How to Substitute Sweeteners

As a wife and mother, making food choices for my family can be an overwhelming mission, especially when it comes to sugar.  Although I am an advocate for the reduction of sugary type substances in our diets, I too, enjoy an occasional sweet treat now and then, and so does my family.  So, when the urge strikes, I swap out the processed sugar for natural alternatives.  But, how do you alter a favorite recipe when you want to make a natural substitution for processed white sugar?  

To make life easier, I tend to stick with direct substitutes of granular sweeteners for granular sweeteners (ex. Organic coconut sugar for white sugar) and liquid sweeteners for liquid sweeteners (ex. Honey or maple syrup for corn syrup.) A bit safer this way, but every bit as delicious.  Converting a favorite white sugar recipe doesn’t require a whole lot of intelligence if you are doing it this way.  But it takes a bit of guts and understanding if you want to swap a granular sweetener for a liquid sweetener. 

As a generic starting point and to make it simple, I’ve put together a simple, short and “sweet” guide using natural sweeteners, honey and maple syrup.

How to Substitute Sweeteners 
(Honey and Maple Syrup)

  1. When substituting Honey or Maple Syrup for a granulated sweetener (e.g. using honey or maple syrup when the recipe calls for a granulated sugar), for every 1 cup of honey or maple syrup, subtract 1/4 cup of liquid from the recipe (that means also, for every 1/4 cup of honey, subtract 1 tablespoon of liquid).

  2. The converse is then, when substituting a granulated for a liquid sweetener (e.g. using coconut sugar or sucanat when the recipe calls for maple syrup or honey), for every 1 cup of sweetener, add 1/4 cup of liquid from the recipe (that means also, for every 1/4 cup of honey, add 1 tablespoon of liquid).

  3. Honey and maple syrup are sweeter than sugar, so use less (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup) for each cup of sugar.

  4. Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit when baking with maple syrup and honey because they tend to caramelize and burn faster than granulated sweeteners.

  5. Maple syrup and honey are somewhat acidic, so you will need to add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp baking soda 

A personal note on our sugar addiction: 

Learning how to stop sugar addiction can help prevent a life-long sentence in which addicts face the dangers of diabetes, obesity and a host of other health ailments including skin disorders.  At the end of the day, sugar, healthy or not, is still sugar and contains only minor amounts of nutrients to go with it.  If you’re going to use natural alternatives, then use them sparingly. They are only slightly “less bad” than regular sugar, but definitely not something you should eat every day.