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Sweeten up the Holidays without Added Sugars

Chocolate, Holidays, Nutrition

They holidays are synonymous with celebrations and parties filled with extra treats and sweets.  We can enjoy these festivities with fervor and flavor without all the added sugar that is contributing to inflammation and illnesses including diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.  In fact one-third of our children are battling obesity, and it is projected that 1 in 4 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes.  This really hits home for me because my oldest daughter was born in 2000. This means that unless people embrace the necessity to reduce refined sugars in their diets and make other lifestyle changes now, some of her closest friends are likely to develop diabetes. ​

Try out these tips on reducing the overall amount of sugar in your holiday treats and share recipes like the Decadent Vegan Truffles recipe below with friends and family to serve holiday treats that are naturally sweet enough without added sugars for all to enjoy.

Avoid added sugars by choosing recipes that do not contain them.  Instead choose recipes that contain dried fruit like dates, bananas or applesauce that are naturally sweet.  Here’s a killer cookie recipe with no added sugar from my blog that is a crowd pleaser.   Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Bites   

Reduce added sugars – you can safely reduce the white cane, brown or other added sugar in most dessert recipes by 25% without affecting taste or texture. 

Replace  up to 1/4th of the refined sugars called for in your recipes with stevia or luo han guo, or monk fruit. Stevia is a plant leaf you can grow in your garden or in a pot on your patio or balcony.  You can also buy it dried and ground into a powder that is 30 times sweeter than table sugar.  Some people perceive it to have a slightly bitter aftertaste which can be masked by the sugar remaining in the recipe.  Luo han go is a sweet fruit from China that is dried and used as a sugar substitute and medicinal herb.  Both plants are zero calorie sweeteners with low glycemic index which means they do not significantly produce a rise in blood sugar levels when eaten.   

Decadent Vegan Truffles

Make these delicious chocolate truffles for your holiday party and watch them disappear faster than you can say “Happy New Year!” These decadent morsels are a great example of how dessert doesn’t have to be filled with empty calories.  These truffles are made with cashews and bittersweet chocolate (vegan), rolled in unsweetened cocoa powder and raw, toasted coconut.  They are very low in sugar, and packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants.   Simple to make by yourself or with your family.  Enjoy!

3/4 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup cold water
1 lb bittersweet chocolate
cocoa powder
unsweetened toasted coconut

1. Place cashews and cold water in a blender and blend at high speed for 1-2 minutes.
2. Scrape the sides down and blend again until the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream.
Meanwhile, in a double boiler heat the chocolate until it’s all melted.
3. Cool the chocolate until it’s comfortable to work with (about 5 minutes) and fold in the cashew cream (making sure not to stir too fast or you’ll create bubbles).
4. Cover and cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours to set.
5. Using a teaspoon, scoop out a small ball and roll in cocoa powder. Repeat until all has been formed into balls.
6. If not eating right away, store truffles covered in refrigerator.  Remove about 20 minutes before ready to serve to bring to room temperature.

Yield: 50 truffles

Inspired by a recipe by Zeke Koch.    Posted on December 2012


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About the Author

Angela is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), board-certified health coach and trained yoga teacher who helps clients achieve a healthy weight and gain control over their GI distress.

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