About a year ago, I had the realization (or simply came out of denial…) that I needed to do something about my sugar intake. I love sweets, but whenever I really indulged, I noticed I didn’t feel great after. My stomach would become uneasy and I felt lethargic.
After some research, I realized my body might be responding poorly to consistent spikes in my blood sugar. In other words: I was having too many desserts.
I wasn’t willing to completely cut desserts out of my diet. Life is too short to not treat yourself once in a while! Instead, I did a deep dive into the world of sugar and decided to remove refined sugars from my diet.
Let’s break down the different types of sugars:
– Refined sugars are sweeteners produced from sugar cane or sugar beets (including: white and brown sugars, molasses, cane sugar, etc.).
– Natural sugars are fruits, honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.
– The above natural sugars are less processed than refined sugars, which must go through a refining process to become white sugar, brown sugar, etc. I make it a point to avoid processed foods, so it only makes sense that I would also try to avoid processed sugars.
– The above natural sugars sit at a low-medium glycemic index while refined sugars sit at a high glycemic index. The blood system absorbs carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index faster than lower indexes, causing your blood sugar to increase quickly. Your pancreas then has to work over time to reduce your blood sugar, causing you to feel sluggish and fatigued. The more prolonged this is, the more damaging the long-term effects: think weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
– Although I wasn’t necessarily looking for health benefits from sugars, the sugar cane has very little nutrients, while natural sugars generally have more nutrients. Why wouldn’t you choose the most nutritious option? *A quick note: We’re not saying to go for broke with natural sugars or that they are necessarily good for you. You still need to closely monitor your sugar intake!
For me, replacing refined sugars with natural sugars meant that if I wanted something sweet, I would most likely need to bake it myself. There are a lot of complexities in baking when it comes to this, so I left it to the pros to figure out. To my surprise, there are many amazing recipes floating around that use only natural sugars. Trust me, they will not disappoint!
Scroll on for some of the best naturally sweetened dessert recipes:
The Chocolate Cake That Changed Everything, from Food52 (also grain & dairy free!)
Hummingbird Cupcakes, from Wife Mamma Foodie (can be made grain free & vegan!)
Pecan Pie, from Cookie & Kate
Mixed Berry Slab Pie, from Wife Mama Foodie (can be made grain free & vegan!)
Vegan Peanut Butter Pudding, from Minimalist Baker
Paleo Vanilla Ice Cream, from Joy Food Sunshine (also vegan & grain free!)
Lemon Walnut No-Bake Cheesecake, from Show Me The Yummy (also grain free!)
4-Ingredient Easy Vegan Brownies, from Minimalist Baker (also grain free!)
Banana Bread, from Anecdotes and Apple Cores
Simple Cinnamon Rolls, from Wife Mama Foodie (can be made dairy free!)
Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies, from Against All Grain
Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Natural Sweet Recipes (can be made dairy free!)