Just because I signed up for a 10 day sugar-free challenge doesn’t mean I plan on going 10 days without any sweets or indulgences at all. I’m temporarily giving up some of my favorites, but it just makes me think outside the box a bit more and embrace some foods I may have previously taken for granted.
Ever notice how very sweet some fruits can be? For me, they can totally satisfy a sugar craving. Fresh mango and pineapple especially, but dried fruit or frozen fruit are also delicious and put a different spin on a simple food.
My favorite dried fruit has to be papaya. It’s actually one of my favorite snacks ever. It’s not too sweet and a little bit tough – preventing me from scarfing it down. It’s important to read labels when buying dried fruit though. Some brands add sugar, oil and preservatives to the fruit before drying it to make it even sweeter and extend its shelf life. Sugar-free challenge or not, I only buy no sugar added and sulphur free dried fruit. Read ingredients on prepackaged brands and if buying from the bulk aisle, the label on the bin should indicate what’s added (or not) to the fruit.
If the fruit is darker than it is in its fresh state, that’s a good sign. If it’s a lighter and brighter version of its former self, then you have a problem. Adding sulphur makes the fruit brighter and prettier…but worse for you. Back to Nature and Trader Joe’s sell good pre-packaged varieties without adding anything, but buying from the bulk aisle is usually your best bet because the labels are right there on the front of the bin letting you know what’s what.
Can you see the difference between the papaya and apricots? Dried apricots should be a very dark orange or almost brown color. Take a look at the fruit below – all darker. The bananas are really dark, but that’s a good thing!
Frozen fruit makes a for a delicious dessert. Ever try a frozen grape? They are so refreshing and couldn’t be easier. Rinse, de-stem and freeze. What about raw banana soft serve? I tried this for the first time after reading about it on Gena’s blog, in a post that I could have sworn was titled ‘This Post Will Change Your Life’, but, for some reason I couldn’t find that exact one to link back to. Anyway, wherever that title came from, it’s totally on point – because it will. Just cut up a banana, freeze, and then blend in a food processor until creamy. It’s so good, I can’t even tell you. Just go make some and thank me (and Gena!) later.
Even though dates are really a fruit, I think they deserve their own category. Since they are so sweet, more so than any other fruit I can think of, I use them in many desserts instead of sugar altogether. Buy them in the bulk aisle (I find they are usually a better quality than the pre-packaged ones) and try using them instead of agave in smoothies or raw desserts. I often use them when making dessert balls or homemade Larabars. I feel like I’ve seen lots of recipes for these balls around the blogosphere, but I tried Averie’s recipe for a ‘sugar cookie’ variety and haven’t strayed yet. They’re simple (3 ingredients!), easy and delicious. Go ahead and experiment with different nuts, extracts and flavors.
Normally I make raw chocolate with agave, but I’ve made it before without agave and it still tastes good – just like super dark chocolate. I feel like I cover every dessert I make in chocolate – but this time it really does makes sense! A date-based dessert will help sweeten up the chocolate.
I hadn’t thought about wine containing sugar until another commenter mentioned it on Alex’s blog. From what I know about wine, they don’t add sugar to it – at least the reds I drink. Further research didn’t prove me wrong, so I say, it’s IN!
To re-hydrate after the wine. Oh, you drank the whole bottle? Eh, you’re probably at the right blog after all. Or, if you aren’t a complete wino, just have some after dinner as a sweet treat instead of dessert.