Guest post: Sugar alternatives and a recipe from awesome chef Matt Gatchell

You know who makes all the noms? Matt Gatchell, owner of Cafe Inc

Every time I pop into Cafe Inc. I’m super excited to see the huge range of sweets that are refined-sugar free. If you’re trying to reduce your sucrose intake, there are a range of different sweeteners you can use. Matt’s kindly agreed to share his knowledge for the Glutey Girl blog – thanks Matt!

I have been asked by good friend Christina to share a few tips with baking / creating foods without the need to use refined sugar. I will firstly share my favourite sugar alternatives we use at Café Inc., then a few tips to remember when using these alternatives and an easy recipe you will be able to make at home.

Molasses

is what’s left over during the process of refining sugar cane into white sugar. Molasses is perhaps the most nutrient-rich of all sweeteners.

Coconut sugar

is subtly sweet almost like brown sugar but with a slight hint of caramel. However, since coconut sugar is not highly processed, the color, sweetness and flavor can vary depending on the coconut species used, season when it was harvested, and where it was harvested

Dates

naturally taste very sweet and thus are a great way to sweeten desserts. Use dates in puddings, bars and date balls with nuts and coconut.

Honey

has antibacterial properties and is a source of antioxidants derived from the pollen collected by bees. Darker honeys have higher antioxidant value. It’s best to use raw or unprocessed honey for higher nutrient and antioxidant content. Use honey instead of refined sugar in tea, yoghurt or desserts.

Maple syrup

(Not to be confused with the “pancake syrup” that graces many breakfast tables that is made from high fructose corn syrup and caramel colouring). Real maple syrup is made by boiling the sap of maple trees into a concentrated and sweet syrup. People mostly associate maple syrup with pancakes and waffles, but maple syrup is a delicious sweetener for use in homemade ice cream, to sweeten plain yoghurt or in other lightly sweetened desserts instead of refined sugar.

Stevia

is a calorie-free sweetener that’s about 100 times sweeter than sugar and is naturally derived, coming from a South American shrub. Stevia is the only safe calorie-free sweetener currently available, given the health risks associated with artificial sweeteners. Stevia can be used in a variety of desserts, as well as tea and coffee.

Brown rice syrup

is a vegan and gluten free liquid sugar substitute that can be used in baking and cooking to sweeten foods with less calories than refined sugar. Vegans may prefer brown rice syrup to refined sugar, which is sometimes refined using bone char from animals. With a sticky, gooey consistency similar to honey, brown rice syrup tastes very sweet, but has a flavour much different from other sweeteners, such as honey

How to Substitute Sweeteners

  • Honey and maple syrup are sweeter than sugar, so use less (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup) for each cup of sugar.
  • When substituting a liquid for a granulated sweetener for every 1 cup of liquid sweetener, subtract 1/4 cup of liquid from the recipe (that means also, for every 1/4 cup of liquid sweetener (e.g. honey), subtract 1 Tbsp of liquid).
  • When substituting a granulated for a liquid sweetener (e.g. coconut sugar 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 Tbsp of liquid).
  • If baking with honey or maple syrup, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit, since maple syrup and honey will tend to caramelise and burn faster than granulated sweeteners.
  • Since maple syrup and honey are somewhat acidic, when baking, you will need to add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp baking soda per cup of honey or maple syrup to the batter so it will rise.
  • If you’d like to use stevia in your baking and cooking. it’s super sweet.  In general, 1/32 of a tsp is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of sugar.  However, it is a little tricky to bake with.

Easy As Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients

1 cup Coconut butter, softened

½ cup nut or seed butter (Peanut butter is my favourite!)

1 teaspoon Vanilla paste

2-4 tablespoons Honey or sweetener of choice

1/3 cup Chocolate chips (I use Whittakers 72% dairy and soy free chips)

Instructions

  1. Mix softened coconut butter, nut butter, vanilla and honey together in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Pour and spread into a parchment lined 8×8 baking pan.
  3. Pour the chocolate chips all over the top of the fudge. I gently press the chocolate chips down into the fudge with my hands.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze until hardened.
  5. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Notes: Keep any leftovers in the fridge or freezer.

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