6 Natural Substitutes for Sugar

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I posted previously about the negative effects that sugar has on the body. Check out 8 Toxic Ways Sugar Impacts the Body. As I did with wheat flour and milk, I offer as a follow up a list of healthy alternatives.

Try reaching for one of these 6 natural substitutes for sugar, the next time you need a sweetener.

6 Natural Substitutes for Sugar

What Not to Use as Sweeteners

Refined sugar, created through a lengthy process involving chemicals, is not healthy for us. It contributes to poor health and a host of disorders. Plus, the substance is addictive.

Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin, are no better. Although considered safe by the FDA, these sweeteners produce unwanted side effects. Headaches, liver and kidney disorders, mood swings, increased appetite and thymus gland problems are all linked to the use of artificial sweeteners.

High fructose corn syrup, which is present in many packaged foods, is produced primarily from genetically modified corn. The liver metabolizes this fructose quickly, increasing fat in the liver and leading to digestives disorders.

6 Natural Substitutes for Sugar

These tasty alternatives to refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup are natural and actually good for the body.

Coconut Sugar

The coconut is an amazing fruit. From it we get coconut water, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut sugar, along with the flesh of the fruit. Coconut sugar, which resembles coarse brown sugar, is high in minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and phosphorous. It is also rich in antioxidants.

The sugar comes from sap extracted from the coconut flower. It then goes through a heating and drying process, via evaporation.

Look for this alternative in supermarkets and health conscious food stores. In recipes, swap out refined sugar for coconut sugar on a 1:1 basis. Try these Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, using coconut sugar.

6 Natural Substitutes for Sugar


Dried dates are powerful, easily digested fruits. They are high in vitamin B6, potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and 70 other bioactive minerals that support digestive, brain and liver health. This amazing food fortifies muscles and nerves and even possesses anti-cancer properties.

Besides enjoying dates as they are, use to sweeten a variety of recipes. Cakes, quick breads, and pie crusts benefit from the addition of dates. Chop them up and soak in water first, to soften. Try out these Apricot Bars made with four ingredients.


These versatile fruits are rich in fiber, potassium and vitamins B6 and C. Because of their sweetness, bananas are great natural substitutes for sugar.

Overripe bananas are sweeter and easier to process. Swap one cup of banana puree for every cup of sugar in a recipe. Simply chop bananas and puree in a blender or food processor, adding a tablespoon of water if necessary. This is a wonderful Blueberry Banana Bread recipe to try.

6 Natural Substitutes for Sugar

Raw Organic Honey

Raw honey truly is a superfood. It is high in iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins B6 and B12. Honey is also rich with enzymes, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Raw honey supports the immune system and helps to fight off colds, flus and allergies.

It is important to use raw organic honey, rather than processed. Pasteurized honey loses many of its health benefits. Look for raw organic honey at farmer’s markets or health food stores that purchase from local beekeepers.

Drizzle raw honey over fruit or gluten free oatmeal. Sweeten tea, sauces and curries with it. Or create this wonderful Turmeric Milk using raw honey.

6 Natural Substitutes for Sugar

Organic Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is processed from maple trees in the US. Sap is collected from the tree, boiled to evaporate water and then filtered. This natural sweetener contains manganese, calcium, zinc and potassium and it’s rich with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Look for the darker maple syrups, as these are higher in antioxidants.

Use maple syrup in baking, marinades, glazes, sauces and over gluten free pancakes. This steamed apple dessert is a simple yet tasty way to enjoy organic maple syrup.

Organic maple syrup is available in supermarkets and health conscious food stores. Or order online by clicking on photo below.


Stevia is a plant native to South America. Processed from the plant’s leaves, stevia is many times sweeter than sugar. It contains zero calories however, and none of the negative side effects of artificial sweeteners.

However, I offer a caution with stevia. Some people experience an unpleasant aftertaste with it. And some products contain stevia that is processed with chemicals, making it a less than desirable sugar substitute. Read labels.

Look for pure, organic stevia, available as a liquid, dissolvable tablets or in powdered form. Purchase pure organic powdered stevia by clicking on photo below. Because a little stevia goes a long way, when substituting for sugar in recipes other bulking agents such as more flour or fruit puree must be used. I’ve never personally used stevia, so I don’t have a recipe for this one!

Which Natural Substitutes for Sugar Do I Use?

Since becoming plant based, I’ve tried all of the above natural substitutes for sugar, with the exception of stevia. However, I purchase dark chocolate chips sweetened with organic stevia and it’s a good product.

I primarily use coconut sugar and organic maple syrup for baking. Raw honey is perfect to drizzle over fresh berries or add to turmeric milk. Dates add sweetness to pie crusts and fruit bars.

Breaking the Sugar Habit

For me it became important to break the habit of having “sweets” after a meal or with afternoon tea. Nowadays, my snacks are fruits such as apples, watermelon or a bowl of mixed berries. By choice, I reserve baked goods and cookies for celebrations or infrequent treats.

When I do want to try a new recipe or honor a special occasion, it is wonderful to know that healthy and tasty natural substitutes for sugar exist…and I can use them without guilt or ill effects!

6 Natural Substitutes for SugarGluten free, refined sugar free pancakes with fruit and organic maple syrup.

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DIY Natural Skin Serum

Today’s Try This Tuesday is a recipe of a different sort. This healthy serum nourishes the skin, rather than the body. I’ve been making my own skin serum for years, adapting it as I learn new things. As my body grows increasingly healthy and strong, on a plant based diet, it is important that I don’t use chemical laden beauty products. This easy to make serum was my first step toward using natural products on my hair and skin.

DIY Natural Skin Serum

Here is the simple recipe:

Fill a small jar with coconut oil. Carefully place jar into a bowl of very hot water, making sure the water level remains below the lip of the container. Stir with a toothpick as coconut oil liquifies. Pierce the ends of two vitamin E capsules, and squeeze contents into the coconut oil. Add up to 20 drops of essential oils. I use Young Living Lavender Essential Oil and Young Living Frankincense Essential Oil. Stir well. Add 1/4 teaspoon raw locally produced honey. Stir again, cap and pop jar into the refrigerator to cool and solidify.

To use, scrape small amount out of jar with fingertip or fingernail and apply to face. Serum doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It will remain in a solid state, except during very hot weather. It’s fine to use in its liquid form as well.

DIY Natural Skin Serum

DIY Natural Skin Serum

Coconut oil liquifies quickly when warmed. Benefits for the skin include being naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal, and coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer, penetrating the skin better than other oils.

Vitamin E has antioxidant properties, blocking free radicals that age the skin. It reduces wrinkles and keeps the skin young looking.

DIY Natural Skin Serum

DIY Natural Skin Serum

Lavender Essential Oil is helpful in treating skin conditions such as eczema, wrinkles, and acne, and calms inflammation. It helps to speed up the healing process of sunburns, wounds and burns and helps to prevent scarring. Frankincense Essential Oil is a powerful astringent that protects skin cells. It lifts and tightens the skin, prevents wrinkles, heals acne and reduces the appearance of large pores.

And raw organic honey is antibacterial, helping to combat acne and breakouts, and it is full of antioxidants, providing powerful anti-aging properties. It nourishes the skin, boosting the complexion and creating a healthy glow, and honey opens and unclogs pores, clarifying the skin.

DIY Natural Skin Serum

DIY Natural Skin Serum

I love how this serum melts immediately into my skin, on contact. At night before bed, I smooth it onto the delicate skin under the eyes, onto my forehead and around my mouth, all places where fine lines and wrinkles can form. It’s safe for the lips too. Finally, I apply a small amount to my neck and chest. I reapply to clean dry skin in the mornings, before makeup. The small jar of serum lasts me approximately nine months. A little goes a long way.

I enjoy the little ritual of creating my own skin serum. I appreciate the benefits my skin receives, and I like knowing exactly what is in this serum…no chemicals, no preservatives, no toxic substances, just natural, healthy ingredients. My skin drinks it up, and glows.

DIY Natural Skin Serum