Written by Corey Doane, Outreach Specialist, Siege Media
The holiday season is quickly approaching and when the holidays roll around, it can be hard not to indulge in our favorite seasonal sweet treats. There’s nothing wrong with eating your favorite holiday desserts, but if you’re watching your sugar intake there are some substitutions you can make to ensure you stay on track.
Sugar is in a lot of the foods we eat, especially desserts. And while sugar is okay from time to time, too much of it can have a negative impact on your health. In fact, more than 100 million Americans are living with diabetes today. Luckily for people with diabetes and those just trying to make healthier decisions, there are tons of sugar substitutes that are both healthy and delicious.
Below we’ve highlighted 5 natural sugar alternatives you can bake with this holiday season.
Stevia is a plant-based sweetener extracted from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, also referred to as the candy leaf in South America. This sweetener is 200 times more sweeter than table sugar, so it’s obvious where the nickname came from. Because stevia is so sweet, you don’t need to use as much as you would sugar when baking. Generally, one cup of table sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon of stevia. Aside from food, stevia is also a great sugar substitute in drinks like coffee, tea and lemonade.
Monk fruit extract comes from Southern China and is also known as Luo Han Guo.
Monk fruit sweetener is 100 to 250 times more sweeter than regular sugar and actually contains zero calories, making it a great healthy alternative. Like sugar, monk fruit extract is heat stable so it makes it a great option when cooking or baking. One cup of sugar is equal to one-third cup of monk fruit sweetener. This sweetener also makes a great addition to drinks, sauces and salad dressings.
We all know fruit naturally contains sugar and aside from that, fruit also holds a ton of healthy nutrients. Fruits are high in fiber, contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They also help slow blood sugar response which is great for those watching their sugar levels. When using fruit as a sugar substitute, it’s best to use unprocessed fruits to ensure there are no added sugars. When baking, substitute sugar by blending fruits into batters or doughs to sweeten treats like bread or muffins. One cup of sugar is equal to three-fourths of a cup of fruit concentrate.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that’s found in fruits, vegetables and corn or birch wood. Most people say this has a very similar sweetness to sugar, minus the sucrose. This is great for people who are watching their weight, or have diabetes, as it is low in calories and keeps your blood sugar levels at a consistent level as opposed to table sugar. When baking with this sweetener, note that it tends to absorb moisture much faster than regular sugar. So to avoid drying out your recipes, try removing them from the oven a bit early.
Similar to xylitol, erythritol is also a sugar alcohol found in foods like peaches, watermelons, grapes and mushrooms. This is a great alternative for people who have diabetes because it does not affect glucose or insulin levels. Erythritol, like xylitol, absorbs moisture when used as a baking substitute, so be sure to keep that in mind when using this alternative. Generally, one cup of sugar is equal to one and one-third of a cup of erythritol.
When baking with sugar substitutes, it’s important to note that you may need to tweak some of the measurements in your favorite recipes. Kitchen printables act as a handy conversion chart to reference when using any of these sugar substitutes. Simply refer to the printable chart and add your favorite recipes to the printable recipe cards.
Cutting sugars out of your diet can still be tasty while helping reduce the health risks associated with eating too much sugar. Try these sugar alternatives out for a perfect and healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.