Oatmeal can be a whole-grain healthy breakfast option. From fresh fruit to nut butter to spices, use these healthy ways to sweeten your morning bowl of oatmeal without refined sugar!
How can you sweeten oatmeal without refined white sugar?
There are so many ways to have your morning oats; instant oatmeal, overnight oats, baked oatmeal, and regular stove-top oatmeal. All can make for a delicious breakfast and for good reason.
Whether you are watching your sugar intake or just want a better way to sweeten up plain oatmeal, check out these easy ways to increase sweetness without white sugar.
The natural sweetness of the fruit is one of the easiest ways to add that sweet taste. Whether you are using fresh, frozen, pureed, or freeze-dried fruit, each type adds its own unique sweetness and flavor.
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Bananas - the riper the banana, the natural sweetness increases.
- Dates (and date paste)
Veggies can also add sweetness whether you want a savory bowl of porridge or a sweet oatmeal bowl. From fresh, roasted, to pureed, what vegetables can add a sweet taste? Here are some on the sweeter side:
- Sweet potato
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
Certain spices can evoke a sweetness without any added sugar. The following warm spices are great options for your oatmeal and pair especially well with fruit:
- Pumpkin pie spice
- Apple pie spice
Vanilla extract is often associated with baked goods and the aroma gives the sensation of sweetness.
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract
A little bit of salt can help boost the sweetness of foods. Add it to your oats to enhance their flavor.
Nut and seed butter
Nut butters and those made from seeds such as hemp seeds or sunflower seeds, add healthy fats and extra protein as well as a sweetness factor. Ensure you are choosing a nut butter that does not use added sugar.
Making your own naturally-sweetened nut butter is a great option too! Find a nutty flavor option that works best for you:
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Peanut butter
- Homemade healthy chocolate hazelnut spread
- Coconut butter
Need a nut-free option? You'll love this granola butter!
In addition to nut and seed butters, there are nuts that have a higher natural sweetness than other varieties and make for a low-carb addition to oatmeal. A few that do this well are:
- Coconut - unsweetened shredded, flakes, or chips
Cow's milk and plant-based milk make for creamy oatmeal, but they also impart their own natural sweetness and flavor. Check that you are purchasing unsweetened non-dairy milk.
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Oat milk
- Soy milk
If you are looking for a better sugar substitute option, many natural sweeteners are available. Natural sweeteners are far less refined and retain some nutritional value but are considered "added sugars."
- Maple syrup
- Agave nectar
- Honey - Keep in mind this is not suitable for a vegan diet
- Coconut Sugar - This is an excellent swap for brown sugar as it has a lower glycemic index
- Monkfruit sweetener (without erythritol)
- Date sugar
- Date syrup
- Maple sugar
- It is always good practice to check labels for things like added sugar and artificial flavors, especially if you are concerned about blood sugar levels.
- Any kind of sugar is best eaten in moderation, even with natural sugar substitutes.
- These natural sweeteners are also great in smoothies!
Oats are naturally gluten-free, but when processed can come in contact with other gluten-containing grains like wheat and barley. For this reason, to avoid cross-contamination, purchase oats with a certified gluten-free label.
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