(source-because I didn’t actually have any white sugar in my house to take a picture of!)
Sugar is not evil but I do believe it’s less than virtuous. I also believe that it is overeaten in a disturbingly high quantity.
Sugar is everywhere. Everywhere except my kitchen. I love dessert and make it regularly but instead of sugar my goods are sweetened with alternatives that also provide minerals and vitamins.
Stevia is made from an extremely sweet herb. You may be more familiar with the white powder version, which has been highly processed and concentrated. In it’s natural, green, minimally processed state stevia is full of phytochemicals. The green stuff is not as sweet as the refined, white powder, which makes it easier to work it (less likely to overdo).
- no effect on blood sugar
- calorie free
- green stevia is very minimally processed
- stevia’s super sweet taste can easily overpower, similar to artificial sweeteners
- doesn’t provide much nutritional benefit because you use such a small amount
Look for: green stevia powder and start small, it’s nearly impossible to counteract the taste of too much!
Uses: I like stevia best in baked goods or mixed into plain yogurt or unsweetened chocolate when I want it a little less tart/bitter. Note that I never use an exact measurement for stevia on the blog, this is because the sweetness of stevia varies greatly depending on the brand and processing.
Recipes with stevia: Sweet But Not Refined Chocolate Torte, After Lunch Mints
Molasses is made from cane sugar but unlike refined sugar it retains many trace minerals and vitamins.
- great source of iron, manganese, copper, calcium, potassium, and magnesium
- rich and flavorful
- rich and flavorful 🙂 (not very versatile)
Look for: blackstrap and organic.
Uses: As a kid I got warm milk with molasses in my bottle before bed. My friend’s 2-year-old drinks this from her sippy cup first thing in the morning and calls it her “special milk”. My favorite way to use molasses these days is to drizzle a little over some plain yogurt and top with a few slices of banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Recipes with molasses: Snap Happy Ginger Snaps
Honey is made by bees from the nectar of flowers. It contains many trace vitamins and minerals and has unparalleled anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
- sweeter than sugar so you don’t need to use as much
- can be beneficial for allergy relief to eat local honey
- most honey on the market is crap, i.e. mass-produced, refined, and supplemented with corn syrup, make sure to buy local, raw honey
Look for: local, raw, 100% pure honey.
Uses: I love honey and think it’s good for anytime you want to add a little sweetness. Think coffee, salad dressings, yogurt, smoothies, as well as baked goods.
Recipes with honey: Almond Delights, Mint Chocolate Bark
Dates are grown on a type of palm tree and do especially well in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and the Southwest USA. Like all dried fruits, dates are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals.
- great to eat as is for a simple, sweet treat
- good source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, and calcium
- the fiber content helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar, resulting in steadier insulin release and energy levels
- strong flavor can overpower more subtle desserts
- dates take some processing to use in the kitchen, either chopping by hand or in the food processor
Look for: softer dates are easier to work with.
Uses: stuff ’em with soft cheese, chop ’em in salad, process to a paste for baked goods.
Do you ‘watch’ the refined sugar in your diet? What are your favorite alternatives to the white stuff?