Are you confused with the various natural sweeteners? Many years ago I gave up the sugar substitutes in the little colorful packets. I still wanted to sweeten my tea and make desserts on occasion. So I was on a quest to find natural alternatives that would satisfy that sweet taste that I craved more than I like to admit.
These are the sweeteners you will find in my pantry.
1. Stevia is made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has no calories, which is a good thing and comes in a powder form and a liquid. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar so a little goes a long way. Stevia is perfect for sweetening lemonade and ice tea. Stevia tastes like sugar, but I have found if you use to much it can have a bitter after taste. Another benefit it does not cause a spike in blood glucose levels and can be used in baking. Stevia can be found in most grocery stores and Trader Joe’s carries convenient travel packets.
2. Agave Nectar is made from the agave plant, the same plant that tequila is made from. Agave is 25% sweeter than sugar and dissolves well in drinks. I like to mix agave with stevia in my drinks, the mixture eliminates the bitter after taste I get sometimes when I use stevia alone. Agave is widely available and on occasion I pick it up at TJ Maxx for a discounted price. It is also now available in travel packets, I can’t tell you have many half full bottles of agave I have left behind in hotel rooms. Agave is not calorie free, matter of fact it has more calories than sugar, I always measure and use the least amount to sweeten avoiding pouring it from the bottle.
3. Honey comes in so many varieties. I love to pick up honey at the farmers market. This sweetener provides a dose of antioxidants and can be used for various beauty treatments, such as hair masks and facials. I love the taste of honey in hot tea, especially orange blossom honey.
4. Coconut Sugar and coconut nectar are made from the sap of the coconut tree. Both of these sweeteners are low glycemic and do not cause a spike in blood sugar. You may have to order it online, right now I have only been able to find it in smaller health food markets. Coconut nectar is fast becoming the new star in the natural sweeteners. Oddly, it does not taste like coconuts, just a rich sweet taste that can be used in drinks, desserts and even as a syrup on pancakes.
Although these sweeteners are natural, moderation is the key. If you are still using those “packets” try some of these natural sweeteners you will be pleasantly surprised.
What’s your sweetener of choice?