Sometimes our sweet tooth can get the best of us. We just can’t help it. But if you’re consuming too much refined sugar, your sugar fix could also get the best of your health.
Consumption of excess sugar has been linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and an overall unhealthy diet. Experts warn that a culprit is added sugars used in processed foods —think ice creams, soda and candy — not natural sugars like the ones found in fruits.
The seemingly straight forward option is to cut sugar from your diet. But that’s easier said than done. Refined white sugar lurks in many items, like pre-packaged salad dressings and breakfast cereals. And for those who have diabetes, refined starches like white bread and white rice act similarly to sugar once the body begins to digest them, and can interfere with glucose levels. If you fall into that bucket, you’ll likely want to wipe flour from your diet as well.
If you want to eliminate refined sugars from your daily routine, know you have an arsenal of healthy recipes and food substitution tricks at your disposal. Cookbooks, for example, are an easy way to master both.
To help start you on your new lifestyle, we’ve rounded up five cookbooks that span the sugar-free spectrum. From diabetic culinary bibles to intensive detox programs, these books will help you stay healthy while still letting you indulge in variations of your favorite sweets, cakes and all.
“The Sweet LIfe: Diabetes Without Boundaries” (starting at $14.99; amazon.com)
“Top Chef” fanatics probably already know Sam Talbot. The Season 2 runner up was candid about his struggle with Type 1 Diabetes during the series. Talbot has since opened his Brooklyn restaurant Pretty Southern and has released two cookbooks, including one specifically aimed at low-sugar dishes. “The Sweet Life” features 75 innovative, all-natural recipes alongside life tips and tricks from Talbot, Halle Berry, Larry King and other diabetics. The cookbook, however, isn’t just for those who have the disease. It’s for anyone who wants to eat healthy and fresh meals that are good for you, without sacrificing on flavor.
“Clean Cooking: More Than 100 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free Recipes” ($13.33; barnesandnoble.com)
If you’re not only hyper focused on your sugar intake and want a holistically more healthy diet, consider clean cooking. This method focuses solely on whole foods, or those that aren’t processed or refined. This results in the food staying as close to its natural form as possible. On this diet, you’ll cut out refined sugars, gluten and dairy products.
It’s a tricky diet to navigate, but you’ll have help from Elisabeth Johansson. The pastry chef, food stylist and a Gourmand World Cookbook award-winning author has followed a clean diet for several years. Her cookbook is an anthology of nutrient-packed meals that are aimed to help people feel more energized and healthier. From gluten-free scones with fig jam to mouth-watering carnitas paired with mango salsa, these healthy spins on classic dishes are just as tasty as they are wholesome.
“The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook: The Whole Food Approach to Great Taste and Healthy Eating” ($19.95; barnesandnoble.com)
Diabetic-friendly cooking can prove to be difficult if you’re used to a more laid-back approach to cooking. Cooking with sugar intake in mind requires critical thinking about your ingredients and their sugar content, as well as culinary savvy to figure out tasty substitutions. “The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook” hopes to take a lot of that guesswork out for you.
Finding clean and healthy recipes in the book is a given. But author and registered dietician Jackie Newgent also includes sample meal plans, tips for cooking with natural ingredients and a substitution chart that can help you learn how to swap out processed foods like cheese and white sugar. And while some diabetic cookbooks rely on artificial sweeteners to create flavor, this one relies only on fresh foods.
“Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough” (starting at $9.99; amazon.com)
We’ll admit that “sugar-free desserts” probably sounds like an oxymoron. But it’s completely possible to craft cakes and brownies that taste really good without having to heavily rely on refined white sugar. You just need the right resources.
Enter “Cut the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough,” a collection of tasty treats from popular food blogger Ella Leché. Not to be mistaken for a full-on sugar-detox, this book’s aim is to change people’s relationship with food and responsibly address their cravings. Delicious options like millet-apple breakfast cake and raw berry swirl cheesecake are ways for you to get your sweet tooth on guilt-free. It’s a great option for those who want to be more conscious about what they’re putting into their body, but still aren’t ready to completely part with sugar.
“I Quit Sugar: Your complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook” (starting at $9.99; amazon.com)
On the flipside, if you’re trying to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, a detox cookbook will be your favorite culinary companion. A great option is New York Times bestseller, “I Quit Sugar: Your complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook.” This week-by-week guidebook is packed with 108 recipes to help you lose weight, boost your energy levels and improve your health. These meals, snacks, and even sweet treats, were dreamed-up by some of the big names in the health and food industry, including author Sarah Wilson, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow and Curtis Stone.
Although the recipes are designed as part of an 8-week program, you’ll likely want to keep them as part of your routine. And once you start feasting on dishes like mojito smoothies and fluffy squash and chia muffins, sugar will become a thing of the past.