I love sugar!
But, I have come to a conclusion that you need to limit the amount of sugar that I intake. The thing that caused me to re-think my intake of sugar was a terrible bout in the hospital..twice. Further, I also need to really think to myself: If I am going to cut out sugar in my life, then when I bake I need to think about making things for people that I would actually eat as well. So I did a bit of searching on the web for a gluten-free website with recipes (I try to stay away from gluten) and came across this great website called Karina’s Kitchen. In this website there’s an article Sugar Blues? Gluten Free Baking without Sugar.
Agave: Organic raw agave nectar is a vegan sweetener made from the agave cactus with a subtle, non-aggressive sweetness and a low glycemic impact on blood sugar levels (it is approved for use in the South Beach Diet later phases, and for those who need to monitor their blood sugar levels as diabetics- as always consult your physician before trying anything new). It works beautifully in baking. Use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of agave syrup for every 1 cup of sugar in the original recipe and lessen the liquid called for by 3 tablespoons. Agave is humectant and adds moisture and binding to gluten-free recipes- especially if you’re baking egg-free. Some cooks also reduce the oven temperature by 25° F when baking agave recipes, but I have not bothered to do this.
A dab of agave is also fabulous in smoothies, soups, dressings and sauces. Raw organic agave is the least refined and has a deeper color and taste. Raw agave contains iron, calcium, potassium & magnesium.
Notes: Because agave (like honey) contains fructose many folks avoid it, believing too much fructose is harmful to the liver. If your digestion is sensitive to inulin, fructose or fructosan, start slowly with agave- it is high in inulin; and as always, before try a new product, please research it according to your own needs and consult your medical expert.
Stevia: Stevia- a zero-calorie non-glycemic vegan sweetener- is actually an herb, available in powdered or liquid form, and if you are counting calories, it’s a goddess-send. Stevia imparts a sharply sweet taste much sweeter than cane sugar (some claim to detect a faint licorice-like aftertaste) and a tiny amount goes a long way. It does not replace the bulk or structure of sugar in a baking recipe; and if used in baking to replace sugar, you may have to add an additional dry ingredient such as ground/processed coconut or raisins or nut meal to obtain the right texture, especially in cakes and cookies. Stevia works best in puddings, custards and smoothies and drinks both hot and cold. Not all brands are equal- there are differences in taste and potency- so experiment and find the brand of stevia you prefer. I personally like the taste of Sweet Leaf brand stevia.
Note: Stevia is in the sunflower and aster family (Asteraceae for those of you into botany). If you have an allergy to those flowers, you might react to stevia.