As a child, my breakfast cereal would be piled high with not just spoonfuls of sugar but fistfuls of the white stuff, not to mention the three teaspoons of sugar I added to my copious cups of tea each day. Then, on top of that were the sweets I bought each week at the local shop with my pocket money. All that sugar probably accounts for why my teeth wouldn’t look out of place on someone you’d see on The Jeremy Kyle Show.
These days, for various reasons – health and environment, as well as not wanting to only attract members of the opposite sex who look like they probably have sex with their relatives – a lot of people avoid refined sugar. I undertook a sugar-free challenge last year which, because a) I no longer have cereal for breakfast, let alone pile tons of sugar on top of it; b) I’ve grown out of my sweet tooth (probably because I have none left); and c) it was only for one day, I found going without refined sugar relatively easy.
If you’re joining the sugar-free trend, why not start with your breakfast cereal, porridge and smoothies and take a look at these vegan natural sweeteners.
I’ve just remembered I used to eat sliced banana covered in so much sugar you couldn’t actually see the banana underneath (blimey, just how much sugar did I consume as a child?) but fruit contains natural sugar and therefore makes a great sweetener. Slice your favourite fruit such as berries or bananas and put it on top of cereal, mix it in to porridge or blend it with spinach and coconut milk for a healthy smoothie.
2. Dates and Date Syrup
You’ll all be aware of dates and, if you’re anything like me, are put off by their appearance, but did you know they make an amazing sweetener? You can add them to smoothies and any bits that don’t get fully blended give you a chewy, toffee-like bonus. And if you find homemade almond milk too bitter when it’s just almonds and water, chuck a couple of dates into the blender to sweeten it up.
A little lesser known date product is date syrup (sometimes labelled date molasses) – a dark, sticky sauce made from cooked down dates. You can use date syrup in a variety of ways – trickle some over your cereal, stir some into your porridge, add a spoonful to a smoothie, or even spread it on toast. If you can’t find any date syrup in your local supermarket, you can make your own.
3. Maple Syrup
Although agave nectar is a popular vegan alternative to honey and appears in a lot of raw vegan cookbooks (or perhaps that should be ‘rawbooks’?), agave nectar gets a lot of bad press for not being as natural as one might assume. Therefore, another – natural – alternative to honey is maple syrup and you can find this in any supermarket (and when I say ‘any’, I mean ‘I saw it in my local Tesco’).
As with date syrup, maple syrup is a versatile natural sweetener and you can use it the same way in porridge, pancakes and smoothies.
So, next time you’re about to spoon some of Tate & Lyle’s finest (other sugar brands are available) onto your breakfast, consider using a natural sweetener instead.
This post was commissioned by MOMA who make a range of sugar-free porridge, bircher muesli and smoothies. As usual, all opinions are my own.