When you’re cooking sweets, they’re most of the time filled with a lot of white sugar, you’ll probably find it in many of the processed foods you buy at the grocerystore such as sauces, bread, fruit yoghurt, etc, and the thing about white sugar is that it doesn’t benefit your body in any way, it may taste good, but the healthier versions are so much more rich in flavor, and doesn’t dominate the other ingredients in what you’re eating. Therefore we’ve made this guide for you, it’s filled with all the healthier alternatives for the good ol’ white sugar, and how/what you can use it for.
Fruits and vegetables:
Dates are a natural whole food, and contains lots of naturally sugars and fibers. They are a great source of sweetness in so many things, we especially like to make date syrup out of it. A favourite of our’s is to use the date syrup in homemade granola, with the caramel taste and perfect consistency, it makes the most delicious granola. But it’s also possible to buy date sugar; sugar made of out dates.
Monk fruit is a great source of sweetness in your cooking, it’s about 200 times more sweet than regular white cane sugar, it contains no calories, and is filled with antioxidants. It’s usually sold in a powdered form, but it’s often processed and contains other unnatural additives, so if you care about that, make sure to read the labels before you buy it.
Other than dates the selection of dried fruits, that you can use for sweetener is endless. There’s dried figs, apricots, mango, kiwi, raisins, etc. It adds a nice consistency, and flavors (depending on what you use). Raisins are for example often a little bit more sour, where figs (I absolutely love dried figs) can add an amazing sweet and caramel-like taste, apricot and mango can give a little bit of a tropical flavour. And in addition to that it tastes amazing, it also contributes with a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, and a lot more healthy benefits.
Ahhh bananas, one of nature’s golden nuggets. You can use bananas for so many different things; you can eat it by itself, put it in cakes, muffins, cookies, etc, use it in smoothies, I mean the options are endless. It gives a nice and moist consistency in cakes, and who doesn’t love a good moist cake? The more ripe the banana is, the more sugar it contains, and the more sweetness it will add. Bananas are also really good for your digestion, and it keeps you full for long.
More specifically pumpkin puree/mash, some of the pumpkin puree you can buy in stores contains added sugar, but it is possible to find it without. Here in Denmark is it actually quite hard to find pumpkin puree in most stores, and because of that we often end up making it ourselves. We do that by roasting the pumpkin in the oven until it’s nice and soft, then you just gotta remove the flesh from the peel, and mash it up. Just like the banana, the pumpkin not only adds a nice sweetness to what you’re making, but it also gives a moist texture. Pumpkins are in season around fall, so when we hit that time of the year, you should really bake a lot of goodies with pumpkin, it’s so delicious, and amazing to use ingredients that are in season, it’s not only cheaper, but also way better for the environment.
Sweet potatoes are pretty much the same as pumpkins, bake them in the oven, and then mash em’ up! When it’s not pumpkin season, sweet potatoes are a great and obvious replacement, since it gives the same sweetness and texture as a pumpkin.
Syrups and fluids:
Maple syrup is a great sweetener option, it’s rich flavor and spices, and reminds a lot of caramel. It’s filled with great minerals and antioxidants, and has a lower glycemic index than white sugar. But remember to buy real maple syrup. If you’re vegan you can use maple as a substitute for honey in many recipes, but it’s also great for topping on your porridge, or on your pancakes.
Now this one’s not for the vegans, but honey is even more sweet than white sugar in the same amount, so if you want to cut down on the amounts of sugar, you should definitely use that instead. We would recommend buying and using organic, raw honey, and not the ones you find in bottles.
Coconut nectar is the raw, unrefined sap that comes from the coconut tree. Coconut nectar is pretty similar to maple syrup, and adds the same amount of sweetness as any other syrup, but with a way lower glycemic index. Coconut nectar consists 17 amino acids, and it’s packed with great minerals, vitamins and nutritional components, that many other sugar groups.
Molasses is a residual product (;a thick brown fluid), from the production of sugar, it contains a lower glycemic index than the regular sugar, and in the production of sugar all the minerals and nutritions the sugar canes contain gets lost, and molasses is the place it goes. So the thing about molasses is that it’s still filled with sugar, but holds on a lot of minerals and vitamins that regular sugar doesn’t have.
Rice malt syrup:
Rice malt syrup is made out of fermented rice (usually brown rice) and doesn’t contain any fructose. But even though it’s made out of rice (brown rice) that is healthy, it actually loses a little bit of those nutrients the rice contains in the process, but it’s still a great choice of sweetener. It has a light and neutral sweet taste to it, so you can use it in pretty much all cooking.
Yacon syrup is a syrup made out of the bacon plant. It’s a dark brown syrup and the taste reminds (again) a little of caramel. It has a lower glycemic index than many sugars and syrups, and it contains less calories than other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. It holds onto a probiotic fiber called indigestible insulin, that our bodies (hence to the name) cannot break down, so it will actually go straight through the body.
Coconut palm sugar:
Coconut palm sugar is the descendant of coconut nectar. It performes just like regular sugar in cooking, and the taste reminds a lot of caramel or brown sugar. And since it’s made out of coconut nectar it also contains a lot of great nutrients. It contains more minerals than regular sugar, which makes it take longer to digest and therefore you’ll be less disposed to blood sugar fluctuations.
Muscovado sugar originates from sugar canes just like regular sugar, but it isn’t refined like it. It processed way less than regular sugar, so it still holds on to that deep flavour, it reminds a lot of brown sugar.
Sukrin gold is the closest you can come to a healthier version of cane sugar, it’s combined by several natural sweeteners. It’s really low in calories (if you are into low-carb), and consist 8 kcal per 100 g. It’s often preferred over regular sukrin since it has a more sweet taste to it. But if you make a recipe where over 20% of the ingredients is sugar, you might want to consider combining it with another sweetener/sugar, since it can have a “cool” aftertaste in bigger amounts. You can also use sukrinmelis which is powdered sukrin, as a substitute for powdered sugar.
Lucuma is actually a fruit, but instead of eating it fresh it’s dried and then it’s turned into a powder and used a sweetener with a low glycemic index. Lucuma powder has a very light and caramel-like flavour, so if you want to use it, we would recommend using it in foods that has a light flavor in it too, so it’s easier to taste.
Mesquite is a light brown sugar, coming from the mesquite trees, it’s made out of the pod of the trees, and has a rich caramel-like flavor. It’s like many of the other sweeteners a great low glycemic sweetener, and actually is pretty high in protein, and also contains magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.