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10 Ways To Sweeten Food Without Sugar

Posted: 05/20/11 04:34 PM ET

My sugar evolution has gone something like this - promiscuous sugar usage as a child, artificial sweeteners in college, honey post college, agave, stevia and now - nothing. (Well mostly nothing, nothing would be a lie, drastic reduction is more accurate.) When I do eat sugar it's largely in fruit-form or from teasing out the food's internal sugars by cooking/roasting. (I now consume roasted vegs with the same reckless abandon once reserved for Snackwells.)

By cutting way back on added sugar (even healthier, natural sugars) you not only start to crave it less, you start to detect "sweet" in hidden corners of non-sugar added foods. The problem with simply substituting one added sugar for another (agave for table sugar say, or artificial sweeteners in place of caloric sugars) is it still keeps the sugar bar high, never allowing our taste buds to recalibrate and get the same sensation of sweet with far less sugar.

The other powerful trick is to distract the taste buds with another flavor so they're less focused on the absence of sugar. Cinnamon in plain oatmeal or nutmeg in low-sugar muffins can give the mouth the impression of sugar even in its absence.

Here are ten ways to get "sweet" without sweeteners.

Michelle Madden is the creator of the award-nominated food blog, The Sweet Beet (nominations include a Webby and Saveur.com's top food blog). On her funny, engaging but highly informative blog, she shares tips and tricks for eating healthy as well as offering recipes that nourish and delight. You can find her at www.thesweetbeet.com or on Facebook

Vanilla Powder
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Pure vanilla bean powder is heavenly. It looks like dirt and tastes like ice cream. Try it in plain yogurt and you'll think you're eating a sundae. It's not cheap but you don't need much. You can buy it online here (where I get mine.) You could also buy the beans at most stores and crush them.

You could use vanilla extract, but the alcohol in the extract diminishes the sweet effect.
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