Choose sweets with more than sugar

By Margie Mansure (

Article Published: Sep. 12, 2013 | Modified: Sep. 12, 2013

We all know that eating too much sugar is not good for us.

But humans are born with a sweet tooth. History shows us that the more sugar available, the more we’ll eat.

According to a recent National Geographic article, titled “Sugar Love, a not so sweet story,” sugar consumption increased along with the slave trade. In 1700, the average Englishman consumed four pounds a year. In 1800, the common man ate 18 pounds of sugar, increasing to 47 pounds by 1870. By 1900, he was up to 100 pounds a year. In that span of 30 years, world production of cane and beet sugar exploded from 2.8 million tons a year to 13 million-plus. Today, the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar annually, or more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.

To lower risk of diseases, the American Heart Association recommends less than half that amount — nine teaspoons for men and six teaspoons for women, and less is better. There are four grams in a teaspoon.

Some sugar is naturally occurring in foods, such as fruit, milk and plain yogurt, and is not considered added sugar. Since purchased juice does not have the same nutritional benefit as fruit, no more than a cup a day should be consumed.

When satisfying your sweet tooth, choose wholesome ingredients that include some nutritional value, such as real fruit. These snack recipes will satiate sugar cravings, while providing important micronutrients.

Stuffed Dates with Ricotta, Nuts and Honey
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 tablespoons ground almonds, walnuts, or pistachios (grinding in coffee grinder works well)
12 medium dates
12 nuts of choice for garnish

Stir together ricotta cheese, honey, ground nuts and cardamom.
Cut a slit lengthwise on one side of dates.
Stuff date with mixture and press a nut on top.

Dates Stuffed with Nut Butter
Slit dates lengthwise on one side.
Stuff with almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower butter or cashew butter.

Fruit Snack Bars
Cooking spray
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
5 tablespoons apple juice
½ cup jam of choice
1 packaged dried fruit, diced (7 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
Mix together oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Use low speed, if using mixer.
Whisk oil and 3 tablespoons juice together and pour over dry mixture.
Blend together with mixer until moist and crumbly.
Press all but 3/4 cup of this mixture in the bottom of the baking pan.
Mix your jam of choice with 2 tablespoons of apple juice.
Stir in the dried fruit.
Then spread evenly over the pressed mixture.
Top with reserved 3/4 cup of mixture and press down in pan.
Bake 35 minutes until golden.
Cool in pan on a wire rack and cut into bars.

Banana Oatmeal Cookie Bake
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup oats
Other desirable ingredients such as fried fruit, dark chocolate chips

Mix ingredients together, form into small balls and bake on cookie sheet in 350 degree pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email or call (828) 264-3061.

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