March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. ” One of Americans’ favorite flavors? Sweetness! The average American consumes about 20 teaspoons of sugar a day (about 320 calories). The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we cut back to less than 10% of our total calories for the day coming from added sugar (about 12.5 teaspoons or 50 grams).

FYI: 1 tsp. = 4 grams of sugar

The good news is that you can still satisfy your sweet tooth and avoid sugar bombs with a few sugar-savvy strategies:

Sip smarter

About ½ of the added sugars in our diets are coming from sugar sweetened beverages like soft drinks, fruit drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks, alcoholic drinks, and flavored waters. A 12-ounce soda contains a whopping 10 teaspoons (40 grams) of sugar! Check the Nutrition Facts Panel on your beverages – we often don’t realize how much sugar might be in a lightly sweetened tea or juice. Sip smarter by jazzing up plain water with a splash of 100% fruit juice, citrus slices, or frozen fruit “ice cubes”. Try unsweetened flavored sparkling water if you enjoy fizz!

Go plain jane

Choose the plain, unsweetened version of packaged foods and add in your own sweetness with fruit, honey, or maple syrup. Add sliced banana to plain cereals, maple syrup to regular oats, or apple sauce to plain yogurt. For example plain oatmeal has less than 1 grams of sugar compared to a maple sugar oatmeal with 13 grams (3 tsp.) of added sugars

Savor the sweetness of Mother Nature

The naturally occurring sugar & sweetness in fruit is not something you need to worry about since these sugars come packaged in a bundle of beneficial nutrients! Satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh berries, frozen grapes, or dates stuffed with a scoop of peanut butter and a pinch of cinnamon. For a decadent, chocolatey treat, try this Cocoa-Avocado Mousse!

Cocoa-Avocado Mousse

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup dates, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fruit, for garnish (pomegranate seeds, berries, banana slices, apple chunks)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Soak cashews and dates in water for 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. Put the almond milk, avocado flesh, cashews, cocoa, dates, vanilla extract, and cinnamon into your blender and puree on high for 60 seconds or until smooth and creamy. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  3. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and let it chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  4. To serve, top mousse with fruit of your choice. (serves 4-6)

Source: http://www.planteatersmanifesto.com/cocoa-avocado-mousse/

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.