Thanks to Sarah Wilson I have three copies of her ebook the I Quit Sugar Cookbook to give away. To be in the running leave a coment on this blog post and share your favourite healthy vegetarian Sugar Free recipe, including a photograph, with me via the Veggies and Me Facebook page. The three winners will be judged on Sunday July 1st and announced on Monday July 2nd.

In my personal quest to eat healthy, maintain a heathy weight, feel and look good, I have been researching alternatives to refined sugar. 

One of sugar’s major drawbacks is that it raises your insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which in turn depresses the immune system. Refined sugar is therefore to be avoided if you want to avoid disease.

An influx of sugar into the bloodstream upsets the body’s blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat sweets high in sugar, you’re making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.

Although honey is not a very good alternative to sugar, because it has the highest calorie content of all sugars, organic raw honey boasts a variety of health benifits. These include: natural energy booster, great for the immune system and it is a natural remedy for many ailments.

Alternatives include:

Maple Syrup has an earthy sweet taste. It is made from the sap of the sugar, black or red maple tree. Maple syrup is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese. It is also a good source of zinc.

Agave Syrup is derived from the plant that is used in making tequila. Agave, as compared to other sweeteners, has a desirable low-glycemic index. This means that when consumed, it won’t cause a sharp rise or fall in blood sugar levels.

Dates grow on the palm tree belonging to the family of Arecaceae. This fruit has an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, required for normal growth, development and overall well-being.

Xylotol is found in the fibres of many fruits and vegetables, and can be extracted from various berries, oats, and mushrooms, as well as fibrous material such as corn husks and sugar cane bagasse, and birch. Xylitol is roughly as sweet as sucrose with only two-thirds the food energy.

Stevia Powder made from the Stevia plant is a genus of about 240 species of herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose it is attractive as a natural sweetener.

Fresh Fruit is a great natural sweetener. Sliced bananas or strawberries are a great way to sweeten up your breakfast cereal or porridge. Mashed bananas, fresh apple puree (or even apple sauce) can be used to sweeten and add moisture to quick breads, muffins, and cookies.