Friday, November 20, 2015

7 Sugar Filled Recipes that Are Actually Good For You

This article might come as a surprise to many. After all, I’ve talked frequently about just how bad sugar is for health, and the amazing things that can happen to your body when you quit sugar.

I’ve listed some of the worst foods for hidden sugars, and even given you tips for curbing your sugar intake.

So why am I suddenly giving you sugar-filled recipes and claiming they’re actually good for you?

Because they are!

Even though all of the recipes I’ve detailed below contain between 22 and 37 grams of sugar per serving, the vast majority of those sugars come from natural sources like fruit.

When we’re told we shouldn’t eat more than 24 grams of sugar a day for a woman, or 36 grams for a man, those values are referring to added sugars.

And all the recipes contain some other incredibly healthy foods like spinach, broccoli, salmon, sweet potato and more, which make up for their high sugar content.

Of course, natural sugars are still sugars and should be limited in the diet but there’s no harm in enjoying them occasionally as part of a balanced eating plan.

Warm Goat Cheese, Figs and Caramelized Onion Salad

Warm Goat Cheese, Figs and Caramelized Onion SaladSugar: 27.1 grams per serving

This salad recipe from Honey and Fig’s Kitchen might contain over 27 g of sugar per serving but it also gives you 33% of your RDV of vitamin C, 31% of your calcium needs, 24% of vitamin A, 20% of iron and 19% of your daily requirement of potassium.

You’ll also be getting 6.5 g of fiber and 10.6 g of protein.

What else has this salad got going for it?

For starters, goat cheese is low in calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol. It also has more vitamin D, vitamin K, thiamine and niacin that cow’s cheese.

A study at the University of Granada, Spain, found that goat milk might prevent iron-deficiency anemia and softening of the bones, as well as encourage better digestive and metabolic use of iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Plus, the protein content of the cheese will actually help slow down the effects of sugar, meaning this high sugar meal shouldn’t result in an energy crash.

Delicious figs contain a healthy dose of fiber which can prevent constipation, help lower cholesterol and keep the heart healthy. And, their libido boosting benefits have been valued since ancient times.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 150 g lamb’s lettuce
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp butter or olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 4 figs, sliced
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50 g goat cheese, cut into rounds


  1. Caramelize the onions by heating the oil or butter in a pan, adding the onion and brown sugar. Saute for about 5 minutes, until caramelized.
  2. Gently warm (but don’t melt) the goat cheese rounds in a microwave or oven.
  3. Arrange tomatoes, figs, cheese and onions on top of the lettuce and serve.

Triple Berry Protein Smoothie

Triple Berry Protein SmoothieSugar: 26.3 grams per smoothie

Smoothies are an awesome way to up your fruit and vegetable intake without much effort. As you can see, they’re often high in sugar too.

So should you drink smoothies despite their high sugar content?

That depends on what’s in them. If they’re loaded with flavored yogurts or sticky syrups then I’d advise against it.

However, this recipe by Nutrition Stripped contains nothing but fresh fruits, water, chia seeds and protein powder, meaning it has a ton of health benefits that outweigh its sugar content.

This shake will give you an impressive 130% of your RDV of vitamin C, 59% of your vitamin A needs, 47% calcium, 44% iron and 36% of your potassium needs.

Drinking this means you won’t have to worry about your fiber for the day as it contains 23.7 g of fiber, around 95% of the RDV, along with 32.6 g of protein.

This recipe calls for a protein powder of your choice. I used whey protein powder as it supercharges my endurance at the gym, stops cravings, controls blood sugar, reduces stress and boosts immunity.

Now, let’s look at the berries in this drink:

  • Raspberries – contain a compound that studies show prevents and improves obesity and fatty liver. They’re also rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants.
  • Blueberriesranked number one for antioxidant power by the USDA Human Nutrition Center. They’re potent anti-inflammatory properties help improve memory, have anti-cancer effects, and build strong bones.
  • Strawberries – have high levels of vitamin C and strong anti-inflammatory activity. Women who ate 16 strawberries a week were shown to be 14% less likely to have elevated levels of a protein known as CRP – a sign of inflammation in the body.

I can’t forget about the chia seeds in this smoothie – they’ll help fill you up, regulate blood sugar levels and boost weight loss efforts.

Ingredients (makes 1 smoothie)

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen organic raspberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice


  1. Blend all the ingredients until smooth.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Whole Grain Quesadillas

Sweet Potato & Spinach Whole Grain QuesadillasSugar: 27.6 grams per serving

Although the original recipe from calls for regular tortillas, I prefer to use whole grain ones because they are a complex carbohydrate, boosting both the fiber and protein content.

Using the whole wheat bread in this dish means you’ll be getting around 77% of your RDV of vitamin A, 54% of vitamin C, 35% of both calcium and potassium and 22% of your daily iron needs.

It also boasts 12.4 g of fiber and a massive 19.2 g of protein.

Here’s why it’s so healthy.

Instead of typical fat-filled cheeses found in quesadillas, this recipe contains a mix of low fat mozzarella and sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes are one of my all-time favorite sources of carbohydrates. Not only do they contain almost twice the fiber that white potatoes do, but they are loaded with beta carotene for healthy eyes, and vitamins C and E for healthy skin and immunity.

Using low-fat mozzarella means you can skip some of the saturated fat, but still enjoy the melted, creamy texture of cheese. The protein will also off-set the effects of the high sugar content on your body.

Spinach is a great source of iron, which can help prevent anemia. Other nutrients in spinach benefit the skin, heart and bones.

According to Scripps Research Institute, those who eat spinach three times a week have a 43% less chance of developing macular degeneration – one of the leading causes of vision loss in the US.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (1 pound total)
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 x whole grain tortillas
  • 5 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup shredded low fat mozzarella
  • 4 tsp cooking oil of choice


  1. Microwave or steam the potatoes until tender. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and peppercorns and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves. Place onion slices in a bowl; pour vinegar mixture over and leave for 10 minutes. Drain onion and allow to cool.
  2. Peel and mash the sweet potato with salt and pepper and divide among 4 tortillas. Top each with 1 heaping cup spinach, 1/4 cup cheese, and another tortilla.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook one quesadilla at a time until cheese melts. Repeat with remaining oil and quesadillas.
  4. Cut each into quarters and serve.

Simple Carrot & Apple Salad

Simple Carrot & Apple SaladSugar: 30.5 grams per serving

This simple salad recipe by Rachel Ray is crisp, light tasty and naturally very sweet. It serves four as a side dish, or two as a light lunch. The nutritional values I’ve listed are per lunch-sized portion.

One serving will provide you with 204% of your RDV of vitamin A, 31% of vitamin C, 15% potassium and 11% iron. You’ll also get 6.5 g of fiber and 10.3 g of protein.

Let’s talk about the vitamin A for a minute! That comes from the carrots, which are crazy high in this important nutrient.

Vitamin A is often used to treat skin conditions like acne, eczema and even wounds. It’s vital for eye health as a vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness. It’s also a strong anti-inflammatory and immune booster.

But the vitamin A content of this meal isn’t the only way it will benefit your skin.

A fascinating study found that eating a diet rich in foods like carrots and tomatoes gives you a healthier and more golden glow than the sun! When asked to choose between skin color caused by sun or by carotenoids in carrots, people preferred that of the carotenoids.

Apples also benefit the skin thanks to nutrients like vitamin C and copper. Copper helps the body make melanin, the pigment that colors your skin and protects you from the sun’s UV rays. One large apple provides 7% of your daily requirement of copper.

Finally, walnuts are a great source of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids. These are essential for overall health, yet most Americans don’t get enough omega 3s in their diet.

Omega 3s play a vital role in heart and brain health and may lower your risk of certain cancers, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and Parkinson’s disease.

Plus, walnuts and walnut oil can also help those with high cholesterol. In studies, it has been found that there are ‘significant’ improvements in cholesterol levels and blood vessel flexibility just four hours after consuming the nuts or the oil.

Who knew such a simple salad would be so nutritious and beneficial?

Ingredients (serves 2 to 4)

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp walnut oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 green apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted


  1. In large bowl, whisk honey, oil and lemon juice. Season to your liking then toss with the apple and carrots. Sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Pineapple Tofu Stir Fry

Pineapple Tofu Stir FrySugar: 22.7 grams per serving

If you’re craving Chinese takeout, but don’t want a truckload of calories and MSG, then try this at-home version of a pineapple stir-fry from Eating Well.

One serving will dish up 190% of your RDV of vitamin C, 96% of your vitamin A needs, 38% of calcium, 16% potassium and 14% iron.

You’ll also get 3.6 g of fiber and 10.3 g of protein.

Tofu is a vegan and vegetarian source of protein, made from soybeans, which contains all the essential amino acids. It’s also gluten free and an excellent source of iron and calcium.

Pineapple is loaded with vitamin A, which explains why this dish contains almost your full day’s requirement of the vitamin.

This tropical fruit is also one of the richest sources of the enzyme bromelain, which is can help with digestion, allergies, asthma, inflammation and joint pain.

In fact, it’s such a potent natural painkiller that a 2014 study evaluating bromelain’s ability to treat patients after tooth surgery, found that those prescribed bromelain had ‘significantly lower’ post-op pain, swelling and redness compared to those given a regular pain killer.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 x 8 oz can pineapple chunks in juice (reserve 3 tbsp of the juice)
  • 5 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 7 oz extra-firm tofu, drained, rinsed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp cooking oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 large bell pepper, cut into strips


  1. Whisk pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Use two tablespoons of this to marinate the tofu for 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch into remaining sauce.
  2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tofu (reserving marinade and adding to bowl of sauce) until golden brown. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add remaining teaspoon of oil to the skillet with garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and cook until tender. Pour in the sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and pineapple chunks until heated through and serve.

Garlic, Honey and Ginger Glazed Salmon with Broccoli

Garlic, Honey and Ginger Glazed Salmon with BroccoliSugar: 36.7 grams per serving

I know what you’re thinking, how could this glazed salmon recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction contain such a huge amount of sugar?

You can blame it on the honey, which has around 17 g of sugar per tablespoon. However, it also gives you added nutrients that sugar doesn’t, along with some amazing healing properties.

In addition to the sugar, this delicious dish will provide 136% of your RDV of vitamin C (thanks to the broccoli), 35% of potassium, 15% of both vitamin A and iron, and 13% of your daily dose of bone-building calcium.

It also has around 2.7 g of fiber and a whopping 48.1 g of protein.

Fish is an incredibly healthy food – and salmon is one of the best types of fish you can eat for omega 3s.

This oily fish is also known for protecting our joints, reducing heart disease risk and giving us healthy hair skin and nails. It’s also a great food to help boost your memory.

And when it comes to vegetables, you can’t go wrong with broccoli…or any other dark green vegetable for that matter.

Regular consumption of broccoli is linked with a lower risk of chronic disease like heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Add to that some garlic and you have an all-round healthy meal. This stinky herb has been used for centuries as a natural medicine due to its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 salmon fillets, skin removed (about 2 lbs total)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp minced or chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 cups broccoli florets


  1. Whisk honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger together and marinade the salmon fillets in half of this sauce for minimum 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place marinated salmon on a lined baking sheet (reserving used marinade). Bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked throughout.
  3. Steam the broccoli until tender.
  4. Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken.
  5. Serve salmon with reduced glaze and broccoli.

Lychee, Lime & Ginger Fruit Salad

Lychee, Lime & Ginger Fruit SaladSugar: 34.9 grams per serving

This recipe comes from Epicurious. The original actually called for candied ginger to be used, but I used fresh grated ginger and I still think it tastes awesome.

If you do use candied, just be aware that it will push up that sugar content.

One serving of this simple dessert will provide 279% of your daily dose of vitamin C (no that’s not a typo – I’ve triple checked!), and 13% of your RDV of potassium along with 3.8 g of fiber and 2.2 g of protein.

The vitamin C comes from the lychees in this fruit salad, a native Chinese fruit, that’s growing in popularity in the West thanks to its unique scent and flavor.

Experts say that vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients. Researchers who examined over 100 studies over a 10 year period, believe that higher blood levels of vitamin C may be the best nutritional indicator for overall health.

We need vitamin C for the growth and repair of tissue throughout the body, including for the formation of skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.

It has strong antioxidant activity so it may help prevent premature aging, cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

And of course, fresh ginger is an amazing anti-inflammatory food with great health benefits – like those I’ve outlined in this post.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 pounds of lychees
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons ginger


  1. Peel the lychees, drizzle lime juice over them, then add the ginger and toss until combined. Serve immediately.

Note: that I used the Calorie Count new recipe calculator to work out the sugar, and other nutrient, content of all these recipes.

Are you shocked by how much sugar is in these healthy meals?

The post 7 Sugar Filled Recipes that Are Actually Good For You appeared first on Nutrition Secrets.

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