5. Bananas

bananas

If you love the taste of bananas, you may enjoy using them as a natural sweetener. A banana can provide flavor and texture as well as vitamins and minerals. Organic Authority reports that you can substitute one cup of mashed banana for one cup of sugar in some recipes. This works especially well in recipes that benefit from banana flavor. Ideas may include muffins, shortbreads, smoothies, and oatmeal. The Skinny Fork has a recipe for Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies that uses two mashed bananas as a sweetener.

4. Homemade Fruit Puree

Applesauce

Fruit purees, such as applesauce, can be used as sweeteners in certain recipes. Muffins are particularly forgiving when making this substitution. Keep in mind, you may need to decrease the amount of liquid in your recipe when replacing granulated sugar with a fruit puree. Furthermore, you may go through a lot of trial and error when first using fruit puree as a sugar substitute. Applesauce and raisins come together in Genius Kitchen’s recipe for Sugar Free Applesauce Raisin Muffins. Meanwhile, Delish has a recipe for Applesauce Cookies that contains no added sugar.

3. Stevia

stevia

Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from a plant in the Asteraceae family. This zero-calorie sweetener is many times sweeter than table sugar, so you need less of it when cooking or baking. SweetLeaf offers a conversion chart for determining how much stevia is needed to replace sugar. For example, 1 teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to 1/8 teaspoon of SweetLeaf stevia granules. The American Diabetes Association warns that using sugar substitutes may alter the taste, color, texture, and density of the finished product.

Related: 5 Reasons to Take a Hard Pass on Sucralose

2. Monk Fruit

Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is a fruit grown in southeast Asia. According to the International Food Information Council, the sweetener extracted from this fruit is 100-250 times sweeter than table sugar. It can be used in recipes for dressings, baked goods, and beverages. When substituting monk fruit for sugar, check the package to determine the proper substitution quantities of sweetener for sugar. Warning: while monk fruit sweetener has no calories, the highly sweet taste may train your taste buds to crave even more sweetness.

1. Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic Glaze

You can reduce flavorful balsamic vinegar down to a balsamic glaze that adds a sweet touch to meats, vegetables, or salads. Simply simmer dark balsamic vinegar in a heavy pan for around ten minutes at medium-low heat. Whisk continuously to prevent burning. You can use this syrup as a delicious balsamic glaze for roasted vegetables. Simply place veggies such as carrots, onions, sweet potato chunks, and summer squash on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are brown and tender. Remove from oven and top with your balsamic glaze.

Related: 13 Things You Need to Stop Doing if You Want to Lose Weight
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