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Natural Sugar Substitutes

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Old 04-09-2008, 02:37 PM   #1
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Talking Natural Sugar Substitutes

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.

Here are four natural (i.e. derived from plant sources rather than chemicals) sugar subtitutes:
  • Agave Nectar
  • Erythritol
  • Stevia
  • Xylitol

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. 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 www.netrition.com. 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?
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:44 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:44 PM   #3
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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.

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Old 04-09-2008, 02:56 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:58 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:10 PM   #6
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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..
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:14 PM   #7
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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
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:33 PM   #8
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tdiprincess, I use tons of Splenda. 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.
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Old 04-09-2008, 03:40 PM   #9
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Blech. I detest Splenda. But I think I am more the oddball than those who do use it!

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Old 04-09-2008, 04:39 PM   #10
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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 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
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomandkara View Post
Blech. I detest Splenda. But I think I am more the oddball than those who do use it!

Kara
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....
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Old 04-10-2008, 10:39 AM   #12
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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.

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Old 04-10-2008, 12:22 PM   #13
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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
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Old 04-10-2008, 01:39 PM   #14
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Kierie, does Stevia have an anise taste? I won't even bother with it, then.

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Old 04-10-2008, 02:09 PM   #15
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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
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