Healthy sugar substitutes

 Did you know that sugar is more addictive to the brain than cocaine? Artificial sweeteners are horrible for you, too (they actually make you GAIN weight!). So what do you use? Click here to learn 4 healthy sugar replacements, get a recipe for healthier chocolate chip cookies AND download 3 more refined-sugar free snack recipes. Kid-tested and nutritionist approved! #healthysugarsubstitute #healthycookies #healthycookierecipes #grainfreecookies #whattouseinsteadofsugar

Picture this:

- from the age of 6 months, babies are given cocaine on a daily basis.

- the brain becomes addicted, so it keeps asking for more and more.

- a few years later, a teenager is taking up to 26 hits of cocaine each day. 

- pharmacies start offering cocaine flavoured drinks, snacks, and pretty much every single other packaged food, which is perfectly socially acceptable.

- companies start realizing that foods with added cocaine sell better, so they start making more and more, having to off.

- set the cocaine with another drug because the taste starts being affected.

- the same companies develop a formula called "the sweet spot", where they know exactly the balance between cocaine, this off-setting drug, and other ingredients in food that make become the most addicting.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, yeah! Who would want to become addicted to cocaine if they had the choice?

Well, this exists in our society today, and it's called the sugar industry.

This isn't a conspiracy theory, this is the subject of entire documentaries, like Fed Up.

In fact, scientific studies have show that when cocaine-addicted rats are given the choice between it and sugar water, they choose the sugar water. Sugar has been proven to act on the same part of the brain as these addicting-drugs, even having a magnified effect compared side to side in medical scans of the brain.

Why is this a big deal? Because the most recent scientific studies are showing that sugar contributes to obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and fatty liver disease.

Forget fat, sugar is literally killing us.

Think you're just going to use artificial sweeteners as healthy sugar replacements, and you'll be OK? I hate to burst your bubble, but that's far from the truth as well.

Studies have proved that people who drink artificially sweetened colas lose less weight than those who drink the same sugar sweetened version, and the most recent research in 2014 is showing that just 1 week of using artificial sweetener can induce glucose-intolerance. How could that be? It turns out that artificial sweeteners changes your gut bacteria.

This is HUGE, as you have more bacteria in your body than you do actual cells, 70-80% of your immune system is developed in your gut with these bacteria, and your gut produces 95% of the serotonin in your body (the happiness brain chemical).

In short, sugar is making us fat, sick, and miserable.

Think that this doesn't apply to you because you're a normal weight? Think again! 40% of the normal weight population in the US has metabolic dysfunction (which means they have 3 out of 5 of the following symptoms: excess abdominal weight, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood glucose levels, high blood triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol levels), and 33% of ALL americans have fatty liver disease, which doesn't exclude children. It's not so different here in Canada, either.

Guys, I don't want to swear (who am I kidding, yeah I do!), but this is a big fucking deal.

The average Canadian adult eats 26 TEASPOONS of sugar each day, which is insanity. How does this even happen? They're eating and drinking too many processed food-like items. For me, the most important part of reading a food label is the sugar. Always remember this:

1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams

To give you some perspective, some granola bars (yes, even the seemingly healthy ones) have between 12 and 16 grams of sugar = 3 and 4 teaspoons. 1 cup of regular Silk brand almond milk (not the unsweetened) has 15 grams of sugar = 3 3/4 teaspoons.

Would you bake a granola bar or pour 1 cup of almond milk, and then dump 3 or 4 spoonfuls of sugar on it? No, you would think that's insane! Well, it's unknowingly happening to you.

This is why it's so important to start reading food labels (I don't expect you to cut out ALL processed foods) so you know exactly what you're eating, as well as to start reducing your processed food intake.

So, other than living under a rock, in a bubble, or on an island in the middle of the ocean, how do you stay away from sugar, and what do you use instead?

I'm not asking you to go sugar free. In fact, our body needs sugar, in the form of glucose, especially our brains! Just be aware of how much processed sugar you're actually eating, and what kind. The World Health Organization (they don't sound important at all) recommends trying to keep sugar to 10% of our daily intake of calories, under 5% for additional health benefits.

This works out to about 25 grams TOTAL for an adult. A can of regular coke has 39 grams. A Nature Valley Oats 'N Honey bar (with whole oats ... sounds healthy, right?) has 12 grams.

Choose unsweetened products whenever you can (kind of like choosing low-sodium so you can control how much salt you add), or better yet, make your own baked goods and other yummy food that would use sugar, and you can add your own amount of any of these healthy sugar replacements:

1. Honey

One of the most powerful natural health remedies on the planet (you can also soothe a sore throat and skin issues), honey isn't just sweet. It has amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, and is the only natural food that doesn't decompose. Honey has been found in Egyptian tombs, unspoiled after thousands of years. It is a little higher in fructose, so use it sparingly if you have issues with raised triglycerides or liver issues.
 

2. Maple Syrup

Another sweetener that includes other nutrients, especially the minerals magnesium (which most people are deficient in) and zinc. It won't affect your blood sugar levels as quickly as honey will.

As both honey and maple syrup are liquids, use these one-to-one in recipes that use other, unhealthier liquid sweeteners like corn syrup or liquid cane sugar.
 

3. Coconut sugar
(aka coconut palm sugar)

This can be substituted one-to-one for regular sugar in recipes, and it has a much slower glucose release (meaning it won't spike your blood sugar as fast) than other natural sweeteners. It tastes wonderfully rick, like brown sugar, so it's a fantastic sweetener to use in oatmeal or baked goods.
 

 4. Stevia

A calorie-free, super sweet herb, Stevia has often been touted as miracle for diabetics and people with blood sugar issues. While this is entirely true, further research is needed as to whether it would have the same effect on appetite as artificial sweeteners. When you eat artificial sweeteners, your brain tastes sweet and expects calories to follow, and when they don't it craves more food to fill that calorie void. Also, some stevia can have a bitter aftertaste. This isn't my first choice as one of these healthy sugar replacements, but some people love it as a healthier choice than artificial sweeteners.

I have a total sweet tooth, and could never give up sweet treats altogether. I made this recipe a few weeks ago, and it filled that Mom's homemade chocolate chip cookie hole that was left behind when I had to go gluten and egg free.

 
 Looking for a healthier chocolate chip cookie? This one is gluten free, paleo, vegan, egg free, grain free ... but still seriously delicious. Kid-tested and nutritionist approved! #healthysugarsubstitute #healthycookies #healthycookierecipes #grainfreecookies #vegancookies
 

HEALTHIER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes 12

2 tbsp ground flax seed
6 tbsp hot water
1 1/4 cup almond or cashew butter (room temp or cold) 
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
     
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
     
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax seed in the hot water, and let sit for 5 minutes. 
     
  4. In a medium bowl, add the almond butter, coconut palm sugar, baking soda, coconut flour, vanilla, and soaked flax seed. Combine together with either a wooden spoon, spatula, or a powerful mixer.
     
  5. Mix in the chocolate chips.
     
  6. Scoop out 1 to tbsp of batter, and roll it into a ball. Place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and flatten with your hands.
     
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, until they are slightly browned around the edges.
     
  8. Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
     
  9. Eat within 3-5 days, or freeze extras (if you have any left, yeah right!).
By Ashley Srokosz, RHN

I wanna know: what's YOUR favourite sweet treat that you're going to makeover with one of these healthy sugar replacements?