Natural Sweeteners

Maple Syrup

When it comes to buying maple syrup, you must read the label. Only buy pure 100% maple syrup. Do not scrimp on the quality; otherwise, you could end up with a concoction of unpleasant sweeteners.

The major downside to pure maple syrup is how expensive it can be.  But it’s a small price to pay for something so incredibly delicious.  You can buy maple syrup in different grades, A or B and there are light, medium, and dark varieties.

You can use maple syrup as a sugar substitute in recipes that call for granulated sugar. You would use around half a cup of maple syrup for every cup of refined sugar (and then half the other liquid in the recipe) You can also buy maple sugar. If you are substituting with this use a half to three-quarters of maple sugar to every cup of refined sugar.

Coconut Sugar

This is an amazing low glycaemic load sugar substitute, packed with vitamins and minerals. Coconut sugar is made from the nectar of the coconut palm sugar blossoms. It is a good substitute for refined brown sugar, and for using in raw and cooked desserts.

With coconut sugar, you can do a straight swap with this if a recipe calls for refined sugar by just using a ratio of 1:1. Depending on what you are making however you may find you don’t need quite as much because the flavour is strong.

Blackstrap Molasses

Black strap molasses is a thick, black syrup which has a bittersweet taste. It is graded similar to the maple syrup, and black extract molasses is the highest grade you can get.

The reason I use this in myrecipes is that unlike other sweeteners which have empty calories black extract molasses is nutrient rich and fat-free. It contains iron, calcium, copper and magnesium.  It only takes a couple of teaspoons per day drizzled over porridge or into your herbal tea to give you a hit of essential nutrients. I like to use this in rich desserts that call for a distinct flavour or for making own home-made granola.

This is best kept sealed and in a cool dark place and has a shelf life of about six months once opened.


One of the best sweeteners on the market is stevia, which is now growing in popularity. The Japanese have been using it since the 70’s in all sorts of processed foods. However, it has only recently begun increasing in popularity in the UK and US because of growing concerns around the consumption of refined sugar and artificial sweeteners like aspartame.

There are so many awesome things about Stevia; it is hard not to sing its praises. Not only is it alkaline and calorie free it doesn’t feed yeasts making it an ideal choice if you are fighting an underlying candida infection.It also doesn’t contain sucrose so it won’t have you riding the blood sugar rollercoaster.

Stevia can be bought as a powder and liquid from most health food stores and supermarkets. In liquid form, it comes as both a clear liquid or as a dark concentrate which is what I prefer. If it is your first time buying liquid stevia it may seem expensive for such a small bottle but the reality is you need very little. A few drops are often more than enough because it is so strong. If you haven’t tasted stevia before, try a little first as the taste can take some getting used to.

In my recipes you could switch up any suggested sweeteners added to the smoothies, juices and some of the desserts for stevia. It doesn’t work so well in the baked goods.

Yacon Syrup

If you have been suffering from underlying pathogenic or candida overgrowth, then the yacon root could help. The dried Yacon root is high in fructooligosaccharide, a pre-biotic which helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Yacon syrup is dark brown in colour with a deep rich flavour. The reason I have included this in Nourish is because it has a very low glycaemic load so it won’t mess with your blood sugar levels. You can use this on oats, grains and sweeten curries and stews.

The only downside to this sweetener is that it can be hard to get a hold of. It is also a little pricey like maple syrup. However, you don’t need to use much in your recipes because the flavour is so strong. A little does go a long way.

Raw Honey

Honey is packed with delicious vitamins and minerals, including B2, B6, iron, and manganese.  It also has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

When it comes to honey, I prefer to buy raw honey which you can pick up from most health food shops. Raw honey is less processed and also richer in nutrients and antioxidants. It is also better value for money than the likes of Manuka honey which will leave you down £20 per jar. Avoid the cheap squeezy honey from the supermarket.

Like some of the natural sweeteners, you still need to watch your quantity of honey.  It has a similar impact on your blood sugar as refined sugar. Honey’s sweet flavour is amazing for drizzling in herbal tea. I use it in my raw desserts, to sweeten porridge and to make dressings and marinades.

The Food Psychologist
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