How Do You Sweeten?

Posted by on December 15, 2009 | 15 Comments

floridacrystals2In my inbox today, I received an email from Mambo Sprouts with information about, and a coupon from Florida Crystals. You can get the coupon yourself and print it at, but it is a wee bit different from your average coupon.

They offer you the chance to “donate” a portion of your coupon to the Jaguar Conservation Fund. Yeah, I know, playing the guilt on us foodies trying to save a nickel during these hard economic times … while supporting organic sugar nonetheless! But it does look worthwhile, and it got me to thinking about my “sugar” choices (which seem to be evolving in recent years), and curious about yours and any insight you might have.

This week was the first time all year that I bought white sugar (to top these awesome Snickerdoodle Blondies, after all, who could resist?), but my husband was grateful. It is still the only sweetener he really likes in his coffee. It was organic, but still white sugar no matter  how you rationalize it. I do often keep a bag of Trader Joe’s organic brown sugar on hand, and use it in small amounts when needed (it is so frickin’ good!).

In all cases, I do choose organic sugar, and for the longest time I couldn’t remember why. But the other day, while in the grocery store, I saw a small reminder – pesticides and genetic modification. Sugar is a top pesticide crop, and it is increasingly being added to the GMO list. While I do my best to minimize our pesticide load, I am firmly against GMO’s, and work oh-so-hard to avoid them. Luckily, since we use sugar (I am including evaporated cane juice/sucanat in this term) so seldom, it doesn’t eat into my budget.

The three sweeteners we use most often in my house are honey, maple syrup, and fruit. In our day to day lives, I really prefer just making fruit-sweetened goodies, like our favorite Banana Bread and our breakfast smoothies. But, here and there I use a little honey or maple syrup to jazz up a salad dressing, make a sweeter treat, for a recovery drink or bar, or simply to mellow out a sauce. As you probably already know, I mostly buy honey and maple syrup on Amazon when the deals pop up, and I certainly don’t use these by the glug, so again, not a problem using these slightly higher end natural foods without breaking the bank.

I do have some pure stevia on hand, which I got for an insanely good price on clearance, that I use very, very sparingly. If the fruit in my smoothie isn’t quite sweet enough, a very small dash of stevia brightens it up. Otherwise, I really don’t like the stuff. It is used so much in natural foods these days, and both my husband and I can really taste it no matter the medium. Does it taste funny to anyone else?

Many people love agave, and while I have used it in the past, it was only to use up the quantities I purchased for such a good price. Again, we aren’t big fans; and yes, we have tried a few different brands. Raw honey still wins hands down for us any day.

So what about you? Are you a sugar-aholic (like my husband) or weening yourself off (like me)? What types of sweeteners do you use and why? Is there a perfect recipe that you have discovered/created for your favorite sweetener?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I took the middle ground – 25 cents for me, 25 cents for the Jaguars. It seemed fair.


Filed Under: Tips, Ideas, and Deals

Comments (15)


  1. pam says:

    I love anything and everything sweet. Sugar in my baked goods, honey on my yogurt and agave nectar in my tea.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alisa Fleming, Alisa Fleming. Alisa Fleming said: How do You Sweeten? […]

  3. Meredith says:

    I use organic/vegan cane sugar, agave, and maple syrup when I bake. For candymaking I often choose brown rice syrup because it thickens well for caramels and nut candies. For salad dressing grade B maple syrup is my go-to sweetener. I rarely sweeten coffee or tea but when I do it’s with either sugar or z-Sweet (vegan erythritol/stevia blend).

  4. Elizabeth says:

    i’m a stevia addict!! love it on everything!

  5. I love sugar, i admit it. I do use stevia, truvia, splenda, brown & white sugar, and agave. And maple syrup. And lucama powder, and powdered sugar. It just really depends on my end-game and my food/recipe goal. I have so many food intolerances, sugar is something I can have and I enjoy, so I do. There, I said it 🙂

  6. Wendy says:

    what a coincidence, I just bought some of that sugar at my local health food store. I don’t do much baking, and don’t use it all that often for anything other than baking, so I haven’t given it much thought. I did try some MoreFiber Stevia blend when I was hardcore dieting and it tasted great.

  7. Christina says:

    I only use sugar if it calls for it in baking. I try to use turbinado, but if it’s a big baking project that gets too expensive, so I use the white stuff. Other than that I’m with you – I like maple syrup, fruits, and agave. I use agave to sweeten drinks (lemonade, iced tea, etc.) and maple syrup in a lot of stove-top dishes and oats type things. Fruit I use in desserts or I buy a really good quality jam or preserve (right now I have a rockin’ fig one) to put on toast, english muffins, etc. to sweeten. Honey I’m kind of picky about, but I do keep some on hand and put it in some recipes.

  8. Ricki says:

    As a sweets addict, I love anything sweet, but for baking I do enjoy agave and maple syrup. Sucanat is great when you need a dry sweetener. I do use stevia (a lot, these days) and don’t always taste it (eg in smoothies, as you said), but when it’s the only game in town, it does come in handy! I’d prefer other sweeteners in baked goods, but for now stevia is doing it for me. 😉

  9. Hey Alisa,
    I just wrote this post you might be interested in!
    Challenges of being dairy free!

  10. In baking, honey is always my go to. I am interested in coconut sugar and maple sugar but have yet to try. In my own eating- I stick with stevia and rarely add any at that. Sugar is sugar organic or otherwise. If you can go a week without any sweetener and feel okay than no harm done- if you need it daily, well then… can we still look at that as a food choice? Not so sure.

  11. Joanne says:

    I do use sugar while baking, but only organic. Partially because I’m a baking newbie and so I still am not comfortable making substitutions and also because I only bake once a week. I use a touch of stevia in my coffee and other than that, don’t typically put sugar in anything. Organic sugar is definitely the way to go though if you are going to use sugar. I’ve also used agave nectar on occasion, for many of the same reasons as you (I just had it sitting around haha).

  12. Erica says:

    Great post and an interesting topic. I use nunaturals stevia in my coffee and often sub out sugar in recipes with honey. However, I do believe that sugar is fine (in moderation!). I always think about those studies that say any type of fake sugar sub actually makes us end up eating more calories to try and fill the void left by the fake sugar.

  13. I used to be a fake sweetener girl. I always had/have white and brown sugar on hand for baking (organic now of course!). But now I’m all about the raw honey. My white RARELY gets used, the brown is still used in a few of my baked goods, but overall we do honey. I keep maple syrup too, for a few things.

    Its been difficult weening myself off of the fake stuff, as that was mainly what my mother used as we were growing up. Real sugar didn’t taste right to me. The only thing I can’t find a sub for it is my coffee, but as I’ve now given up coffee that isn’t a problem. lol

    I completely agree, Stevia tastes weird to me and I only like agave nectar in my very few and far between margaritas.

  14. DebinHawaii says:

    I use organic sugar sometimes if I am baking something for a cookbook or testing a recipe but try to avoid it and mostly use honey, agave, applesauce, bananas and maple syrup. I tried sucanat (unrefined cane sugar) but don’t love it in everything. I just bought some date sugar but have not used it yet. I think it is hard because some sweeteners work better in certain items and some work better in others. I have not found the perfect one yet! 😉

  15. Marissa says:

    I use date sugar for most of my sweetening. I use xylitol in my coffee though (the real stuff, not the stuff made from corn) as it dissolves better. Sometimes I use coconut sugar but not too much. I stay far far away from agave because it does the same thing to your liver that HFCS does. I also don’t use cane sugar unless I am baking for someone who doesn’t care. I use honey when date sugar and xylitol aren’t available to me. I am pretty picky 😉

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