Tips for Baking on a Sugar-Free Diet

Now that fall is coming, many people will start baking again for the holidays. But this year you may want to replace real sugar you have used in your recipes in the past for one of the various natural alternatives to sugar.

To replace real sugar you have a few options:

Xylitol

By the sound of its name you would guess is it an unhealthy synthetic sugar, but actually it is derived from birch tree bark.  Because it has a low Glycemic Index number, it does not have the same spiking effect on bloodstream sugar making it a good choice for diabetics. As a sugar substitute you can use it at a replacement ratio of 1:1

Agave Nectar

If you are looking for a replacement for pancake syrup, try this liquid sweetener. It too has a low Glycemic Index number, but is actually sweeter than real sugar. Because it is a liquid, you’ll want to cut down on the amount of liquid you would normally add to your recipes by three tablespoons so that they don’t get too runny. As a general rule-of-thumb, replace each cup of real sugar with 1/3 to 1/2 cup agave nectar.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Using fresh fruits and vegetables in your recipes not only adds natural sweetness, but also fiber, vitamin C, potassium and iron. Apricots, dates, raisins, figs, carrots and bananas all work well in baked recipes. Just remember they also add in moisture and density to batters, so you may want to cut down on the amount of other liquids you usually add.

Honey

You can’t get much more natural than honey made by bees. Keep in mind that it too is a liquid so you’ll have to reduce other fluids by one-fifth to keep your batters at the right thickness. And because it is sweeter than sugar, you can use less – ½ to 2/3 cup of honey as a replacement for one cup of sugar. One thing to watch with honey is it has a high Glycemic Index so it can spike blood sugar.

Stevia

Made from the stevia plant, this sweetener is available in powdered or liquid form. Many people that use it in baking like the liquid form better as it doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste that many powdered versions seem to leave in baked goods. It is sweeter than sugar by 250% to 300%, but has zero calories. Because it does not have the same bulk as real sugar per measure, you will have to add in other dry ingredients such as flaked coconut, dates, raisins or a ground nut meal.

If you are looking for a replacement for real sugar in your bake recipes, consider using one of these natural sugar alternatives.