All-Natural Alternatives to Sugar

By Michelle Poche

There’s actual science behind the sweet tooth, but what if we could tame that mischievous tooth with other, all-natural alternatives to sugar? “I could made a recipe four different ways, subbing out sugar for another natural sweetener each time!” I suggested at a recent IHM staff meeting. “Yes!” was the resounding reply from around the table.  I knew I was on to something. It wasn’t atom splitting, but it involved dessert so it had to be important. I left that meeting and found a simple recipe. 

Bluberry muffins


  • 1 ½ c. flour
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. applesauce
  • 1/3 c. skim milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 egg (or egg substitute)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. blueberries
blue berry muffins - alternative to sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray 24 mini-muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Blend flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
  3. In separate bowl, blend sugar, applesauce, milk, egg and vanilla. 
  4. Combine bowls, fold in blueberries and fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
  5. Bake 15 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Then, I picked four sugar alternatives: coconut sugar, pure maple syrup, Stevia, honey. Here’s how it went.

1. Coconut Sugar

Appearance/Taste: Similar to brown sugar
Sugar/Alternative: 1:1
Cost: $4.99/lb.
Regular grocery store: Unlikely
Cooking time: According to recipe

coconut sugar

2. Pure maple Syrup

Appearance/Taste:  Typical syrup (Richer than most sugary brands)
Sugar/Alternative: 1:3/4 (This recipe = just over ½ cup)
Cost: $6.99/8-oz. bottle
Regular grocery store: Likely
Cooking time: 20 minutes (Because of added liquid)

3. Stevia

Appearance/Taste: Similar to artificial sweetener
Sugar/Alternative: 1 cup:1 tsp. (This recipe = 3/4 tsp.)
Cost: $8.99/4.2-oz. jar
Regular grocery store: Likely
Cooking time: 13 minutes (Could’ve gone less. VERY dry.)

stevia - All-Natural Alternatives to Sugar

4. Honey

Appearance/Taste: Typical honey
Sugar/Alternative: 1 cup:1/2 cup (This recipe = 3/8 cup)
Cost: $3.69/8-oz. bottle
Regular grocery store: Likely
Cooking time: According to recipe

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