We all know how hard it can be to tame that sweet tooth when you are trying to lose weight and cut back on your sugar intake. And while reducing your sugar is important for your overall health and a key player in helping you on your weight loss journey, depriving yourself of sweets when that is what you are craving will only lead you to eventually binge on all the bad treats you are trying to eliminate. Instead, when you have a craving for something sweet, choose one of these healthy alternatives that will be satisfying and delicious, but not hurt your weight loss progress.
1. Tropical fruit
It may sound like an overused answer, but headed into summer, with all the delicious fresh fruit available, healthy, nutrient packed, sweet juicy fruit can be a great solution to your sugar cravings. It’s great for those times when you want a little something and know you don’t have the spare calories for a proper dessert. In particular, tropical fruit, which is higher in sugar and more likely to curb that craving than say, an apple or a pear, is a great alternative.
2. Banana softserve
By now, if you haven’t tried this tasty, creamy delight, you are sadly missing out. This is probably my number one way to satisfy my cravings for sweet treats, and is a regular dessert of choice in our house. It simply involves placing 2-3 frozen bananas in the food processor and then processing until smooth. (recipe if you need it) You can add in cacao powder if you want a chocolate version, mix with other frozen fruits like cherries or blueberries for a different flavor, or even add in some nut butter and chocolate chips to have Reese’s peanut butter cup ice cream. The frozen banana lends the perfect creamy texture, and the natural sugars of the fruit mean no need to add extra sugar!
3. Dark chocolate
If chocolate is what you’re after in your quest for something sweet, look no further than for some dark chocolate. Good quality dark chocolate is both low in sugar and dairy free, or better yet, made with non-refined sugar, using alternatives such as coconut sugar or stevia. The result is something to satisfy your chocolate craving and sweet craving without the sugar and processed ingredients of typical milk chocolate. In fact, dark chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants and magnesium from the cacao content, and cacao butter contains healthy saturated fat. Make sure you are choosing chocolate that is a minimum of 75% cacao to get the maximal benefits.
4. Bean brownies
You’ve probably heard of the infamous black bean brownies, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: these brownies can be made using any bean you like! You can use lentils, chickpeas, white kidney beans, and I’ve even made them with red kidney beans. The beans lend that gooey filling that is so desirable in brownies, and if you use banana or dates as a natural sweetener, then you will be getting an extra nutritional boost and a slower releasing carbohydrate source that won’t cause your blood sugar to spike! I like to make mine with gluten free flour options such as oat flour, quinoa flour and coconut flour, as these offer a protein source as well! Here's an awesome recipe.
5. Cookie dough
Yes you read that right: cookie dough! But probably not the kind you are thinking. This cookie dough is made from chickpeas or white kidney beans and is pureed in the food processor with vanilla protein powder and some fresh vanilla pod. The result is cookie dough that is good enough to eat by the spoonful and healthy enough that you can eat the entire batch. I usually add in a few cacao nibs, almonds or chocolate chips after I whiz it smooth and then like to leave it in the fridge for an hour or two before eating it. If you want to get creative, you can add in peanut butter and oats to make oatmeal peanut butter cookies or add in some ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves to create gingerbread cookie dough! Here's a great recipe from Pop Sugar!