Craving sweets is usually associated with emotional satisfaction. We often feel guilty indulging our taste for sweets. Craving sweets may not be such a bad thing. Sweet is the most important and healthiest taste, followed by salty and sour tastes, followed by bitter and pungent tastes. It is the predominant and most abundant taste in healthy food, and also leads to the greatest emotional satisfaction. It is important to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy sweets. Healthy, sweet flavors come from complex sugars naturally found in grains, beans, and vegetables. These complex sugars break down in the digestive process and release their sweetness through chewing.
Healthy food is predominated by a mildly sweet, pleasant, and satisfying taste. Complex sugars give us steady and long-lasting energy. However, simple sugars from refined and processed grains, sugar, honey, fructose, and alcohol, often cause our blood sugar to spike and then crash. These same simple sugars create an acidic condition in our blood that causes a loss in minerals and other valuable nutrients that neutralize the acidity. If we don’t get enough healthy, mild sweets, we tend to crave poor quality sweets available from refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, and/or alcohol. The natural sweet taste in the modern diet is hard to find. However, in all traditional diets, there was an abundance of sweet tastes from grains, beans, and vegetables. The sweet taste was enhanced through various cooking styles.
We can satisfy our need for sweets by choosing different grains, beans, and vegetables in different cooking combinations. There are three types of healthy sweet tastes: well-cooked, well-cooked and puréed, and light, refreshing sweets. Natural sweetness can be enhanced with the use of grain-based concentrated sweeteners such as rice syrup and barley malt.
Here are some suggestions that demonstrate the different types of healthy sweets and how to recognize them.
Onions, carrots, winter squash and sweet potatoes all become sweeter the longer they are cooked.
Well-cooked and Puréed
Puréed vegetable soups are sweet and creamy and can be made from onion and cauliflower or carrot and sweet potato.
Light, refreshing sweet
Light, refreshing sweetness can come from steaming, blanching, or quickly sautéing greens such as kale, broccoli, or Napa cabbage.