For those of us who care about our bodies and are dually cursed with a sweet tooth the size of a small gingerbread house, the holidays can certainly be a time of rough internal conflict. Check out these sweeteners that are both nutritious and delicious – just in time to sneakily substitute into grandma’s Christmas cookie recipes.
1. Stevia – Believe it or not, stevia is an herb, not a sugar. Its glycoside compounds are responsible for the sweet sensation, which is calorie-free.
2. Coconut Nectar/Crystals/Sugar – I use this sugar more than anything else when it comes to recipe substitutions. Coconut sugar is the dried sap collected from coconut tree blossoms, lacking the traditional flavor of coconut that you might expect. It has a super-low glycemic index and is packed with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and even trace amounts of protein.
3. Raw Honey – Honey is naturally loaded with antioxidants, nutrients and natural enzymes. During pasteurization, regular supermarket honey loses these and becomes what is essentially a liquid equivalent to refined sugar. However, honey in its raw form is a nutrient powerhouse.
4. Pure Maple Syrup – A touted immune system booster and powerful antioxidant, keep in mind that this is no Aunt Jemima’s – which is made of high-fructose corn syrup. Depending on where you live, you may be able to support a local neighbor who taps maple trees and makes his or her own syrup.
5. Brown Rice Syrup – An ingredient popping up in snack bars everywhere (I’m looking at you, Clif Bar and Kashi), this syrup is made by fermenting brown rice with starch-removing enzymes and cooking it until a liquid-consistency is achieved. The sweet syrup maintains some of the the nutritious protein, bran and fiber from its parent product, as well as a handful of minerals.
6. Organic Whole Cane Sugar – Also known as “Sucanat,” this sweetener is as close as it can get to whole food status without actually being a whole food. Organic whole cane sugar is made from raw, unadulterated, dried sugarcane juice and contains the abundant variety of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols found in whole sugarcane.
Wondering where agave’s spot is? Surprise, this wasn’t a mistake. Agave nectar is actually on Santa’s naughty list this year; it turns out that this fabulous “natural” sweetener is highly processed and contains more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. Looks like Grandma’s 50-year old recipes may not be the only ones in need of a little upgrade this year.
You might also be interested in:
- 5 Surprising Substitutions
- The Truth About Artificial Sweeteners
- Miracle Berries: Better than Any Artificial Sweeteners