When seeking a sugar alternative, wholefoods are far too often overlooked. With so many naturally sweet foods such as raisins, dates and other dried fruits readily available, sneaking healthier sources of sweetness into your cooking and baking really isn’t as hard as you might think!
How to substitute sugar for healthier alternatives in cooking and baking?
Why not try grating some apple or sweet potato into a batch of flapjacks, or even a serving of puréed banana into your delicious morning bowl of oatmeal. Not only does fruit add a layer of sweetness to your favorite treats, but also delivers a wide variety of nutrients which plain old sugar can’t provide!
However if you’re determined to find a healthier alternative to normal table sugar then we’ve got some great suggestions to give your baking a healthier edge. Just remember to use in moderation!
Coconut palm sugar
From oil to butter and even vinegar, coconut products are becoming ever-more popular as healthier alternatives to everyday ingredients and products. Perfect as an ingredient for desserts, coconut palm sugar has a caramel taste and is made from the blossom nectar of the coconut palm. Not only is it fructose free but also has a low-GI index, meaning it releases energy slower into the body and therefore maintains blood sugar levels which prevent you from a post-food energy slump!
If you want a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners then look no further than the stevia leaf. The herb has been used for centuries in traditional South American cultures and is often much sweeter than sugar, although this varies on a plant by plant basis. The method in which you use stevia leaf is completely up to you, with the herb being available in granule, drops and powder, all of which have differing levels of sweetness. At zero calories and completely natural what’s not to like?
Maple and other syrups
Maple Syrup is a fantastic alternative that brings a lovely touch of sweetness to a recipe. Made from the sap of maple trees it also contains some vitamins and minerals but bear in mind that it’s still made of pure sugar, so don’t use too much! Other options include rice or agave syrup which are also good substitutes but have been processed and refined to a degree, so it’s really down to how raw you want to get.
The name may not sound too natural but don’t be put off; xylitol is abundant in many trees, fruits and plants and contains 40% fewer calories than sugar. Not only this, it also boasts a low GI index, has a very similar taste to regular sugar and is even thought to prevent nasty mouth bacteria which contributes towards tooth decay. Give it a go when you make your next batch of cookies or muffins; you’ll soon wonder why you ever used sugar in the first place!