If you've got a sweet tooth, depriving yourself is only going to make things worse. It means that when you do cave and tuck into a box of Cadbury's finest fare, you won't stop at one. Pack that is. We're not judging; we speak from experience. But we digress. What we have found whilst trying to navigate our way through the supermarket treat isle is how to indulge without going wild on the white stuff.
Instead of mainlining Milky Ways, we've been cashing in our treacle-coated tokens on date-laced delights packed with nuts and seeds to help break down the sugars as we chew. Keep reading to discover our favorite sugar-free finds. From dried fruits to raw cacao and honey, you can tell Mother Nature was a woman when you look at the abundance of succulently sweet provisions dangling off trees and springing from the soil.
But Is Natural Sugar Better for You?
"There's actually minimal difference nutritionally between refined and non-refined sweeteners," explains Vanessa Clarkson, a dietitian and nutritionist. "But whole-food sweeteners are better because they have all of the other nutrients and none of the fillers or cheap ingredients that chocolate bars and sweets tend to."
Okay, so which out of the natural sweeteners are best? "Dates and dried fruit tend to be my preferred sweeteners, as they have a lower GI, which means the sugars are absorbed at a slower rate," continues Clarkson. This way you're less likely to go in for round two, as you'll feel more satisfied.
Bowls Out, Aprons On
It's not just the new-fangled shop-bought sugar-free snacks getting our vote either, but you've been getting crafty in the kitchen, too. We asked Pinterest what you guys were stirring up sans stevia, and we were directed to boards of sugar-free bounty bars, raw chocolate cake and ice cream made from nut milk, pureed fruit, and pure vanilla extract.
Time taken to make them versus seconds taken to scoff them might not balance out, but as Clarkson flags, if you're DIY'ing your sweet snacks from scratch, they're hands down going to be the healthiest option because of the other natural ingredients you're using. Finally tempted to put the digestive down? You should be. Scroll through these sugar-free and guilt-free recipes we found on Pinterest, and be prepared to feel inspired (and hungry).
Rich, Fudgy Better-For-You Brownies
Using cacao powder, a touch of dark chocolate, vanilla extract and honey to sweeten and give it that oozy fudginess (read: the best bit), coconut flour makes up the base of these brownies so you can even indulge if you're gluten-free.
Dairy-Free Almond Ice Cream
No one wants to sacrifice ice cream, and there's no need. Agave syrup blended with almond milk, chopped almonds and the scraping of a few vanilla pods is all that's required to create this frozen treat Ben & Jerry's would be jealous of.
Raspberry and Vanilla Chia Seed Jam
Raspberries, vanilla extract, chia seeds, and a simple tablespoon of honey make a jar of jam that's perfect for spreading on toast, sandwiching between healthy cakes and layering up with peanut butter. All homemade, of course.
Davina McCall's Sugar-Free Chocolate Mousse
Good old Davina and her sugar-free fixes. This easy-to-whip-up mousse uses 100 percent chocolate, which some might find bitter, but it's sweetened with a blob of honey and the lactose from the double cream. Indulgent much?
Chocolate Orange Cake (Sugar-, Vegan- and Gluten-Free)
Soft dates are the primary source of sweetness for this impressive chocolate orange cake, along with a squeeze of orange of course. What would Terry say?
Spiced Pear and Oat Muffins
A powerhouse combo of pears and honey, these filling and nutritious muffins also contain mixed spice and vanilla to make a satisfying but sweet and taste bud-tingling snack. The topping uses coconut sugar, but you could swap for desiccated coconut if you'd prefer.