apples, or how about caramel popcorn for your next work potluck or packable lunch?
While I’m NOT condoning the act of sugar indulgence, I do want to continue to stuff your pocket with alternatives that are WAY better than the store bought, heavily processed junk. Just like we mention in our “Top 10 Foods You Must Replace Right Now” list in our Eat Real Essentials eBook, dips and sauces can be a HUGE downfall if you don’t know what’s in them. And since we’re working our way into the “holiday train of events” time of the year, it might be a helpful recipe to keep in your toolkit.
What is Caramel Anyway?
The cooking temperature also makes a difference, but we won’t need to get that technical for you to make your own healthy caramel recipe this week!
A Fabulous Alternative
I’m calling this a “healthy caramel recipe,” because of how it compares to a more traditional version. In this case healthy (or shall I say “healthier”) simply means, WAY less sugar, WAY less calories/fat, WAY less sodium, ZERO preservatives, and plus it’s dairy-free (and vegan) for all of those who are following those dietary guidelines.
The color is darker than most caramels simply because of the type of sugar (coconut sugar) that I’m using vs. brown or regular white sugar. It’s also less sticky and doesn’t harden like traditional versions. Once you make it, cool it down and be sure to refrigerate it overnight for best results. The outcome is SO unreal and makes for the perfect caramel apple dip, or a sweet drizzles on fro-yo/ice cream, or even a gooey addition to baked goods. (Hmmmm I must try that.)
All in all, here’s what I’ve done:
- replaced 1 cup heavy cream for 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- removed butter
- swapped regular salt for sea salt and reduced it by ½
- reduced sugar by 1 cup
- removed corn syrup
- reduced water
- added a ½ teaspoon more of vanilla
- added 1 tablespoon lemon
How Does it Compare?
To give you a quick overview of how this fabulous “healthy” caramel alternative compares to an original caramel recipe, let’s look at the ingredients:
|Original Caramel Recipe||Healthy Caramel Recipe|
|1 cup heavy cream (832 calories)||1 cup full fat coconut milk (420 calories)|
|4 tablespoons unsalted butter||–|
|1/4 teaspoon salt||1/8 teaspoon salt|
|1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar||1/2 cup coconut palm sugar|
|1/4 cup corn syrup||–|
|1/4 cup water||2 tablespoons water|
|1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract||1 teaspoon vanilla extract (pure)|
|nothing||tablespoon fresh lemon juice|
Normally when making caramel, you need to be quite accurate about the temperature by using a candy thermometer. Since I’m no fancy pro, I’m going to keep this simple and easy so you can serve it up quick! Take a look:
Healthy Traditions at Work
What inspired me to share this recipe with you, had nothing to do with a healthy caramel recipe…or apples…or sugar, but rather a fond memory of having bi-monthly POTLUCKS at work!
During my tech corporate days, a few of us foodie lovers started bi-monthly potlucks as a means to bring our design and marketing team together. Sometimes it was “healthy” and sometimes it wasn’t, however each potluck had a theme. One of my favorites was a CARAMEL APPLE PARTY that was led by a super, awesome friend (Canela). We passed around 10-12 different apples with at least 20 different topping combos, and most importantly, we took a break from our deadlines to enjoy a friendly conversation over good eats.
I challenge YOU this month to build stronger teams with the folks you work with. Perhaps start a healthy tradition like a group walk, a potluck, or even a Halloween Party with healthy caramel apples!
1 cup coconut milk (full fat or light)
½ cup coconut sugar
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a small pot over medium heat, mix coconut sugar, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.
Immediately add the coconut milk (pour slowly), sea salt, and vanilla. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid becomes thick and dark. Be sure to stir occasionally and scrape the edges of the pot with a rubber spatula to avoid burning.
Remove from heat once it’s thick and cool it down to room temperature.
For best results, store it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator overnight before using it. The outcome is UNREAL!
Use it for: caramel apples, popcorn, drizzling over frozen yogurt/ice cream, or add it to other baked goods.
Don’t forget: The consistency of the caramel looks and tastes BEST when you refrigerate it overnight before using it. And boy does it taste sooooo darn good (with less calories, sugar, and excess).
Yields ~ ⅔ cup
If you like this recipe, checkout more nutritious and healthy living tips in our Eat Real Essentials eBook, enhanced and interactive for the iPad or in a digital-friendly PDF. It’s filled with inspirational stories, grocery shopping and pantry stocking tips, a 3-week meal plan with a whole foods detox, and over 100 RECIPES designed just for the busy person! Check it out here.