Naturally Sweeten Meals with Food From Your Spring Harvest

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables Many of us are raised to believe sugar is the key to success when making a dessert at home. Without it, we're told, the flavor will be too bland for anyone's palate. This has designated...

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
Fresh Fruits And Vegetables

Many of us are raised to believe sugar is the key to success when making a dessert at home. Without it, we're told, the flavor will be too bland for anyone's palate. This has designated sugar as a food safety net of sorts. As when we are unsure of a dish's flavor, we simply mask any faults by increasing its level of sweetness. At times, this works, but the surplus of sugar in our diets has begun to saturate our taste buds, making it difficult to appreciate or even detect the splendor of more subtle flavors.

This isn't to say you should berate your sweet tooth. Far from it. But instead of relying on refined sugar as the go-to source of flavor, try mixing it up by adding naturally sweet ingredients. Many fruits and vegetables contain their own sugar, called fructose, that you can use as a one-for-one replacement for white sugar. When consumed from unprocessed produce, the effects of fructose differ from those of refined sugars. This is because the fiber present in fruits and vegetables help to slow the process of sugar absorption, allowing your body to use the calories from fructose more efficiently than white, table sugar.

It is crucial to note here: fructose, when isolated from the cellular matrix of produce, is not superior to sucrose. This is evident in fructose that manifests in the form of corn-syrup. The same goes for fruit and vegetable juices. These at least have the benefit of vitamins, however. Nonetheless, by keeping the produce as physically in tact as possible, you can negate many negative effects associated with most sweeteners.

In addition to health benefits, fruits and vegetables lend unique flavors to baked goods and stove-top desserts without overpowering the other ingredients. Often, replacing sugar with produce will turn you into a better cook, as you learn to incorporate and experiment with new flavors without relying on sugar as a culinary crutch. Most importantly, though, it will give you a new way to utilize fruits and vegetables from your spring harvest.

To begin your journey in sugar-free and produce-laden baking, try out this recipe for Spring Fruit Bars, which relies solely on produce and spices for sweetness:

Spring Fruit Bars

Dried Fruits on the Market
Dried Fruits on the Market

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried apricots or prunes
  • 1-1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: add your favorite nuts(chopped) or oats

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a thick paste forms.
  2. Grease an 8x8-inch pan. Now press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan.
  3. Refrigerate the bars for a minimum of one hour.
  4. Once firm cut into squares and serve.
  5. Enjoy.

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