Sugar swaps – cheat sheet

I’ll admit I don’t have a sweet tooth…I have SWEET TEETH!  Since giving birth to my boys I just love something sweet after dinner…and lunch.  However it used to make me feel really yuk, talk about no energy, lack of motivation, mood swings and it wasn’t doing my skin any favours at all or my butt.  So in order to survive I’ve had to come up with some healthier indulgences to get my sweet fix minus the guilt.  Plus I get to ensure my boys don’t feel left out as these alternatives make them smile too.

Below are a list of my favourite alternatives to the white stuff and just because I want to ensure you don’t feel deprived I’ve also included a corresponding recipe to each. 

These natural sweeteners defy the dogma that all sugar is bad.  So instead of refined sugar try these healthier sugar alternatives:


Although honey is made up of mostly simple sugars and water, it has many medicinal properties, including its ability to help heal skin wounds and ulcers.  Its effectiveness lies in its levels of vitamins C, D, E, K and B-complex and beta-carotene, minerals, enzymes, and essential oils.  It’s also a natural antibiotic and rich in antioxidants, making it effective at fighting respiratory infections and often used as a cough suppressant.  Choose the darkest honey you can find, as it contains more nutrients.  Bickwheat, avocado, sagebush and tupelo honeys are good choices as well as manuka honey.  With manuka honey a UMF (unique manuka factor) of 10 and above is considered very beneficial.  Beware however of the fake honey that are ultr-purified and has had all traces of pollen removed.  These are easily spotted as they are pale in colour and sold in squeezy plastic bottles.

Enjoy my paleo banana bread

Maple syrup

This natural sweetner is gaining ground as an energy-boosting, healthy alternative to refined sugar. Recent studies have found that its rich in phenolic compounds, which all have anti-cancer, antibacterial and anti-diabetic properties as well as manganese and zinc.  In addition it contains 15 times more calcium than honey and less salt.  Interestingly the zinc in maple syrup helps support men’s reproductive health, so be take care if you’re done building your family! 😉

Look for 100% organic maple syrup as cheap products are simply corn syrup with maple flavouring.

Try drizzling maple syrup over these gorgeous pancakes for a breakfast that’s heavenly


Immunity boosting dates are high in potassium, supply slow releasing sugars and provide a range of other essential nutrients.  They’re a good source of fibre, protein, minerals including magnesiym, manganese, selenium and zinc.  As they’re a great source of fibre, they aid digestion and promote bowel regularity.  Although high in sugar, they benefit blood sugar control as their sugar is released slowly.  Dates are also a traditional remedy for sore throats and colds. Dates often come in the dried variety.  The drying process concentrates all the nutrients so only a few are needed.  Look for dates that have not been treated with sulphites.

These date muffins are a firm favourite with my boys

Brown rice syrup                            

the-skinny-on-fats-4Also called rice malt syrup or simply rice syrup. Brown rice syrup is made from fermented cooked rice and is a blend of complex carbohydrates, glucose and maltose. It’s 100% fructose-free giving it, its high popularity.  When people eat a diet that is high in calories and high in fructose, the liver gets overloaded and starts turning the fructose into fat.  This is where some prefer to chose brown rice syrup over other natural sweetners, however since it has no real nutritional value I tend to use this for only one recipe because of its consistency and stick with the others above.

Here is my super popular no bake nut free muesli bars that’s perfect for kids school lunches and mamas on the run

Other sugar alternatives I use are of the dried variety including apricots, sultanas, gogi berries and cranberries. I look for ones that don’t have sulphites in them, a preservative chemical that can have adverse health effects, especially on kids.

Rapadura and coconut sugars are also an option to the white stuff.  I use these sugars to make my amazing dairy free chocolate icing.  You’ll have a whole new appreciation for avocados too thanks to this recipe!

Introducing the best dairy free chocolate icing ever. 

About Sharon Selby:

As a Health Coach, wellness writer, speaker, cooking class instructor and founder of, a web based holistic nutrition practice and healthy recipe resource, I love teaching mums that healthy eating is fun, easy and best of all delicious.  So join me.  Ditch the junk and live deliciously.


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