Baking with Natural Sweeteners

corn sugar and the obesity epidemicWe love our sweets – did you know that the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar every year? That’s 22 teaspoons every day–about the amount in one day that our ancestor’s ate in a year. At 16 calories per teaspoon, that is a whopping 352 calories and all of them empty of any nutritional value.

Interestingly, cane and corn sugar is added to nearly all “fat-free” and “diet” foods attempting to make them taste like something they are not–good for you (sugar causes the body to store fat so this really is a blind alley for dieters). Sadly, cane and corn sugar and their products also cause immediate inflammation in the body, stress many organs especially your pancreas and kidneys, and cause numerous other health problems including “feeding” most cancers.

This table contains baking conversions that have worked well in my hands for the more common sugars available. Generally, we should drastically reduce our sugar intake. And we should definitely not be substituting fake sugars like Splenda, Aspartame, or sucralose; these killer chemicals deserve a whole other article. But for those rare occasions, this table can help you substitute the real bad boys for something not quite so stressful to your body.

Sweetener Instead of 1 Cup Sugar use: Liquid Note
Agave nectar Not recommended Still has many inflammatory properties.
Birch sugar (xylitol) Not recommended Processed sugar alcohol that can upset your digestive tract
Birch syrup 1/2-3/4 cup Reduce slightly
Brown rice syrup

1 1/2 cups Reduce slightly Good for hard or crunchy baked goods
Coconut sugar 2/3-1 cup Slightly less sweet which most of my “tasters” have not noticed
Corn sugar Highly avoid Also known as HFCS for High Fructose Corn Syrup, stimulates fat accumulation  and raises cholesterol directly – severe effects in children
Date sugar 2/3-1 cup Burns easily but great in most baked goods
RAW Honey

1/2-3/4 cup Reduce by 1/4 cup; if no liquid, add 3 tbs. tapioca flour for each 1/2 cup honey Commercial honey that is not raw is nearly as hard on your blood sugar as is cane and corn sweeteners. Use RAW. Lower oven temp by 25 degrees
Maple syrup 3/4 cup Reduce by 3 tbs.

Add 1/4 tsp. baking soda
Maple sugar 1 cup Add 1/8 tsp. baking soda
Molasses Highly avoid Molasses. Is a product of the sugar cane or corn industry and just as inflammatory
Rapadura Highly avoid A commercial name for dehydrated cane juice, Rapadura can upset your body chemistry as much as cane sugar
Stevia powder 1 tsp (assuming 100% product and NO fillers as is found in most cheaper commercial versions. Quality counts here.) Add 1/8 cup and experiment carefully when bakingbest used to sweeten drinks, dressings, sauces, etc. where the changed volume is not noticed Most stevia products use fillers including other sweeteners to make it look like you are getting more for your money. Especially avoid Rebaudioside-a highly processed imposter, and products containing Erythritol-a corn-based filler
You may have to experiment to get the ratio right
Sucanat Highly avoid The name is short for “Sugar Cane Natural” or “dark brown soft sugar” Sucanat is just non-refined cane sugar that retains its molasses content, unlike refined and processed white sugar. It is essentially pure dried sugar cane juice with all the same inflammatory and sugar balance problems
Turbinado sugar Highly avoid Just another sugar cane product, renamed so you will think it is healthful


Most syrup works well in moist baked goods, but will soften crispy baked goods like biscotti or cookies.

Experiment with these conversions, as they may vary from recipe to recipe.


Copyright © 2013 Marie Sternquist. All Rights Reserved.

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