Whether you’re simply trying to cut back on sugar intake, wean your dependency from sweet treats, or suffer from fructose malabsorption, — a “digestive disorder in which the body is unable to break down fructose (the sugar in fruit)” — managing your intake of fructose is a great way to start the journey.
Fructose is one of many names for sugar. In fact, there are quite a few names for sugar including “sucrose, glucose, galactose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, and xylose.” When you refer to fructose, you’re talking about the “‘sweetest of the naturally occurring caloric sweeteners,’ which is found naturally in table sugar, agave nectar, ‘fruits, fruit juices, honey, and even some vegetables.’” Due to its powerful sweet flavoring, fructose is also the type of sugar used in HFCS, which is a compound “present in candy, baked goods, and sodas, and other processed foods.”
While appropriate amounts of naturally sourced fructose — those found in raw fruits — is great for a healthy individual, consuming inappropriate amounts of processed or added fructose — also called high fructose — has been linked to a variety of health issues including heart disease, gout, high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, insulin resistance, and promotion of overeating leading to obesity.
For those suffering from fructose malabsorption, it’s a whole other story.
Those with fructose malabsorption are generally missing “fructose carries found in the enterocytes (cells in your intestines) [which] are responsible for ensuring fructose is being directed to where it needs to go.” This leads to a series of unpleasant symptoms including “heartburn, bloating, diarrhea, belly pain, gas,” digestive discomfort, and can even lead to irritable bowel syndrome. That’s why it’s important to look for naturally sweetened desserts and other treats.
How do you tell if something is high in fructose?
First off, many processed foods — such as “soda, cereal, fruit juice, ice cream, candy, and cookies” — generally include high-fructose sweeteners. With that said, certain ingredients that you may believe to be healthy are higher in fructose as well such as “agave nectar, honey, sorbitol, corn syrup solids, sorghum, molasses, invert sugar, maple-flavored syrup, palm sugar, coconut sugar, sugar alcohols, and plain old fructose.”
No matter why you’re seeking to lower your intake of fructose, here are 15 delicious, naturally sweetened dessert recipes from the Food Monster App to give you a hand with that low-fructose lifestyle!
1. Crunchy Almond Butter Soft Serve Ice Cream
Surprise, surprise! You can still have ice cream even on a low fructose diet. This Crunchy Almond Butter Soft Serve Ice Cream recipe by Pauline Hanuise is a naturally sweetened dessert with low fructose bananas, enriched with healthy fat-filled almond butter and coconut cream, and flavored with adaptogenic raw cacao, anti-inflammatory cinnamon and vanilla, and savory salt. Use a low-fructose sweetener such as monk fruit sweetener or skip it altogether to make this fructose-friendly!
2. Raspberry and Chocolate Macaroons
Raspberries are truly a wonderful low-fructose, naturally sweet, and a wee bit sour treat to have in your kitchen if you’re trying to kick that sugar habit! This Raspberry and Chocolate Macaroons recipe by Buffy-Ellen Gill infuses a traditional vegan macaroon base with raspberries, desiccated coconut, raw cacao powder, vanilla, and sea salt. For the sweet side of things, Buffy-Ellen recommends melted coconut butter and a liquid sweetener — use monk fruit sweetener or leave this out.
3. Homemade Chocolate Chips
Source: Homemade Chocolate Chips
No baker’s kitchen is complete without a bag of chocolate chips stored away or ready for enjoyment! This Homemade Chocolate Chips recipe by Joyce Gan is the perfect low-fructose option for the avid baker. Swap out the stevia and agave nectar for monk fruit sweetener, if you want sweet chips, or ditch the sweeteners altogether and up the dosage of raw cacao and vanilla extract for a richer chocolatey, lower-fructose option.
4. Jal Jeera: Refreshing Indian Spiced Lemonade
One of the best sweet treats for a hot day is lemonade and yet, oftentimes, this popular beverage is laced with lots of added sugar. This Jal Jeera: Refreshing Indian Spiced Lemonade recipe by Anupama Paliwal is the perfect answer to this dilemma! Anupama utilizes the naturally sweet flavor of lemon and infuses the beverage with a variety of herbs and spices — such as mint, coriander, ginger, cumin, and black pepper — to create a slightly sweet, yet savory lemonade alternative.
5. Hazelnut Chocolate Parfait
Source: Hazelnut Chocolate Parfait
This Hazelnut Chocolate Parfait recipe by Jana Kastner uses naturally sweet dates, savory and healthy fat-filled hazelnuts, and adaptogenic raw cacao to treat your tastebuds, while also energizing the body.
6. Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups
Source: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups
Looking for that perfect to-go, sugar-free treat to nibble on after lunch? These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups by Leah Moldowan may be the perfect option! Filled with healthy fat-filled peanut butter and coconut oil for an energy boost, chia seeds for protein, and berries for an infusion of antioxidants, you’ll not only enjoy a delicious treat but also be feeding your body vital nutrients to get you through the day.
7. Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Cream Cheez
If you’re like me, then cheese is as much of a dessert as chocolate chip cookies! Yet, cheese alternatives can be just as rich in fructose sweeteners as baked goods and desserts. This Roasted Garlic and Fresh Herb Cream Cheez recipe by Annie Oliverio offers cheese lovers a decadent, low-fructose alternative with a base of cashews, coconut butter, and garlic, and natural flavoring agents including herbs and lemon.
8. Sugar-Free Puffed Quinoa and Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars
This Sugar-Free Puffed Quinoa and Cacao Nib Chocolate Bars recipe by Annie Oliverio is infused with superfoods including puffed quinoa (rich in fiber and protein), raw cacao nibs (adaptogenic and anti-inflammatory), and healthy fat foods including coconut oil and cacao butter.
9. Black Bean, Quinoa, and Walnut Loaf
For the bread lovers — yes, many processed bread products have fructose added to them — this Black Bean, Quinoa, and Walnut Loaf recipe by Julie Zimmer is an excellent low-fructose, nutrient-dense, tasty alternative. This recipe has zero added sugars and zero sweetening agents relying on the naturally sweet and savory flavoring of grains, herbs, and healthy fats.
10. Raw Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cakes
Another ice cream recipe makes the list! While this Raw Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Cakes recipe by Medha Swaminathan has zero added sugars (such a wonderful bonus!), it is a bit higher in natural fruit-based fructose from dates (28.75 grams of fructose per cup). With that said, Medha mixes this fructose content with healthy fats from peanut butter, peanuts, and coconut oil, adds a thick and creamy texture from low-fructose bananas, and includes adaptogenic raw cacao.
11. Tofu Crème Fraîche
Source: Tofu Crème Fraîche
This Tofu Crème Fraîche recipe by Rini Desai is a super simple recipe to create a tofu-based, nutrient-dense crème fraîche to keep on hand in your fridge! Perfect for topping sugar-free ice cream or sweetening up savory bread.
12. 5-Ingredient Quinoa Fudge
Source: 5-Ingredient Quinoa Fudge
When it comes to finding low-fructose recipes, the fewer the ingredients the better off you generally are. This is the case with this 5-Ingredient Quinoa Fudge recipe by Alyssa Rimmer, which includes five simple ingredients: uncooked quinoa, Medjool dates, cacao powder, coconut oil, and flaked sea salt.
13. Creamy Pumpkin-Coconut Pie
Source: Creamy Pumpkin-Coconut Pie
Looking for that perfect low-fructose, super healthy pie recipe that also happens to rock your taste buds? This Creamy Pumpkin-Coconut Pie recipe by Annie Oliverio is the ticket to low-fructose, pumpkin paradise! Oliverio relies on coconut flakes, crystallized ginger, naturally sweet pumpkin and cashews, vanilla, cinnamon, and coconut cream to re-create this delicious seasonal dish.
14. Savory Apple and Potato Pancakes
Source: Savory Apple and Potato Pancakes
Dessert may be relegated to the afternoon and evenings, yet many of us enjoy a sweet breakfast. This Savory Apple and Potato Pancakes recipe by Maya Sozer offers an alternative to sugar-rich and syrup-drenched pancakes by using naturally sweet and nutrient-dense apples and lemon juice to infuse these potato and flaxseed-based pancakes with both savory and sweet flavors.
15. Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Mint Pops
These Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Mint Pops by Gabrielle St. Claire are the perfect mid-day snack or evening treat to keep in your freezer. They are filled with healthy fat from coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut milk, vegan cream cheese, avocado, and dark chocolate and flavored with almond extract, lemon, and crushed pistachios. Use a monk fruit sweetener or try going without one!
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects.
For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster App which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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