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Monday, May 9, 2011

Sugar Swaps

We all LOVE sugar, right?  There are people out there who say they don't, but we all know they really do.  The problem is, it isn't that good for us.  I am NOT preaching a bandwagon here about eliminating sugar out of your diet, as we all know I use a lot of it in my baking, just look at some of my dessert posts!  But, there are ways to swap out sugar and replace it with a healthier substitute.

Guest blogger Lisa Shoreland shows us how...

If Atkins has taught us nothing else, at least we all understand the impact that sugar has on our diets – and our waist lines. But who wants to give up carbs? Or sweet, decadent deserts, pastries, and chocolates? Fortunately, there are ways that you can limit your sugar intake without giving up the delicious treats that you love or being forced to buy franken-cookies that use sugar alcohols or other harmful chemicals.

One of the easiest ways to limit the harmful effects of sugar is to trade out white, processed sugar for more natural varieties of sweetener that have a lower impact on your insulin levels (which will help keep your blood sugar stable, and your weight in check). Here are a few of the best sugar swaps you can make, with suggestions for recipe substitutions:

Agave Nectar

The same plant that is used to create tequila provides the sweet syrup that becomes agave nectar. Similar in nature to honey, agave nectar has a concentrated flavor that allows you to use less of it to sweeten a dish – which, therefore, has fewer calories. This natural sweetener is also digested more slowly, which means that it won’t spike your blood sugar.

* To use agave nectar in baking, replace one cup of white sugar with 2/3 cup agave. Then reduce other liquids (such as milk) by about ¼ cup. You can make the same substitution for brown sugar without reducing the other liquids.

Date Sugar

Dates are like nature’s candy. These naturally sweet fruits are dried and ground into tiny crystals to make date sugar. The resulting sugar doesn’t mix as well with liquid (you won’t want to sprinkle it on your morning cereal), but it works great in baking and smoothies.

* Date sugar can be substituted on a one-to-one ratio in most recipes. If you find that the substitute is too sweet, reduce the date sugar to ¾ cup for every cup of regular sugar. You can also experiment with using whole dates – or even figs, prunes and dried apricots – to recipes to replace sugar. These are especially great in smoothies or homemade sherbet and ice cream recipes.


This wonder herb has gotten a lot of attention recently as an all-natural replacement for no-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharine. Stevia has zero calories, but none of the harmful side effects of its chemical clones. This powerful sweetener packs a punch, and only a tiny amount is needed.

* The following conversions can be used for powdered Stevia: 1 teaspoon Stevia per cup of sugar, ½ teaspoon Stevia per tablespoon of sugar, and just a pinch for a teaspoon of sugar.

Some other substitutes worth considering include apple sauce, barley syrup, molasses, and even almond milk for regular milk (which can have as much as 13 grams of sugar per cup). Swapping out the unhealthy refined sugars for these natural alternatives will help add nutrients to your diet and to make your sweets all that much more enjoyable.

Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been finding college grants as well as government student loan programs. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.

Would you like to comment?

  1. I use Stevia in my coffee, yum.

  2. Great post! When I make a "healthier" baked good- I always try to limit or swap out some of the sugar. Stevia is a great alternative, but I also like using more natural sugars like honey and pure maple syrup. Sometimes a little bit goes a long way!!