I believe that everyone on the planet has a sweet tooth and I too am a fellow choc-aholic. Sugar sure does taste good, but it is a well know fact that sugar can wreak havoc on the body. According to neuroscientist Dr. Jordan Gaines Lewis, sugar sends signals to the brain that light up the reward pathways leading to the release of “feel good” hormones such as dopamine (1). When this pathway becomes overstimulated the body needs more and more sugar to elicit that same pleasure response. Artificial sweeteners can also increase sugar craving because sucralose is almost 400 times sweeter than table sugar. So what is one to do in a world surrounded by added and processed sugars? Follow my tips below for satisfying your sweet tooth while cutting back on your sugar intake.
The Glycemic Index
The glycemic index simplistically interpreted is the way carbohydrates and sugars affect a person’s blood sugar. Simple sugars such as those found in candies and fruit elicit a dramatic increase in blood sugar followed by a drastic drop in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables allow the blood sugar to gradually increase and decrease. There is nothing worse than roller coaster blood sugar levels, which will leave you feeling like absolute sludge. I recommend pairing simple sugars with fat or protein sources in order to prevent blood sugar spikes. A great example would be an apple with peanut butter or greek yogurt and berries.
Simple and natural are always the best option when choosing a sweet treat. Fruit is nature’s perfect solution for a sweet tooth because of the added benefits of vitamins, minerals and fiber. I recommend choosing lower sugar fruits such as berries, apples, and pears rather than sugar loaded tropical fruits and melons. If chocolate is the only thing that will do then I highly suggest dark chocolate with at least 50% cacao. My favorite way to satisfy my cravings is to snack on a few tablespoons of dark chocolate chips that I use for baking. Having lots of little chips makes me feel like I am getting more of a treat than 2 little squares. If baked goods are your craving, I recommend creating your own healthy recipes (to see my baking substitutions article <a href="http://fiteeza.com/swap-smart-and-healthy-for-fat-and-empty-calories" target="_blank">Click Here</a>) that allow you to control quality and ingredients. Try the recipes below to satisfy your sweet tooth without making you feel guilty or spiking your blood sugar levels.
I have been playing around with my protein bar recipe for years trying to make them taste more like brownies than protein bars. I love to change up the extracts and wet ingredients for more seasonal flavors. I especially love dark chocolate peppermint flavored bars at christmas time. Chocolate banana bars are also great with mashed banana instead of the applesauce and banana extract. Another substitution would be to use brewed coffee instead of the water for a mocha flavored protein bar.
Cinnamon Baked Apples
2 apples (any kind, I used granny smith)
2 tablespoons natural maple syrup
4 tablespoons oats
Core apples and slice into pieces. Place apple slices into 2 ramekins and add half the maple syrup and oats to each. Gently stir. Top with cinnamon. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until apples are tender.
Calories: 127 Fat: 1g Protein: 1g Carbs: 30g
Chocolate Protein Bars
2/3 cup Oat Flour
3 scoops Chocolate Protein Powder
4 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 Cup Stevia
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Extract (vanilla, banana, or peppermint)
2/3 cup Unsweetened Applesauce or banana puree
3/4 cup Liquid Egg Whites
1 Tbsp oil (coconut or oil of your choicel)
2 oz Water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray. Mix dry ingredients together, then add wet ingredients. Mix until you get out all the lumps. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 22 to 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and let cool. Once cool, cut into 10 bars.
Source adapted from: http://www.muffin-topless.com/2012/07/06/muffin-topless-rich-chocolate-protein-bars/
Calories: 113 Fat: 3g Protein: 12g Carbs: 10g