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Naturally Sweeten Your Holiday Baking with White Sugar Alternatives!

Earlier this year I was looking to reduce my intake of white sugar.  After doing a little research I learned that as far as your body is concerned, sugar is sugar – whether it’s white sugar, maple syrup or evaporated cane juice, you’re processing it all pretty much the same way. I also learned that there is virtually no difference between processed and some “natural” sugars. I found this fascinating – and a bit alarming – and decided to limit myself to sweeteners that came in their most natural – and least refined – state. Products like honey, pure maple syrup, and evaporated cane juice.

And while these sweeteners are by no means “healthy,” some actually contain antioxidants and trace minerals, and all are void of chemicals and other nasty substances.

It was easy enough to sweeten my tea and drizzle my oatmeal – but what about baking? Unlike cooking, baking is much more finicky when it comes to substitutions, and I was wary about swapping my trusty white sugar for an alternative that might yield less than stellar results.

Fortunately, there are loads of talented bakers out there who have done the math for us – with amazing results! So if you’re looking to cut back on white sugar  - but still bake up a storm for the holidays – you are going to love these beautiful (and yummy!) cookies, muffins, and more, all made with natural sweeteners!

  • Naturally Sweeten Your Holiday Baking! 1 of 25
    holiday baking with white sugar alternatives

    Eliminating white sugar from your diet doesn't mean sacrificing your favorite baked goods! These recipes are naturally sweetened with agave, honey, and maple syrup - so you can make all of your favorite holiday treats - no sacrifice necessary!

  • Almond Molasses Biscotti 2 of 25
    Anja's Food 4 Thought Almond Molasses Biscotti

    Biscotti are a great holiday make-ahead gift. They keep well and are quite sturdy - perfect if you're shipping some of your treats!  Agave is the sweetener here, and the spicy flavor is courtesy of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

    Image and recipe courtesy of Anja's Food 4 Thought

  • Walnut Prune Cookies 3 of 25
    Anja's Food 4 Thought Walnut Prune Cookies

    There's no sugar at all in these cookies, sweetened naturally with prunes, bananas and unsweetened applesauce. These would make a great grab-and-go breakfast on a busy morning, no?

    Image and recipe courtesy of Anja's Food 4 Thought

  • Honey Sage Cornbread 4 of 25
    babble Honey Sage Cornbread

    Fresh sage leaves provide a hint of what lies within this tender cornbread, lightly sweetened with honey.  A lovely Thanksgiving side dish. (And maybe even breakfast the next day...)

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Maple Bran Waffles 5 of 25
    babble Maple Bran Waffles

    If you can't get enough syrup on your waffles, how about baking the syrup right in? These hearty bran waffles are sweetened with a little maple syrup for a heavenly flavor that will brighten up your family's weekend!

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Pumpkin Muffins 6 of 25
    babble Pumpkin Muffins Sweetened with Maple Syrup

    Canned pumpkin in the recipe means that these maple-sweetened muffins can be on your table anytime you're craving them - not just during the holidays!

    Get the recipe at Babble

  • Honey Thyme Almonds 7 of 25
    crumb blog Honey Thyme Almonds

    Every cook should have at least one great spiced nut recipe in her back pocket. My preference is for the salty-sweet variety, like these nuts here - sweetened with honey and spiced up with fresh thyme and smoked paprika. Serve them to guests, package them up in clear bags to give as holiday gifts, or just nibble on them yourself. It's all good.

    Image and recipe courtesy of Crumb Blog

  • Sweet Potato Biscuits 8 of 25
    Maple Cardamom Sweet Potato Biscuits

    I adore sweet potatoes - and as they are a regular feature on our Thanksgiving table (and always left over!) these will be the perfect way to bake 'em up. Rustic drop biscuits are easier and less fussy than the rolled ones, and you could even use leftover acorn or butternut squash too!

    Image and recipe courtesy of Crumb Blog

  • Double Chocolate Brownies 9 of 25
    donuts dresses and dirt Double Chocolate Brownies

    These brownies are about as guilt-free as they come. Sweetened with applesauce and evaporated cane juice, and filled with grated zucchini (for super moist results), you could "almost" have brownies for breakfast. Am I right?

    Get the recipe at Donuts, Dresses and Dirt

  • Honey Lemon Cake 10 of 25
    donuts dresses and dirt Honey Lemon Cake

    This luscious cake is flavored with lots of fresh lemon and sweetened only with honey - perfect with a cup of tea.

    Get the recipe at Donuts, Dresses and Dirt

  • Maple Granola 11 of 25
    donuts dresses and dirt Maple Granola with dried cherries

    We can't get enough of granola around here - we eat it for breakfast, take it along as a snack, and sprinkle it on frozen yogurt and ice cream. This maple sweetened granola would also make a great holiday gift - I like to package it in a brown paper bag with a tiny scoop attached. 

    Get the recipe at Donuts, Dresses and Dirt

  • Cherry Pistachio Spice Cookies 12 of 25
    Food 4 Thought Cherry Pistachio Spice Cookies

    Chopped pistachios and dried cherries make these cookies look like Christmas, don't you think? Lots of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger keep the holiday theme going in these agave sweetened treats.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Anja's Food 4 Thought

  • Pumpkin Walnut Cookies 13 of 25
    Food 4 Thought Pumpkin Walnut Cookies

    These pumpkin spice cookies are lightly sweetened with honey and agave - making them a perfect breakfast or lunchbox snack. Walnuts lend a pleasant crunch.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Anja's Food 4 Thought

  • Thumbprint Cookies 14 of 25
    Kitchen Grrrls Thumbprint Cookies

    These vegan cookies are super healthy - courtesy of whole wheat flour, peanut butter and sesame seeds. So go ahead - have another!

    Recipe and image courtesy of Kitchen Grrrls

  • Vegan Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcakes 15 of 25
    Kitchen Grrrls Vegan Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

    Who says you have to choose between healthy and indulgent? Vanilla cupcakes are sweetened only with agave nectar, so you can have the best of both worlds.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Kitchen Grrrls

  • Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Rolls 16 of 25
    pastry studio Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Rolls

    These gorgeous rolls are full of flavor and healthy too (yes!) - thanks to whole wheat flour and old fashioned oats. Sweetness comes from honey. These deserve a place on your Sunday brunch menu!

    Recipe and image courtesy of Pastry Studio

  • Fig Bars 17 of 25
    ppk Fig Bars

    I love Fig Newtons. Do you love Fig Newtons? I can't wait to bake up these super-sized versions, which I dare say will likely be better than the packaged variety. Filled with dried figs and lots of citrus zest, they must be. Oh, and they're vegan too. Love.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen

  • Lemon Bars 18 of 25
    texan erin Lemon Bars

    Lemon bars are a classic dessert but can often be cloyingly sweet. These healthier bars are sweetened only with maple syrup and are gluten and dairy free too!

    Recipe and image courtesy of Texanerin Baking

  • Maple Almond Butter Cookies 19 of 25
    texan erin Maple Almond Butter Cookies

    These vegan, whole grain cookies - sweetened with maple syrup - are quite versatile too. Swap the almond butter for peanut butter, or the maple extract for almond. It's all good.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Texanerin Baking

  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites 20 of 25
    texan erin Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

    Whoa. These amazing looking cookies are filled with your choice of nut butter and sweetener, and a "secret" ingredient you won't believe! But whatever you do, do NOT swap out the chocolate chips!

    Recipe and image courtesy of Texanerin Baking

  • Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Chip Muffins 21 of 25
    texan erin Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

    Breakfast or dessert? I can't decide. But with these muffins - made with bananas, plain yogurt, maple syrup, and whole grain goodness - maybe I don't have to. 

    Recipe and image courtesy of Texanerin Baking

  • Healthy Rice Krispie Treats 22 of 25
    vanilla & lace Healthy Rice Krispie Treats

    Just four ingredients - agave, peanut butter, vanilla, and crisp rice cereal - get these treats on the table (and in your mouth) fast.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Vanilla and Lace

  • Triple Chocolate Agave Cupcakes 23 of 25
    vanilla & lace Triple Chocolate Agave Cupcakes

    An entire cupcake - frosting and all - made with no sugar? And it's vegan too, y'all. You're welcome.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Vanilla and Lace

  • Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies 24 of 25
    wishful chef Healthy Mini Pumpkin Pies

    Pre-made tartlet shells make these adorable mini pumpkin pies easy peasy. 

    Recipe and image courtesy of Wishful Chef

  • Pumpkin Cornbread 25 of 25
    wishful chef Pumpkin Cornbread with Coconut Oil and Cinnamon

    Got some leftover canned pumpkin from a holiday baking blitz? Fold it into this inventive cornbread, and treat yourself to a lovely breakfast.

    Recipe and image courtesy of Wishful Chef

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