Healthy food for littles, eaten happily

7 delicious ways to reduce sugar in your kids’ food

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You know the story, ‘How the grinch stole Christmas….’

No mom wants to be the sugar grinch. Banning sugar completely & preaching about the negative side effects day in and day out.. because in the end, is being scared of eating a sweet treat on occasion actually healthier than being able to have it now and again without binging on it all the time? I’m claiming not.

On the flip side, we all have heard the advice to ‘limit how much sugar your kids eat’. It’s good advice, given the amount of sugar that shows up in so many foods and at so many parties, gatherings, and everyday meals!

Less sugar is definitely better. From behaviour, to attention span, to painful cavities, to skipping out on developing chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, less sugar is better.

So… where to start?

What has worked here is starting with tiny swaps.

Not by going zero candy, zero cookies, and zero ketchup. Because really, unless you have extreme willpower, and a lot of patience to police what your kids are eating, that isn’t going to stick.

I’m definitely out with the complete removal of all sugar. We have successfully reduced sugar with many small changes. We keep the flavour and ditch the extremes. Here are a few delicious and easy ways to begin in your own kitchen!

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1. Use berry-syrup instead of pure syrup

Syrup makes the world go round on a pancake morning or waffle supper. I’m sure not eating mine plain and I can guarantee most kids aren’t either! Enter little Mr. Independent small chef who must pour his own syrup… Suddenly his syrup lake has a small pancake island in the middle. True story. More than once.

Besides the amount to of sugar that is now on that plate, maple syrup isn’t exactly cheap!

Enter berry syrup, and a little independent helper who is ladening his pancakes with fruit instead of pure syrup. (Want another scoop?)

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Very Berry Syrup Recipe:

Mix in blender:

2 cups fresh or frozen (defrosted) berries


1/4 cup maple syrup (or to taste)

Suddenly you have a scrumptious berry syrup! You can tweak the amount of maple syrup to your liking. Cherries go very well in this syrup also… 🙂

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2. Mixing: yogurt & cereal

Yogurt: Many brands of yogurt are a great source of probiotics. Probiotics = healtheir guts. Always good!

What’s not so good is the amount of sugar that many brands load in!  But by buying one carton of flavoured and one carton of plain and mixing 1/2 and 1/2 (you may need to ease into this, 1/4 plain to 3/4 flavoured..etc), you’ve dramatically and easily reduced the amount of sugar while leaving the little snacker smiling at her tasty snack!

Option 2: Simply buy plain yogurt & add your own berries &/or sweetener so you know how much is added.

Cereal: If you have a kiddo who loves her sugary cold cereal for breakfast, start reducing the sugar by mixing the loved cereal with a plain whole grain cereal, to reduce the sugar.

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3. Opt for ‘nice cream’ over ice cream

If you have a high powered blender or food processor, you’re set to make any frozen fruit into a tasty dessert. (With a basic blender you’ll simply need some liquid so will end up with more of a soft serve or creamy, thick smoothie consistency.)

In a high powered blender, mix a 1/2 cup plain yogurt or milk (dairy or alternative) with 2 cups frozen fruit/berries. Add 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup if desired, depending on how sweet the berries are.

Pinterest is also a great place to find scads of fruit ‘nice cream’ recipes.

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4. Make PB & J with real berries

This is easy, and honestly super duper delicious. Especially with in-season, flavour packed berries, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it years ago!

Jam is an easy (and often overlooked) place to add sugar to a sandwich, so if you have a picky eater who loves PB & J, go for real berries!

Try sliced strawberries, smashed raspberries/blueberries, or even fresh peach slices. SO tasty.

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5. Speaking of peanut butter… 

Go natural! Get over the aversion of having to stir your peanut butter and take the plunge! I’m rooting for you 🙂

It takes some getting used to, but speaking as someone who wondered who would EVER eat the funny tasting natural PB… trust me, it grows on you! I much prefer it now to the overly ‘stick to the roof of your mouth’ sugar and oil filled typical PB anymore… 

Oh, and by all means, buy some that is lightly salted off the bat or you will be back writing furious comments about your misplaced trust.

Easy ways to begin swapping to natural PB:

-Dip for apples 

The apples are already sweet, and it’s oodles easier to dip the runny natural peanut butter than to try smear a blob of regular PB on your apple slice… after you get over the fact that you have to stir the natural stuff… 😀

-Use it in baking

Make sure it’s ok in the recipe, but there are many recipes that call specifically for natural pb. You won’t miss the extra sugar & oil.

Recipe to try: chocolate peanut-butter cup energy bites

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6. Fruit ice cubes

Even 100% fruit juice has a LOT of sugar. Instead of juice, opt for frozen fruit to add flavour and chill your water! I often use a frozen/ fresh combo.

Some of our favourites are:

Frozen raspberry + chopped lime slices

Frozen strawberries + fresh watermelon (and mint if we have)

Frozen peaches + fresh orange slices

Oh, and don’t forget: Serve it in a clear pitcher so that your kids realize that it’s *really fancy* water 😀

**Or, simply serve an orange with breakfast along with a cup of water or milk.**

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7. Swap the popsicles & frozen summer ice cream treats

It’s so easy to make your own smoothies or popsicles with fresh or frozen fruits, and add in yogurt, chia seeds, spinach, and any other number of nutritious ingredients!

So instead of buying the jumbo frozen treats box from Costco, simply dust off your popsicle moulds that you bought at that Tupperware party 3 years ago, (knowing you’d put them to good use) and whip up a smoothie, then freeze the leftovers. I’ve recently dusted mine off & my boys have been loving having popsicles on these hot summer days!

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So that’s it…

Do you have any other easy and quick ways you’ve used to reduce the amount of sugar your kids (and you) eat? Let us know in the comments below so others (and I) can try them too 🙂


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