After reading The Kind Diet, I decided to stop eating sugar. I soon found that it’s nearly impossible because sugar is in so many things (which we probably don’t need anyway), and I will not give up my chocolate soymilk, so unfortunately, I will continue to consume sugar. In this quest to give up sugar, I’ve found some great substitutes that I want to share with you. (The sweet, sweeter, sweetest classifications are just my opinion. Everyone’s taste buds are different, of course.)
High Fructose Corn Syrup. I don’t touch the stuff. It’s so bad for you – it caused a spike in diabetes in the 80s when it was first used so heavily in pop. Eat corn as corn, not as sugar.
Sugar, cane syrup, cane juice, sugar cane, etc. I eat this in limited quantities. It’s kind of a crazy-maker – does wacky stuff to your brain. Also, it’s not necessary – your body makes all the sugar you need from the other foods you eat. It’s tough to avoid though.
Maple Syrup is a fantastic sweetener. I’ve used it for cookies, cakes, pies, brownies, you name it. Find local syrup so your body stays in tune with your environment. I haven’t tried maple sugar. It’s too expensive, and so far, the liquid replacements haven’t failed me.
Molasses adds richness to desserts. I like it in brownies and spicy cakes. Blackstrap molasses is really high in iron, calcium and other healthy things while being low-calorie.
Honey is also great. Technically, not vegan. I’m ok with local honey – it’s actually good for you. Your body gets little doses of your local pollen, so seasonal allergies are less severe. Try it. (I find local honey at Krieger and at farmer’s markets.)
Brown Rice Syrup is like caramel! Oh, how I love it. When I became a vegetarian, I accepted the notion that I would never again enjoy a rice crispy treat. Not so. Now, I make rice crispy treats all the time with brown rice syrup and peanut butter. Sugar free! Gelatin free! This is where I find the vegan, sugar-free diet to be liberating… I found new foods that replace the foods I thought I would be lacking. I use brown rice syrup in many of the things that maple syrup can be used in… cookies, cakes, pies, brownies. Yum! Yum! Yum!
Agave Nectar is delicious. It’s a good way to avoid honey, if you want to be pure vegan. But, agave isn’t native to Ohio, so you’re probably throwing your body off track a little by eating a desert plant in the Ohio winter. I read that it’s actually cooling in the summer, so I use agave nectar more in the summer (maple syrup in fall and winter). Agave is a little runnier than the others, but it all works out.
I mix and match the sweeteners to replace sugar. And, these are more natural, so you really don’t need as much. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, I’ll generally use just over 1/2 a cup of a mixture of these “replacements.” Don’t forget, you can replace eggs with bananas (in desserts), and then it’ll be even sweeter and you’ll need less of the sweeteners. (You can also replace eggs with applesauce.)
My favorite snack includes cashews and dates. I get my sweets and my protein! Dates are so yummy sweet. You can stuff them with an almond if you want to up the elegance in your mid-morning snack.
What tips do you have for avoiding or replacing sugar? Favorite snack ideas?