The holiday season is quickly approaching, bringing with it not only the anticipation of house guests and crowded shopping centers, but endless food temptations. While we breezed through summer with ease, happily adhering to a diet filled with fresh locally sourced produce, these fall and winter months pose a new challenge: from Halloween candy and pumpkin pie, to gingerbread cookies and hot toddies, sugar is everywhere, showing its pretty face at every turn. We’re here to help you reinvent these sugary treats, transforming them from major health hazards to nutrient-packed guiltless goodies.
This season we’ll be swapping out white sugar and corn syrup for our fave natural sweeteners: stevia, yacon syrup and coconut sugar. Unlike white sugar and corn syrup, these sweeteners are GMO-free, unrefined, and don’t burden the system. They hit the same sweet notes as their processed counterparts – but without the sour side effects of acne, irritability, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weight gain. Choose from our list of dry and liquid natural sweeteners, and change the way you experience sweets this holiday season:
High: Liquid Stevia by Omica
Extracts from the stevia plant are commonly used as a sweetener. Stevia has up to three hundred times the sweetness of sugar, without having any impact on glucose levels. It is also free of calories, making it one of the best sugar alternatives for those looking to maintain their weight. Many brands add fillers and preservatives, which is why we are huge fans of Omica. Made with organic stevia, they only use organic glycerin and certified organic alcohol to help preserve and extend the shelf life, which is a rare among stevia products. Stevia has a distinct taste, so we recommend using it sparingly. It goes best in cocktails, coffee drinks and other holiday beverages.
Midpoint: Yacon Syrup by Navitas Naturals
Yacon syrup is a liquid sweetener that comes from a root vegetable popular in South America. With a taste similar to molasses, it contains half the calories of sugar, as well as an array of health-boosting nutrients. It has a high concentration of indigestible inulin, which is a complex sugar that breaks down slowly in the body. This way it does not spike your blood sugar, making it a great sweetener for diabetics and those with blood-sugar imbalances. Plus, inulin serves as a pre-biotic, feeding the healthy bacteria in the gut. Yacon is also an excellent source of minerals, including potassium, calcium, phosphorous and iron, as well as 20 amino acids. Yacon syrup is the perfect sweetener to replace corn syrup or any other liquid sugar.
Coconut sugar has long been a staple in East Asia where it is extracted from the sap of coconut flower buds. It is naturally sweet, with a flavor profile similar to brown sugar, but contains far more nutrients. Coconut sugar is a good source of minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, potassium and iron, and contains vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. It is also a low-glycemic sweetener that does not spike insulin levels or contribute to weight gain. Use coconut sugar instead of white or brown sugar in recipes, including baked goods, cakes and pies.