If you’re preoccupied with healthy eating, sugar may top your enemies list. That doesn’t mean you have to give up pastries and baked goods, but that you should learn how to replace sugar with honey in your recipes.
It’s the beginning of spring and it’s time for new resolutions, right? The first on my list: losing weigh of course! The first on my colleagues’ list: giving up sugar for a month! Even if I’m not ready to ditch the sugar entirely – my diet already restricts a lot of food types – I started to look for smart ways to replace sugar with a natural and healthier sweetener. And the first thing that came to mind was honey! Fortunately, I can buy some raw honey from a local beekeeper so that’s perfect for me!
What honey has and sugar doesn’t
Sugar means empty calories and it doesn’t contain any vitamins or minerals. Added sugar is so unhealthy that it’s probably the worst ingredient in the modern diet, according to Healthline.com. But what can you do when you love sweets and baked goods but you still want to eat healthier? The answer is honey: a versatile natural sweetener that can be used instead of sugar in baking, sauces and hot drinks.
Honey is made up of fructose (40 percent), glucose (30 percent), and water, and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Honey is still high in calories and leads to blood sugar levels rising. 1 cup (339 grams) of honey has 1031 calories, notes Nutritiondata.self.com. So, you should use it in moderation.
Due to its high level of fructose, honey is sweeter than table sugar. If you want to replace sugar with honey in a recipe that asks for sugar, you should use less honey. Also, because honey is liquid, you'll need less fluid in the recipe.
6 rules to follow when you replace sugar with honey
1. Use less honey than sugar.
Honey can be twice or even three times sweeter than sugar, depending on the honey. Usually, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor. If you want to replace sugar with honey in – let’s say – a cake recipe, replace every 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 to 2/3 cup of honey.
2. Reduce the liquids
Unlike sugar, honey is made up of about 20 percent water. What does this mean? It means that, when you want to replace sugar with honey, you must reduce the total amount of liquids in the recipe to counter the extra liquid from the honey. If you eliminate 1/4 cup of other liquids from the recipe for every 1 cup of honey you're using, the cake should bake just fine.
4. Lower oven temperature
Honey caramelizes quicker than sugar, which gives a darker color to your baked goods. If you don’t want your baking goods to turn too brown too quickly, all you need to do is lower the temperature of your oven (by 25 degrees F/4 degrees C). Plus, keep a watchful eye on it, at least until you get used to how honey works.
5. More beating
If the recipe you choose to make requires beating, when you replace sugar with honey, be prepared for more vigorous beating compared to sugar recipes.
6. Add baking soda
Even if the recipe doesn't contain baking soda, you'll need to add a little. Because honey is naturally acidic, baking soda will help balance that acidity. And that will allow the baked good to rise properly. As a general rule, add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for every 1 cup of honey you use.
How to choose your honey
When you decide to reduce the sugar in your diet and replace it with honey, be careful where you buy it! It’s important to be sure that the honey you are consuming is actually real honey! “American consumers buy about 400 million pounds of honey per year, but US producers only supply 150 million pounds. So foreign businesses, especially manufacturers in China, are selling honey cut with cheap sweeteners, sugar water, or high-fructose corn syrup”, according to Health Impact News.
If you’re only concerned with health (not with calories), honey is the better sweetener. Its sugars are easier to process by your body, and it provides you with important nutrients that you can’t find in regular sugar. When you replace sugar with honey, be aware of its flavor, that depends on the flowers it’s made from.
Even if you know that honey is healthier than sugar, you may not be capable to avoid the latter completely for the rest of your life. And that’s OK, as long as you don’t consume too much of it! According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) if you are a woman, and 150 calories per day (37.5 grams. or 9 teaspoons), if you are a man.