Life is sweet, sugar! What’s the alternative, Honey?

 High fructose corn syrup and its substitutesA few days ago we were lamenting the fact that high fructose corn syrup was being added to the list of ‘bad for you’ stuff. It really seems that everything that makes food taste good is going harm us in some way or other. Rather than get too bent out of shape about it, we thought it would be better simply to suggest some reasonable alternatives that you can use in your cooking. I would also point out that if we consumers can do it, manufacturers could also do the same thing. Unfortunately, this won’t happen until we start boycotting those products that are made with garbage ingredients as well as voicing our displeasure in all other ways possible.

So, you can imagine how pleased we were to see recently that Canadian maple syrup is not just not bad for you, it turns out that it has some antioxidants and minerals that actually can do you some good. Don’t forget too, that you are not obligated to always put the amount of sweetener in any recipe that it originally called for. In most of our cooking, we usually reduce the amount of both sugar and shortening (oil, margarine or butter) by at least 25%.

Some people do not like the very distinctive flavour of maple syrup. This can be somewhat mitigated by using the light or amber varieties. In general, the lighter the colour, the less strong the flavour. However, you need not be limited to maple syrup as a natural sweetener alternative. Honey is another of those underrated superfoods. Depending on the variety that you use, its flavour can also be distinctive or mild.There is a plethora of information on the purported health benefits of the product of the beehive.

Finally, we offer for your culinary and gastronomical pleasure our final sugar substitute: Molasses. A little research shows us that molasses also has potential health benefits. Molasses has an advantage or drawback in that it adds a distinctive colour as well as flavour to any recipe. In many breads we find this desirable and most of the time, it is our sweetener of choice in our trusty bread machine.

There is one word of warning to add here. If you are substituting one liquid for another in your cooking, there is no problem. However, if you replace granulated sugar with any of the healthier alternatives above, you will need to reduce some other liquid ingredient accordingly.
If you absolutely must use sugar in your baking, you should consider whether you might substitute raw brown sugar rather than add the refined bleached stuff. It is basically white sugar before the molasses has been removed. You will have to experiment to see whether you find the results acceptable. In our house, I don’t believe that anyone has ever noticed that the substitution has been made!

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