other food I put into my body, I want them to do more good than harm.
My goal is to replace processed carbs and sugar with more filling, wholesome ingredients that will also satisfy my ever-pesky sweet tooth. I’m no dietician, so I wanted to make this as easy and clear for myself as possible. I’ve decided to exclude anything considered “junk food” and “typical” desserts, since my goal is to eliminate sugar. I wanted recipes that would play off of the natural sweetness of fruits and veggies — recipes so good that I wouldn’t feel cheated when I ate them instead of my beloved Twix bar. Below are three that passed my test.
These first two recipes require no baking (yay for us lazy chefs!) and give you the freedom to customize the recipe to your taste buds. They’re so easy, in fact, that I don’t know if you can even call them cooking. So have fun and add the ingredients that call to you!
Now while I enjoy these first two recipes, I admit that they’re a bit out there, and I would hesitate taking them to a potluck. Also, let’s be real. Sometimes ya just need something indulgent. So my next challenge was to create a dessert that those — hopefully! — enjoying wouldn’t even know was actually good for them.
My inspiration for this recipe came from Monique at Ambitious Kitchen, but I did make a few modifications.
Confession: This was the first time I have ever baked anything that didn’t come from a box, and even then I was unsuccessful. Runny brownies, anyone? So when this loaf came out of the oven, not only looking edible but actually looking damn good (if I say so myself), I was excited. I used a nonstick loaf pan, and removing the bread was incredibly easy — no scraping of the sides required. I just tipped the pan and out slid my masterpiece.
So how did this actually baked creation taste, you ask? Well the frosting was to die for; I wanted to take a bath in that stuff. The bread wasn’t bad. I thought it a bit bland; however, my test subjects “liked” it. (I’m not sure if their thoughts were genuine or they just didn’t want to take me down from the high of my first baking success.) All in all, the loaf was good, but next time I’m going to make a few tweaks, like using a little more salt and bananas that are riper.
So here I am, a few weeks into my less-sugar challenge, and I have to say that I don’t miss the sweets that I could never go a day without before. There are some days that I feel like I need a cookie, but unlike with my usual indulgences, I now don’t get the sugar high and then low that my former treats used to provide. Additionally, these new treats are so satisfying that one cookie — not, say, 7 — does the trick. I am hopeful that this small tweak in my diet will have lasting benefits. So what about you? What healthier food choices have you tried this year and how are they going?