Thursday, December 06, 2007

Great Holiday Sugar Substitutes and Alternatives

Let's face it . . . sweets taste good. Holiday treats bring some of the sweetest delicacies of the year. But that doesn't mean that you have to load up with table sugar, or sacrifice flavor to stay healthy during the holiday season. There are plenty of healthy sugar substitutes and alternatives to create your holiday goodies.

For bread type deserts as well as cookies, you can use concentrated white grape juice. Since it is a liquid, as opposed to sugar, you will need to adjust the amount dry ingredients to compensate for the extra moisture. White grape juice concentrate is extremely sweet, and yet doesn't give the desert an overpowering fruity flavor. Be careful to get 100% fruit juice, and not a cocktail type juice, which has added sugar or high-fructose syrup.

Honey is a well known sugar substitute, and offers a sweet alternative to sucrose (or table sugar.) Again, be sure to adjust any recipe to compensate for the additional moisture that honey will give to your cookie doughs or cake batters. Honey is great in cream cheese frostings, especially with a touch of vanilla, lemon, or almond flavoring!

Raw agave nectar is a delicious and healthy sugar alternative, and is much like honey in texture. It is available in most health food sections of the grocery store, or your local herb or health food store. While it is much more expensive that other sugar substitutes, it is a great alternative to syrups for breakfast, sweetening tea, or recipes that don't call for very much sugar. For the price, you probably won't want to use it for all of your baking needs, but you'll definitely find use for it, and it's a great sweet substance to have on hand. Both honey and agave nectar are wonderful in holiday drinks, such as egg nog.

If you have a recipe that just won't work without that sugary sweet flavor, try using natural sugars, such as unbleached sugar or raw sugar. It is still sugar, but much healthier than the ever popular, highly processed and bleached table sugar. So go ahead - have your sweets and eat them too!