OK In Health - Gluten Free Goodness

How Can I Survive Without Sugar? - February 2019

Eating Gluten Free and Sugar Free

By Cathy Lauer

Following last month’s theme of how to eat gluten and dairy free I thought of all the people I bake for that also must be sugar free. There are a lot of ways to add sweetness to your food without adding processed white sugar. Yes there are some adjustments needed both in your baking and to your taste buds but it can be done successfully so as to still benefit your taste buds and your health.

Most people assume that when they are told to cut sugar out of their diet that the only alternative is artificial sweeteners. Incorrect! There are a multitude of natural sweeteners that can be substituted in your cooking and baking. Yes, some may require you to change or modify the recipe but with a little help from knowledgeable resources or trial and error you can successfully change to a sugar free diet that is both satisfying and healthy.

First let’s look at what is available for sugar substitutes. I don’t use any artificial sweeteners and have not had positive feedback from those who have tried baking with them. The two most common complaints are the cost and the aftertaste of the artificial sweetener. I prefer to use natural sweeteners such as honey, applesauce, dates and raisins. Honey is a very sweet product so you don’t need to use as much as you would with sugar. It is also a liquid so you may need to decrease the amount of liquid in your recipe. Because honey keeps things moist you cannot make a crisp cookie. Also honey makes baked goods brown quickly so your finished product will be darker than you might be used to. The flavour will still be great and it will be much healthier for you.

Other liquid sweeteners that can be used successfully are real maple syrup, agave syrup and corn syrup. Real maple syrup does not have a strong maple flavour so it is the sweetness that is more noticeable. As with honey, it is a very concentrated sugar so you will not need to use very much to get a sweet taste. We like to dress fresh strawberries with it and top pancakes or waffles with them. Agave syrup has similar properties to honey although it is a little thinner. There is a lot of controversy about corn syrup. There are very few recipes I use it in but it is the chemical structure of the product that produces the results I am looking for in certain situations. Once in a while won’t hurt, but I do prefer honey or maple syrup as a sugar substitute.

One of my other favourite sweeteners is to make date paste. Take a brick of pitted dates, chop it to be sure there are no stray pits and place in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. The dates will absorb most of the water and become very soft. Allow the mixture to cool and then puree dates and any remaining liquid in a food processor until smooth. Store the paste in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months. For a flavour change, make other dried fruit pastes such as raisin, fig or prune. I also like to make a combo paste with raisin, date, fig, prune and dried apricot for a change of flavour.

If this flavour is not to your liking you could try using unsweetened apple sauce. It is very easy to make your own by peeling, coring and chopping up a couple of apples and placing them in a small saucepan with two tablespoon of water. Cook on medium heat until the water begins to boil then turn to simmer, cover and cook until the apples are very soft. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Store the apple sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. (ripe pears would also work) If you like cinnamon, add a sprinkle to your apple sauce and you will be amazed at how sweet it tastes. Cinnamon is also a great way to sweeten rhubarb without adding tons of extra sugar.

Breads are a little more challenging to take the sugar out of as you need it to feed the yeast. Most breads only have one teaspoon of sugar for a whole loaf so unless you have an allergy to white sugar it is still the best for activating yeast. Honey is ok but it is a long acting sweetener and can feed the yeast much longer than it needs feeding and can make your yeast overactive. I find most regular breads do not need any more sugar than the small amount to activate the yeast. If you are making sweet dough for cinnamon buns or dessert breads then honey would be a good choice just use half the amount recommended for sugar. Your bread will brown more quickly than usual using honey. Don’t be fooled however into thinking it is done because it is brown. Allow it to bake for the full time.

Stevia is another sweetener that was all the rage when it first came out. Although I did not use it for baking I did use it as a coffee and tea sweetener. It wasn’t my favourite and I went back to honey.

As with most things you need to find what works for your taste buds. If you are diabetic you also need to follow your doctor’s advice. The Canadian Diabetic Association web site has a lot of information about using sugars in your diet and there is an article from Canadian Living about sugars and sweeteners that you might want to check out.

www.diabetes.ca/

www.canadianliving.com/

To help you on your sugar free journey you will find a recipe for gluten, sugar and dairy free muffin in the gluten free recipe section of OK in Health. If you go to my web site you will also find a trio of sugar free cookie recipes. www.cathysglutenfree.ca Being sugar free doesn’t mean you have to give up sweetness in your life. You just need to find a new way of getting it. Try out a few new things and see what works for you. You might surprise yourself.

 




Cathy LauerCathy's Bio: Cathy Lauer has been cooking/baking gluten/dairy free for 17 years. She has written 3 all baking cookbooks and has a gluten free baking blog/store. In her spare time she loves to garden in a big way with fruit, vegetable and flower gardens. She is a classically trained singer and loves to read and collect recipe books. She homeschools her youngest son (11) and has 3 grown children and is grandmother of 2. Cathy's Gluten Free Creations Ltd. Gourmet Gluten Free Baking. Cookbooks and Baking Mixes. 250-758-5232 - Cathy Lauer Website - Email


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