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Sweet Treats without the Sugar

Help Your Kids Choose Healthier Snacks
Sweet Treats without the Sugar: Main Image
Freeze low-sugar yogurt tubes and homemade smoothies for special treats
Getting your kids to eat less sugar can be easier than you might think. In fact, a recent study showed that kids like the taste of less-sweet breakfast cereals just as well as the sugar-loaded ones. "I have found ways to ditch excess sugar that my kids don't even miss," says Caroline Dorman, a mom and medical doctor in Grand Junction, Colorado. "I try to keep a bowl of fruit out all the time and we sweeten oatmeal with raisins and milk, topped with a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar."

Deemphasize the sugar

Experiment with your own variations on family favorites, so see what low-carb treats your kids enjoy as much as more sugary versions, and then emphasize those in your regular diet. Every family is different, but here are a few ideas:

  • Make most of your meals and snacks from scratch, and cut the amount of sugar called for in recipes by ¼ to ½.
  • Serve fruit and vegetables as snacks and desserts, including the sweet vegetables like carrots, red peppers, and jicama root, which can be cut up ahead of time.
  • Freeze low-sugar yogurt tubes and homemade smoothies for special treats.
  • To curb the blood sugar-raising effect of sweeter foods, serve them with some fat or fiber. For example, combine whole fat yogurt with maple syrup sweetened granola.
  • Dilute fruit juices by at least 50% with water.

Get beyond the juice box

Drinking sugary calories has been associated with obesity and other diseases, and it's one of the easiest areas to find good substitutions, such as:

  • Kombucha is a naturally fermented tea that packs the kick of soda without the added sugar. Nine-year-old Patrick likes grape kombucha, and advises, "I drink a little at a time because it's bubbly in my stomach. The first sip is strong, but then it's sweet. You get used to it, and then it's good. Just be careful not to shake it up."
  • Spritzers are easy to make by combining equal parts of juice (any flavor) with sparkling water.
  • Sun tea is a summertime classic made by placing 4 to 6 teabags of your choice into a 2-quart glass container, filling with water, replacing the cap, and placing it in the sun for about four hours.
  • Sunny juice: If sun tea alone isn't sweet enough to please, it can also be combined with fruit juice for a refreshingly fruity infusion.

Parents with new babies, note that infants need only drink breast milk or formula. When it's time to introduce other liquids, stick with water and milk, according to your pediatrician's recommendation. It's never a good idea to give a baby or toddler sugar-sweetened beverages like fruit drinks or soda.

Try this lovely low-sugar recipe: Blueberry Nice Cream

Ingredients

1, 12-ounce package of frozen blueberries or mixed berries

6 dates (Medjool if they are available), pitted

1 ½ cups raw cashews

Shredded coconut for garnish

Directions

Chop cashews in food processor until completely smooth, then add dates and process until all the lumps have disappeared. Add berries and continue to mix until you have a smooth, ice cream-like consistency. You may have to stop the food processor several times to scrape down the sides.

Serves 4. You can serve Nice Cream immediately, or fill frozen juice molds and freeze for a tasty snack.

Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation's premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

 
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