Refined sugar is bad news — it’s filled with calories, contains very few nutrients, may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, and can cause you to feel hungrier, according to Authority Nutrition. Many of us know that sugar isn’t healthy, but it can still be hard to resist when you’re craving something sweet. Fortunately, you don’t need refined sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. Instead, prepare delicious desserts that rely on natural sweeteners, such as fruit, honey, and maple syrup. Here are 6 naturally sweetened recipes that will cure your sugar cravings.
1. Cherries With Ricotta and Toasted Almonds
When your sweet tooth comes calling, prepare Eating Well’s light and satisfying dessert, which can be whipped up in just 10 minutes and only requires 3 ingredients. One serving of this sugar-free dish contains 150 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.
- ¾ cup frozen pitted cherries
- 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta
- 1 tablespoon toasted slivered almonds
Directions: Heat cherries in the microwave on high until warm, 1 to 2 minutes. Top the cherries with ricotta and almonds.
2. Healthy Banana Cookies
Bananas, dates, and vanilla extract provide AllRecipes.com’s cookies with the perfect amount of sweetness. If you’d like your cookies to taste similar to banana bread, add a touch of cinnamon, cloves, or allspice — your tastebuds are in for a treat!
- 3 ripe bananas
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Stir in oats, dates, oil, and vanilla. Mix well and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.
3. Naturally Sweetened Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Jam Bars
My Humble Kitchen uses honey, maple syrup, and jam to create Oatmeal Jam Bars that are sweet, soft, and satisfying. To make these bars as healthy as possible, avoid using store-bought jam, which often contains refined sugar and artificial ingredients — all-natural preserves taste better, and are better for you!
- 1½ cups freshly milled soft white wheat berries (whole-wheat pastry flour)
- 1¼ cups rolled oats
- ½ cup coconut oil or butter
- ¼ cup raw honey
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup jam or preserve of choice
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking or cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, oats, salt, and baking soda. Add the coconut oil, honey, and maple syrup. Transfer about ⅔ of the mixture to the prepared baking pan.
Pack down the mixture firmly. With a spoon, spread the jam or preserves over the dough. Sprinkle the remaining ⅓ mixture over the preserves. Finish with a sprinkle of oats to cover any bare areas. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden-brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting.
4. Breakfast Brownies
Healthy enough to eat for breakfast and delicious enough to enjoy for dessert, Eat Drink Love’s brownie recipe via Yummly is both healthy and heavenly. The brownies are filled with wholesome ingredients, such as whole-wheat flour, flax, and oats, and sweetened with applesauce, agave nectar, almond milk, and bananas. It yields 12 servings.
- ¾ cup quick oats
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 small to medium-size ripe banana, mashed
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- ½ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup mini-chocolate chips
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, with extra hanging off edge for easy removal later. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and flax. Make a well in the center and add the coconut oil, mashed banana, applesauce, milk, and agave nectar.
Stir everything together until just combined. Do not overmix. Then gently stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow for the brownies to cool. Use the extra parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the dish and cut into squares. Store leftovers in the fridge.
5. Basic Chocolate Cake
Swearing off refined sugar doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice of chocolate cake. Thanks to 101 Cookbooks, you can create a decadent dessert that’s sweetened with maple syrup, coconut milk, cocoa powder, and bittersweet chocolate. If you don’t have whole-wheat pastry flour, feel free to use unbleached all-purpose flour instead.
- 2½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- ¾ cup non-alkaline, non-Dutched cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ½ cup barely melted unsalted butter (or coconut oil)
- 1 cup real maple syrup, room temperature
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup coconut milk, room temp
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped
Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle. Butter and flour an 8-inch square cake pan. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter and maple syrup until it looks like caramel. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and then the coconut milk. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the flour mixture and stir until barely combined. Add the chocolate and stir until everything comes together; don’t over-mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan before frosting. To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl placed over a pan of boiling water. In a medium bowl, beat the butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup. Then add the melted chocolate. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the whipped cream and fold the chocolate into the cream. Keep going until the chocolate is well-incorporated. Use an offset spatula to frost the completely cooled cake.
6. Maple Crème Caramel
Oprah suggests using Grade B maple syrup, which is darker and has a more intense flavor than Grade A, when preparing this dish. Plan ahead with this dessert; it tastes best after being chilled overnight. The recipe yields 8 servings.
- 1½ cups pure maple syrup, divided
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange eight 5- to 6-ounce ramekins or ovenproof bowls in a large roasting pan. In a medium pot, bring 1 cup syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Immediately divide syrup reduction among ramekins, swirling each to coat the bottom. Bring a medium pot of water just to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together cream, milk, eggs and yolk, salt, vanilla, and remaining ½ cup syrup until well combined, then pour evenly into ramekins.
Working near the oven, carefully ladle hot water into the pan to reach about ¾ of the way up the side of each ramekin. Gently place roasting pan in oven and bake until custards are just slightly jiggly in the center, about 40 minutes. Set roasting pan aside until ramekins are cool enough to move, then remove and set aside until completely cool. Cover and chill overnight, or up to 4 days. To serve, run a small paring knife around the inside edge of each ramekin and invert onto a serving plate.