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Swap table sugar for healthier choices when baking

With many watching their weight and health, there's a need to swap table sugar for better alternatives when baking.

December 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
This is the time of year where baking is big for parties, gifts and other holiday celebrations. But with many watching their weight and health, there's a need to swap table sugar for better alternatives.

Today we're taking a look at some other sweeteners that are a little bit better for your body.

Jackie Keller, owner of NutriFit healthy catering service, uses sugar alternatives for healthy, yet enjoyable, sweets, saying no to aspartame and saccharine and yes to sugar alcohol, called xylitol.

"It's a naturally occurring sugar in fermented foods, so it's found in nature. It's not an artificially, chemically processed sugar," said Keller.

She also uses erythritol, sold as Zsweet. It looks and tastes like sugar but is low on the glycemic index, and it bakes well.

Then there's agave, a nectar similar to honey that blends well cold - a bonus for frosting. And you only need half as much agave as you would table sugar.

"Remember that sugar doesn't just sweeten. It does other things in baking, so you have to use a recipe that's sort of liquid-sugar friendly," said Keller.

Keller finds that xylitol works well in chocolate cake. Agave and honey work well in oatmeal cookies, and muffins are good with applesauce and Sucanat, a swap for brown sugar made of unrefined crystallized evaporated cane juice.

Fruit purees, like applesauce and even baby food prunes, sweeten and can cut the amount of fat used in a product. But do your homework.

"You can substitute anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of the oil for apple sauce or another fruit preserve, but it's not going to have the same texture," said Keller.

A great equation for dessert nutrition? Less sugar, less fat equals more spice.

"Remember that spices can really make the difference in having a food taste pretty much like it used to and still be healthier for you," said Keller.

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