7 Healthy Holiday Sweeteners

7 Healthy Holiday Sweeteners7 Healthy Holiday Sweeteners

Forget processed sugars and sweeteners this holiday season. It’s time to try natural sweeteners (if you haven’t already). They are an awesome and healthy alternative to refined sugars and sweeteners.

Natural sweeteners actually contain vitamins and minerals essential for our bodies. Whereas refined sugars can cause obesity, diabetes and other concerning health issues. Natural sweeteners benefit our bodies and satisfy our taste buds. Often times it can be difficult to identify which sweeteners are in fact natural and which ones claim to be “natural”. Here is a list of 7 healthy holiday sweeteners that are truly natural.

1. Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut palm sugar is highly nutritious, and is one of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners on the market. It is ecologically beneficial and provides sustained energy. It is naturally rich in a number of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients like potassium, zinc, iron and Vitamins, B (1, 2, 3, and 6). Coconut palm sugar has 16 amino acids, which help boost metabolism, help with overall growth, repair and development of body tissues, hormones and enzymes.

Coconut palm sugar is made from the nectar (sap) of the coconut palm tree. It has a creamy, caramel-like sweetness and has a moist, crumbly texture.Coconut palm sugar is a wonderful alternative to refined white sugar, and can easily be substituted in its place.  Add coconut palm sugar to sweeten any recipe such as desserts, nut milks, curry dishes, yogurts, granola, etc.

2. Honey

Honey has been used around the world for thousands of years and it has numerous health benefits. The ancient Egyptians made offerings of honey to their gods as well as using it as an ingredient in embalming fluid and a wound dressing. Today, many people swarm to honey for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, and first aid treatment for burns and cuts. Holistic practitioners consider it one of nature’s best all-around remedies, aiding with sore throats, congestion, digestive issues, skin problems and more.

3. Dates

Dates are a much loved and ancient fruit, because they are very sweet and a great vegan source of potassium, fiber, calcium, copper and iron.  They are great for digestion, and to help with constipation just soak 2-3 dates overnight in water, and consume first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Try adding dates to sweeten any recipe such as raw energy bars, desserts, and sauces.  They can be cut up and added to cereals, granola, trail mix, and yogurt, for additional sweetness and texture.  Dates can even be stuffed with raw nuts, and pair wonderfully with almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and hazelnuts.  Children and adults can enjoy eating dates right out of the bag for a delicious and satisfying alternative to processed, or unhealthy sweets.

4. Stevia

Stevia leaf’s most obvious and notable characteristic is its sweet taste. However, the sweet taste is not due to carbohydrate-based molecules, but to several non-caloric molecules called glycosides.  Stevia is a great sugar alternative with zero calories.  It is commonly used in helping manage diabetes, and can be used freely without affecting blood sugar. Stevia leaf powder is a fantastic alternative for people trying to manage their weight.

Stevia leaf powder is about 300 times sweeter than regular sugar, making just a little bit go a long way.  It also tastes wonderful, and is very easy to incorporate into your diet. You can sprinkle it on top of fruit, yogurt or cereal, and mix into just about anything.  It makes some bitter tasting smoothies taste fabulous, without adding any additional calories.

5. Vanilla Beans

Vanilla is mainly used to add a robust flavor to many food recipes, beverages and medicines.  It’s now also used as a fragrance in many perfumes and other scented products such as candles, incense and air fresheners. Vanilla beans are native to tropical areas, and have been cultivated for their flavor and healing properties.  It’s considered to be a sacred plant to the Totonaca people of the Gulf Coast of Mexico, who were the first people to cultivate vanilla.

To use the vanilla bean in recipes, split the bean open lengthwise, and scrape out the thousands of black seeds that are inside.  You can do this by splitting the bean down the middle with a small, sharp knife.  Next, fold back the sides and with a spoon or back of the knife, simply scrape out all of the tiny black seeds inside, then just add seeds into a recipe.  The seeds of 1 bean are equivalent to about 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Another way to use vanilla beans in recipes, is by adding the entire bean(s) into a small coffee or spice grinder.  Then adding desired amount of grounds to a recipe.  You can also add the entire bean to a blender with beverages and smoothies, and pair’s especially well with nut milk such as almond, cashew and hemp.
Vanilla adds a great flavor to raw desserts and sweets, and has been used as an essential ingredient in any and all chocolate recipes.

6. Lucuma 

Lucuma was viewed in the ancient Peruvian cosmic vision as a symbol of fertility and creation. Traditionally known as the œGold of the Incas, the orange and yellow pulpy lucuma fruit (Pouteria obovata, or Lucuma obovata) has been found carved on ceramics discovered in archeological excavations of ancient burial sites in coastal Peru.
Celebrated in textiles, ceramics, art, and festivities, lucuma has been cherished for thousands of years. Today, its flavor as an ice cream is often favored over chocolate or vanilla in many countries. The lucuma fruit is naturally sweet, but low on the Glycemic Index, making it a healthy choice for individuals seeking to decrease their sugar consumption.

7. Mesquite Powder

Mesquite Powder is ground from the seed pops of the mesquite plant, which is found in parts of Southern America and Southwestern US. Mesquite powder has a smokey caramel, molasses-like, sweet nutty flavor.  It is a great natural sweetener and pairs well with raw milk, yogurts, smoothies, desserts, and energy bars. It can be combined with other gluten-free flours to prepare raw or baked goods, such as bars, cookies, raw cheesecakes and more.  Mesquite powder is also great in teas, coffees and juices.

Mesquite powder is high in protein, low on the glycemic index, and rich in vitamins and minerals such as: iron, zinc, calcium, lysine, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber. It digests slowly and does not cause spikes in blood sugar, making it a great choice for diabetics.

When purchasing natural sweeteners consider organic and Non GMO. It is important to know that even though natural sweeteners are a much healthier alternative, they are still sweeteners. So like everything, natural sweeteners should still be eaten within moderation.

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