Cooking Alternatives To Sugar

Types of Sugar Substitutes

Cooking alternative to sugar will help you in cutting sugar out of your diet.  It’s not that difficult at all to do, just follow our information below and adjust as needed. While these sugar alternatives may not all be able to be used cup for cup, or as an all purpose sugar replacement, they do give you an idea of what’s out there, and how a particular sugar substitute can be used.

Natural Sweeteners

The majority of the nectars come from the Blue Agave plant found in Mexico (same plant that tequila is made from). There are generally two types of agave syrup available – light and dark. Darker varieties have been heated longer, and have a slight caramel taste. Light syrup is similar to that of maple syrup or honey.

How To Use – Because types of agave syrup vary in sweetness, for each cup of white sugar replaced, use 1/4 – 3/4 cup of agave syrup, and reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup. For example, to replace 1 cup of brown sugar, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids only by 1/4 cup (since brown sugar has a higher moisture content).
Pros – It has been labelled as a healthier option due to its low glycemic index.
Cons – Some research has show that agave nectar contains certain hormones that could increase the risk of miscarriage if consumed by pregnant women. If you are diabetic, have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, agave nectar is suspected to be potentially dangerous to consume.
How it compares to sugar – Both have the same calories per teaspoon, but since its sweeter you can use less of thereby decreasing your calorie count.

Coconut Sugar
Made from the sap of coconut palm’s flower buds. Once heated most of the water evaporates leaving large golden crystals, with a light caramel flavor.

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How To Use – Replace cup for cup. Because it is coarser than white or brown sugar, it won’t cream as smoothly and the baked goods will end up with a speckled look with more air pockets.
Pros – Contains minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants. Contains inulin which is a fiber that may slow glucose absorption, giving it a lower glycemic index (35) than white sugar.
Cons – Contains the same amount of fructose as sugar.
How it compares to sugar – Equal to sugar in calories and carbohydrates.

Produced from bees it has a distinctive flavor based on what flowers the bees fed from. Baked goods turn out moist and dense, and tend to brown faster.

How To Use – For every cup of sugar, use ¾ cup + 1 Tbsp honey, and reduce the other liquid ingredients by 2 Tbsp. If the recipe includes sour cream or buttermilk, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acidity.
Pros – Contains flavonoids and antioxidants which help reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease, is an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, immunity system builder, and has been used for decades as natural remedy for many ailments.
Cons – Contains 40% fructose, its GI can range from low to high, has a strong flavor which can affect some recipes, contains a number of bacteria including (Clostridium) which can cause infant botulism if children under 1 year of age consume it.
How it compares to sugar – 25 to 50% sweeter and higher in calories than sugar.

Pure Maple Syrup
Made from the sap of sugar maple trees, it is boiled down into a thick golden syrup that is 60% as sweet as sugar. Grade B syrup has a higher mineral content and stronger flavor than grade A.

How To Use – For every cup of sugar use ¾ cup of maple syrup, and reduce the amount of liquid by 3 Tbsp.
Pros – Source of antioxidants and minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, zinc and manganese.
Cons – Can be expensive.
How it compares to sugar – Similar in calories to sugar.

Extracted from the leaf of the stevia plant and can be 100-300 times sweeter than sugar.

How To Use – For every cup of sugar, use 1 teaspoon of stevia (added to the dry ingredients) and add 1/3 cup of a substituting liquid (like applesauce). Only use with baking temperatures below 400°F (it will break down at higher temperatures).
Pros – It does not affect blood sugar levels, or stimulate insulin, and has zero calories, and does not contribute to tooth decay. Studies have shown it has many health-promoting that help control blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Cons – Can be expensive, and some people may not like its after taste. When consumed in large amounts it can causes stomach upset like bloating. Can be hard to substitute in baking to produce the desired results.
How it compares to sugar – A no calorie option to sugar.

Fruit Sweeteners

Applesauce – Replace 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup applesauce.
Banana – Replace 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup puréed overripe banana (may need to add a few Tbsp of water to completely liquefy).
Dates or Figs – Replace 1 cup of sugar with 2/3 cup purée. Soak dried fruit in hot water, then puree with a bit of water until liquefied.

Ingredient Substitutions

Run out of an ingredient and in a pinch? Below is a list of a few substitutes you can use.

Light or Dark Corn Syrup (1 cup) -equal amounts honey *
-equal amounts golden syrup
-1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water (or other liquid from recipe) *
*although substitutes will not work in candy-type recipes where mixture is boiled
Icing Sugar (1 cup) 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar + 3/4 tsp cornstarch. Grind to a fine powder in blender or food processor
Brown Sugar (1 cup, packed) 1 cup granulated sugar + 2 to 3 Tbsp molasses
Sugar is Still Sugar

Regardless whether it comes from a natural or artificial source, it’s still sugar and too much of it can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

For a healthy lifestyle, granulated sugar or its substitutes is recommended to be no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake (approximately 6 tsp for women, 9 tsp for men).

Remember to keep in mind when you’re substituting that aside from sweetness, sugar substitutes do not perform the same chemical functions in baking such as creating a light, tender crumb, adding moisture and giving baked goods a golden-brown crust. So do not expect the exact same results.

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