By Keri Smith
Many of us enjoy making and baking goodies this time of the year. Some of us have loved ones, or ourselves are being health conscious for one reason or another and have been intrigued by the various sugar substitutes available. Many of these substitutes are best consumed in moderation but can be a huge help when aiming to decrease the overall caloric or sugar content of your treats. Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular ones.
Sucralose, known by the name brand Splenda, is made from sugar but is not metabolized the in the body the same way as sugar. It does well with baking because it is heat stable. When using Splenda in baking, you should be able to use it “cup for cup”, meaning if the recipe calls for 1 cup of regular sugar, then you substitute with 1 cup of Splenda. Some have noticed that items may have a shortened cooking time when using sucralose, so keep a close eye. Most people do not notice any “after taste” or texture change when using sucralose in place of sugar in recipes. Splenda also makes a brown sugar blend that is half brown sugar and half Splenda.
Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It does have a slightly different taste than regular sugar and some people find that it has a minor bitter after taste to it. Most prefer to use stevia in coffee or tea but if you’d like to use stevia in baking, there are a few things to note. The ratio of stevia versus sugar replacement is different from recipe to recipe. Using a stevia-to-sugar conversion chart may be helpful. Since you will often be using less sweetener, it is recommended that you increase the liquid components of your recipe. It is also recommended not to use stevia at cooking temperatures above 400 degrees, as it will begin to break down the sweetener, and could ruin your treats.
Swerve is a newer sugar substitute on the market. It is made from erythritol (a sugar alcohol developed from corn) and oligosaccharides (in this case, simple sugars found in root vegetables like chicory root and onions). It has zero calories and about the same sweetness of sugar and, like sucralose, can often be used “cup for cup”. While erythritol tends to have less of an effect on the digestion than other sugar alcohols, some people are still sensitive to these effects.
Another relatively newer sugar alternative, is monk fruit. Monk fruit, or Luo Han Guo, is a small, green gourd native to southern China. Fun fact: it is named after the Luo Han monks who first discovered and cultivated it many centuries ago. The fruit is dried and used to make a variety of products (extracts, granulated sweeteners, powdered sweetener, and syrup). A teaspoon of monk fruit sugar contains zero calories. Some varieties of the sweetener are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you must take heed when using it in place of sugar in recipes and will likely need much less than expected. Granulated monk fruit sweetener works best in baked goods.
Browse recipes using these various sweeteners below: