Sweets are notoriously hard to give up, in large part because many of the processed foods we eat contain added sugar to keep you coming back for more. Cookies, cakes and candy are obviously sugar-packed, but some more surprising sugary culprits include salad dressings, flavored potato chips, yogurt, protein bars and dried fruit.
If you’re trying to reduce your added sugar intake or go completely “no-sugar-added”, there are some key dos and don’ts to be aware of. Do check the ingredient list for processed sugars, pair natural healthy sources of sugar like whole fruit with protein and fat, and opt for flavored water instead of soda or juice. Don’t consume processed or artificial sugars, add sweeteners to your food or drinks, and most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up – this is challenging stuff!
Go ahead, eat dessert
In addition to those dos and don’ts, one of the most important things to remember as you reduce sugar in your diet is that you don’t have to give up all of life’s pleasures, like dessert. These eight sugar-free desserts contain either no added sweeteners or just the natural stuff (like honey). Whip one up next time you’re craving something sweet and share your recipe photos with us online!
1. Protein brownies
These protein-packed brownies only have 4 ingredients. Really. All you’ll need is protein powder, nut butter, banana and raw cocoa powder and you’re in business. Raw cocoa powder is packed with antioxidants, and banana has enough sweetness to make these brownies dessert-worthy.
2. Lemon poppy seed energy ball
These little bites of heaven are sweetened naturally with honey and dates. To keep your blood sugar from spiking, they contain healthy protein and fat from peanut butter, cashews and protein powder.
3. No-bake coconut bars
Another dessert with protein powder? Why not! Just make sure you’re checking the protein powder’s ingredient list for zero added sugar. These no-bake coconut bars contain healthy and flavorful coconut, almond butter and almonds (omit the added honey if you’re cutting out natural sweeteners). Extra “sweetness” comes from cinnamon — it’s not sugar, but it tricks the taste buds into thinking you’re consuming sugar. If you’re in need of a great pre- or post-workout snack, make a big batch of these bars instead of reaching for a commercial protein bar with added sugar.
4. Apple peanut butter bites
8fitters love making these peanut butter bites from the 8fit recipe book. With sweet apple and raisins and rich, decadent cinnamon and peanut butter, you won’t notice added sweeteners like honey, cane sugar or maple syrup are missing.
5. Banana & peanut butter on rice cakes
This recipe is so simple, you might not even consider it dessert. But, on days when your sweet tooth feels out of control, this banana, peanut butter and rice cake snack topped with cinnamon can help curb any sugar cravings and prevent overeating.
6. Apple, yogurt & peanut butter
The easiest way to make this simple snack feel more like dessert is by spending time on presentation. After you mix the protein-and fat-packed Greek yogurt with peanut butter and cinnamon, assemble layers of yogurt and nicely chopped apple in a jar like the photo below. Now you’re indulging in an elegant parfait!
7. Chocolate, banana & peanut butter “ice cream”
It wouldn’t be a good dessert list without ice cream, right? This chocolate banana “ice cream” is a crowd favorite among 8fitters. The banana adds just enough sweetness and the peanut butter is easily substituted with almond butter, sunflower seed butter or your personal favorite – however you make it your own, it’s a perfect chilly treat for a hot day.
8. Apple “sandwich” snack
This apple stack looks elegant, but it’s super simple to make and doesn’t include any added sugar. Like many of the sugar-free desserts above, this recipe includes apple and cinnamon — the sweet-tooth-satisfying pair.