Guest post by Calie at Broccoli Cupcake
When we got rid of processed foods in our diet, one of the best side effects was that we were able to significantly reduce our consumption of white/processed sugar. Over time, I’ve learned to replace white sugar with a number of healthier alternatives for baking, cooking and sweetening things like coffee and tea. For me, this has helped reduce inflammation in my body, while also stabilizing my blood sugar and weight.
What we get from sugar is that sweet taste many of us have learned to crave plus lots of empty calories. In contrast, what we get from the right natural sugar alternative is the sweet taste to satisfy our cravings plus nutrients and antioxidants that are good for our bodies. It is important to point out that sweeteners are sweeteners and most still contain calories so they should still be consumed in moderation.
If you’re looking for alternatives to the unhealthy, white, processed sugar here is a list to get you started. Keep these items in your pantry and you’ll be prepared to replace your old sugar in just about any recipe.
Agave Nectar: Agave Nectar is a syrupy sweetener, like honey or maple syrup, that comes from the Agave plant. It’s naturally sweet, but more important; it’s not refined like white sugar so it doesn’t contain processing chemicals. (Agave Nectar has come under fire lately, but like most things, there are good versions and not so good versions. It’s all in how it’s processed. As always, I recommend everything in moderation. Agave is a sweetener. While it’s better for us than many alternatives like white sugar or processed sugar substitutes it should still be consumed in moderation.)
Evaporated Cane Sugar: Evaporated Cane Sugar is sugar cane that has had the water removed. It’s less processed than white sugar and leaving more nutrients.
Honey: Honey is rich in antioxidants and is said to help manage allergy symptoms when purchased locally. Dark varieties are best.
Molasses: Molasses is the byproduct of processing sugar cane into sugar. It’s the dark syrup that remains after some of the sugar has crystallized from the cane’s juices. It has a relatively low sugar content and contains calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants.
Stevia: Stevia has recently gained a lot of attention. It’s an herb that is significantly sweeter than sugar and contains no calories. It requires only a small amount of Stevia to achieve the sweetness of white sugar, but some say it leaves a bitter aftertaste – especially in baking.
Sucanat: Sucanat is sugar in its most natural form – Sugar Cane Natural. It’s extracted from unrefined sugar cane and only the water has been removed. Sucanat retains the molasses, but more importantly, it also retains the vitamins and minerals.
Turbinado: Turbinado is made from 100% sugar cane. Essentially, it’s what’s left over after raw sugar has been washed. Again, the natural molasses remains.
Xylitol: Xylitol is a white powder that is found in many fruits and vegetables. It is also produced naturally in the human body during metabolism. It is just as sweet as white sugar but contains about one-third of the calories. The Xylitol we found on store shelves is often made from hardwood trees and vegetation.
Tip: Don’t limit yourself to natural sugar “substitutes.” Try cocoa powder, pure maple syrup, applesauce, fruit preserves and dried fruit to add natural sweetness to a variety of recipes. Do your best to avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Remember Michael Pollen’s tip. If it comes from a plant – EAT IT. If it’s made in a plant – DON’T.
Recipe: In a blender or food processor mix 1 ½ cups uncooked oatmeal, 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 cup walnuts or almonds and ½ cup or dried fruit – I like cranberries. Blend until well mixed then form into bars on a baking sheet coated with a little bit of coconut oil. Bake at 200 for approximately 3 hours. The molasses and cinnamon make these a sweet, healthy treat perfect for breakfast on the go or in place of a granola bar as an afternoon snack.
Have you eliminated white, processed sugar from your diet? How did it make you feel?
About Calie at Broccoli Cupcake:
Broccoli Cupcake is a place to find and share information about living a happy, healthy lifestyle. The contents are fueled by Calie’s personal journey to improve her health and the health of her family. Calie is a work-from-home media relations consultant, mom to two unruly boys and health and wellness junkie. Tune in every other Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. for Calie’s healthy living tips on Fox 17 Tennessee Mornings.