Why we have a sweet tooth and how to satisfy it (+WIN)

By Dr Libby Weaver

Dr Libby's chocolate mousse.
Dr Libby's chocolate mousse.

We are born with a preference for sweet foods, a natural sweet tooth. To our early ancestors foods that were sweet indicated that they were a good source of energy, while bitterness was an indication of toxicity. However, access to sweet foods was limited and they obviously weren't guzzling back soft drinks as they foraged for food. If you think about it, nature has made it hard for us to access most sweet food; consider the strength of sugar cane and the machinery required to extract the juice. Many people in the Western world consume too many sweet foods and it's no longer about survival.

Sugar is a hot topic in the nutrition world at the moment and it is no secret that too many people are eating far too much. What is most surprising is just how far this substance has invaded the modern diet. Naturally when you start to incorporate more real food into your diet you start to avoid refined sugars and the sugar that is "hidden" in many pre-packaged juices, smoothies, dressings and processed foods, not to mention takeaways. Many people crave sugar and for a variety of reasons that I explore in detail in my other books, particularly Rushing Woman's Syndrome.

One reason is fatigue and sugar seems like such a quick source of energy. If you amp yourself up on caffeine, consume a sugary breakfast cereal, or push your body intensely during cardiovascular exercise, your body will predominantly burn glucose and you will crave sugar to replenish your stores. For so many people this is the way they operate every single day. If you're going to eat sweet food I encourage you to eat sweet food that serves, sweet food that doesn't take away from your health and contains many other nourishing ingredients known to support health. The sweet food in the Real Food Kitchen has been designed with your health in mind. We've used a variety of sweeteners all of which can be substituted with each other, depending on personal preference.


Blueberries can add flavour and sweetness.Photo / Thinkstock
Blueberries can add flavour and sweetness.Photo / Thinkstock

Dates are thought to be one of the oldest cultivated fruits. Medjool dates are a nourishing option to sweeten food, deliciously chewy and fleshy-bursting with sweet honey, caramel and cinnamon flavours. Dates contain vitamin B6, vitamin A, potassium, iron, phosphorous and calcium. Only a few dates are needed to provide a sensation of sweetness in many of the Real Food Kitchen recipes. Berries are also used to give flavour and sweetness. Naturally sweet berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries-fresh, frozen or dried-can add a sweet touch to just about anything. Naturally lower in fructose than other fruits they not only provide flavour and colour to the Real Food Kitchen recipes they're a great source of antioxidants. Using fruit to sweeten your food is one of the most low human intervention ways to bring sweetness to a recipe.

Raw Honey

Honey gets its sweetness from glucose and fructose.Photo / Thinkstock
Honey gets its sweetness from glucose and fructose.Photo / Thinkstock

It's no small feat to be one of the oldest unrefined sweeteners. Honey has a long history of human consumption and it has been incorporated into many different medicines, especially products designed to support wound healing. Honey gets its sweetness from glucose and fructose. While honey does have higher fructose levels than pure maple syrup, it also contains antioxidants and many other protective properties. Because honey's flavour and colour are partially derived from the flower nectar collected by bees, honey has many different variations. Note that dark honeys generally have a stronger flavour and higher antioxidant value. It's best to use raw or unprocessed honey for higher nutrient and antioxidant content.

Pure Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup contains a range of minerals, antioxidants and oligosaccharides, which promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. The main sugar in maple syrup is sucrose, which structurally is half glucose and half fructose. Besides sucrose, there are also very small amounts of glucose and fructose in the darker grades of maple syrup. Pure maple syrup comes from maple trees and tends to be harvested in spring. Maple syrup typically comes from mature trees in old forests and fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides are generally not used. Maple syrup contains natural phenols which act as antioxidants, and in some studies were shown to inhibit carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes, meaning they provide a natural block to dietary carbohydrate absorption, helping regulate blood sugar. Maple syrup also contains small amounts of potassium, calcium, zinc and manganese.

Recipe: Chocolate Mousse

This no-fuss chocolate mousse can easily be whipped up at the last minute. Containing just a few simple ingredients it's the young coconut flesh that gives the mousse its creamy texture. The Real Food Kitchen is not just about what you get, it's also about what you don't get: artificial ingredients. There are not many people who feel nourished and energised after eating traditional chocolate mousse. Serving it with mixed berries gives it a pop of colour as well as antioxidant benefits.

Dr Libby's chocolate mousse.
Dr Libby's chocolate mousse.

flesh of 1 young coconut
filtered water
2 dates, pitted and roughly chopped 1?2 cup raw cashew nuts
3 tablespoons cacao powder
pinch of salt
mixed berries to serve

Method: Place all the ingredients except the berries in a blender. Add enough filtered water to enable the blade to work effectively and process until creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture into attractive glasses (eg martini glasses or tumblers) and top with a mix of berries.

Serves 2 - 4 - Preparation time 5-10 minutes - Freezer Friendly

* Dr Libby's Real Food Kitchen, published by Little Green Frog publishing, is available now. RRP $49.99.

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