Sugar Blues? Gluten-free Baking Without Sugar

 Three alternatives to refined white sugar in vegan baking: raw agave nectar, organic brown sugar crystals and unrefined organic cane sugar
Baking gluten-free without sugar: substitutions and tips.

I got the blues.

An increasing number of comments and questions have revolved around sugar as a sweetener and how to substitute it in gluten-free baking. I thought the subject sweet enough to deserve its own post.

And since I recently started a sugar detox (I do this from time to time-- I'm on day six sugar-free, Darlings- no sweetener except a pinch of the herb stevia in my tea and smoothies), I thought it might be appropriate to refresh this post and bring it forward.

As we know it in its common, refined form here in the United States (the average American eats something close to 143 pounds of sugar per year), sugar is typically derived from the cereal grain known as sugar cane, or the cultivated plant beta vulgaris, also known as the sugar beet. Check for non-GMO status of your beet sugar. Both options are high on the glycemic index and refined to remove any nutrients or minerals that may have been residing in the cane or beet's natural state.

In the cane refining process the syrup remaining after the refining process is called molasses (it contains iron and other minerals that are refined out of white sugar). Note: sugar cane is in the grass and cereal botanical family; people who are allergic to grasses and cereals may be prone to develop a sensitivity to cane sugar.

Sugar in various guises

Brown sugar is refined cane sugar with molasses added for a golden-caramel taste and softer texture.

Raw sugar- also known as turbinado sugar- is also cane sugar, but less refined; it supposedly has more nutrients intact (but I wouldn't go so far as to consider it a health food, Darling).

Vegan sugar aka sucanat is cane sugar in a raw, unrefined state; it has a darker, stronger taste that is akin to molasses. (The refining process is what makes some sugar offensive to vegans- bone char is sometimes used in the refining method.)

Demerara and muscavado are also less refined sugar cane variations with deeper, complex taste.

Although you might expect that all cane sugar behaves the same way in gluten-free recipes, I have found differences in the way these sugars impact a recipe. So when you sub the brown sugar called for, say, with a less refined, stronger tasting vegan sugar- please know that the recipe will indeed taste different, perhaps have a smaller volume, or change in overall texture from the recipe as written.

Cane Sugar Alternatives:

 Raw agave nectar in a bowl- it looks like honey, but it's a totally vegan and low glycemic sweetener
Agave is a natural sweetener, but it's still fructose/sugar.

When thinking about substituting sugar in a recipe, it's important to remember that sugar provides not only sweetness to gluten-free baked goods, it provides structure, texture, and flavor, adds a pleasing moistness, and contributes to browning.

Replacing sugar, therefore, can be a delicate dance with ingredients.

Read on for alternatives to the usual suspects.

Agave: Organic raw agave nectar is a vegan fructose sweetener made from the agave cactus with a subtle sweetness and a lower glycemic impact on blood sugar levels (it is approved for limited use in the South Beach Diet later phases, and may be a possible choice for those who need to monitor their blood sugar levels; agave may not be appropriate for everyone, however-- see notes below).

Raw organic agave is the least refined type of agave and has a mild, neutral taste. It is produced at temperatures below 118 °F (48 °C) to protect the natural enzymes, making it an appropriate sweetener for those eating raw foods. Raw agave contains iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Agave nectar works well in baking. Use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of raw organic agave nectar (not the super-refined "agave") for every 1 cup of sugar in the original recipe and lessen the liquid called for by 3 tablespoons. Agave is humectant and adds moisture and binding to gluten-free recipes- especially if you're baking egg-free. Note that using too much agave in a baked goods recipe with a lot of gluten-free starch can sometimes lead to gumminess.

Some cooks also reduce the oven temperature by 25° F when baking agave recipes, but I have not bothered to do this.

You may want to experiment with using a smaller loaf pan  when you replace the sugar with less agave (volume is affected). Use an 8x4-inch loaf pan rather than a 9x5-inch loaf pan, for instance.

A dab of agave is also lovely in smoothies, soups, dressings and sauces.
Notes: Agave is a form of sugar. Because agave (like honey) is fructose, some folks avoid it, believing too much fructose may be harmful to the liver and raise triglyceride levels. As always, before try a new product, please research it according to your own specific dietary and health needs, and consult your medical expert for advise.
FODMAP sensitive folks may find agave's inulin levels too hard to digest.

Stevia:Stevia, a zero-calorie non-glycemic vegan sweetener, is actually an herb, available in powdered or liquid form, and if you are counting calories, it's a goddess-send. Stevia imparts a sharply sweet taste much sweeter than cane sugar (some brands sport a faint licorice-like aftertaste) and a tiny amount goes a long way.

It does not replace the bulk or structure of sugar in a baking recipe, so volume will be less. If used in baking to replace sugar, you may have to add an additional dry ingredient such as ground/processed coconut, dates, raisins or nut meal to obtain the right texture, especially in cakes and cookies. Or try baking the recipe in a slightly smaller pan. Try using an 8x4-inch loaf pan rather than a 9x5-inch loaf pan, for instance.

Cooked powdered stevia can be bitter. To my taste buds, it leaves an unpleasant aftertaste in baked goods- so I would use it sparingly, and add extra vanilla or cinnamon.

Stevia works best in puddings, custards, smoothies and drinks both hot and cold. Not all brands are equal- there are differences in taste and potency- so experiment and find the brand of stevia you prefer.

Karina's Notes: Stevia is in the sunflower and aster family (Asteraceae for those of you into botany). If you have an allergy to those flowers, you might also react to stevia.
There are new gluten-free stevia products available now with a more granular structure for help in volume and texture. Check labels and call the manufacturer to determine if they are 100% gluten-free.

Maple Sugar and Date Sugar: These two natural alternatives sport a granular sugar-like texture that works well in certain cakes and cookies. I find they make for a denser baked goodie. They are both far less sweet than cane or beet sugar in baking recipes. Your taste buds may need time to adjust. Use a sub one-to-one.

Coconut Sugar and Palm Sugar: An Asian sweetener crafted from the sap of coconut flower buds, touted to be rich in vitamins and minerals. I have not tried it, but it is said to have a deep caramel, molasses like taste. Use as a one-to-one sub in recipes. Choose organic.

Honey, pure maple syrup, and brown rice syrup: Best choice for eating local is local organic honey (and for some lucky cooks- maple syrup or brown rice syrup may be local if you're living in the right place). 

Honey is not 100% vegan (due to the honeybee factor, Darling) but may be a suitable choice for less strict vegetarians and omnivores. Check on its gluten-free status- as some beekeepers encourage honey production with bee food- that may not be gluten-free.

Honey attracts moisture and that is a definite plus in gluten-free baking. Use 1/2 to 2/3 cup for every cup of sugar called for and decrease the liquid called for by 3 tablespoons.

New news on honey is that your favorite brand may have been tampered with- food safety tests on honey (especially honey sourced from China and India) reveal it may not be pure honey at all- or worse- the honey may be contaminated with toxins and antibiotics. See this excellent article on honey safety and the brands to watch out for.

Real maple syrup is a low-FODMAP, vegan, local choice. It is sometimes clarified with the milk protein casein, so check your source if you use real maple syrup- it may not be 100% vegan. 

As with honey, use 1/2 to 2/3 cup for every cup of sugar called for, and lessen the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons. Maple syrup works best with simpatico flavors such as pumpkin, apple, vanilla, squash, sweet potato, and cornmeal. Maple syrup is an excellent choice for FODMAP sensitive folks.

Brown rice syrup is vegan and subtly sweet. Use as you would honey or agave. Make sure it is truly gluten-free and contains no barley (sometimes used as enzymes in processing). *Recent studies reveal a higher than expected level of arsenic in organic brown rice syrup- while more testing is performed, you may wish to consider an alternative. See an ABC news report on arsenic in brown rice products here.

I've had good luck baking with all of these syrupy sweeteners, especially in moist, dense cakes like carrot or pumpkin cake, quick breads and fruity muffins. Again, the dry ingredient volume of a recipe is impacted here, so the batter or dough may need added bulk for structure and/or you may have to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe (lessen the liquid by 3 tablespoons). Again- less volume may mean using a smaller baking pan works best.

Sorghum molasses: You guessed it- it's derived from the gluten-free cereal grain sorghum. Molasses has iron and other minerals, and is considered a "healthier" choice than refined white sugar. I use it to make a soy-free tamari-style sauce (a spoonful mixed with a spoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of Asian spices, sea salt). It's also tasty in chili, baked beans, spicy cookies, cakes and muffins. It has a strong, assertive taste.

Raisins: I've used processed raisins (raisins zapped into grainy crumbs in my food processor) as my main sweetener in nutty drop cookies and breakfast style cookie bars. They add subtle sweetness and texture. Try using a combo of processed raisins and coconut in place of sugar. Add a touch of honey, molasses or raw agave to boost the sweetness and bind the dough. Note: FODMAP sensitive folks may have to be careful about adding too many raisins or coconut to a recipe.

Fruit: Pureed ripe bananas are very sweet and make gluten-free baked goods not only naturally sweet, but moist as well. They may also substitute for eggs in vegan baking. I think bananas taste best in fruit or vanilla based recipes. I don't care for them in a chocolate recipe- but you might. Some bakers use banana baby food- it's handy and easy to store; just make sure the brand of baby food is organic and gluten-free. You may have to adjust the recipe to accommodate the extra liquid or puree. Chopped or pureed fruits, applesauce, sugar-free preserves and jams, white grape fruit juice, and frozen juice concentrates (try frozen orange, apple or white grape juice concentrate) will sweeten batters and cookie dough. Adjust liquid levels in your recipe. And again- FODMAP sensitive individuals may need to limit the amount of added fruit and fructose in a recipe, for comfort.

iPhone photo of a street cafe table with coffee cups and Splenda packets
Pick your poison.

Better Think Twice Alternatives:

High Fructose Corn Syrup: No matter what the sun-drenched bucolic ad tells you, Babycakes, HFCS is not really a "natural" product. Mother Nature wouldn't recognize it. It's a monster-refined, processed cornstarch-derived product that is cheap and plentiful, thanks to government subsidies. HFCS appears to have a rapid impact on blood sugar levels and triglycerides, and is suspected to spike insulin levels, foster insulin resistance, and encourage Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It is processed by the liver. We avoid it like the plague.

Please read:

Splenda: Having used Splenda only once, in a pinch, while traveling, I have no experience to comment on how well it works for baking. It supposedly works as a sugar substitute, but.  

Personally, I wouldn't feed it to my dog, never mind my kids. It is processed sugar, modified using a chemical based process.

Bottom line- for me- is that Splenda is never going to be a product I would willingly put into my body- or feed to my children. If you must go zero calorie, look into the natural herb sweetener stevia, and find a gluten-free source.

Edit: The Center for Science in the Public Interest has downgraded Splenda from "safe" status to "caution". Read why here.

The --tols: I cannot recommend the alcohol based artificial or "natural" sweeteners such as sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, xylitol, etc. They are highly processed sugar alcohols and may cause cramping, bloating and IBS symptoms in sensitive individuals- especially those who react to FODMAPs (that would include moi).

New Notes:
Watch Sanjay Gupta- Is Sugar Toxic?
Watch this startling video lecture on sugar, fructose, and HFCS- its political history and far reaching effects. Thanks to reader Mike for sharing this link with me.
HFCS is seeking to re-brand itself now as "corn sugar". So if you see corn sugar on a label, don't get too excited. It's still the same junk.
The New York Times article that got me to start a sugar detox: Is Sugar Toxic?
Many health advocates and experts advise consuming no more than 2 tablespoons of sugar- total- a day. 

Peruse reader comments below for more information, links, opinions and tips. Note- I do not necessarily endorse or agree with every comment on the discussion thread below. It is a public discussion, a mix of facts, thoughts, and opinions. I encourage you to do your own research (using reputable sources) and inform your choices.


  1. Interesting. From what you said, I wondered if you knew that Splenda is made from sugar, it's not an artificial sweetener. There's something in the processing that makes the calories not be absorbed. (I know there's a lot of pro and con on this on the internet, but I'm a pro.) I've used it with good results, although I'm not much of a sweets eater, so I don't use much of it.

  2. I have used agave necter to sweeten my morning tea. I alternate between it and raw sugar. I really can't tell any difference other than it isn't as sweet. I generally use it for slightly sweetening green tea. I have only used the light agave necter not the dark which is supposed a bit of a stronger taste.

  3. Sorry to disagree, but Splenda is an artificial sweetener. Sure, it begins with sucrose, but it isn't sugar by the time the process is finished. Three of the hydroxyl groups of sucrose are replaced by chlorine atoms. It's a product of chemistry, and it's completely artificial. Google it and you'll find that it's described everywhere as an artificial sweetener. (Except maybe the Splenda website.) ;-)

    Of the alternatives you mention, the two I use regularly are stevia and agave nectar. Agave is actually sweeter than sugar, so you can use less of it for the same amount of sweetness. Like you, I use stevia in my coffee and tea, and I really like it.

  4. Hi Karina,
    I didn't mean to set off the Splenda wars, which have been raging on the internet for a while now. (Plus, I love Susan so I don't mind if she disagrees with me.) I did notice that Wikipedia calls Splenda an artificial sweetener, so maybe it's a common label. But sugar, fat, and salt are all completely natural, and not necessarily "healthy" for everyone.

    All I really know is that after avoiding sugar for more than two years, when I eat it now three things happen: I start craving more and more sugar, my energy level (which is normally consistently high) will go up and down, and if I keep eating it over a period of days, I will start to get moody and depressed. As I said, I'm not a big dessert eater, so if eating something with Splenda once in a while will help me avoid sugar, for me, I feel like it's a good choice.

    BTW, for those who really want to research it, there is a fair amount of evidence that the attacks on Splenda were funded by the sugar industry, and in 2005 Splenda sued them. So the battle rages on.

    Must teach school now. Darn.

  5. Karina,

    I did a little reading on stevia and why it works the way it does.
    You might be interested in my post on it.

  6. I've baked a lemon tart using agave nectar because I usualy use raw sugar for baking but I don't like the taste of it with lemon.
    The recipe is here:

    but it's in french!

  7. Hi Kalyn! You won't get any argument from me about sugar. Though it doesn't give me mood or energy swings, it does set off cravings for more and more of it (refined flours do the same thing to me). I don't have the same reaction to fruit or stevia, so I stick to them, except for very special occasions.

    Karina, here's a webpage that says that you can sub agave for sugar by reducing the liquid in the recipe by 1/3. She also gives some other info that may be helpful, including that agave is a low-glycemic sweetener, which may interest Kalyn.

    I sure wish I didn't have a sweet-tooth. Even photos of someone's luscious brownies can start up my cravings! :-)

  8. I've used agave as a sweetener in baking. It works fine. I also have used date sugar -- it works well for things like pineapple upside down cake -- in place of brown sugar. Or if you make a coffee cake, you can use it in the crumble topping.

    Be careful with the fructose. It can "adversely affect plasma lipids."

  9. I can tell you that I have had previously good experience using splenda as a baking substitute. HOWEVER, I recently figured out that it causes the same reaction in me as gluten does. Now, I am not a full-blown Celiac, just gluten-intolerant. But after some research I found out that DEXTROSE as an ingredient in foods - can have gluten in it. Not sure if everyone has found this to be true or not...

  10. So glad I found your blog, it's so terrific. I'm GF and I also try to avoid cane sugar. Your blog makes me want to go home and cook...and cook...and cook some more. Anyway, agave nectar is great. Tastes more like sugar than maple syrup or brown rice syrup does. Don't have to use as much of it since it's so concentrated.

  11. Anonymous09:52

    Hi Kalyn and others,

    I agree with you that "sugar," fat, and salt come in natural forms, which may be necessary or hazardous depending on the form/type and amount. However, when most people use the word or ingredient "sugar," they refer to processed/refined white sugar (even most brown sugar these days is this processed white sugar plus molasses for dark coloring). This form of sugar is not natural just the same way a hydrogenated/trans fat is not a natural (ie, not found naturally in nature) fat. Fructose, in contrast, would be considered a natural sugar - it's found in fruit in nature (and also nowadays packaged for cooking, as Jacyln pointed out). Since (regular, white) sugar is refined and has a very high glycemic index, it does not surprise me that someone such as yourself, who's been doing an awesome job on South Beach, starts craving more, experience depleted energy level, and get moody and depressed. This type of sugar is like a drug in that way because it spikes your glucose levels (sugar high) and then quickly wears off (moodiness, etc.), leaving you with cravings to repeat the sugar high. Caffeine (especially regular pop also has this effect (I can't consume more than a trace so I can't tell you); other individuals believe that high fructose corn syrup (also found in said pop, also has a super high glycemic level) causes peoples' sweet level to rise, which is also connected to cravings for more.

    Feeling this way about sugar, I use sugar very infrequently (I don't even sweeten my tea unless I'm sick and need the calories); the only product I have with HCFC in my kitchen is a Lea an Perrins Worcester sauce that I'm trying to finish and replace with a GF, corn free version (anyone know of one?). Instead, I try to use honey - I have several different varieties :) - agave nectar, and mashed ripe bananas (which has the advantage of moistening gf baking). When I need to use sugar, I definitely prefer and choose real brown sugar - the truly less processed form of sugar (this also moistens gf baking much better). I would suggest natural, un-dyed cane (juice) sugar over the plain white sugar because it might not cause such a severe case of your symptoms, being less refined. Try also mixing the sugar with some form of protein such as nuts to lower the overall glycemic index of the item. Overall, three cheers to you for using less of any sugar/sweetener to begin with; sweeteners definitely weaken humans' systems and we were never designed to consume it the way the average American does.

    *M.D.* (<- my initials; disclaimer: I'm not a physician)

  12. karen17:56

    On the Splenda issue and for those that feel the same way after using it as they do gluten, I've been told the dextrose is sourced from barley, which is a gluten no-no. I felt much better after taking it out of my kitchen!

  13. Great post!

    I stick with Stevia and Lo Han Guo because all sugar reacts the same in my body, whether it comes from fruit or the fat brown bag. I can relate to your cravings and mood swings, hence my sugarless low carb WOE.

    I've heard mixed reviews of agave, with some saying the high concentration of fructose is processed by the body like HFCS.

    Lo Han Guo is a tasty natural sweetener available as a pure extract (Life Solutions) and as a powder (Trimedica). It's not cheap, though. That's the problem with all of these good-for-you non-caloric sweeteners. ):

  14. Hi, Have been reading your blog on
    sugar blues and did not see anything on turbinado sugar what do you think of this as a sugar re-
    placement.We use Honey for almost
    everything now execpt ice tea and
    for baking Need advice on this.

  15. Wow, never talked to anybody else who couldn't tolerate artificial sweeteners. For the first few months after I went gluten-free, I couldn't figure out why I was still so sick. Then I gave up the diet soda and suddenly felt so much better!

  16. Have you heard of erythritol, Karina? No nasty side effects like other sugar alcohols, with almost zero calories and carbs (20 calories per cup!). It's naturally present in many fruits, and even our own bodies. It is excreted unchanged in the urine, not taking the usual path that other sugar alcohols take (hence the lack of side effects). It only works for cakes, cheesecakes, puddings, and other "moist" applications--not cookies. You can get it online for a much better price than at the health food store. In conjunction with stevia it sweetens like a dream!

  17. Whoo-hoo! Go, go gluten-free,processed sugar-free bakers! :D

    Another good point about agave is that it dissolves in COLD liquids! So it's great to use in home-made lemonade/limeade, or iced tea, etc.

  18. Interesting information on sugar. I happen to be on the con side of Splenda. Being that it is processed into an unnatural substance, your body will not know how to dispose of it. It will be stored in your tissues rather than metabolized and I for one don't want to be a guinea pig when it comes to discoveries of long term effects of this stuff. Agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc. are just fine in moderation. Just be aware that when it comes to sugar, it should be as close to its natural state as possible and used in moderation.
    Thanks again to everyone on the info - good to have one resource that spells out how each type of sugar reacts it terms of baking.

  19. Karina, I love your blog and have been reading it for over a year now. This is the fist time I've posted. I just wanted to add insult to injury regarding sugar and inform readers about Genetically Modified Sugar Beets. If you care about keeping GMOs out of your food, check this out:

    I recently broke my leg and have been trying to keep sugar (as well as a variety of other things bad for bone growth) out of my diet lately. Thanks for the tips on satiating my sweet tooth! Also, thanks for the lovely blogs about your husband and your broken hip. While I haven't found my true love yet, my mom came and took care of me for the first three weeks of my 6 weeks no-weight bearing sentence, and she was nothing short of goddess sent. Tough, I admit, to let others do for you, but worth it to have someone tell you how much they they love you.

  20. Monique Attinger16:44

    Another family of lower glycemic sweeteners are the "sugar alcohols". They are many, but the most common are maltitol (can't buy it but I've seen it in some foods like diabetic chocolate), xylitol (usually made from corn so not appropriate for corn allergies) and erythritol (which is made from sugar but is a sugar alcohol and NOT splenda). I've been able to buy organically-sourced erythritol; I've not had that kind of luck with xylitol. Xylitol has just under 10 calories per teaspoon, versus the 15 calories of sugar. Erythritol has no effective calories.

  21. I personally believe Splenda and artificial sweeteners are bad news. It is pretty widespread knowledge that Splenda was discovered accidentally when an insecticide was being developed. You can read about that on Wiki, also.

    I don't do well with xylitol either.

    I readily admit that I eat too much sugar. The only time I have success with the demon sugar is when I don't eat it at all or very rarely.

    We have honeybees, so I've just started using honey in my tea. I know that it's often said that all sugars are the same, but I don't believe that. With regular sugar, I want cup of tea (with sugar) after cup of tea for the sugar I've added (or treat after treat with sugar), but if I have honey in my tea, I don't crave any more. Honey is the only sweetener allowed on SCD so that make me believe it is processed differently and works better with the digestive system. I am specifically using it right now in a hot water, fresh ginger, fresh lemon, honey combo for cold/sore throat. Honey has many health benefits.

    HFCS also blocks leptin and in that way blocks the "I'm full" sensation. So many processed foods contain HFCS. It's another reason to eat real food vs processed.

  22. Molly15:25

    This was an interesting discussion for me to stumble across due to my recent learning experiences. I initially came across Karina's frustration(?) w/ new allergies which I too am figuring out. I am also a celiac who has had a stash of recipes that need to be rehashed due to newly discovered food intolerances. My biggest issue though is sugar. I have had to cut out all cane & corn sugars, which is an eye opener to say the least. I just wanted to put out there that you shouldn't resort to any of the refined or artificial sweeteners out in the marketplace. I just can't see that they're at all good for you & I'm a diabetic. I'm the one they're SUPPOSED to be good for. (They all mess w/ my head & digestive system). Somebody on here mentioned that it was hard to give up a certain sweetener & if it's that hard, you need to question if you are addicted. I was totally addicted to sugar & I was watching my intake like nobody's business. Now that I'm watching for not a speck of sugar at all, I can see that I was inadvertently feeding my addiction & the withdrawl was no fun either.

    Anyhow, in some roundabout way I was just trying to add my approval to the honey, agave, maple, date & other "alternative" sweeteners out there . I feel a million times better since I've been sticking to them! And yes, it's hard to modify the recipes again, but your health makes it worth it in the end, right?

  23. Thank you for this post! THANK YOU.
    (I haven't even read it all yet, but I'm so glad to have this info at my fingertips, as sugar is something that is a big (or a lot)mood altering for me... so, sigh, I must replace my love - my sugar - with substitutes. :(

    I've got ya bookmarked...

  24. Hey Karina,

    I was watching Iron Chef America the other day, and one of the chef's used something called Millet Syrup as a sweetener - I'm poking around the internet right now and found that it is also called Mizuame - but that seems to also mean a barley syrup (which wouldn't be gluten-free).

    Anywhoo....I can't find much on it - but that it can be found in Japanese specialty shops. I'll go on a field trip this weekend to the big Asian market near me and see what i can find. I'm thinking maybe it could work for you since agave is disagreeing with you. But I have no idea if it it similar in chemical make-up to agave.

    Anybody know anything about this?

  25. hmmm...or I guess it's also called Millet Jelly.

  26. Lindsay C.15:22

    I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE some recipes from Karina based on sugar-free and gluten free baking! I adore her recipes and they have helped changed my life.

  27. Anonymous10:55

    I was having terrible muscle aches, joint pain, absolute misery and then we ran out of makes me think perhaps it's more than a natural sweetener.

  28. Thank you so much for this informative article. You really summed up "sugar" in all it's forms and I love the idea of using ground-up raisins - what a fabulous idea.

  29. Anonymous01:57

    Migraines, allergies, carpal tunnel, arthritis, constant hot flashes, severe yucky skin condition, constant illness, extreme fatigue, progressively scary forgetfulness, depression. . .and the doctors said "Your thyroid is fine. You're just 31 with two little ones and carrying 20 pounds extra. That's normal. Lose a few pounds."

    Three years later, and almost non-functional, I quit sugar cold-turkey 2 weeks before Christmas. All of the above disappeared completely within one year, except the migraines which reappeared later in relation to artificial sweeteners. I feel great! Thank you for your helpful page, and your blog. It seems to be the artificials and the cane-based stuff I'm sensitive to, so I'm loving the agave. My whole family is gfcf too, so. . . .thanks!

  30. Hello! What are your thoughts on Rapadura? I really love it for baking, and have pretty much replaced white sugar with it in all my baking. I know less sugar in general is best, but does anyone have any thoughts on the use of Rapadura?

  31. Kim- I'm not familiar at all with the product you mention. - Karina

  32. Have you researched Palm sugar? It seems to be less processed then Agave nectar, and it's yummy. I had drizzled over vegan cheesecake a few weeks ago, and I loved it!

  33. I prefer to get my chlorine from the swimming pool, not Splenda! Rapadura is the same as Sucanat - dried sugarcane. Only the water has been removed from what I understand, therefore it's considered a 'whole' food, and doesn't have the same effect on the blood sugar.

  34. It's been 6 months since I stopped eating all refined sugars and grains, and I have successfully gotten rid of my CFS, fibromyalgia and have lost 14 kgs. I enjoy using maple syrup, honey, agave and coconut palm sugar (which I think is date sugar)as it provides a beautiful sweet taste without the huge overload on your body. I don't believe in eating food that you need a chemistry degree to create or understand. You should eat food as close to its most natural state as possible - that's why it was created with all the health benefits built in, NOT to process them all out! There's something to be said for the quote that you can live life happily and healthily exclusively in a fruit orchard, yet in a wheat field you'd starve.....

  35. Fabulous subject to address--you did it well. :)

    I'd encourage you to research agave nectar more. I know the following is long, and understand if you block it, but I think it's good information on agave nectar. :)

    Not sure if I have room to share links/materials, but will try: (Nope, it doesn't all fit) (long, but sounds worth it)

    From Paul Bergner via Henriette's herblist:

    I recently sent this to a colleague asking about agave nectar . . . .

    The process for making HFCS is to chemically strip the sugars off of the starch in corn, freeing them up. The process of making of agave nectar is similar (this is not agave sap), but the sugars are chemically stripped off of inulin starch, inulin being a fructo-oligosaccharide, having fructose as the dominant sugar in the chain, so the agave nectar might be 80-90% free fructose instead of 55% like the HFCS in soft drinks. Thus sugar is bad, HFCS is really bad, and Agave nectar is way worse than HFCS.
    Paul Bergner
    North American Institute of Medical Herbalism
    Medical Herbalism Journal

  36. Thanks for bringing up this timely topic, Karina.

    Fortunately for those of us who cannot eat a lot of carbs from sugar and starch, not all of the -tols are bad news! :) I have been successfully baking with stevia and erythritol for the past couple of years, and many of my readers are loving the combination too. If you have diabetes, sometimes your body can't handle "natural" sugar nor refined white sugar (without medications). After all, the molecules are the same whether your sucrose comes with a fancy name from Whole Foods, or in a 5 lb sack from the supermarket. Having a basic understanding of chemistry is actually pretty useful when determining what is safe for our individual health concerns. If you have abused your body with fake high carb transfat-filled foods for years, it might not be able to handle a lifestyle of eating from the orchard.

    Erythritol causes the least gastric upset. For me, it causes none if I eat erythritol-sweetened desserts with my main dish at meals. Erythritol is being used even in commercial products like Sobe Lifewater because it is so well tolerated. It is naturally present in some fruits. I personally cannot handle any other sugar alcohol very well.

    Karina, I have been reading your blog for the past two years, and getting inspiration for cooking gluten-free! Appreciate all of the love you put into your recipes and posts. You do feature lower carb recipes sometimes, which I love seeing! You seem to try to cater to all of the different groups of "food-challenged" people who read your blog. :)

  37. As my dear dad likes to remind me from time to time: everything in moderation, including moderation itself.

  38. I stopped using artificial sweeteners such as Splenda for the reasons others have mentioned.

    Just wanted to add that as a cancer survivor, it's best to avoid almost all sweeteners.

    In researching info on cancer I found quality clinical research on-line that indicated an increased risk of cancer from consuming artificial sweeteners. A 10% increase or more. Sugar and HFCS promote the growth of cancer as well. One doctor also told me to have no more than 2 fruit servings per day because too much fructose will also spur cancer growth.

    As far as I am concerned, if there's even a minor possibility these sweeteners could cause or contribute to cancer, I'm not going to use them. It's not a debate I would bet my life on. We all have cancer cells in our bodies, and most sugars and sweeteners feed them. Something to consider.

    I currently use Stevia, a product called Whey Low D that is low glycemic and occasionally Agave, but limit sweets in general. I am currently in remission and want to stay that way.

  39. Wow, Karina, you rock girl! This is great info. It is good to note that people with chronic pain (arthritis, Fibromyalgia, etc.) should do everything possible to avoid overly processed sugar - including maple syrup - and use less processed sugars like molasses, agave nectar and sucanat as it has less of a negative effect on the pain producers in the body. That being said, however, the less-is-more mentality is always best (which I know you agree with, and that is one more reason I love your blog!).
    Also: there has been some talk about large and small scale maple syrup producers that have been using chemicals (like formaldehyde and another one that currently escapes me) to boost sweetness or volume, so make sure to get your maple syrup from someone you trust if you still eat maple syrup.

  40. Thanks for the great blog article. Finally, a real discussion about sugar. I am a stevia-user, but really don't sweeten much of anything, and (like others) use bananas or blueberries in recipes such as muffins.

    One note about Europe, it is made from birch bark. Harder to find in north america as it is mostly made from corn. I did (a long time ago) find some on line in the US. Unfortuantely i can't remember where i got it! I had success baking with it, but found it really sweet, so cut quantities to 1/4.

    Xylitol is also supposed to be good for your teeth/cavities. So here's a question....why hasn't any large food corporation jumped on it...can you imagine the adverts: "ice cream that's good for your teeth" "Candy to fight cavities" Ha Ha!

  41. Coconut sugar....looks like brown sugar, lower glycemic load and tastes great. Discovered it at the local Hy-Vee store this weekend. is the website on the package. I haven't baked with it yet, but it was just fine in my tea and the gal giving the taste test said she had success baking with it.

  42. When I first found out about Splenda, I was excited, because I'm a type 2 diabetic. Unfortunately, I had a night where it made me very sick. To borrow a phrase from an article I later read about the dangers of Splenda, I think it "exploded" in my stomach. This incident set off a year long period of intestinal upsets, which resulted in a blood test showing I was gluten intolerant.

    On page 51 of Danna Korn's book, "Living Gluten Free for Dummies," she says one of the the 3 things that triggers Celiac Disease is an "environmental trigger." I now consider my event with Splenda to be my "environmental trigger."

    Since that incident I have stayed away from Splenda and have been using agave and stevia in my baking and drinks. On the other hand, my wife uses Splenda daily and has no problems.

    Stevia has a somewhat bitter aftertaste, but NuNaturals produces a blend of stevia called NuStevia that does not have this aftertaste. I have been using this in Karina's recipes too with success. NuNaturals has just come out with a new product called "MoreFiber" which supposedly you can substitute 1 for 1 with sugar. I have just started testing this in my baking. Also, I recently started using something called "Whey Low" which I'm liking.

    Many years ago one of my friends gave an Altoid to my dog, who later that night had a seizure. I couldn't make the connection, and neither could the Vet. But I recently learned that Altoid is made from Xylitol, which is now known to be dangerous and toxic to dogs. Even though it's not supposed to be harmful to humans, I won't have the stuff in my house.

    I'd also like to see more sugar free recipes. Thanks Karina for all you do.

  43. Thanks for such a well researched article. It's so difficult to know what choice to make!I'm supposed to have a gluten and lactose free diet, low GI,and fructose free....what's left? lol!

  44. I have been reading you now for a couple of years, and am always learning new things, and finding new recipes.
    I knew alot about the sugars mentioned, I cook for a diabetic-heart patient husband, and for me gluten free.
    I have baked with splenda with success, it does not make either of us ill. I do cut way back on recipes when I am converting them-I cut the sugar in half and then use half splenda and the other half organic sugar, or sorgham, or agave-etc. that alone really cuts the amount of sugar.
    this all does gets confusing on what is the best to use, I thought agave was good not that has problems, issues on splenda, really issues on all products-can make me crazy enough to not even bake again sometimes

  45. Karina, Thanks so much for this post!! Having ZERO intuition in the kitchen, I have worried about subbing without some instruction, but needing very much to break my sugar habit!

  46. Thanks for this great list of sugar alternatives! I have my own set of sugar woes - I can spot a fake sugar within 5 minutes (or less) of consuming by the migraine that it gives me. A migraine that's duration is determined by just how processed a "sugar" is.

    Splenda, unfortunately, gives me a doosie.

    I use honey, agave, brown rice syrup and turbinato/raw sugar in baking alongside fruits, and have found all of them to work great. Stevia is the one that I can't quite get past the taste on though.

    Being someone who formerly had a MASSIVE sweet tooth, I have found over time that most things are now too sweet for me. Go figure. Take the refined junk out of the diet and suddenly it's no longer tasty.

    Thank you for suggestions on how to use the different natural sweeteners. I hadn't used the syrups to replace dry sugars much yet, as I was unsure the ratios - but now that I know, there will be even less evaporated cane juice in my baking.

  47. Your food pictures are so beautiful! What kind of camera are you using?

  48. Interesting article and comments that follow. I recently found Evaporated Palm juice and coconut crystals - both are "whole" foods and sweeter than sugar - and both bake well - the coconut crystals are supposed to have a significantly lower glycemic index than sugar. I baked (your WW chocolate zucchini bread) last night with a mixture - and I'm waiting to see today if they've kicked off the same sugar cravings I get when I bake with sugar. (don't like to use splenda)

    Also - wondered if you'd ever checked into baking with coconut flour? I've been making pancakes with it for some time now - higher in fiber than regular flour and only 1 gram of carb per pancake - Makes a nice alternative to eggs for breakfast.

  49. Wow! Great suggestion list. I use some of these and I am appreciative to have even more options. Thanks so much!

  50. this exists in missouri:

    it's made on a missouri IC/eco-village called Sandhill and it's sooo good; tastes SO MUCH like honey, it's a little scary. i love it.

  51. as always, thanks for such a fantastic overview. And I agree with the coconut/palm comments. It's delish, and eco friendly!

  52. I identified my sensitivity to sugars 25 years ago and have been cooking and baking with sugar alternatives since then. I favor the more natural ones: fruits, fruit-juice concentrates, date sugar, honey, and brown rice syrup. I do use agave syrup as well. I use all of them VERY sparingly.

    18 months ago my husband and I expanded our healthful eating by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet which excludes wheat, corn, dairy, pork, citrus, potatoes, tomatoes, alcohol, all refined sugars, all processed food, limits soy and all sweeteners, and encourages organic foods. It's been an amazing journey of restored health with many benefits including reversing my early signs of arthritis. I now know I also have a sensitivity to corn and corn products.

    Before this diet I used fructose, which I found at our local co-op, with good results. Then I began to feel less well after eating it. While purging our pantry of non-anti-inflammatory foods, I read the fructose label and discovered it was derived from corn, not fruit. So, check your source for fructose carefully!

  53. P.S.
    Karina: Thank you for a wonderful site: great recipes, information and great discussions!

  54. Karina, I love your site, have tried many of your recipes, all of them substituted with agave nectar. I am mexican, living in Mexico and agave nectar is an excellent alternative for those of us that have sugar free diets. My blog is in Spanish and recently created, we've been in the GFCFSFSF diet for three months and we have seen wonderful benefits, specially on myself and two of my kids, that have some allergies. I would like to have a more-private chat with you about your article. I want to know if you give me permission to translate it into spanish and publish it (with all the appropriate credits to you--as the super author!). Well, I will be looking forword to hear from you. Looooveeeee!
    ileana. cancun. mexico

  55. Hey there! Wonderful post--I have a few questions if you don't mind!
    I was just diagnosed with both a dairy and REFINED sugar intolerance, soo i'm becoming a lot more familiar with this "alternative sweeteners". SO, my questions!
    I LOVE baking. LOVE IT. But am not sure what to substitute for packed brown sugar. I hear brown rice syrup can provide similar that true? Also, what about a substitute for powdered icing sugar ? Like to make frosting? I purchased the cookbook "vegan cupcakes take over the world" and only 2 frosting recipes are sweetened with agave rather than powdered sugar. :\ mention some maple syrups contain casein? Would that be mentioned in the ingredient list? (I live in Canada, all our stuff says 'pure' but now i'm worried!)
    Thanks so much! :)

  56. Agave nectar is highly processed and can have the same effect on the body as corn syrup. There have been many studies done on Agave nectar and the conclusion is that it is no different than any other highly processed sweetener. I was upset when I found this out because I was thrilled to finally have found a sweetener that I could use. Now I use stevia most of the time.

    Also, fructose without the fiber of fruit to lessen its impact on your pancreas, is not good for you.

    I've done a lot of research on sugars and various sweeteners and my conclusion is everything in moderation. I use stevia most of the time, but I'll still use sugar when baking. I just limit myself to how many baked items I allow myself.

  57. Hi Karina, I love your blog and have been reading it for years. Thank you!

    Just a note about Beet sugar: more than 95% of US Sugar Beets are now genetically modified. These "Roundup Ready" sugar beets are engineered to be tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate. If anyone is concerned about GMO consumption, you may want to consider cane sugar or other sugar substitutes!

  58. Stevia: PLEASE don't give up on it as a sweetener until you have tried Sweet Leaf or Sunflower brands. They both have plain but Sweet Leaf has about a dozen flavors which can satisfy just about anyone. I have recommended it to many people who hated Stevia and they LOVE it. They have even been able to give up the milk / creme in their coffee.

    Chocolate - put in a dark coffee mug & hot water for faux Hot Chocolate or add to coffee
    Valencia Orange, Lemon Drop, Peppermint - tea or water
    Apricot Nector, Grape, RootBeer, Berry - sparkling mineral water or water
    Chocolate Rasberry, English Toffee, Hazelnut, Cinnamon, Vanilla Cream - coffee
    Thank you Paul Bergner and others for the truth about Agave!
    Thank you Karina for this wonderful post!!!

  59. Thanks for all the wonderful info about baking with alternate sweeteners. I'm trying to cut down on my sugar intake and these are some great tips Karina.

    One thing I've found really useful in baking is (Coconut) Palm Sugar. It comes in little bags as granulate or "puck" form. It's amazingly low on the glycemic index - only a 35. It's got a wonderful subtlety sweet flavor. I don't find it to taste like coconut at all. In granulated form it's got a texture akin to turbinado/brown sugar and I've subbed it at a one to one ratio.

    I've found a place online to buy it -
    I expect you can find it at too

    I've also found it sold in puck form at Chelsea Thai in the Chelsea Market, NYC. If they don't have it out on the shelf just ask them at the counter and they'll bring it to you.

    One puck equals 1/4 cup of sugar.

    You'll need to soften the pucks slightly before trying to either grind them in the food processor or grate by hand. Definitely do NOT heat the pucks for too long or they turn into a horrible, gooey mess that will re-harden into almost unbreakable form. Trust me on this point, I have first hand experience.

    Considering how hot it's been in NJ these days I haven't been baking a whole lot - and even though I'm not wishing my summer away I am looking forward to getting some treats into the oven.

    All the best!

  60. This is great! Just today I was asking someone what sucanat was. I make all wheat/sugar/dairy free baked goods and usually use agave or maple syrup. Thanks for the list!

  61. Simone16:15

    Agave syrup is not raw, not is it a healthy choice, according to several sources, such as Mercola and Weston A Price. The process of getting it into it's convenient little plastic bottles is similar to that of High fructose corn syrup. The way it's metabolized in our bodies is similar to HFCS as well. I use it for clients who can't tolerate any other form of sugar, but am not a fan of it in my own kitchen!

  62. Anonymous01:31

    Hey! Love this sight just discovered it today and have been on it for the last 2 hours. I just found out 3 days ago I have intolerances to wheat,dairy and white sugar. I'm still a little confused though, does that mean I can still eat raw sugar and brown/dark cane sugar? Or are these still considered "white" with molasses added to them to make them dark. I love to bake but don't want to risk using the wrong sugar. I guess palm sugar would be a safer alternative? If you wouldn't mind answering my questions I'd be so appreciative! It's so good to have people to talk to about this stuff!

  63. Hi Em, If you are allergic to cane sugar and sugar cane syrup/molasses, then brown sugar or raw sugar won't work for you.

    There is beet sugar. And palm sugar. I'd ask your specialist/doctor whether these alternatives will work for you. Good luck! Glad you found the blog! Karina

  64. This may get lost but I thought I'd try. My son (age 7) has a fructose intolerance. His pancreas doesn't create enough of the enzyme responsible for breaking down fructose and so when it enters the digestive tract it causes all sorts of trouble including bowel infections, diarrhea and weight loss. It's been difficult... it took a very long time to figure out what was happening. And I find fructose is in everything! I'm struggling to figure out what to pack for lunch. Fructose is in wheat, it's in table sugar, it's everywhere. If anyone has thoughts I'd love to hear them.

  65. Anonymous08:32

    Karina, I love your blog and the fabulous recipes, I discovered it after I was put on a low FODMAP diet. This diet ( and the research done by DR Sue Shepherd ) explains why many gluten - intolerant people also cannot tolerate fructose, fructans, lactose, polyols ( such as xylitol, sorbitol etc) and numerous other foods. If there is anyone out there with odd reactions to widely divergent food groups ( onions anyone?), I'd strongly advise you to check out the research on this diet!

  66. Dear Karina, I have been reading your blog every day and using it as my main GF resource. I also value your other healthy alternatives. I use organic agave and honey for most of my sweetening, but for the chewy recipes what is the healthiest option? I have been using organic evaporated cane juice for crumb toppings or chewier cookies. Is their a healthier recommendation for me?

  67. Thanks, again, Everyone, for this great discussion! xox

    Audrey, I personally like honey, or GF brown rice syrup. I also like organic light brown sugar. I eat one treat a day, so a little pure cane sugar isn't an issue for me. xox


  68. Anonymous03:36

    Hi Karina,
    I am so excited to find your blog! thank you for doing it.
    I eat "sugar" free due to being hypoglycemic & avoiding diabetes which is very prevalent in my family. Anyways.....
    You mentioned that concentrated fruit juices are a way to make treats sweeter but those that are watching their glycemic levels must never ingest concentrated fruit juices. These juices have a very large amount of sugar added to them to enable the concentration process. Beware.

  69. Anonymous14:41


    I have been experimenting with a new sweetner called Just Like Sugar. It is a bit expensive but I found it to be the closest thing to real sugar. The only problem I'm having is when I bake with it. I am realizing that I need to add more liquids and not sure how that would affect the gf flours. Maybe some time you could try your hand at it and let the rest of us amateurs know how to sub it.

  70. Anonymous17:46

    Hi Karina,
    I am so happy I found your site. I have a son diagnosed as autistic. Have attempted to go on the gluten free diet about a yr ago or so, however found it hard d/t having a large family, not enough time to balance work demands, cooking,expense of this diet,the amt of time I spend w/my son at therapies, etc etc. I am willing to give it another try and trying to re-learn over again as I've forgotten some of the things that I shouldnt be using for this diet. I just want to help my son as much as I can, and avoid to lose my sanity at the same time. I say this because I love to cook and bake and my family just likes hearty full flavored foods and it will really be a big challenge going back on this diet. But rather than dive in full force, decided to eliminate stuff in my full pantry that is obviously of wheat origin first. What is it about sugar that supposedly makes it not gf cf?
    And can I just use turbinado and maybe grind it in my blender , is that ok for the gf cf diet?
    Appreciate it

  71. GK- It's not a gluten or casein issue with sugar; sugar is inherently gluten-free and casein-free, unless additives or non-GFCF flavorings are added to it.

    It's a behavior/mood issue for some, and a blood sugar issue for others. For many it's a weight gain issue.


  72. Penny21:33

    Thank you, Karina, for this posting! Very useful because of my allergy to sugar.

  73. I had no idea about the possibility of casein in maple syrup! I just posted this to my Facebook wall with that info. Thanks, Karina!

  74. Good article! I do use sugar in GF cakes for special occasions but I try to stick to unrefined organic sugar. When cooking for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I use honey, it is a monosaccharide and therefore easily digested. I find acacia honey is the best honey for baking since it has a mild taste. I'm still watching the on-line health debate about Agave Nector and prefer not to use it yet, it's inulin content makes it unsuitable for the SCD anyway. Generally though sugar in all forms can be cancer causing and I now try to avoid it most days.

  75. Anonymous22:39

    Here's a thought... How about not using ANY sweetener? At least, very rarely. I love Karina's recipes for the rare treat and I love to bake so I cook for others who prefer to be addicted to the sugar drug.
    I use no sweetener in my smoothies - just fresh, in season fruits (or frozen in season) and guess what: you get used to it quickly!!! I cook with real food and use herbs and spices (see most of Karina's veggie recipes).
    Sugar is a habit and an addiction. You (as I was) are being controlled by it. I am free, you can be too.

  76. I'm having great success with stevia and erythritol. Made a gf sf cheesecake tonight. A coconut cream pie a few weeks ago. Erythritol doesn't effect my blood sugar and doesn't cause gastro problems. It's not as sweet as sugar, but the combination with stevia works. I bought some Zsweet (another erythritol blend) from amazon tonight--I'm excited to use it. Expensive compared to sugar, but since we're limiting our sweet treats (even the sugar free kind!) then it's not so bad.

  77. DANG! I had no idea that maple syrup may not be vegan. I must have been lucking out with the brand I have been using or the residual casein may have been below my threshold for an adverse reaction. Anything dairy and I are a horrendously bad mix so I avoid it like the plague.

    Splenda is freaking scary. Modified by adding chlorine. Oh yeah, that sound so healthy. I also had my one Splenda product reaction that was sufficient to get me to research it to see what made me so sick. I am still not sure but I am convinced that is it NOT as safe as it claims to be and to be avoided at all costs.

  78. Really interesting post, and just as interesting to read all the comments!
    I have to admit I don't have a huge issue with sugar, I just belive in moderation. I use raw unprocessed sugar in the home, but we don't eat much at all. I have used agave for a recipe and found it to be a very lovely soft sweetner with none of the sharpness. The cost here is rather prohibitive though.
    Thanks for the food for thought!

  79. I personally use Xylitol. It's a birch sugar alcohol that has 40% less calories than sugar, and a very low glycemic index (13 vs 100 of sugar) because it's broken down completely independently of insulin (so it's 100% diabetic safe). It's also fabulous if you have cavities or candida because yeast and bacteria can't survive using it; it's often used as a sweetener for cavity-prevention chewing gums, mouthwashes, and toothpastes.

    It tastes just like table sugar, and works in baking but NOT WITH YEAST, so breads and other rising doughs will have to be sweetened with something else.

  80. Doesn't stevia have gluten in it? My dietician told me that I shouldn't use stevia because something in the processing uses gluten :-/

  81. For people with corn allergies that would like to use Xylitol, I really like Emerald Forest (AND they're American-grown birch trees!) Also, the glycemic index is actually 7 (not 13 as I said before! Sorry!)

  82. Great post Karina! After our discussion a few months ago about sugar cane being in the grass family (and I'm environmentally allergic to over 26 varieties of grass, plus I have a food allergy to corn and of course I have celiac disease too), when I removed sugar and corn from my diet, the improvement was startling to me, my seasonal allergies are next to nil! So, thank you for pointing out the connection! :-D

    I also didn't know that maple syrup could be clarified with casein, I better go check up on that asap!

  83. I would LOVE to see some gluten-free recipes using stevia. My son actually can't have gluten, soy, dairy, or eggs. and I am no-sugar.

    Some people are trying to say that agave nectar is even worse for you than HFCS. Do you have any comments on this? I don't agree, especially when it comes to organic raw agave nectar.

  84. Anonymous13:07


    ANy desire to do a post on the different sugars - as in Demerara, muscovado, turbinado, etc? Are they all variations of processed sugar? Thanks!

  85. KJ - I don't know about store bought stevia. But it's an incredibly easy plant to grow at home!
    "Raw" agave is in fact not raw, it's heated above 140 degrees for several hours :( Sort of how "raw" almonds and cashews are never actually raw (unless you really find the good stuff), despite what the label says.

  86. Great post! I am on day 13 sugar-free and have never felt better!

  87. Anonymous18:11

    Does anyone know anything about Lakanto?

  88. Barb20:48

    NuNaturals More Fiber is not gluten free! I have that direct from the company. They are working on a gluten free version and suggested getting back to them in 3 or 4 months to see if they have been successful. There are oats in it and they are not gluten free.

  89. Thanks so much for this helpful information! I really appreciate the substitutions that you provided :) Terrific!!!

  90. Really happy that you are so willing to do what it takes to be healthy. I just feel sugar can weaken us in many ways and ways that weren't even mentioned in the NYT article. Can't wait to keep reading on your progress.

  91. Wow, what a great post and what interesting comments! One new sweetener I've found - coconut nectar. I've only found Coconut Secret to make it so far. It's supposedly better than agave (well, the heated agave at least...I only use raw agave) because it's lower in fructose. It's also raw. It's GI is about a 35, so it's pretty low. It's thick and sticky, kind of like molasses and honey. I love the flavor - slightly less sweet than agave, but lovely molasses-like notes. I minimize my added sugar intake as much as possible, but when I do bake, I use a variety of sweeteners - agave nectar, honey, coconut palm sugar, coconut nectar, stevia, applesauce and bananas, and pureed dates and prunes. Other than refined sugar and HFCS, (and the artificial sweeteners, even xylitol and Splenda - they don't agree with my tummy) I'm basically an equal opportunity sweetener user - I love the differences in each of them. But I agree with a lot of the other commenters - you should limit how much sweetener you use, regardless of what variety. The natural sweetness of foods really shines when you stop sweetening everything in sight.

  92. Awesome post Karina!! I'm leading a group sugar detox start this week and this is a great resource for me to send clients to. I love your blog and ironically, I wrote something this weekend that talks about the problem of sugar addiction amongst ppl suffering with gluten intolerance and celiac. So glad that this is another written testimony to the dangerous power that sugar has over us!

  93. I've been wanting to do a sugar detox with my son and husband. I'm not a big sugar eater anyways, it makes me feel blah!
    Regarding the Splenda, even though it started out as sugar it is changed using chemicals...I saw this on t.v. a while ago. No Splenda or sweeteners in our house.
    Every food or drink doesn't have to be sweet!

  94. Anonymous20:22

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post...your blog is my #1 cookbook :) I have a question someone else mentioned earlier but there was no answer....I am allergic to cane sugar (among many other things) and have had a hard time finding any frosting recipes that don't require powdered sugar...any ideas would be so much appreciated! Thanks :0)

  95. To update my previous comment, the gf sf cheesecake I made using erythritol and nunaturals liquid stevia was AWESOME. Served it to company. My husband--who is not a fan of my gf sf kick--said it rocked. No gastro distress at all, even in our toddler. No blood sugar change for me at all (I splurged on Mother's Day and had a slice with coffee for breakfast. My bg dropped in an hour.)

  96. Great post! I'm for Agave, honey and raw sugar. Can't get myself to like Stevia, but I may try the brand you suggested. I too wouldn't feed my kids Splenda so I stay away even though it's a low calorie option. I'll share this on FB. Thanks for the wonderful post.

  97. Anonymous16:07

    Thanks for the post. My wife is a diabetic and we were looking for some kind of non sugar route. This may not work (we'd have to check with a doctor) but at least we know its possible

  98. Hi Karina,
    So glad to have come across your blog as I have recently decided to go back to wheat/sugar/dairy free living due to constant allergies.
    I love your recipes and am hoping beyond hope that you will experiment with some sugar free recipes sweetened with stevia (I'm not allowed any other sweetener right now). I'll be your soul slave forever! While I am a great cook (if I do say so myself), I am a horrible baker and many recipes flop because I try and tweak them...I need an expert tweaker in my corner!
    Thanks so much,

  99. chris r20:55

    Thanks for your blog -- my husband has newly-diagnosed celiac. Your recipes are delicious, and all of the recipes I've read so far don't have rice! Wow! Thank you for your gift delicious and gluten-free food!

  100. Charity12:10

    I would like to comment on the Splenda debate. i do not feel it is a safe alternative to sugar and this opinion comes from experience. A few years ago, I was using Splenda and the Splenda Brown Sugar in all my baking to try and cut calories. In November 2009, I developed a rash on my arm that wouldn't go away. I went to an allergist and was diagnosed with "itchy skin" and was put on steroids for a month. The steroids cleared it up, but within a week of getting off them, the rash came back and was much worse. At this point, I had been dealing with the issue for 4 months. I became desperate and started doing research on unusual rashes. I came across information of people complaining of similar rashes on arms and legs, eczema on eyes (which I thought was an allergic reaction to my sons pet) and other weird issues. These people were blogging as they found it related to Splenda. I decided to give the Splenda up and within two the rash went away and has never come back. Since then, my sister has had a similar reaction and discovered she shouldn't have it either.

    The fact is, it has not been around along enough for the true side effects and issues to be discovered. It is not a safe product and I personally believe it should not be on the market.

  101. This is such a great post, thank you for all the wonderful information on the various sugars! I'm on day 5 of no sugar, caffeine, or processed foods. Doing lots of various green drinks and vegetable dishes - so far so good!

  102. I recently discovered your blog, thanks for this post especially. All of North America should read it as refined sugars rule way to many individuals diets.

    Just wanted to make a note about Agave. My Naturopath isn't a fan of Agave neither is an Holistic Nutritionist friend of mine. Both said it's highly processed and it reacts in the body like corn syrup. I still need to take a look at the research the Holistic Nutritionist did but didn't want everyone loading up on it just yet.

    Personally, I use brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup and maple sugar for baking, they're great. Coconut sugar is supposed to be great too so that's next to try!

    Happy Baking everyone.

  103. Anonymous00:22


    I noticed you didn't include date syrup on your list. It is 100% nectar from dates. Check out

  104. Have you tried erythritol yet, Karina? It is markedly different from the other -tols. I've had great success over at my blog for the past few years using it, and haven't received any complaints. ;)

  105. Mandy03:09

    I was googling a recipe for my daughter's bday cake and came across your blog! i love it and thank you!
    wanted to mention that no one (at least that i've seen so far in the comments) brings up the health concerns about stevia, which if consumed often, can been linked to infertility in men and was approved in the u.s. in the 70s, (or was it the 80s? i forget now!) then taken off the shelf by the usda.
    just thought it is something important to explore when considering using it as a daily supplement for sugar! thanks again!

  106. Anonymous10:27

    Hi. I didn't read through all the comments, but wanted to know if anyone's tried rice syrup as a sugar substitute? It works well in pudding recipes, but I haven't yet ventured in using it for baking. Rice syrup, as opposed to other sweeteners, is nearly pure glucose, which the body can metabolize and use, as opposed to fructose, which the body doesn't quite know what to do with, and so converts to fat and stores in the liver.

  107. I am almost 2 months into a soy, dairy, wheat and sugar free diet. I LOVE LOVE LOVE baking and was really starting to miss it. I've checked out a few of your recipes and I'm definitely inspired again. Before I found this section about sugar free substitutes, I stupidly stumbled onto Coconut Sugar in Natural Grocers. I tried replacing it one to one with brown sugar and it works amazingly. I have made the buckwheat choc chip cookies and the pizza crust and used it in my everyday cooking where a little sweetener is needed. Going to try the dinner rolls this week...not sure if they required sugar or not...
    Thank you...Thank you...Thank you

    1. Hi Jeanette,
      I am meant to be soy dairy wheat ad sugar free too... It always seemed to be too hard to try, but now my body is in overload and demanding it... I just stumbled across this site and am pretty stoked! I never heard of anyone else the same before so it is amazing to se your comment and I wondered if you would be happy to keep in contact and maybe give me a few tips?

    2. or recipe locations... that would be amazing...I have just weaned myself off my WAY too many pieces of fruit a day habit, lol. And I love to bake, sigh. Hummus or stewed apples are my only 'treat or comfort food' now

  108. I use only coconut crystals in place of brown sugar and coconut syrup for everything else. This is a wonderful substitution for sugar. I use to use agave but I understand that it too is over processed and converted into sugar.

  109. I am a huge fan of coconut crystals and coconut syrup. I use it on everything, agave was my sweetener of choice until I read that it is over processed and is converted into sugar. I have many food allergies and I am very thankful that the coconut products came about. It's unfortunate that it is so expensive I get mine at Whole Foods.

    Splenda is NOT zero calories as advertized.
    600x sweetener than suga so they have to use maltodextrin or dextrin added bulking agent =99% of what's in a splenda packet = sugar and 1% or less of splenda. 4 calories per packet of splenda. labeling loophole allows for companies to say "zero calories".
    CHLORINE in splenda is attached in "covalent bond" instead of ionic bond like most natural foods (COVALENT BONDS NOT FOUND IN NATURE = SYNTHETIC). So it will NOT dis-associate ! examples of synthetic covalent bonds are:
    Is the Zero calorie deception worth it????

  111. I don't know exactly what Lo Han Guo, but tears my stomach up. I stick with Honey, Agave and a little stevia. I've been reading to limit stevia because it is an herb. Herbs affect everyone differently and can be over done too. I'm hearing side effects with stevia long term. I assume that could be what that is about? I've been using stevia for 10 yrs and now taking a break after hearing this. I still have chronic fatigue and other issues. I prefer fresh fruit & smoothies to satisfy my cravings over all!! :)

  112. Organic coconut sugar is awesome! it carries 4 gr. rather than 15gr. per tsp of reg sugar...its great in recipes and a heartier taste... I love it--and its solves my problem.


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Wishing you a delicious and beautiful day!

Karina - Gluten-Free Goddess xox