Ahhh… sugar, It’s sweet, it’s addictive and it’s everywhere! And I mean seriously everywhere … make sure you are checking your labels people! Refined sugar can be toxic to our bods, raising our blood sugar levels and increasing our risk of diabetes and other nasty diseases. It also depletes us of important vitamins and minerals due to its diva demands on our digestive system to process the stuff … no thanks.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate and can be found in different forms like Glucose (occurs naturally in fruits and plants), Fructose (occurs naturally in fruits, some veggies, honey & cane sugar) and Galactose. Our bodies uses glucose to convert to energy so sugars are an important part of our diets. We need to be careful however, about the kinds of sugars we are putting into our bodies.
The sugar debate is complex and I am not a nutritionist, so if you really want to learn about the ins and outs of sugar do your research and talk to your health professional. What I do know is that my body hates refined sugar and I can experience some really nasty side effects when I include it in my diet, so over the years I have looked for some sweet alternatives to replace the refined sugar for when I have a sweet tooth craving.
If you are exploring a diet free of refined sugars and are looking for some sweet alternatives to use in recipes or perhaps your tea or coffee then look no further. I have put together my Top 5 Alternative Sweeteners as your go to guide when you’re creating in the kitchen!
Sweeteners for your Sweet Treats
- Coconut Sugar
- Maple Syrup
- Raw Honey
Coconut Sugar is the boiled down and dehydrated sap from the coconut palm. It offers an array of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc & copper and is an excellent choice in sweeteners for vegans. It is naturally low GI so it has minimal effect on our blood sugar levels. Enjoy it in tea or coffee or when baking … yum!
Dates are a delicious sweet snack and are excellent in smoothie recipes & raw desserts. They are a good source of natural sugars and fibre and contain vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, zinc and calcium. They are also a great source of energy when you need a quick pick me up! Try popping them in the freezer for when you want a sweet treat … it’s almost like you’re eating caramel candy…
Maple Syrup comes from the sap of maple trees. It contains naturally occurring minerals like zinc and calcium and is perfect for baking or used as a topping on your healthy ice-cream or your delicious protein pancakes. Be warned though – don’t fall for the maple-flavoured syrup, it’s definitely not the same thing but rather a very refined version and that’s what we are trying to stay away from right? So make sure your Syrup is 100% pure Maple Syrup.
Raw Honey is my favourite, I am kind of having an obsession over it lately. . Raw Honey is made by honeybees collecting nectar from flowers and is taken directly from the bee’s hive. Not only is it super delicious but it is super versatile. It is great for tea, coffee, smoothies, baking, raw desserts, medicinal purposes … and it goes on and on and on … Yeh … I throw my hand up in the air sometimes. Raw Honey is unprocessed, unrefined and unreal! If you want to find out more about honey check out my blog post Honey to the Bee.
Stevia is a good alternative sweetener for diabetics as it doesn’t mess around with your blood sugar levels and it also has zero calories! You can use stevia leaves for sweetening or in a liquid or powdered form but remember this important fact … stevia is almost 200 times sweeter than white sugar, so go easy. A little stevia goes a loooooong way.
There are so many more sweet alternatives that you can try at home:
- Rice malt syrup
- Agave Nectar
- Coconut Nectar
- Yacon Syrup