Fit Friday Issue #19
Hidden Sugars & Healthier Alternatives
When we think of "unhealthy" foods, it's usually cookies, cakes, soda, and fried foods that quickly come to mind. But there are many sneaky "healthy" foods out there that contain sugars and chemicals that we don't want in our bodies. This issue features some examples and a few homemade or store-bought alternatives.
Avoid a sugar rush with these tips and healthy alternatives!

1. Cereals, including hot cereals like flavored oatmeal : It may be a breakfast favorite for kids and adults alike, but cereal isn't your best bet to fuel your morning, because it's often packed with sugar. Cereals may be marketed as a healthy choice, but you're better off opting for eggs with sautéed greens with chicken. As we always say - focus on real foods!

2. Packaged breads, including "whole grain" kinds : Have you ever looked at the sugar content on the loaf of bread? It will blow your mind! Focus on breads that are made with sprouted seeds and don't have any sugar added. Looking to give up bread all together? Give coconut wraps a try for your sandwiches.

3. Granola bars and protein bars : While they are tasty and easy to grab on the go, most are filled with chemicals and sugars that will make you feel tired later on. Make alternative grab-and-go snacks part of your weekly meal prep with the recipes below. These are also great for satisfying a sweet tooth.

4. "Lower calorie" drinks (including coffees, energy drinks, blended juices and teas) : These beverages may still contain hidden sugars, and one of the key rules of weight maintenance and health is to avoid drinking your calories. Stick to water, teas you make yourself, and black coffee to be sure you're not sneaking any unnecessary sugars into your diet.

5. Sweetened yogurts and other dairy products : Some yogurts can contain up to 20 grams of sugar per serving! Aim for plain flavors and full fat versions. When fat is taken out, sugar is usually added for taste, but the fat will help you feel fuller longer!

6. Bottled sauces, dressings, condiments and marinades (like tomato sauce, ketchup, teriyaki) : It's just a little bit, right? So it can't be bad? The sugar content in ketchup is easily overlooked, but it will surprise you! Instead of reaching for the Heinz, learn out to make your own at home! It will taste so much bolder, too.

7. Restaurant foods : Eating out can be a huge challenge when you have specific health goals, because you don't know how the food is prepared. There may be a ton of added sugar in sauces, various desserts, and dressings for extra flavor. To avoid the sugary trap, aim for clean, whole foods, and request dressings on the side - but remember to enjoy yourself in moderation!

8. Store-made smoothies : Smoothies and juices are big in the health world right now, and for good reason - they can be packed with nutrients to help your body thrive. However, it's best to stick to homemade versions, so you can control the amount of added sugar and the nutrition density. Check out the recipe for a sugar-free and fabulous smoothie below!

9. Cooking Sprays : Cook ing sprays like canola oil can turn your beautiful homemade meals into a less than healthy option. Canola oil is a refined oil that's often partially hydrogenated to increase its stability, but this increases its negative health effects. Stick to coconut and avocado oil - both of these work well with high heats. Keep the olive oils for your salads.

10. Nut butters, jams, and jellies : A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is both nostalgic and delicious! But a jar of conventional peanut butter contains both canola oil and pure sugar. Stick to ones with just nuts in the ingredients, or make your own. Jelly is already sweet and doesn't need the added sugar! See below for a thick and gooey sugar-free version.
Try these quick and easy, low-sugar recipes!

Quick Bite Protein Balls
1/2 cup pecans (or other nut)
15 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (plus 1/4 cup for rolling)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 scoops (2 tbsp) of protein powder (plant based or collagen)
pinch of salt
2 tbsp water, more as needed
Put pecans in food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
Add remaining ingredients, turn food processor on until well mixed.
Using a tablespoon measure, spoon out mixture and roll in balls.
Coat each ball in the remaining 1/4 cup shredded coconut.
Place on a parchment covered baking sheet and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes, until hardened.
Store in the fridge in a container or plastic bag for up to two weeks.

Homemade Ketchup
1 can (6 ounces) organic tomato paste
2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground allspice
Simply add all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors develop and enjoy!

So Long Sugar Smoothie
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 cup water
2 cups spinach
1/2 avocado, peeled ( Pro Tip: Cut up and freeze for extra frothiness )
1/2 cucumber
1 tbsp coconut butter or oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
handful of ice (optional)
Blend and serve cold!

Just-the-Fruit Chia Jam
1 1/4 cups berries (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup water
If using frozen berries, allow them to defrost. Mash the berries with a fork until a lumpy puree is created.
Add the chia seeds, lemon juice and water, and mix.
Pour into a little jam jar or storage container and place in the fridge to set.
Once the chia jam has set, mix again to ensure all the berries and chia seeds are evenly distributed, and enjoy!

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Fit Friday Credits:
Content author: Katelynn Cooper
Editing/Design: Jacqui Zaydel

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