Naturally Sweet – Sugar Alternatives

by Gavan on December 15, 2008

The Best Sugar Alternatives

The Best Sugar Alternatives

So apparently it’s cookie time over here in the States. Herself was invited to her friends place for a cookie party, which is a cookie swap. (Huh?) This is brand new on me. Seriously if you want people to come over, do as the Irish do and just tell them there’s free beer. I’d go. Anyway it got me thinking about the types of cookies that would turn up. I’m not a sweets person (big shock) but I’m always on the hunt for healthier ingredients to use, whether for sweet or savory cuisine. You already know I’m a big fan of agave, honey, and my latest finding, Xylitol. But when I found this article in Natural Health Magazine I was delighted to see how many other great natural sugar alternatives there are.

Barley Malt
Made from fermented grains whose starches have turned to sugars, barley malt syrup tastes slightly like malted milk balls. 1 tbsp (21g) has 60 cals, no fat, no sodium, no cholesterol, 14g carbs, 1g of protein & 8g of sugar.

Raw Honey
You know I’m already a fan of using honey & agave and this is precisely why: Loaded with natural enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, honey comes in a variety of colors, ranging from intensely flavorful dark brown to lighter (and milder) shades of gold. Always go organic, and because raw honey contains live spores, never use it to sweeten the food of an infant or toddler without consulting a doctor first. 1 tbsp (21g) has 60 cals, no fat, sodium, or protein, 17g carbs and 16g of sugar.

Brown Rice Syrup
The rich butterscotch taste of this syrup, derived from cooked brown rice, mixes well with oatmeal and other hot whole grain cereals. 1 tbsp (21g) has 75 cals, zero fat, cholesterol, & no protein, 35g sodium, 18g carbs and 11g of sugar.

Stevia
From a South American herb, Stevia rebaudiana, stevia is much sweeter than sugar and has a slightly bitter licorice taste. Available in powder and liquid forms, it’s good for diabetics because of its mild effect on blood sugar levels. The Missus had this in our garden this summer and used it to sweeten iced tea when steeping. Stevia has zero cals & no carbs.

Molasses
A potent and highly nutritious sweetener, molasses contains all the beneficial stuff that’s stripped out of sugar cane during the refining process, including iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and chromium. 1 tbsp (21g) has 60 cals, no fat, cholesterol, or protein, 22mg sodium, 16g carbs and 16g sugar.

Date Sugar
This ancient sweetener made from finely ground dates offers all the fruit’s vitamins and minerals, plus the calming amino acid tryptophan. 1 tbsp (21g) has 30 cals, no fat, sodium or protein, 8g carbs and 6g of sugar.

Birch Sugar
With 40 percent fewer calories than white sugar and a low score on the glycemic index (which ranks a carbohydrate’s effect on blood sugar and insulin), this sweetener, also known as xylitol, occurs naturally in tree fiber, corn, and some fruits. 1 tbsp (21g) has 29 cals, zero fat, cholesterol, sodium, or protein, 4g carbs & 4g xylitol.

Maple Syrup
Look for organic, 100 percent pure maple syrup, which contains only the sap of maple trees-and no added corn syrup. 1 tbsp (21g) has 52 cals, zero fat, cholesterol, nor protein, 2 mg sodium, 13g carbs, 12g of sugar.

Agave Nectar
Sweeter than refined sugar and with a lower rating on the glycemic index, the juice of the agave cactus is a good choice for diabetics or anyone seeking to avoid a sugar rush. I’d give it The Healthy Irishman’s Best Ingredient Award (if such an award existed). 1 tbsp (21g) has 60 cals, zero fat, cholesterol, sodium or protein, 16g carbs and 15g of sugar.

Now here’s the challenge–go bake up some naturally sweetened goodies and see if they’re as good (or even better) than those made with refined sugar and let me know how they turned out. Cheers to a Healthy and Happy Christmas!

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