Are you striving to eat healthier? Natural sugar substitutes could help you refine your diet.
Healthy eating tips frequently suggest cutting back on processed and refined foods and reducing or eliminating sugar or sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners from diets. No big news there.
With so many foods showing high fructose corn syrup on the labels–even foods one might not expect to contain sugar or a substitute like canned tomatoes or green beans—North Americans are more accustomed to the taste of sweet than probably any other flavour.
Sugar, in moderation, isn’t unhealthy for most people. The problem comes with the ‘in moderation’ part. If wanting to eat less sugar and eliminate artificial sweeteners, these tips offer some alternatives to sugar.
If you spend any time here at all reading my posts then you know this is one of my biggest struggles with healthy eating. I have a sweet tooth that I come by naturally. My Mom also had a sweet tooth. It’s not a huge fail or anything, but I know I can do better with respect to sugar.
The last couple of years I have been researching and experimenting with ideas for natural sugar substitutes here. I’d be the first to tell you though that my healthy living process is a work in progress.
So with that in mind and with the idea of fresh starts and ideas on how to become healthier, here are a few substitutes for sugar in your diet.
Natural Sugar Substitutes
Diabetics have known for years that cookies, cakes, breads and other baked goods can be cooked using natural apple sauce as the sweetener instead of sugar or a sugar alternative. Generally, the recipe would substitute each cup of sugar with one cup of apple sauce, but the milk/water/liquid content should be reduced slightly, since apple sauce is liquid and sugar is granules.
Concentrated Apple Juice
Used similarly to applesauce, only in things that must be cooked like sauces, concentrated apple juice will sweeten almost as well as sugar without a strong apple taste. Concentrated apple juice isn’t good for using in baking, because it’s a liquid and the batter will be too thin. See above for a better option. I often use this in the crock pot with ribs and other meats.
Barley Malt Syrup
About cup for cup, barley malt syrup can be used as an alternative to sugar. While it’s not as sweet as sugar, it has a distinct flavor that blends well with cereals, hot cereals, breads and other dense bread-like baked goods.
Honey is one of the best natural sugar alternatives, and can be used in almost any recipe, but even better than that, honey is great for sweetening hot or cold teas, hot or cold cereals, or just about anything else needing sweetened. The only downside to honey is that children under 1-2 years of age should not consume honey.
Natural Sugar Substitute Products
The local grocery store might be hiding some natural sugar substitute products on the shelves, but they aren’t always easy to find. A health food store will probably be easier, but will also likely cost more. Take the time to search for the sugar substitute products and ensure they are all natural before purchasing, otherwise they are no different that the artificial sweeteners. Below are some good natural sugar substitutes.
Just Like Sugar
This product is an all natural orange and chickory root sugar substitute. What’s good about Just Like Sugar is that it is granulated like sugar and can be measured just like sugar. This all natural sugar substitute can be purchased online or at any Whole Foods grocery store.
There are several products on the market with different names that are sugar substitutes made from the stevia plant. Check the label to see how the stevia sugar substitute was made and ensure there are no other chemicals, and this is a good choice for sweetening things that do not have to be baked or cooked. Stevia doesn’t measure well for cooking.
Here’s the thing though. You can easily grow a stevia plant in your garden or pot one and grow it in the house. Stevia is an easy plant for daily use. Keep all of these items away from pets though as we don’t always know how they react to our foods and plants.
Foods in Place of Sugar
Certain foods can be naturally sweetened by using certain foods in combination with the food. So there’s really no excuse for not being able to find natural sugar substitutes as there are many options.
Bananas can sweeten just about anything, from hot or cold cereals to adding to an all-natural peanut butter sandwich. There is a high natural sugar content in bananas.
Prunes are juicy and sweet, and prune juice has plenty of natural sugar. You could add prunes to most sauces. In fact, real prune juice sweetens up any meal. Prunes are great for marinades and sauces on chicken and fish too. But a word of caution – you know how much prune and prune juice your body can handle, so take care.
Experiment with Natural Foods
These ideas aren’t the only things out there that make a good sugar substitute, but they can provide a starting point for experimenting with natural sugar substitutes.
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Have you found any great alternatives to sugar?