How to make the foods we love in a healthier way

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- February is American Heart Month when we focus on ways to improve our heart health. One known link to cardiovascular disease is too much sugar. But many of the treats we love contain sugar, from banana bread to chocolate cake to hot chocolate. So, how do we reduce the sugar in our diet without sacrificing taste and flavor? Bay Area mom, healthy eating advocate and author of the 52 New Foods Challenge Jennifer Tyler Lee shares her 3 keys to cutting our sugar intake.

1. Cook more. When you cook or bake your favorite treats yourself, you can control the sugar. For example, one slice of store-bought banana bread often contains 5 tsp. of sugar. But if you sweeten yours with dates instead, you cut the sugar while adding fiber, which enables your body to metabolize the sugar differently. You add yogurt to give it moisture and keep the banana bread from turning out dry.

2. Make healthy substitutions. One slice of package mix chocolate cake with frosting has about 7 tsp. of sugar. But you can cut the sugar by two-thirds using Lee's recipe. The key in retaining the moisture is using black lentils. They pack a nutritional punch while allowing you to reduce the sugar without leaving the cake a crumbling mess.

3. Cut the sugar in drinks. We tend to drink too much of our daily intake of sugar. We love hot chocolate, for example, but a package of hot cocoa mix contains 4-6 tsp. of sugar. But you can make your own hot chocolate that's rich and flavorful using high-quality dark chocolate, cinnamon, cream, and a touch of vanilla. You melt it all together, pour the mix into a pan, refrigerate and cut them into blocks that you can freeze. When you want to enjoy a cup, just melt a block and enjoy a sinfully delicious yet low-sugar treat.

Here are the links to the recipes!

No Sugar Banana Bread

Super Moist Chocolate Cake

Hot Chocolate Blocks

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