So many people are becoming increasingly conscious about the amount of sugar they use in their diets. This is because we are becoming more aware of the effects that it has on our bodies. Eating highly refined, sugary foods can cause your blood sugar levels to quickly spike and then drop, leaving you feeling lethargic, moody and hungry. Here are some natural sugar alternatives and sweeteners, which you can use in anything from baking to topping your oats with!
When I say that these sweeteners are “natural”, I mean that they have generally undergone less processing than regular table sugar. However, it is important to remember that these sweeteners still contain varying amounts of fructose, which is a type of sugar that is believed to be involved in various health issues. Sorry to burst your bubble girls, but just because these may be more “natural” than regular table sugar, this does not mean that they should be consumed in large amounts every single day, but as a substitute when making your occasional treats.
Rice Malt Syrup
Rice malt syrup is a sweetener that is derived from brown rice. To make rice malt syrup, enzymes are added to help break down the starch molecules, which are then cooked down until a syrup (with a consistency similar to honey) is formed. You can use rice malt syrup to replace sugar in most baking recipes. However, for every cup of sugar, you will need to replace it with 1 ¼ cups of rice malt syrup. It is not quite as sweet as white sugar, therefore you generally need a little more of it.
100% Pure Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup is another popular sugar alternative that it is produced by boiling down the sap of the maple tree. It is naturally very sweet and can be used in the same way as you use honey. It is great with natural yoghurt, over pancakes or in baking recipes. If you are going to be using it to replace sugar when baking, use ¾ of a cup of maple syrup per 1 cup of sugar and also reduce the recipe's liquid content by 3 tablespoons.
Raw honey is another great sugar alternative because it is affordable and easily available. You can use honey to sweeten almost anything from your morning oats and smoothies, to baking recipes and marinades for your meats. Generally, the darker the honey, the stronger the flavour and the higher the nutrient value. To replace 1 cup of sugar, use ½ to ¾ of a cup of honey. Keep in mind that honey can burn a lot easier than sugar, so it may be wise to turn the temperature of the oven or stovetop down slightly.
Blackstrap molasses is the thick byproduct that is left over from the processing of sugarcane into sugar. It has a slightly bitter flavour, and is dark and syrupy. This is best used when you want to replace brown sugar in a recipe. It is great for marinades, gingerbread and similar baking. Replace every ⅓ cup of brown sugar with 1 cup of molasses.
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of flower buds cut from the coconut palm. While its name may be deceiving, coconut sugar does not actually taste like coconut. It is brown in colour, making it quite similar to brown sugar. It can be used in baking, especially those recipes which call for brown sugar. Replace 1 cup of white or brown sugar in recipes with 1 cup of coconut sugar.
Regardless of which sweetener you use, remember that all of these should be used in moderation. Try not to think of them as a ‘healthy food’ you should be eating each day, but as an occasional addition to your favourite sweet treat.
What are your favourite natural sweeteners?
Love, Kayla xx