Now that everyone and their mother has picked up baking during the circuit breaker, it miiiiight be time to take a look at our sugar consumption.
Fancy calorie-free sugar substitutes can be expensive, but luckily there are several inexpensive and naturally healthy options to choose from when trying to cut out the sugar in your baking.
Here are our top 10 sugar swaps for baking:
1. Coconut sugar
Made from the evaporated sap of coconut flowers, coconut sugar is a natural sugar loaded with potassium, so it offers the added benefit of keeping bones stronger while adding sweetness to baking.
It has a lower glycaemic index than most other sugars, has a similar taste to brown sugar and is easily substituted 1:1 for granulated sugar in baking recipes.
2. Maple syrup
Don’t fall for fake, maple-flavoured syrups. Real maple syrup contains over 50 antioxidants as it is derived directly from a plant’s sap.
Dark coloured maple syrup is more robust in flavour compared to its lighter coloured version, and contains a higher level of minerals like calcium, zinc, manganese, iron and potassium.
Ditch the refined cousin for this natural sweetener that packs a robust antioxidant punch. Using honey in baked goods will result in a denser, moister dessert and also accelerates the browning in a recipe.
Raw, local honey is best when possible, but cooking it will destroy most of the health benefits, so it mostly contributes flavour after baking.
4. Pureed bananas
Don’t know what to do with those over-ripe bananas? Substitute them for sugar in your next batch of chocolate banana bread – the fruit naturally becomes sweeter as it ripens, so there’s no need for extra sugar.
And the resulting baked goods will be naturally moister too. Win-win!
5. Date sugar
Date sugar is very finely pulverized dried dates, so it’s high in fibre, vitamins, potassium and with an extra boost of antioxidants.
And since it also has a low glycaemic index compared to refined sugar, you can go ahead and make those dense and gooey brownies you’ve been craving guilt-free.
6. Dried fruit
Raisins, sultanas, cranberries, prunes and apricots are concentrated sources of natural sweetness. Being just real dried fruit, they are rich in fibre, antioxidants and nutrients and can easily be blended into baking for a creative twist.
Simply blitz a cup full in a food processer and you’re good to go.
Easily made at home or store-bought, the natural sweetness of apples is great when baking up a batch of healthy oatmeal cookies, making it a perfect after-dinner treat.
And if you’ve got leftover applesauce from the baking, it’ll go really well on the side of roast pork too.
8. Brown rice syrup
It’s no secret. Brown is always better than white when it comes to nutritional goodness.
Packed with more antioxidants and minerals than a sugar alternative, this buttery and nutty flavoured brown rice syrup is perfect in baked breads, pies and even vegan recipes. With just a hint of brown rice flavour, you’ll never know the difference.
9. Molasses and blackstrap molasses
A by-product of refining cane sugar, this dark syrup offers extra iron, calcium and more vitamins than you know. During the sugar-making process, juice extracted from sugar cane is boiled down until the sugars crystallize.
The syrup left over after crystallisation is what is commonly known as molasses.
There are three different grades of syrup available from this boiling.
The first boiling of sugar cane juice results in cane syrup, which is the sweetest and lightest; the second boiling results in molasses, which has a slightly bitter flavour; and the third creates blackstrap molasses, which has the strongest flavour, darkest colour, and has the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals.
A cane juice extracted from sorghum grass, sorghum syrup adds a slightly sour, grassy undertone to baked goods. And unlike regular sugar, it also offers the extra benefit of vitamins and minerals like B-6, manganese, and potassium.
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg