All Woman

NATURAL alternatives to artificial sweeteners, spices

HEALTHY YOU

By NADINE WILSON

Monday, June 02, 2014    

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IF you find yourself having to give up delicious meals for dull, bland dishes in an effort to cut back on calories, then your sacrifice would have been for naught. That’s because there are a number of natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners and spices that might very well be in your backyard garden.

“We should not be adding sugar to anything we eat or drink, so the whole idea with health largely is that whole foods are likely to be healthier than refined foods,” explained alternative medical practitioner Dr Heiz-Peter Becker who pointed out that we can get our natural sugars from fruits, for example.

Apart from adding fruits such as pineapples and apples to your juices, smoothies, desserts and main dishes, you can consider the following ingredients to give your meals a boost.

1. Ginger

Many health practitioners endorse ginger because of its nutritional properties, but ginger is also a fantastic ingredient for marinating your meats. Ginger has few limitations when it comes to cooking, and its tangy freshness, warmth and mellow sweetness can transform a simple dish from being ordinary to mouth-watering.

2. Vinegar

The usefulness of this ingredient in the kitchen goes way beyond keeping your counters sparkling and making vinaigrette to add to your salad. Use it to tenderise your meats, add moistness to your chocolate cake, perk up your sauce or soups or jazz up your tuna salad.

3. Lime juice

Give a bit of zest to your meals by adding lemon or lime juice. Squeeze a fresh lime in your unsweetened carrot juice, or even your water for a refreshing beverage. You can also use lime juice to season your chicken or mix with olive oil and drizzle over your salad to make it more palatable.

4. Garlic

Add a sweet, nutty flavour to your dishes by adding garlic. Finely chop or sauté it and add to your stir fried vegetables or your sauces to get the best release of flavours. You can also add freshly chopped garlic to your vegetarian or meat-based stews for a delicious main dish.

5. Cinnamon

Instead of cream and sugar, add a dash of cinnamon to your coffee, porridge, cocoa or oatmeal and reap even more nutritional benefits. It’s one of the best ingredients you could use for your baked desserts and breads, especially if you are diabetic and want to try another alternative to refined sweeteners.

6. Pepper

Add some spice to your soups, sauces, stir-fried vegetables and meats with pepper. You can also vary the taste and the look of your meal because you are able to choose between bell pepper or scotch bonnet pepper in different colours.

7. Onion

Intensify the taste of your dishes with onions without having to worry about adding calories. Vegetable stews, chicken, fried and steamed fish and grilled meats will taste much better with a couple onion rings or diced onions.

8. Curry powder

Just a tablespoon of curry can completely transform  your vegetables, tofu or meat. Make a savoury sauce by adding powdered curry or use it to season your rice pilaf to make a simple and delicious dinner.

9. Cocoa powder

This will definitely be good to have in stock if you bake and is a great alternative to chocolate. You can also add freshly ground cocoa to your almonds, peanuts and oatmeal and increase your magnesium, iron and zinc intake by doing so.

10. Nutmeg

Like cinnamon power, grated nutmeg can be added to coffee, cocoa and oatmeal if you want another alternative to sugar. A teaspoon of nutmeg can also spice up your carrot or beetroot juice and give baked products added flavour.

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