5 Natural Sugar Alternatives That Make Baked Goods Taste So Much Better
By now, we know that table sugar doesn’t do our bodies any favors. The processed sugars that most recipes default to have been known to contribute to a boatload of health problems. However, there are plenty of ingredients out there that can act as natural sweeteners that you don’t have to feel bad about eating. Here are five of the best natural sugar alternatives that’ll give your body a rest from the processed stuff.
1. Maple Syrup
If you’re looking for a natural sweetener that has a defining flavor of its own, maple syrup is ideal. When used in small amounts, maple syrup contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients than white table sugar or things with high fructose corn syrup in them. Maple syrup still has sugar, but it’s not processed like the refined sugar you usually use for baking.
You can use maple syrup for pretty much any recipe that calls for white sugar. For every cup of white sugar, add about three-fourths of a cup of maple syrup. The only difference is that your final product might come out darker and could brown much faster.
2. Buckwheat Honey
Honey is a no-brainer when it comes to natural sweeteners, but the kind of honey you see on most grocery store shelves isn’t considered a health food at all. Buckwheat honey, on the other hand, is rich in antioxidants, provides you with energy and has a ton of culinary uses. You can drizzle a little buckwheat honey on your yogurt and certain cheeses, and use it in BBQ sauces, smoothies, pancake mix, brownies, tea and even vinaigrette dressings.
3. Coconut Sugar
Derived from the coconut palm tree, coconut sugar is another popular sweetener that’s a great natural replacement for processed sugar. This natural sugar, made from sap, retains some of the nutrients found in the coconut palm like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. Although, you would still have to eat a hefty amount of coconut sugar to actually satisfy your body’s needs for those nutrients.
Coconut sugar is caramel-colored and tastes similar to brown sugar. You can use it to sweeten your coffee, your cookies or anything in between.
Instead of using artificial or zero-calorie sweeteners, dates are a healthier option for your body. Medjool dates, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are one of the two most common commercially produced dates in the United States. These dates are deep brown in color with a caramel-like flavor and a soft and mushy texture on the inside. One Medjool date contains about 16 grams of sugar, and since they’re naturally rich in carbohydrates, dates are a great source of natural energy.
You can use dates for making pie crust, smoothies, brownies, almond butter, cookies, sweet dips, healthy dessert truffles or ice cream. Here’s a list of vegan recipes where dates are the shining star.
5. Banana Purée
Using fruit as a substitute for sugar in your recipes is always a good idea. Bananas specifically are an awesome source of potassium and fiber in your diet. You can substitute one cup of processed sugar for one cup of banana purée. To make a banana purée, all you need to do is blend a few tablespoons of water with a few overly ripe bananas until you get a smooth texture. Here’s a list of desserts that use banana instead of added sugar.