I’ve always been one of those people that needed something sweet after dinner. But let’s be honest: anything that seriously satisfies our sweet tooth isn’t going to be the epitome of health: most snacks contain (gasp!) sugar.
We can, however, aim to find lower-sugar options, or better still one that offers something beneficial.
I think most people’s sugar evolution has gone something like this – promiscuous sugar usage as a child, artificial sweeteners in college, honey post college, agave, stevia and now mostly nothing. When I do eat sugar it’s fruit or from teasing out food’s internal sugars by cooking/roasting things like roasted veggies (with a sprinkling of cinnamon to lower their insulin surge).
By cutting way back on added sugar (even those healthier, natural sugars) you not only start to crave it less, you start to detect ‘sweet’ in hidden corners of non-sugar foods. The problem with simply substituting one added sugar for another (agave for table sugar say, or artificial sweeteners in place of caloric sugars) is it still keeps the sugar bar high, never allowing our taste buds to recalibrate (or give our insulin a rest) and get the same sensation from less sugar.
The other powerful trick is to distract the taste buds with another flavor so they’re less focused on the absence of sugar. Cinnamon or nutmeg can give the impression of sugar in its absence. Vanilla extract too. Lemon juice-soaked or sautéed onion in dishes can add that little something you’re look for. And coconut oil is a massive sweet craving reliever. Add some of these to your meals and try and see if you can detect the sweetness you’re looking for.
But when we do indulge on the odd occasion, I think we should do so with a whole bunch of other people: an incredible dessert full of butter and good ingredients. It might be a healthier cake but if you eat the whole thing it’s not good after all; there’s still some sugar in there even if good healthy sugar. We need to choose the desserts with the highest (healthy) fat content, like ice cream you make yourself. Or you’re sure to have access to high quality ice creams, those highest fats and lowest sugar, not full of chips and cookie dough and syrupy sauces. Just plain flavors with real ingredients.
lastly, I’ve learned treats in general don’t need to be fancy. Or a lot. They’re just a treat. Most of my treats simply include dates, coconut oil, nuts, honey and lemon. They taste like food not sweets. In fact, you should be able to make a dessert so healthy it’s an extension of dinner, an afternoon snack extension of lunch, and what of a healthy dessert for breakfast?
What treats can you create that taste like food not sweets? like and tag us on instagram, #everymealisatreat
Read further in Part 2 Every meal should be a treat: beets for sweets