By: Anne Blocker
Flipping through old family cookbooks, you see a recipe you’d like to try. However, you’re not sure if it would work with your diabetes meal plan.
This month’s column shows you how to make a few ingredient changes that will reduce the sugar and keep the flavor in your favorite recipes.
Know Your Sweeteners
Sugar and other sweeteners like brown sugar, honey, molasses and maple syrup are important baking ingredients. They sweeten foods, add tenderness and volume, provide moisture retention, promote browning and act as a preservative.
Understanding the purpose of a sweetener in a recipe is helpful when adjusting the amount of sugar.
Here are some easy tips for lowering the sugar content in your favorite recipes.
Skip the Sugar
Some items taste just fine without any additional sugar. Fruit salads, fillings or desserts often have enough sweetness that you can skip the added sugar.
Reduce the Amount of Sugar or Sweetener
You can usually reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in a recipe by one-quarter to one-third of the amount without affecting the overall quality or taste. If a cobbler recipe calls for half a cup of white granular sugar and half a cup of brown sugar, try reducing each to one-third cup. Make notes on the recipe about the changes you made and how the recipe turned out.
Replace Sugar With Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
Sugar substitutes like aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’n Low) and acesulfame-K (Sweet-One, DiabetiSweet) work best in recipes where sugar is primarily used for sweetening. These might include pie fillings, sauces, glazes, marinades and cheesecakes.
The substitutes can also work in quick breads, muffins and cookies. Try using half sugar substitute and half regular sugar to get a quality product. Sucralose (Splenda) works well for foods baked at higher temperatures like cookies, quick breads and cooked puddings. All of the listed sweeteners work well in cold or minimally cooked items.
Resize the Portions
Sometimes the best way to adjust the recipe is simply to eat a smaller portion and savor the flavor. This works best when you’re offered a dessert at a friend’s home or you’re attending a potluck, buffet or family gathering.
Ready for Your Sugar-Free Makeover?
Now, if you are ready, dust off your favorite recipes and try giving them a reduced- or sugar-free makeover.