Breakfast smoothies can taste delicious without refined sugar. In this blog post I wanted to share with you how to make smoothies taste sweet without using sugar and how to lower the natural sugar by using the right smoothie ingredients.
Over the last few years, I’ve been determined to lower my sugar intake and since I usually start my day with a breakfast smoothie, I wanted to keep the sugar as low as possible in my smoothie recipes.
How to get your body used to less sugar
The best way to start weaning your body off sugar is to make your smoothie without any sugar or sweet ingredients and then gradually add only enough, so that your taste buds like the flavour and you enjoy your smoothie.
When you make the next smoothie try to add even less sweet ingredients and soon enough your body will gradually get use to lower or no sugar smoothies without you feeling like you are missing out on something.
How to use my guide to making smoothies without sugar
I wanted to give you an overview of three different stages, as you go through withdrawing sugar from your smoothies (and perhaps from your diet all together).
If you are completely new to this or never tasted a smoothie without sugar – skip to the last section about refined sugar alternatives.
If you’ve already tried to lower your sugar intake and your taste buds are happy to eat less sugar, start in the middle section.
If you want to go ‘cold turkey’ and really not add any sugar to your smoothie, start from the first section.
MY FAVOURITE SMOOTHIE RECIPES
- Creamy Green Smoothie >>
- Pumpkin & Chia Smoothie >>
- Strawberry & Yoghurt Smoothie >>
- Pumpkin Butter & Banana Smoothie >>
- Spinach & Green Tea Smoothie >>
- Pumpkin Pie & Oats Smoothie >>
TOP LEVEL – NO ADDED SUGAR – to make your smoothies interesting to drink with no sugar content
To keep your smoothie as low in sugar as possible, we are going to leave all sugary ingredients out and increase the flavours instead.
There might be still some hidden sugar in your smoothies, depending on what type of fruit and vegetables or milks you are going to use.
If you want to keep your smoothie as low in sugar as it’s possible, keep an eye on the fruit content. Use low in sugar fruit, such as blueberries and strawberries and avoid high in sugar fruit such as pineapple or grapes.
Warming spices – cinnamon, aniseed, nutmeg or mixed spices
Warming spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or aniseed are great for adding extra flavour to your smoothie and make it interesting enough, so that you don’t feel like adding any extra sugar.
I love using sweet cinnamon powder, which is visibly sweeter version of regular cinnamon. This is completely natural and there is no added sugar, but instead the cinnamon is much milder and sweeter than the regular type.
I also make my own homemade spice mixes and depending on the season, these are great to use in the breakfast smoothies
- Gingerbread Spice >>
- Mixed Spice >>
- Pumpkin Pie Spice >>
- Apple Pie Spice >>
- Christmas Stollen Spice >>
- Oatmeal Spice >>
Dark chocolate (50% – 75% cocoa solids) still contains some sugar, depending on the cocoa solids. The higher these are the lower the amount of sugar.
Whilst there is still some sugar in chocolate, it’s negligible and I feel that the flavour you get from the chocolate makes the smoothies much nicer and palatable without adding extra sugar.
Vanilla essence to add flavour
Try to use a good quality vanilla essence to add to your smoothie and immediately you’ll notice that the flavour pops! Vanilla essence is slightly sweet and the flavour itself is so lovely, that it could be enough to flavour your smoothie without adding any more sugar.
Strong fruit tea
I discovered this little trick when I was making my summer iced teas. Fruit teas taste quite sweet without any sugar, because they usually contain hibiscus. This is the reason, why most cheap fruit teas taste pretty same no matter what flavour you have (the hibiscus, that is….). Hibiscus is also naturally quite sweet.
Make a large cup (or mug) of fruit tea by boiling the water first and pouring it over 1-3 teabags of tea to make the flavour stronger. Leave to infuse for 3-5 minutes, remove the tea bags and then leave to cool down completely before using as the liquid element for your smoothie.
You can make the fruit tea at night and it will save you some time in the morning, when you are making your smoothie.
Whilst herbs don’t have much sweetness in them, they are strong in flavour, which is what we are after. Mint is probably the easiest herb to find and use, but you can also try lemon grass or thyme to add extra flavour.
If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can also make strong herbal tea infusion as the liquid base for your smoothie.
Lemon or Lime
Adding lemon or lime juice will sharpen the smoothie flavour overall and make the smoothie more interesting without having to add sugar
To add another refreshing flavour to your smoothie without adding any sugar, try half a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger.
It ads a bit of warmth to your smoothies and together with lemon makes a great zesty flavour to any green smoothie.
Ginger is also great to balance out sweetness in some fruits, such as pineapple and also sharpens flavours that might otherwise be a bit dull (like for example carrot smoothie).
Nuts or nut butters
Nuts are a great addition to our smoothie making because of all the nutrients, minerals, protein and good fat they contain. They also taste slightly sweet without having any processed sugar in them.
You can either add a small handful of nuts (walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, cashew nuts etc.) or add peanut, almond or cashew nut butter.
Do check the packaging as some cheaper versions of nut butter do contain sugar. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s good to be aware, especially if you are eating a lot of these.
NUT BASED SMOOTHIE RECIPES
Full-fat milk or sweeter milk alternatives
Some milks are naturally sweet, mainly full fat dairy milk or cream. By swapping to a regular milk or slightly sweetened dairy free milk, you might notice that your smoothie taste naturally sweeter without having to use any sugar.
MIDDLE LEVEL – USING NATURAL SUGARS – to make your smoothies sweet enough by using sweeter ingredients
Fully ripen fruit
If you are using fruits that are in season, you are more likely to get the full flavour and they will also taste their sweetest.
With certain fruits, such as bananas or kiwis, it’s also good idea to leave them to ripen more at home before you use them.
Fruit contains a lot of natural sugar and fruit juice contains even more as it’s usually concentrated. If you want to add sweetness to your smoothie without using refined sugar, try using fruit juice (homemade or shop bought) as the main liquid (instead of milk).
Dried fruit is loaded with concentrated natural sugar, so be mindful about how much you are using. Start with one or two pieces, blend it into your smoothie and only add more if it’s necessary.
For comparison, one mediol date (the large one) has about 16 grams of sugar, which is the same as a heaped tablespoon of refined white sugar. Dried fruit contain mainly fructose and glucose sugar (more natural sugar), but it’s still sugar, all the same!
Milk or White Chocolate
If you are making chocolate smoothie, you can try to add milk or white chocolate next time. White chocolate is much sweeter than milk (or dark chocolate), so don’t add too much.
You can also use drinking hot chocolate powder to mix into your smoothie, but be careful as the powders usually have sugar mixed in already.
CHOCOLATE SMOOTHIE RECIPES
STARTING POINT – NO PROCESSED SUGAR – to make your smoothies sweet enough by swapping processed sugar to other healthier alternatives
You can of course use refined sugar alternatives, such as honey, agave or maple syrup, but these natural alternatives are as high in sugar as processed sugar itself.
I’ve left them as last, because whilst there might be a difference in using natural sugar (as oppose to refined sugar), our body react to these in exactly the same way (e.g. hug surge in energy followed by a swamp and energy low).
By all means use them, if it makes you feel better that you are using more natural sugar alternatives, but keep the intake to a minimal level, it’s still sugar after all.
- agave syrup
- maple syrup
- coconut syrup
- date syrup
- carob syrup
- coconut sugar
- dark unprocessed sugar.