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When it comes to sugar-filled foods, America is definitely weak in the knees. Even savory foods like pasta sauce and bread come with sugar or corn syrup in them. Sugar has become such a large part of our diet that it’s being compared to addictive drugs like cocaine. In the midst of this sugar craze, a new anti-sugar trend is sweeping is the nation — and it’s likely here to stay.
Corn syrup and sugar, move aside! Using fruits as all-natural sweeteners is the new rage. As you gear up for Christmas and all the delicious foods that come with it, try using these three fruits as healthy sugar replacements.
The oh-so-sweet date
Prized for thousands of years in the Middle East and Mesopotamia, dates are sweet, but healthy. They’re low in sodium and fat with good amounts of trace minerals and dietary fiber. The fiber slows down digestion, resulting in slower sugar absorption. Dates make a great stand-alone snack, but you can also use them to make chutneys, homemade syrup, smoothies and even baked goods. To use dates as a sugar replacement, simply blend 1.5 cups of water with 1 cup of dates (remove pits), then add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice. As a general rule, add about 50% more date paste than sugar.
Raisins are a great way to sweeten things up without feeling guilty. Like dates, they’re low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium, but they also have good amounts of minerals and fiber. You can add them to yogurt, salads or use them as a sugar substitute. To do the latter, just chop a cup or two of raisins into tiny pieces and store in an airtight container (for no more than 3 months). Add about 25% more raisins than you would sugar and voilà, you’ll have a delicious, healthy treat.
Bananas are chock-full of vitamin C, potassium, manganese and vitamin B6. They also help curb hunger. To get all this goodness, use bananas to make a sweet protein shake or banana bread. You can also use banana slices to sweeten up cereals with little or no sugar.
Remember, sweet foods don’t have to be unhealthy. By using whole fruits that are naturally sweet, you can have your cake and eat it too.