I only use natural, unrefined sweeteners in all my treats and baking projects. I may also refer to them as alternative sweeteners because to me they are the alternative to highly processed and refined sugar. Some of the methods of incorporating these natural sweeteners requires a bit more work than opening the sugar jar. But, the results are treats and baked goods with a lower glycemic index and more nutrients. That’s something you can feel good about eating or sharing with your family and friends! If you are trying to avoid processed foods and refined sugars then the recipes found in this Blog are a great place to start. Refined sugar is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream and can cause blood sugar spikes also know as Hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia is often a warning sign of pre-diabetes. Unrefined sugars tend to have their more complex minerals and nutrients intact. These minerals slow the absorption of the sugars into the blood creating more balanced blood sugar levels. If you struggle with mood swings associated with your blood sugar levels this is a key factor for maintaining consistency. Since removing refined sugars from my diet I have felt better overall, have more energy and have even lost a little weight!
Dates are by far one of my favorite alternative sweeteners. They lend themselves very well to quick breads, muffins, cookies and bars. In any recipe they provide texture, moisture, structure and an earthy sweetness. They can be incorporated into many recipes and they happen to be a great snack all on their own. I like to use Medjool Dates because of their size and sweetness level but there are many different varieties to experiment with. Also available on the market is date sugar. I plan to sample and experiment with it soon!
To use dates as a primary sweetener in baked goods you will need a food processor.
Combine flour and dates (recipe specific quantities) in your food processor and blend until the dates and flour take on a fine, sandy appearance. Proceed with recipe instructions.
Coconut sugar is actually the nectar from the coconut palm flower. It has been dried but not refined in any way. It is a great substitute for brown sugar because it gives a mineral rich flavor to food. I use it in small quantities in many recipes.
I love honey but use it sparingly! For me, a little goes a long way. Always buy local, unrefined RAW honey. A lot of the honey produced comes to the USA from other counties and can be thinned with corn syrup or other sugars. We desperately need to support local bee keepers and help our local pollinators. Not only will your money be going back into your community but you will get the added benefit of reduced allergy symptoms. This applies to anyone in any part of the world.
Maple syrup has a wonderful flavor and can replace table sugar in many recipes. Although it has many minerals intact it is very sweet and I use it sparingly. The darker grades are especially good for baking because they cost less and will impart a deeper flavor.
Evaporated Cane Juice
Okay, so I do use a very small amount of evaporated cane juice. I always make sure it’s organic in origin and I try to replace it with other sweeteners if I can. For instance the brand of Chocolate chips I buy has a small amount of Cane juice. So in some recipes it is unavoidable.
There are some recipes that just have to have molasses. The characteristic flavor comes from the high mineral content. I make sure to only ever buy organic molasses because it is the waste product of refining sugar and if there were any chemicals used to grow the sugar they would most certainly end up in concentrated amounts in the resulting molasses.