Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sweetener-free Sunday!


I'm not sure If I can come up with a different smoothie every week! Also, since this is a new month of Sundays, I thought about trying out something new for the month of March. So I have decided to take a break from Smoothie Sunday! posts to bring you what I am calling "sweetner-free".

Today I had to bake!

But most baked goods/ yummy treats are made with some kind of sweetener, ranging from refined cane or beet sugar to natural sweeteners like stevia and agave. I'm currently not using any dates, honey, agave, maple syrup, even raisins are a stretch for me right now. In my efforts to stay on the diet I am now on, I have begun to make adaptions to recipes- making them free of any kind of sweetener. This does allow for the use of fruits to sweeten.

There are a couple of advantages to sweetening with whole foods vs. a sweetener (even a healthier one like honey or agave):
1. Let's take agave, for example. This is a concentrated sweetener. It is not a whole food, and therefore, contains no fiber or added nutrients to aide in digestion. It has been refined and processed on it's way to syrup/ "nectar" form (this can even be when the label reads "raw"). And even though it's glycemic index (and load) is low, it is still quite higher than the same volume of unsweetened applesauce (whole food).
2. When you eat whole foods they contain some amount of fiber. The sugars are bound in the fibers and are, therefore, absorbed more slowly in the body. This keeps blood sugar levels from spiking as with a strict sweetener. And this also makes whole foods better for diabetics.

Now, I'm definitely not advocating giving up all sweeteners for the foreseeable future! My sweetener-free recipes have just adapted from my diet needs for the time being. I felt that they are useful for mom's whose kids have a low tolerance for sweet, diabetics, people wanting to fast from sugar for a short time, etc.

So, embarking on my sweetener-free adventure, I turned to Elana's Pantry for a tried and true breakfast recipe I have been wanting to try. I made Elana's Breakfast Bars, but I adjusted them to be sweetener-free. You can make her yummy recipe as is, or see my changes below for a sweetener-free version.Here is what I changed:
- Replaced the 1/4 cup agave with 1/4 cup unsweetened, organic apple sauce
- I pureed the applesauce with the oil added 1/4 banana + 1 Tbsp water in a food processor (as in step 2 of Elana's directions)
- Finally, I replaced the 1/4 cup raisins with 1/3 cup finely chopped pear (or apple would work as well)
- Everything else I kept exactly the same and they turned out great! The perfect satisfying whole-food-sweetened breakfast treat!

Resources:
http://nutritiondata.self.com/
http://www.allaboutagave.com/agave-nectar-and-the-glycemic-index.php

Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach (Bland, J.S. et al)

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