As we enter into the holiday season, sweets are popping up all over the place. If you love baking and making yummy treats for your friends and loved ones, like I do, then this will be very useful for you. This is the way I cook and bake- I substitute one of these sweeteners for sugar. No one notices a difference in taste, but I can feel a difference in how the treat feels in my body. I don’t experience the energy crash that I typically feel after eating sugar. And the kids don’t get as hyper either! What’s not to love about that?
When you use these healthier alternatives you will be able to guiltlessly enjoy AND your body will thank you for the nutrients!
Brown Rice Syrup:
Brown rice syrup is a wonderful sweetener made from brown rice that has been ground up, cooked and mixed with enzymes that change the rice starch into maltose, which is a form of sugar. It is rich with minerals and even some fiber making this one of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners available, and it does not have any fructose. Brown rice syrup tastes like butterscotch- yum! It is less sweet than other sweeteners, so when using it in recipes you may need to add more than the recipe calls for- you can do this by reducing the amount of other liquids that the recipe has. Or, if you are up for trying the recipe less sweet, use the amount that the recipe calls for of the sugar that you are replacing and see what happens. You may be surprised that you don’t miss the extra sweetness!
Coconut nectar is made from the sap of coconut palm trees. It is full of naturally occurring minerals like potassium, amino acids, B-vitamins, and Vitamin C. Coconut nectar has a caramel like sweetness and it is almost as sweet as maple syrup, but it is much less hard on your body because it has much less fructose, and it is lower glycemic. You can use it in a 1:1 ratio in recipes that call for a liquid sweetener.
Coconut sugar is made from the juices of the coconut palm blossoms. The nectar is collected and heated until it is dried and caramelized, and then it is pulverized into a powder that looks like brown sugar. Coconut sugar tastes like brown sugar, but with only good effects on your body. It is low-glycemic, and it has fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can use it to replace sugar in a 1:1 ratio in recipes, and this is my absolute first go-to for most of my baking.
Stevia comes from the leaves of the plant (stevia rebaudiana) which is from South America. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, but it cannot be metabolized by our digestive tract, so it essentially is non-caloric, and has no impact on our blood sugar. Stevia comes in several forms- you can actually get the leaves and use them to brew with a tea for a natural sweetener. It also comes in a powdered form and in a liquid extract concentrate. When you buy stevia, be sure to get pure stevia extract. Many stevia products are mixed with dextrose, maltodextrin, or erythritol to help lessen the slightly bitter taste that it has. Unfortunately, those additives are not good for us. The other thing about stevia is that it is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you must start with a very small amount. I personally use the drops- and only use up to 8 drops at a time because that is all I need. I find the dropper easier to control the taste. I have met many people who hate stevia- and I admit that I used to be one of those people. But as I have reduced the amount of sugar in my diet, I have been more able to tolerate the taste of stevia. So hang in there, over time stevia will become your friend when you are looking for a sweet treat! Especially if you are diabetic or borderline diabetic, stevia is the ONLY one of these sweeteners that I would absolutely recommend because it does not appear to impact blood sugar levels at all.
These are the sweeteners that I have in my pantry.