South Beach Diet - Natural Sugar Substitutes

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04-09-2008, 03:37 PM
I know we've talked a lot about the different options for those of us who want a more natural sugar substitute than can be afforded by Splenda/Equal/Sweet 'n Low, etc. I use a variety of sugar substitutes, but find the ones listed below to be really helpful. :D

Here are four natural (i.e. derived from plant sources rather than chemicals) sugar subtitutes:

Agave Nectar

I know we're conditioned to think of names that end in "-ol" as sugar alchohols, but these two are NOT. I found a great article in my Ideal Bite (a daily newsletter with tips on tiny ways to help the environment) that described these natural sweeteners. Check it out! (

Personally, I still haven't tried Stevia. I'm not sure why I'm nervous about it. :o But I've used all of the others. I found Erythritol and Xylitol in granulated forms in the health food section of my grocery store and also online at I also found a powdered version of Erythritol at that site, which was very exciting! I haven't used the powdered version yet but am hopeful that it'll make some kinds of baking more possible!

What are your experiences with these natural sweeteners? :D

04-09-2008, 03:44 PM
I really enjoy Agave nectar and stevia. Both I've used frequently in the past few years with much success. I've used agave and stevia for baking, and while sometimes the flavor is a little off, it is still good.

The biggest problem I've found with stevia is that it's SO sweet. I overdo it and make things difficult to eat.

I've used Erythritol on occasion but found that it has a weird flavor. I don't know if that is just me, or what.

I haven't been able to find Xylitol.

I would really prefer using a natural sweetener instead of splenda, but I really haven't been able to get a straight answer about what is allowed on PH1. I guess I will try to avoid sweeteners until I do.

04-09-2008, 03:44 PM
I've used Erythritol in powdered form. It doesn't have an aftertaste like artificial sweeteners, but the sweet taste lasts longer, if you can imagine what that is like.

I want to try Stevia, but it's so expensive, and I haven't gotten a good grasp on how to substitute it for sugar in a regular recipe. I know there are recipes out there for using Stevia, but my project as of late has to be "healthify" my old recipes (especially baked goods) instead of just trying new ones.

I do love agave nectar. If it's not at the commissary in Germany (yeah, right!), I AM going to order it on-line.


04-09-2008, 03:56 PM
Kara stevia is expensive but it lasts a really long time. Just a few drops are sufficient for most things.

My conversion charts say that 2.5 teaspoons are equivalent to 1 cup of natural sugar. That is 2.5 t. of the liquid stevia. If you can find pure steviosides (which I've never seen), you can reduce that even further to 1/2 t. for every 1c. natural sugar.

04-09-2008, 03:58 PM
I have tried Stevia as that it how I got my dh off of sugar - it is expensive but like Zeffryn said it last a while.

I have been wanting to try agave but can't seem to find anywhere around here.

04-09-2008, 04:10 PM
I guess I'm one of the odd balls. I use splenda. I'm not a fan of nutrisweet, sweet n low, equal. But splenda works for me and DH...
The alternatives are a bit more pricey. I think I'll stick with Splenda. I've used it for baking before and generally, no one notices a difference in taste..

04-09-2008, 04:14 PM
td your not an odd ball as I use splenda as well - my dh can't stand the stuff so he uses stevia - however we don't use sweetner that much except for our morning cup of coffee

04-09-2008, 04:33 PM
tdiprincess, I use tons of Splenda. :D However, early on in my research into SF baking, I found a source that swore that combining different sweeteners would reduce the amount of aftertaste. I find that to be true. So I use some Splenda, some xylitol, etc.

I do worry about what the Splenda might do to my body over time and I really dislike what the sugar alcohols do, so I'm trying to become more aware of other options. :)

04-09-2008, 04:40 PM
Blech. I detest Splenda. But I think I am more the oddball than those who do use it!


04-09-2008, 05:39 PM
The "-itols" are sugar alcohols--yes, even erythritol and xylitol. Sugar alcohols are generally naturally occuring and are derived from plants. Some just have stronger side effects than others. Personally, xylitol has given me the same, hmm, gastrointestinal distress as malitol (and malitol is also naturally occuring--it just includes a more laxative-like property that erythritol does not).

I have a jar of powdered Stevia. I've used it in oatmeal and cold cereal. It was expensive, but you use so little of it at a time that it lasts FOREVER :dizzy: I also recently bought some agave nectar. I found it at Whole Foods both with the sugar in their baking aisle and with their honey (but for some reason, the ones with the honey were cheaper!). I've only used it a few times, but I don't have any complaints.

I still use Splenda. I just don't want to have to use it forever. When I get pregnant in a few years, I want to eat as naturally as possible, so chlorinated factory-produced mutated sugar molecules are out for me at that point. In the meantime, I use Splenda in my salad dressings I make at home, and I buy a few products made with Splenda. I don't bake because I'm a compulsive overeater--if it's there, I will eat it ALL :devil:

04-10-2008, 12:25 AM
Blech. I detest Splenda. But I think I am more the oddball than those who do use it!


Truth LOL. Splenda is the big thing to use nowadays. I think its less chemically enhanced than other sweeteners out there. Natural is generally better, but sometimes, at least for me, its not always the practical way to go... I can't afford the good stuff.... :p

04-10-2008, 11:39 AM
I agree, the natural sweeteners are VERY expensive! I justify it, though, because I'd rather use them than regular sugar, and I just don't care for the artificial sweeteners. I feel like I'm doing something better for my kids, too, when I bake with natural sweeteners instead of sugar.


04-10-2008, 01:22 PM
I use splenda in coffee and in plain yogurt. I tried Stevia at TraderJoes and I didn't like it (I hate black licorice) Agave I also tried there it was good. I haven't seen the others in stores yet

04-10-2008, 02:39 PM
Kierie, does Stevia have an anise taste? I won't even bother with it, then.


04-10-2008, 03:09 PM
I have heard others mention the "black licorice" sort of taste of stevia before, too. I cannot STAND licorice, but I haven't had this aftertaste problem with stevia at all :shrug:

04-10-2008, 03:24 PM
i don't like stevia either and i don't like licorace either. BTW stevia is part of the ragweed family so anyone with allergies shoudl be aware of that

Personally we use splenda.....

04-10-2008, 04:38 PM
I use Splenda mixed with another sweetener. I, too, find that mixing makes the flavor better and stops the aftertaste. I have to be careful because Sucralose does the same thing that the "-itols" do. 2 packets of Splenda a day are my limit.

I've tried powdered Stevia before and it seemed very bitter to me.

04-10-2008, 11:14 PM
Ok totally TMI time!
When I mix artificial sweeteners in the same day erm I have to uncontrollably tinkle it's really wierd but if I have one or the other Splenda or nutra sweet I'm ok

04-10-2008, 11:54 PM
Another TMI.....i get gassy when I have artificial sweetener, or as my son and husband say, "farty".

*hangs head in shame*

We need a confessionals thread.

04-12-2008, 07:58 AM
Our Co-op finally has erythritol available. I picked up a couple of boxes (it was on sale!) and really like it so far. I've only used it on my hot cereal and in my chai but no side effects (and some of you may remember that I'm really sensitive to other sugar alcohols :( ) and no aftertaste. I'm looking forward to a baking experiment with it.

I do love agave for most things but it's nice to have a no calorie option too. I don't use splenda because of the health concerns I've read about. I am super sensitive to MSG and aspartame and don't want to risk a migraine.

04-12-2008, 08:50 PM
I'm a huge stevia fan! I think I noticed a slight bitter aftertaste when I first started using it...but now that I'm used to it, it just tastes sweet to me. I don't find that it has any licorice-taste--I HATE licorice. I think if you bought a brand that you found tasted bitter it's because you might have used too much at once (mine says to add it a little at a time, or else it might be too bitter). Also, I guess some brands' taste better than others. I've used NuNaturals liquid stevia, and I've got a bottle of concentrated liquid and powder coming from brand is by Sweetleaf, and I read the best reviews for that. So, we'll see! I imagine the stock I bought will last a LONG time!

04-12-2008, 10:22 PM
Azure, have you tried any of the flavored stevias?


04-12-2008, 10:30 PM
Azure, have you tried any of the flavored stevias?


Kara - my partner uses them and loves them. She is particularly fond of the chocolate raspberry in her coffee. She also has lemon, cinnamon, peppermint and a couple of others for baking and other concoctions. We have a few discount/overstock stores around here that specialize in stuff from Northeast Cooperatives, health food stuff, and she picked them up cheaper than usual.

I've never tried them, have been biased against stevia since the powdered stevia days. Seemed every time she used that stuff it became airborne and I breathed it in. it wasn't pleasant.

04-12-2008, 10:37 PM
I think its less chemically enhanced than other sweeteners out there. Interesting. Why is that?

When I get pregnant in a few years, I want to eat as naturally as possible, so chlorinated factory-produced mutated sugar molecules are out for me at that point.

:lol: It's nice to see someone else call it what it is!!! :o

04-12-2008, 10:58 PM
I use stevia and agave. Both were available in my small town grocery store (Meijer). I like agave a bit better, but use both. My homemade soy milk sweetened with agave is GREAT. I use the raw blue agave syrup ( .

04-12-2008, 11:30 PM
I've used Sweetleaf brand stevia for a long time and never noticed an anise taste. The Vanilla Creme and Chocolate Raspberry flavors are both very nice. I stir one of them into greek yogurt and top it with strawberries, and it's like a decadent mousse!

I also keep powdered stevia around for recipes. The conversion chart is right on the label.

It is pricey, but worth it to me. And like the others say it lasts a long time. One bottle has something like 300 servings.

04-13-2008, 10:53 AM
Thanks for the advice, all! I really appreciate all of your experience!


04-14-2008, 04:27 PM
I haven't played with Stevia yet, but I have heard some people say that the liquid is less bitter/aftertaste-y/etc. than the powdered kind. A friend of mine says that she has trouble getting the powdered kind to incorporate in her coffee, so she uses the little tablets (come in a box that looks like Tic Tacs or some kind of mints).

Even if Stevia does have an aftertaste, I would think you'd get use to it. My FIL used to own a cheesecake business and made both regular and splenda cheesecakes. When I first tasted the Splenda (before going on SBD), I thought it had a strong aftertaste. A year later, after doing SBD for quite a while, I found no aftertaste at all. I've learned to ask DH to tell me when there's an aftertaste, because I can't tell. I assume it'd be the same with the Stevia. :shrug:

BTW, the point about dogs and xylitol is VERY important. I never thought about it with my granulated stuff, but ****-O!!! :o Silly of me, because I know to keep my gum and mints safe from the dog for that very reason. :doh: