We recently wrote about how you should stop eating sugar (because you’re sweet enough already). And we still mean it.
However, sometimes we all want something sweet. Nothing completes a delicious, savory meal like a sweet dessert (even just a small one). So how do we get around the whole “don’t eat sugar” thing? Well luckily, there are alternative sweeteners that actually have some nutritional value. And they aren’t artificial.
According to Dr. Michael Gregor of NutritionFacts.org, the worst kinds of sweetener include regular sugar, brown rice syrup, and corn syrup. Honey and maple syrup are only slightly (and when I say slightly, I mean very slightly) better than those. In fact, according to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, there are two sweeteners that are rich in antioxidants.
Date sugar and molasses actually add antioxidant nutritional value while simultaneously adding sweetness.
I’ve heard of date syrup/honey (silan). But what is date sugar?
Date sugar is just dates, cooked and ground up. Seriously! It’s not even really a sugar – the reason they call it date sugar is because it ground to the consistency of the familiar refined white sugar.
Butter Believer has a simple date sugar recipe that you can try at home (we tried it, and loved it!).
Why is it so much healthier than other kinds of sweeteners?
Well first let’s just take a look at how it’s made – its just ground dates! It’s not extracted from anything like other sweeteners. There is nothing added to it. So the nutritional properties are very similar to those of full dates. Date sugar is therefore high in fiber, which helps move waste smoothly through the body. Dates are also a good source iron, magnesium, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals.
Unlike your typical refined white sugar, you actually get nutritional value from date sugar, instead of just empty calories.
Cool so I can just use date sugar instead of table sugar in all my recipes then?
Well, not exactly. Date sugar can sweeter than what we’re used to, so some experts recommend using ⅔ or ¾ of the sugar in the recipe. Date sugar also doesn’t melt, so make sure that you mix it really well, and you may need to be prepared for a slight more granulated texture in your baked goods.
Unfortunately, date sugar won’t dissolve in your coffee or tea, so use it as your beverage sweetener.
Try substituting date sugar for white or brown sugar in any of your favorite baked good recipes, especially goods like breads and muffins.
What about this molasses situation?
Blackstrap molasses, according to the study, is also very high in antioxidants and a great sweetener substitute. Blackstrap molasses has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product. It is also a nutritionally rich sweetener, packed with vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium.
Cooking with molasses, however, is very different than cooking or baking with sugar. Blackstrap molasses is a dark, thick, sticky, syrupy consistency. Therefore, using it as a replacement for sugar or other typical sweetener recipe may cause some serious flavor discrepancies.
Use recipes that call specifically blackstrap molasses to bake sweet, healthy treats. You can also use blackstrap molasses in savory dishes, such as this BBQ sauce from Jane @ The Taste Space. She also has 10 other great blackstrap molasses recipes.