Sugar is used in lots of recipes for several reasons. It tastes great, and most people like sweet things to one extent or another. It’s also inexpensive. Sugar keeps food from spoiling and is highly versatile. That’s why it’s used in plenty of baking and cooking recipes.
Unfortunately, get too much sugar into your body, and many bad things start to happen. That wouldn’t be a problem if people didn’t eat lots of sugar, but that’s the case. Prominent health authorities recommend that women not consume more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. Men should limit sugar consumption to no more than 9 teaspoons.
The average person eats 2 to 4 times too much sugar. That can lead to a multitude of health problems, including overweight and obesity, heart disease, some cancers, and many other issues. That’s why it’s essential to understand what healthier sugar alternatives you can use when baking and cooking.
Let’s look at 7 natural sugar substitutes you can use in your kitchen. The key to success is to experiment. Depending on your preference, you may have to use a little more or less than what you’ll find in some recipes. Let’s get started with applesauce, a natural sugar replacement you may not have considered.
1 – Applesauce
Be careful with this one. Make sure you read your ingredients. You don’t want any sugar added, and you should be on the lookout for other nasty ingredients you want to avoid.
Applesauce works as a sweetening agent in lots of recipes. It’s a healthy replacement for sugar, to be sure. You also add more dietary fiber to your meals, which sugar doesn’t provide. You’ll also find that applesauce doesn’t deliver as many calories as sugar does.
How much applesauce do you use to replace sugar in baking recipes? You won’t have to do any complex math here. This is a one-to-one substitute. One cup of applesauce replaces one cup of sugar. You should remember that since applesauce is wet and sugar is not, you want to reduce the amount of another liquid in the recipe, such as water or milk.
2 – Honey
Raw, unfiltered honey delivers a lot of health benefits. It’s been used as a food and medicine since ancient times. It’s a suitable replacement for sugar in many recipes because it delivers nutrients, vitamins, and health-boosting plant-based compounds instead of empty calories like sugar.
The antioxidants in honey are linked to a lower risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and even some cancers. Use honey instead of sugar, and you could lower your high blood pressure. Regular honey consumption has been linked to healthy cholesterol levels. Still, you need to understand that honey delivers a lot of calories and about 75% of the glucose and fructose you get in refined sugar.
Figuring replacement values is difficult. That’s because every batch of honey made has a different density and construction (as long as it is all-natural, raw, and unfiltered). You’ll have to test and determine the ratio of honey to sugar that works best for you. As with applesauce, you need to reduce the amount of liquid in your recipes.
3 – Maple Syrup
Maple syrup doesn’t allow you to avoid sugar altogether, and there is still sugar in it, no matter which brand you try. On the upside, maple syrup is natural, delivering excellent nutrients, including potassium and iron, calcium, antioxidants, and overall less sugar into your body.
Substitute maple syrup in lieu of refined sugar in your recipes, and you’ll get about 33% less sugar in your food. Maple syrup won’t spike your blood sugar level as much as sugar does, and that’s a good thing, especially if you have diabetes.
4 – Molasses
Molasses is a naturally sweet replacement for refined sugar. You get lots of nutrition and excellent vitamins in molasses, especially if you choose blackstrap molasses. Use molasses instead of sugar when you bake or cook, and you raise the level of magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron in your food.
Like maple syrup, there is some sugar in molasses. That’s what makes it taste so sweet. It’s nowhere near as unhealthy for you as refined sugar, and it’s pretty versatile as a baking ingredient. Molasses has a signature taste that’s one-of-a-kind. It gives a heavier and thicker taste experience, and some don’t prefer it in their baked goods.
5 – Fruit
Date sugar is made by grinding down dates into a powdered form, creating a natural sugar substitute. Bananas and figs also make excellent sugar alternatives, and you can even use raisins to replace sugar.
As we have mentioned several times, you’re going to need to experiment with replacement levels. Fruits are made by mother nature and are not always consistent from one batch to the next. Some bananas may be sweeter than others, and the same can be said for dates and figs. As such, you may not always get the exact sweetness level you expect.
How much banana do you need to replace sugar? You can substitute 1 tablespoon of sugar with 2 tablespoons of ripe, mashed banana. What you should remember is that the riper the banana, the sweeter the flavor you’re going to get. You can sweeten up a smoothie naturally by blending in frozen bananas.
You only need 2/3 cup of natural date syrup to replace 1 cup of sugar. Figs are a little more complicated. First, you need to make a fig purée, combining 8 ounces of fresh figs and 1/3 cup of water in a blender. The resulting paste can be used in a one-to-one sugar replacement ratio.
6 – Cane Sugar
This refined sugar substitute is sugar that has not yet been refined. It has undergone less processing, so you’re going to get more vitamins and minerals than table sugar. Understand that you’re still going to get glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
This means that while it’s better for you than refined sugar, it’s not the greatest alternative to use in your recipes. Add it as an ingredient instead of sugar from time to time and keep its use to a minimum. How much cane sugar replaces table sugar? You can pretty much use it on a one-for-one replacement ratio.
7 – More Natural Sugar Substitutes
Stevia, monk fruit, and yacon syrup can all be used in the place of refined sugar. The same is true with sweet potato syrup, tapioca syrup, and fruit juice concentrate. Always read your food labels. These and other sugar alternatives might be labeled as natural, but they can still add unhealthy ingredients.
The best chefs say that successful baking and cooking require personalization. That means you need to make recipes your way. Try these natural sugar replacements several times to get the consistency and flavor you’re looking for.