Ingredient Spotlight: Natural Sweetener, Dates (Whole Foods 2023 Trend)

Ingredient Spotlight: Natural Sweetener, Dates (Whole Foods 2023 Trend)

Apr 01, 2023Margaret Barrow

Every year, Whole Foods Market releases their upcoming beverage and food trends report for the following year, and this past fall, Whole Foods shared its 2023 trends reports. (You can check it out right here). Photo credit bit245

Although we love everything on this list, we are a fan of a couple of trends, particularly dates. We love using dates as a natural sweetener, which is why we wanted to put the ingredient spotlight on some natural sweeteners, dates included.

Whether you enjoy dates or other natural sweeteners, we are taking a deep dive into dates along with a few other fan favorites that can help keep recipes sweet in the best way possible.

Natural Sweeteners

#1 100% Pure Organic Maple Syrup

Many maple syrups found on the shelves in local grocery stores are full of artificial caramel coloring and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is why it is important to read labels and look for 100% pure organic maple syrup. 

Since maple syrup is sourced straight from tree sap, it goes through minimal processing to reach its final form, which we love. Not only does maple syrup pair perfectly atop a stack of pancakes or waffles, but maple syrup can also be used to sweeten granola, overnight oats, and plain yogurtPhoto credit: showcake

#2 Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a natural, unrefined sweetener that is derived from the sap of palm trees that has been dried and milled. Coconut sugar is not only a natural sweetener but also a sustainable sweetener. Coconut palm trees produce as much as 75% more sugar per acre while using less than 20% of the resources than sugarcane plants. Now that is a sweetener you can feel good about using!

We love coconut so much, we even put it in all our original recipes. Only one flavor has that coconut outstanding taste. Luscious Cranberry Coconut, anyone? Photo credit: Creative-Family


#3 Dates

Often referred to as “Nature’s Candy,” dates are now used even more as a natural sweetener in recipes. From date paste to date syrup, dates are being incorporated into everything from condiments to our very own granola bites. With a classic caramel taste, dates can also be enjoyed on their own or paired up with your favorite nut butter for a savory and sweet afternoon snack. Photo credit: tbralnina

#4 Dried Fruit 

Dried fruit like apricots, dates, prunes, and raisins all make wonderful natural sweeteners. These dried fruits are all especially great as a smart sweetener when baking or making handcrafted energy bars or homemade trail mixes. Photo credit: joruba 

#5  Molasses

Molasses is a natural sweetener that is made by boiling down raw sugar to remove the sucrose. What is left behind after this process is complete is a thick syrup that we know as molasses.

Fun Fact: Blackstrap molasses is processed up to three times to remove as much sucrose as possible.

#6 Raw Honey

One of the best honey options is Manuka Honey from New Zealand, as it hosts a higher nutritional content than raw honey. If you prefer raw honey instead, then look for options labeled raw, unpasteurized, and unfiltered. Use honey as a spread on toast or atop recipes like desserts, oatmeal, and yogurt, and of course, honey paired together with a hot cup of tea is a classic combination that is super delicious. Do not forget a handful or two of granola bites!

#7 Whole Food Sweeteners

Another natural sweetener is any whole food sweetener. Fresh fruits like apple sauce, bananas, and other preserves work well in recipes along with tropical fruit like kiwi, mango, pineapple, and other whole fresh fruits like apples, oranges, and pears. You can even use a splash of fresh fruit juice if the recipe calls for a little something extra. Photo credit  MSPhotographic

When it comes to natural sweeteners, enjoy them all mindfully and in moderation, because let’s be real, you are sweet enough already!

- Stay Healthy and Happy

Need some new recipe ideas that incorporate natural sweeteners? Check out @Mbveganvegetarianshare or join our CEO live @itsnolasnacks as she shares recipes via video each month on It’s Nola Reels. Do not worry, even if you are not vegan, you will still enjoy these dishes.

Tag us @itsnolasnacks so we can see all of your favorite recipes using natural sweeteners like dates.

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