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Whole30 Sweeteners

whole30 sweeteners
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Whole30 sweeteners are a bit of a gray area.  Sweeteners are technically verboten: “Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial” but the rules also go on to say “[f]ruit juice as a sweetener” is an exception and dates are also an acceptable food with certain caveats.


I finished my sixth Whole30 last week and am already thinking about going back.  Why Whole30?  Because I love and hate it.  The strictness keeps me totally in line and the results (feeling better!) are mostly worth the (sometimes incredible and annoying) effort.  What I really need to make it through another round are some fresh food ideas and that’s what got me thinking about sweeteners.

I don’t really need sweet food and I’m not talking about trying to create “SWYPO” (sex with your pants on) type goodies, but good cooking requires layers of flavors and a depth that sometimes can’t be filled without a hint of sweetness.

So what can you use as Whole30 sweeteners?


In the form of whole dates, date paste, date sugar

I love dates.  Sweet, chewy little bites of natures candy, but also dangerous because of that.  Eating whole dates as a treat is a no-no, but eating dates as a part of a recipe should be okay (again, no “SWYPO”).  Dates work beautifully in sauces and other dishes that get pureed.  Not so much for other recipes due to their clumpy, sticky nature.  I haven’t found any magical conversion rate when using dates or date paste as a part of a recipe so I usually start small and taste as I go.

The mere mention of date sugar will probably send hard-core Whole30 militants into fits of rage, but whatever.  Date sugar is just the powdered form of very well dried dates.  I love the idea of a powdered form for measuring and mixing ease.  Will it work like sugar?  Nope, but it will give sauces or other recipes a nice kick of sweetness without forcing you to bust out the blender or food processor.

Be very careful if you buy date sugar for your Whole30 as I have seen at least one popular brand add oat flour to prevent clumping which makes it unsuitable for Whole30.


In the form of applesauce, apple juice

Applesauce is an easy addition to baked goods, soups, stews or sauces that need a little boost in the sweetness department.  I like to buy the little 6 packs of individual servings and use those to prevent waste.

Apple juice can also provide a nice bit of sweetness in those same dishes.  It also works like a charm in marinades.  I was totally stumped on how to make really flavorful beef jerky sans sugar until I realized apple juice made an excellent addition to the marinade.


In the form of orange juice

Just like apple juice, orange juice can be a great addition to marinades.  Chicken and pork are especially good candidates for marinades with orange juice.  Cuban-style mojo is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of oranges and marinade.


In the form of whole prunes, prune paste

Like dates, prunes are a bit candy-like and can be dangerous when eaten by themselves.  As a part of a recipe they offer a deeper, richer flavor than other sweetener options, but are best blended to incorporate them well.  The slight tartness of prunes can be a good match for meat dishes, stews and other bolder recipes.


In the form of mash, the riper the sweeter

Mashed bananas are perfect for adding a touch of sweetness in baked and other goods.  If you have trouble with custards, sweet treats and the like you may want to avoid eating this type of stuff while on Whole30 though.  This pumpkin custard and banana pudding are nice examples of recipes where bananas add just the right amount of sugar.  Bananas are also great as the sweetening element in smoothies, though they are frowned upon on Whole30.

Using moderation is absolutely key with these sweeteners.  When doing Whole30 you are not trying to recreate your old way of eating, you’re trying something totally new and possibly very foreign.  Use these Whole30 sweeteners judiciously to enhance your new way of cooking, but don’t abuse them.  After 30 days you might be surprised to find that your desire for sweet stuff has greatly dimished anyway.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness coach and writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for personal training and fitness coaching 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

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