Pretty much everyone is on the same page when it comes to white sugar: too much is a bad thing. Unfortunately, many products off the shelf are flavor-boosted with sugar, making our diets tougher to manage than ever. One of the best ways to cut down on and track sugar intake is to increase home cooking, especially in the case of breads, desserts, and baking. This allows you to substitute some healthier alternatives for sugar.
Natural Sugars and Molasses
When most people think of sugar, the white powder or granules usually come to mind. However, this isn’t actually the natural state of sugar. Baking sugars are highly processed and refined. The result is a removal of any natural nutrients and an intense, sugary-sweet flavor. However, you can purchase raw sugar in many forms, such as granulated beet or cane sugar. These more natural forms are still essentially sugar, and they’re great for easing off of processed sugars. They have a slightly different taste than the processed white granules, but getting used to anything besides straight sweet can take time.
Honey and Maple Syrup
The next healthy substitute for sugar in baking also comes from nature. Like raw sugar, honey and maple syrup come in many accessible forms. Maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees, whereas honey is produced naturally by honeybees. In their typical forms, both receive only a heat treatment to kill any bacteria. Both also have nutrients, with honey taking the lead with its immune-boosting antibodies. Both also have wonderful tastes that can add a lot to any dish or dessert. Honey also can have different flavors depending on what plants the bees harvested the pollen from.
The final, most important healthy substitute for sugar in baking is often the most-ignored one. In truth, fruit has always been a natural option for desserts around the world. What’s more, fruits are packed with nutrients and essential fiber. Before processed sugar became so abundant, adding fruit was simply how people sweetened things. You can now add dry, canned, or fresh fruit to many different baked goods, all with tasty different outcomes. With fruit in the mix, you can sharply cut or omit any additional sweetener you might have added to the dough or batter. Biting into a sweet strawberry or peach inside a savory muffin or buttery cookie is a delicious and healthy alternative to baking sugar.