How to Substitute Sugar in a Recipe
Many people are moving to Paleo, Low Carb and Keto lately. And I think that is a fantastic thing! I happen to combine all three into my perfect little way of eating. But it usually leaves people wondering how to substitute sugar in a recipe!
When it comes to baking especially, here is where it gets tricky. Because, let’s face it, almost everything calls for white or brown sugar.
First, let’s talk about the substitutes to stay away from. Then we can talk about 2 different ways to substitute sugar depending on what your goal is: Paleo or Low Carb/Keto since they will be different. We can lump low carb and keto into the same bucket.
Sugar Substitutes That You Should Stay Away From
Saccharine (is that even a thing anymore?)
So, first of all… I am honestly not sure if saccharine is even around anymore. But just in case it is, let’s just agree to stay away from it, shall we?
Saccharine is made in a lab, has a bitter after taste, and – the jury is out on whether it is safe for human consumption (well, not really). Previous studies showed it wasn’t and then there were rebuttals.
A study DID, however, show that saccharine, aspartame and sucralose all may disrupt gut bacteria .
So while the jury is still out on aspartame as well (why risk it) some folks believe it to cause some health issues such as cancer, seizures, etc..
Here’s the thing – why risk it? If there is controversy – stay away from it.
As for sucralose – This is a tough one. Do I feel STRONGLY about it? Not really. But here’s the thing with sucralose, it is not a calorie-free sweetener like most people might think. It contains maltodextrin and there not only has calories but also affects blood sugar (from my experience and others).
Studies have shown it to break down at high temperatures and produce harmful substances and to possibly affect gut bacteria (notice any trends here) .
How to Substitute Sugar for the Paleo Diet
The Paleo stance on sugar and sugar substitutes is that 1) added sugar is not allowed and 2) and sugar substitute must be natural and whole. Meaning no sugar alcohols and no artificial sugars. Most anything else is free game.
Below are my favorite Paleo sugar substitutes.
The 3 most common “wet” sweeteners are:
Real Maple Syrup
I’ve used all three of these, but my goto favorite is maple syrup. I only use molasses in cookies like ginger snaps and things that can handle the strong taste that comes with it.
Maple syrup is the most subtle, but perhaps you might think honey is! I am simply not a honey fan so I rarely use it.
The other common Paleo sugar substitutes are:
Dates and Date Sugar
I have never used date sugar. However, I have used dates crushed/blended. Not a date fan all on their own, but they are GREAT binders and sweeteners to use in things like granola bars.
I have used Coconut Sugar in baking and it is great.
We’ll talk about stevia below.
How to Substitute Sugar for the Keto Diet
The only four “keto” sweeteners that I recommend are below:
Stevia sweetened maple syrup
I pretty much use ALL of these ALL the time. None of them affect my blood sugar and that is fantastic.
I use the maple syrup when I need something a little thicker and as a replacement for corn syrup.
Erythritol and monkfruit (on their own) are great in combination with liquid stevia. This is the perfect blend to remove any potential after taste that can come with sweeteners.
Lakanto monkfruit (which is what I use) often is blended with erythritol. On its own, it is incredibly expensive, especially in liquid form. Mixed with erythritol is most common.
Then there is Swerve. I’ve never used it but I know many that do. I didn’t put this on my “YES” list for one reason. The reason I do not use it is because the ingredients are erythritol, oligosaccharides and natural flavor. I don’t know what natural flavor means. This is a general term that can sometimes mean a whole plethora of things. I mean, formaldehyde is natural, right?
Note – Erythritol is a sugar alcohol and has been known to cause an upset tummy, just an FYI . I have never experienced an upset tummy with erythritol, however.
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Whether you are Paleo or Low Carb, sometimes you need to experiment a little and find what works best for you!
For all you keto folks, this comprehensive guide to sweeteners is da bomb!