Sugar Substitutions

I grew up eating and learned to bake with granulated white sugar and brown sugar. They were the primary sweeteners in the baked goods that I made. As I learned of my dietary issues and began my journey of finding replacements for dairy, gluten and soy in the foods I was eating, it was a natural evolution for me to also change the type of sweetener I was using as well. 

Now my favorite sweeteners are pure maple syrup, pure maple sugar, coconut palm sugar, dates, raw honey, unsweetened applesauce, banana, and apple syrup. I also occasionally use agave nectar, coconut nectar and brown rice syrup. 

Dates and bananas make exceptionally good sweeteners for smoothies. One pitted date or half a banana can go a long way in sweetening a smoothie. I keep a bag of peeled frozen bananas on hand in the freezer so I can grab a half for a smoothie anytime or can make frozen banana “ice cream” (recipe below). It’s amazing how sweet a simple banana or date can be!


Coconut Palm Sugar “Confectioner’s Sugar”

I replace confectionary sugar with a coconut palm sugar “confectionary sugar” that’s easy to make. Simply measure the amount of coconut palm sugar which is needed in the recipe to replace an equal amount of confectionary sugar. Pour into a high speed blender and blend on high until it turns into a fluffy powder. It may make a little more than your recipe call for in confectionary sugar, but you can just pack it in an airtight container and use it for another recipe, such as a good way to sweeten coconut milk “whipped cream”.

Apple Syrup

This can be used as a sweetener in most any baked item as a replacement for granulated or brown sugar. It is very concentrated and very sweet.  To make the syrup, pour a bottle of pure, unsweetened apple juice into a large saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once it’s reached a boiling point, reduce to medium-low and partially cover the pan, having the lid ajar. Continue slowly boiling, checking and stirring occasionally until the apple juice reduces way down. Be patient. This can take a long time, depending on the size of the apple juice bottle. The apple juice will reduce way down to an ultra-sweet syrup which may be used as a substitute for granulated sugar in most baked recipes. To replace the sugar, mix apple syrup into recipe a teaspoon at a time, tasting after each teaspoonful until level of sweetness is reached. Store tightly covered in a glass mason jar in the refrigerator, it will keep for several weeks.

Frozen Banana “Ice Cream”

This sweet treat has the creamy consistency of soft serve ice cream but only uses frozen bananas and a dash of non-dairy milk. Depending on the number of servings, place 1 frozen banana per person broken up in the work bowl of a food processor. Begin by pulsing banana, frequently scraping down the sides. Continue blending bananas until they start mashing together. They’ll look clumpy at first. Add a dash of almond milk and continue blending until smooth. Serve immediately. I also like to sprinkle a few mini dairy-free/gluten-free/soy free chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)