You are already aware of the dangers of consuming too much sugar, so you've started using artificial sweeteners in your cup of tea, coffee, and even your cookies. It's time to open your eyes to the fact that consuming artificial sweeteners is even more dangerous than consuming sugar itself. It induces more craving for sugar and as is the case with sugar, it provides no nutrition whatsoever. Thus, whether you take it to lose weight or to control diabetes, it is not helpful (unless you have extreme will power and control over your sweet tooth). What do you do then, to satisfy your sweet tooth? Use the different natural sugar substitutes that are available in the market, that are healthier, more nutritious and safer than sugar or artificial sweeteners.
While some substitutes work well to sweeten your cup of coffee, they may not work as good substitutes for baking. Even so, these exceptions can be accommodated, with the variety of options and recipes available to cook with these substitutes. Take a look at the types of natural sugar substitutes, and how to use them instead of refined sugar.
Raw honey has a lower glycemic index than normal white sugar, and thus affects the blood sugar levels lesser than sugar does. Also, compared to sugar, raw honey is very nutritious and is sweeter than sugar. When used as a substitute in baking, food products made with honey should be heated at a slightly lower temperature (at least 25 degrees less). This because honey browns faster than sugar.
To use honey as a granulated sugar substitute, follow these guidelines.
- For smaller amounts, such as 1 tsp or 1 tbsp of sugar, honey can be used in the same amount. Thus, 1 tsp sugar = 1 tsp raw honey.
- For larger amounts, such as 1 cup of sugar, reduce the amount of honey. Thus, 1 cup of sugar = 3/4th cup of raw honey.
Stevia is a herb that is known to have almost 300 times the sweetness of sugar, without the calories. In fact, it is low in carbohydrates and sugars, which has made it popular as a sugar substitute. Also, studies have shown that the consumption of stevia does not affect blood sugar levels. However, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before resorting to any sugar substitute. It is available in a powder and liquid form at a variety of health stores. Because of its sweetness, it should be used in small amounts. It is not considered great for baking, because it does not add volume to the final product. It also does not caramelize like sugar does and neither does it keep the final product as moist as sugar does.
However, there are several recipes available for the purpose of baking with stevia, which you can learn in order to bake with this sugar substitute. Natural forms of stevia include a powdered extract, which you can use instead of sugar in the following manner:
- 1 tsp Sugar = 1/16th teaspoon or a pinch of powdered stevia extract
- 1 tbsp sugar = 1/4th teaspoon of powdered stevia extract
- 1 cup sugar = 1 tsp of powdered stevia extract
Pure Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup is different from the maple syrup you use for pancakes. It is an extremely healthy natural sugar substitute and is as sweet as white sugar. Another benefit is that it is free of preservatives. The darker the maple syrup, the richer in flavor it is. As is the case with honey, to bake with maple syrup, substitute 1 cup of sugar with 3/4th cup of pure maple syrup and reduce the liquid in the recipe by one-fourth cup per cup of maple syrup. Apart from baking, maple syrup is a great additive to sweeten a cup of tea, or a glass of lemonade!
Coming from a plant that resembles the aloe vera plant, agave nectar is slightly richer in calories than sugar and is also 40% sweeter than sugar. But it is healthier because it is organic. It has a low glycemic index, which works well for diabetics. Add it to your bowl of oatmeal, or mix it in a glass of milk as a sugar substitute. Natural form of agave nectar is liquid, and therefore, it has the same properties as honey and maple syrup when used for baking. Use agave nectar as a substitute when preparing a recipe that calls for granulated sugar. To do so, use 2/3rd cup of agave nectar, instead of 1 cup of granulated white sugar. Again, reduce the liquids in the recipe by about 1/4th cup, per cup of agave nectar.
If you are someone who has a sweet tooth and are used to eating baked and other goods made with refined sugar, developing a taste for these natural sugar substitutes is going to take a while. However, you also know that these are much healthier alternatives to sugar, so put in a little more effort, be a little patient and reap the benefits of resorting to these sugar substitutes.