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April 13, 2014

Get Nuts with Baking & Ditch Sugar. ~ Pászli Balázs

no-sugarIf one is trying to cut sugar out of their diet, there aren’t a whole lot of options available when it comes to the world of baking. Sugar is the cornerstone of countless snackies and is why many delectable treats are so darn sweet and delicious in the first place!

This is where nuts come in.

The Super Food

Nuts are low in sugar, add awesome crunch and texture, and to top it all off, they taste great! There is also such a wide variety of nuts that it shouldn’t be hard to find the perfect one to give your next baked creation a bit of flare without the extra sugar.

Nuts are one of the most versatile snacks we can ever hope to encounter. Their health benefits continue to mount, with several studies claiming that they lower blood sugar and cholesterol, promotes weight loss by keeping people full for longer periods of time, and ultimately can even prolong the span of one’s life.

They’re packed full of fiber, healthy fats, protein and antioxidants, and just a handful can provide enough energy to get through a full day without having to rely on a sneaky helping of something overly-laden with sugar. Perhaps best of all, nuts are often all-natural and unprocessed, meaning that there is no need to worry over the ingredient list.

It’s no wonder nuts are so popular in baking, given they’re loaded with flavor and low in sugar, and they go hand-in-hand with so many recipes. Here are just a few low-sugar treats that use nuts to make them burst with tasty goodness.

Pistachio Cookies

It’s tempting to load cookies with chocolate chips or other sugary goodies, but why not give them a break and throw in some nuts instead?

Not only do pistachio nuts lower the risk of heart disease, they’re also delicious, colorful and will give cookies a great texture. The best pistachio cookies will be moist for the most part, with the nuts creating a beautiful crunchy contrast.

Low-Fat Peanut Brittle

Technically speaking, peanuts are a legume, not a nut. However, we’re going to ignore that for now, because just like other nuts, peanuts are tasty, nutritious (especially for protein) and can add variety and crunch to any recipe.

Peanut brittle is traditionally known as a treat so high in sugar that one would normally want to rush off to give sticky teeth a good scrubbing immediately after indulging, but there are sugar-free recipes that lean towards the nuttier side.

Simply use a replacement, such as coconut sugar (not actually sugar, despite the name) or agave nectar, and load it up with extra peanuts for a true nut hit.

Or rather, a legume hit. Try not to discriminate.

Granola Bars

This is one instance in which home-made beats store-bought, hands down, every time. The ones that can be picked up at the local supermarket are often loaded with sugar and other nastiness. Not so if made from scratch at home!

Cashews are a great pick for granola bars, and not only because of their sweet taste and numerous antioxidants. They’ll add that crumbly yet still crunchy texture that’ll keep people coming back for more.

Cashews are only one popular suggestion, however; almonds work just as well, or really any other nut. It’s up to the individual to experiment.

Sugar-Free Brownies

Yet another food high on the “comfort food” scale, but not so great for nutrition, brownies can always be improved with nuts.

Using one of the aforementioned sugar substitutes, whip up a batch of brownies that are far more tooth-friendly than the traditional kind, and come with the added bonus of a good crunch to complement their moist texture.

Walnuts are the nut of choice for brownie recipes, which will provide a solid texture alongside essential amino acids and plenty of dietary fiber.

Just Plain Nuts

As we have come to realize, nuts are incredibly versatile, and not just in baking. Throw some into a salad, add crunch to a pasta dish, or simply eat them straight from the pack. As long as they’re not saturated in salt or honey, they’ll be a nutritious, energy boosting snack all by themselves.

Where nuts really come into their own, however, is providing texture, variety, and most importantly, flavor to any baking endeavor—with the added bonus of keeping things sugar-free!

 

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Apprentice Editor: Andrea Charpentier/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Shutterstock

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