About a year ago, I realized (or just came out of denial …) that I needed to do something about my sugar intake. I love sweets, but every time I indulged, I noticed that I didn’t feel good afterwards. My stomach felt uncomfortable and I felt lethargic. After some research, I realized that my body might be responding poorly to the constant spikes in my blood sugar. In other words: I was eating too many desserts. This heartbreaking understanding led me down the path of finding naturally sweetened desserts.
Not willing to completely eliminate desserts from my diet, I immersed myself in the world of sugar and decided to eliminate refined sugars from my diet. Life is too short not to indulge yourself once in a while! We are fortunate to live in an age where we all have access to unlimited numbers or recipes to suit each and every dietary requirement.
First, we have to break down the different types of sugars. Refined sugars are sweeteners produced from sugar cane or sugar beet (this includes white and brown sugars, molasses, cane sugar, etc.) Natural sugars they are fruits, honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar. Natural sugars are less processed than refined sugars, which must go through a refining process to become white sugar, brown sugar, and more. I aim to avoid processed foods, so it makes sense that I try to avoid processed sugars as well.
Natural sugars vs. refined sugars
Natural sugars have a medium-low glycemic index, while refined sugars have a high glycemic index. Carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index are absorbed by the blood system faster than lower indexes, causing blood sugar to rise rapidly. Then your pancreas has to work overtime to lower your blood sugar, making you feel sluggish and fatigued. The longer this lasts, the more damaging the long-term effects will be – think about weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.
Although I wasn’t necessarily looking for the health benefits of sugar, it’s helpful to know that sugarcane has very few nutrients, while natural sugars generally have more nutrients.
Why wouldn’t you choose the most nutritious option? *A quick note: We are not saying that it breaks down to natural sugars or that they are necessarily good for you. You still need to closely monitor your sugar intake!
For me, replacing refined sugars with natural sugars meant that if I wanted something sweet, I most likely need to bake it myself. There are a lot of complexities in baking when it comes to this, so I let the pros figure it out. To my surprise, there are so many amazing recipes that use only natural sugars. Trust me, they won’t let you down!
Scroll on to see some of the best naturally sweetened desserts …
These cupcakes can be made grain-free and dairy-free, making them one of my favorite naturally sweetened desserts thanks to their delicious combination of banana, pineapple, and coconut.
Nut cake by Cookie & Kate
Pamper yourself with this delicious and delicious pecan pie recipe. Unlike most pecan cakes, which are sweetened with corn syrup and refined sugar, this pecan cake is naturally sweetened with real maple syrup.
This stunning slab cake is also vegan and grain-free, making it the perfect summer dessert. But here’s why it’s on my must-have list. The crust is made with coconut oil and the filling is naturally sweetened with orange juice and honey / maple syrup.
Keep it fresh with some pudding, it’s one of the most delicious naturally sweetened desserts out there! Maple syrup also keeps this recipe naturally sweetened.
It’s year-round ice cream season in my opinion, and this five-ingredient refined sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, paleo dessert recipe is as good as it gets. Oh, and it’s just five minutes of active preparation. This recipe calls for honey, but you can also substitute maple syrup for it.
This grain-free cheesecake couldn’t be easier to make for your next gathering with a honey lemon filling that is truly delicious.
These vegan, grain green brownies are as delicious as they are good for you. It’s one of my most loved naturally sweetened desserts thanks to the dates that also help create the doughy texture.
Sometimes you just need a few good old-fashioned cinnamon rolls, and this one is a real treat. This recipe uses coconut sugar and maple syrup as sweeteners and you can also make them vegan / dairy-free by using dairy-free butter and almond milk, or regular butter / milk is good too.
Don’t you just love classic shortbread cookies? These are made with almond flour and maple syrup and taste just like the classic, if not better.
Treat your sweet tooth with these delicious chocolate chip cookies. Thanks to the coconut sugar, they also make a nice chewy bite.
You would never guess that this chocolate leaf cake is a naturally sweetened dessert, it is a total crowd pleaser, but also baked in one pan. Yes, just bake, pour some frosting on top, add a few chocolate shavings for good measure, and voila!
Do you need another ice cream option? This strawberry rhubarb recipe is such a happy and delicious dessert. The strawberries and bananas make it sweet and flavorful and the rhubarb swirl adds a sweet and spicy touch.
You can’t beat the banana bread, and this recipe is as good as your mom’s. This recipe, however, is naturally sweetened with honey or maple syrup, which offers some trace nutrients that white sugar does not.
Elevate your next meal with this Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with a gluten-free almond flour cake batter, a fluffy maple-sweetened mascarpone filling, and fresh strawberries on top.
Do you feel English? Whip up your sticky caramel pudding the next time you want to make a naturally sweetened dessert with less than 7g of total carbs per serving. To keep carbs low, dates were replaced with yacon syrup, which is only about 12g per tablespoon. For the sauce, you need Swerve Brown other Sweet Bocha or allulose sweetener to create the rich, sticky sauces that mimic caramel.
This post was originally published on June 19, 2019 and has since been updated.