9 Dairy & Sugar Alternatives If You're Trying To Eat Clean

I know, I know: sweeteners and dairy are two of your favorite things. Even the healthiest among us are likely to consume a lot of dairy and sugar on a daily basis. And if you've gone the sugar-free route, chances are you're turning to artificial sweeteners instead. But I want you to clean up your sweetener habit ... these chemicals have very little upside when it comes to losing weight and maintaining health.

If you want to start making small steps toward change, here's a list of milk and sugar swaps that are both tasty and good for you!

MILK SWAPS

Almond Milk: Full of vitamin E and calcium and very low in calories (40 per 8-ounce serving), the unsweetened version is great for baking, quiches, cereals, and puddings. Unsweetened vanilla almond is still sweet, just with fewer calories.

Coconut Milk: Higher in energy-producing vitamin B3 (and calories) than dairy milk, coconut milk is a great cooking substitute for milk or cream and can be used in quiches, pies, puddings, and custards, and cold on cereal. It can be a bit think so you may want to try it thinned out with a bit of other nondairy milk. If you're a coffee drinker, coconut creamers are a strong choice because they look and taste like real cream!

Rice Milk: Rice milk is cholesterol-free, contains no lactose, and is lower in fat and calories than whole milk. It can be on the sweet side, but it's easy to digest for many people and a good replacement for hot or cold cereal and in smoothies and other beverages.

Goat's Milk: Goat's milk yogurt and cheeses are good because they are more fermented than the cow's milk versions and contain more enzymes that allow you to digest the milk protein. The problem for many people is that sour taste. Try a natural sweetener to taste if that's the case.

SWEETENER SWAPS

Stevia: Stevia is a plant-based sweetener that suppresses cravings and contains zero calories, and since it's so potent, you need only a little.

Honey: Honey is absorbed by the body more slowly than table sugar, so it has less impact on blood sugar; and since it is also sweeter, you generally need less of it.

Maple Syrup: With more body-friendly potassium and calcium, and fewer carbs, maple syrup can help to sweeten a number of dishes in place of traditional sugar. But since it is still high in carbs from sugar, intake should be kept modest.

Coconut Sugar: It contains about the same amount of calories as regular sugar, but it's full of fiber, iron, zinc, and potassium, making it the winner in a head-on competition.

Adapted excerpt from The 20-Minute Body: 20 Minutes, 20 Days, 20 Inches by Brett Hoebel. Copyright ©2015 by Brett Hoebel. A HarperWave book, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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