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Tips to Reducing Sugar in Recipes

Nutrient Dense Foods

At Empowered Wellness, with our young adults and teens, we encourage the consumption of nutrient dense foods.

Nutrient dense foods are foods that proportionally have the most amount of nutrients.  Salmon, kale, blueberries, seaweed are examples of nutrient dense foods.  

In our nutrition and culinary classes, we teach our campers how to modify recipes to reduce sugar, increase fiber, reduce energy density (calories), and increase nutrition. 

With a little creativity, learning new cooking techniques, and modifying recipes for nutrition, this will create more nutrient dense foods while keeping your favorite recipes. 

Tips for Reducing Sugar in Recipes:

1. Cut the Sugar

  • Cut sugar by 1/4 to 1/2 of the suggested amount. You can substitute the missed volume of sugar for more whole wheat flour.
  • Skip the frosting.

2. Replace the Sugar

  • Use sweet-enhancing spices, such as: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.  These spices can be used in place of sugar. Try these in your coffee in the morning.
  • Replace 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp of vanilla.
  • Use pureed fruit or unsweetened apple sauce in place of some of the sugar. 
  • Add unsweetened cocoa powder to chocolate flavored recipes.  A shot of espresso can enhance chocolate flavors, and will allow you to use less sugar.
  • If a recipe calls for a sugary frosting, either skip it or replace the frosting with a light honey glaze, sweet spices, fresh fruit, or no sugar added jam. You can also drizzle chocolate syrup made of bittersweet chocolate and nonfat half and half. 

3. Add some flavor

  • Add small pieces of dried fruit, such as: plums, raisins, cranberries, and apricots, or add cocoa nibs to impart a sweet flavor in each bite.
  • Add orange and lemon zest to bring a fruitiness to the dish.
  • Add your own homemade versions of typically high sugar store bought items, such as: salad dressings, pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, etc. 

Be creative in your recipes and try different ways to reduce the sugar in your favorite recipes, but keep the flavor. Check out this infographic, Tips for Reducing Sugar.