4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Healthier Than Sugar

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean cutting all sugar. Even medical experts recognize that there’s room for some sweetness in your daily routine. That said, too much sugar is bad for your heart, increases your risk of diabetes and adds quickly to your waistline. One tablespoon of refined sugar has 50 calories!

The Secret to Healthy Living With a Sweet Twist

One option to avoid empty calories is simply to lower the amount of added sugar you eat. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, because many manufacturers add sugar to things you wouldn’t believe: spaghetti sauce, bread, bacon, ketchup, etc. Homemade meals are easier to keep low in sugar, though.

Another trick is replacing refined sugar with healthier alternatives that are naturally low in calories. You can’t go crazy with them, but you can have a sweeter life and lose weight at the same time.

The Healthiest Sugar Alternatives

If you think outside the box, it’s not as hard as you may think to reduce added sugars. These days, there are many natural sugar alternatives. Here are the best.

1. Fruit (Fresh or Frozen)

Ditch the sugar and choose these fruits instead the next time you want to sweeten smoothies or oatmeal. Opt for unsweetened cereal or natural yogurt and add fruit for sweetness. Try these delicious superstars:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Pineapple
  • Pears
  • Figs
  • Mangos
  • Cherries
  • Cantaloupe

Health professionals agree that natural sugars in fruit aren’t a problem for your health. You can enjoy them as much as you want. They provide a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, too. Frozen fruit is almost as rich in nutrients as fresh, so feel free to choose it if it’s less expensive or more convenient.

2. Applesauce (No Added Sugar)

Technically, applesauce is fruit, too, but you use it for sweetening different things. Fruit puree makes an excellent alternative to sugar for baked goods, adding both moisture and natural sweetness. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Cupcakes with strawberry puree
  • Banana bread with guava
  • Cheesecake with passion fruit puree
  • Pumpkin-apple coffee cake
  • Dark chocolate cake with raspberries
  • Carrot cake with pineapple puree
  • Real cherry pie
  • Strawberry-kiwi dessert pizza

3. Stevia

This natural sweetener comes from the leaves of a plant native to South America. Stevia doesn’t have any calories, and it doesn’t have the negative side effects of artificial sweeteners. If you’re worried about your wallet, you should know that a little goes a long way: Stevia is 450 times sweeter than sugar.

4. Monk Fruit Extract

Like stevia, monk fruit extract comes from leaves — in this case, from a Chinese plant. Monk fruit extract packs tons of sweetness into a zero-calorie package. It also doesn’t affect blood sugar, making it a good alternative for people who need to be careful with glucose levels.

A Balanced View of Sweet Treats

The key to good physical, emotional and mental health is balance. Sometimes, enjoying a slice of apple pie with family and friends is just what the doctor ordered for reducing stress. With the help of natural sugar alternatives, you can indulge your sweet tooth without feeling guilty.

Sleep In With My Favorite Make Ahead Breakfasts

Family breakfasts are happy moments. If only they didn’t require so much willpower. Fortunately, you can have your granola and eat it too. These make-ahead breakfasts are a breeze for school days, commutes or weekend brunch visits.

Spiced Apple Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are phenomenal for healthy eating with a busy lifestyle. With endless combinations of fruit, nuts and spices, it’s easy to switch things up to keep breakfast interesting.

Ingredients

You can change the recipe to include family favorites. Feel free to add bananas instead of raisins or top with sunflower seeds.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 large apple
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Raisins (optional)

Instructions

This spiced apple recipe is a breeze to make the day before. The total prep time is only 15 minutes.

  • Cook apple: Slice the apple. Cook it along with lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and almond butter. Cook for 8–10 minutes.
  • Prepare jars: Place the rolled oats in mason jars. Without stirring, add the cooked apples, raisins and milk. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight.
  • Serve: You decide whether to heat your overnight oats in the microwave or enjoy them cool for breakfast.

Add or swap ingredients however you want. Get plenty of fiber with pumpkin, more protein with peanut butter or awesome vitamin C with frozen berries.

Scrambled Egg Muffin Tins

Many families love scrambled eggs. So do nutritionists. Eggs have an excellent nutritional profile. They’re packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, plus eyesight-protecting antioxidants.

Ingredients

This is another recipe that you can customize to your preferences, adding mushrooms, hash browns, tomatoes or different cheeses. Fruit veggies are always a win.

  • 24 eggs (large)
  • 3 ounces deli ham, turkey or chicken (chopped)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup green peppers or jalapenos
  • 1 jar of sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Instructions

This recipe makes 24 scrambled egg “muffins.” They freeze just fine. If you want an even dozen instead, just use half the ingredients.

  1. Preheat: Set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare: Grab a large bowl and whisk the eggs first. Then, add your other ingredients—cheese, onion, deli meat and green peppers.
  3. Distribute: Fill the muffin pans with the scrambled egg mixture. Put about 1/4 cup in each tin.
  4. Cook: Bake the eggs for 18–20 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate or freeze: Let the scrambled egg muffins sit for 10 minutes before you take them out. Place in freezer containers.
  6. Heat: In the morning, pop your scrambled egg creations in the microwave for about a minute.

This awesome muffin-tin scrambled egg recipe provides a filling breakfast on the go. That way, you have plenty of fuel for mental focus and don’t feel cravings for junk food at work.

Other Fabulous Breakfast Ideas

Many breakfast options are ideal for prepping the night before. Try breakfast burrito casserole, toaster pancakes, baked French toast with berries, high-protein breakfast smoothies and homemade granola bars, just to name a few.

A busy lifestyle can’t — and shouldn’t — keep you from enjoying a nutritious breakfast. Just make your kids’ faves the night before rather than the morning of.