Whether you are allergic to sugar, or have a blood sugar problem, or are just looking to eat delicious yet healthy, the best way to do so is try out the different sugar substitutes. While you may replace honey for sugar in your daily cup of coffee, what you need to know is that the sugar content is the highest in the baked goods you consume along with that cup of coffee. So your coffee may be slightly 'healthier', but your muffin or pancakes or brownies accompanying it are not. To be able to 'have your cake and eat it too', take a look at the various healthy and natural sugar substitutes for baking.
Healthy Sugar Substitutes for Baking
One thing to note is that not every natural sugar substitute is a healthy sugar substitute. Substitutes like fructose and sucrose still contain high levels of sweetness, that can affect the body in ways that normal sugar does. Also, natural substitutes like honey are almost as sweet as table sugar, and should be substituted in baking or any other recipe only after a thorough consultation with a doctor or a nutritionist. The brighter side of the story is that, some natural sugar substitutes are definitely healthier than table sugar. For instance, maple syrup has a small amount of minerals that are absent from refined sugar.
You would assume that maple syrup can be used only as an accompaniment to your waffles and pancakes. However, you can use pure maple syrup to sweeten your other baked goodies too. It does have a distinct flavor that you will have to develop a taste for, but this is possible when used over time. The darker the maple syrup, the stronger it is. Also, the darker maple syrup is better as a substitute for baking. Moreover, it has a good amount of minerals that are essential to the body. The only different effect it has on baked goods is that it is in a liquid form. Therefore, you will have to reduce the amount of liquid mentioned in the recipe, to accommodate maple syrup as a natural sugar substitute for baking. To use maple syrup instead of sugar in baking, use the following amount:
- 1 cup of Sugar = 3/4 cup of Maple Syrup
- 1 cup of Maple Syrup = Reduction of liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup.
Honey, like other sugar substitutes, has a peculiar flavor that you will have to adapt to. It is almost 50% sweeter than sugar. When used in baking, the final product will brown sooner than it does with sugar. This means you will have to regulate the temperature (keep it at least 25º lower) and keep a close eye to prevent it from burning. When used in cakes and other such recipes, the final product is definitely more moist than it would be with the use of white sugar. To use honey as one of the sugar substitutes in baking, follow this conversion:
- 1 cup of Sugar = 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp Honey
- 1 cup of Honey = Reduction of liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup.
Agave syrup or nectar comes from the agave plant, that resembles the aloe vera plant. It is an organic and natural sugar substitute, but is definitely sweeter than white, refined sugar. It is also suitable for diabetics as the glycemic index in agave syrup is lesser. However, as mentioned earlier, only after consultation with a doctor should a diabetic resort to any sugar substitute. Like honey, even agave syrup tends to brown baked goods quicker, so you have to maintain the right temperature while using agave syrup as one of the sugar substitutes in baking. To use agave syrup instead of sugar, use the following amount.
- 1 cup of sugar = 2/3 cup of Agave Syrup
- 1 cup of Agave Syrup = Reduction of liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup.
Molasses is produced during the process of producing white, refined sugar. In other words, it is a by-product of white sugar. While brown sugar is a combination of white sugar and molasses, molasses makes one of the healthier brown sugar substitute for baking. It is richer in nutritional value, and contains glucose, fructose and sucrose. Again, it may not be a safe bet for diabetics. Molasses affects the flavor and color of baked products, in that it makes them darker, and is less sweeter than sugar. However, it can be used as a healthier sugar substitute in baking.
- 1 cup of Sugar = 1-1/3 cup of Molasses + 1/2 tsp Baking Soda per cup of Molasses
- 1 cup of Molasses = Reduction of liquids in the recipe by 5 tablespoons.
At the cost of repetition, do not switch to these substitutes without consulting a nutritionist, particularly if you are diabetic. Some of these substitutes have the capacity to alter your blood sugar levels, and you don't want to further upset your already upset body. Do note, that these sugar substitutes for baking are definitely going to alter the actual flavor of your baked goods. However, if you have a valid reason for alternating these products with sugar, you will develop a taste for these over time. Also remember, that just because these are natural and healthier alternatives to sugar, they cannot be consumed in an unlimited amount. The key to healthy living is moderation, and this rule applies even in the aforementioned case.