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The Trick to Using Natural Sweeteners in Baking

The Trick to Using Natural Sweeteners in Baking

It’s great fun to make your own baked goods. Your family and guests are impressed, and you’re saving money by cooking at home rather than buying cakes and tarts at the store. The only problem is the health concerns that arise when you’re eating these scrumptious goodies.

I’m always looking for new techniques to make my baking healthier. To date, the simplest way I’ve found is to replace the sugar with a good-quality, natural sweetener. Just try it with your favorite recipe such as the banana bread below, and you’ll be surprised at the results! However, the trick is finding the right natural sweetener.

Which natural sweeteners should you use?

When it comes to choosing the best natural sweetener, you’ll likely find the most success with a blend of both erythritol and stevia.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that provides the physical properties of sugar, but it isn’t as sweet. It occurs naturally in small amounts in some fruits, and in larger amounts in certain mushrooms and other fungi and in fermented foods such as wine and soy sauce. Stevia is an extract from a herb, and is much sweeter than sugar. The thing to note with stevia is that a little goes a long way! It is often used to sweeten smoothies, sauces, frostings, icings and glazes.

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How much should you use?

The ideal amount will vary from recipe to recipe. I’ve had the most success by replacing half the sugar by weight with an erythritol/stevia blend.

For example, in the banana bread recipe below, I’d use 7oz (200g) sugar or 3.5oz (100g) erythritol/stevia blend.

There are three different options for finding an erythritol/stevia blend:

  1. Your local supermarket or health food store. Check the ingredients list to make sure it contains erythritol and stevia.
  2. Online. A quick search on the internet should help you locate a blend you can purchase easily.
  3. Make your own. This is the most cost-effective option. Just buy erythritol and stevia separately either online or at the store. Then combine 6 1/3oz (180g) or 1 cup of erythritol with half a teaspoon of stevia.

Are there any negatives?

Be careful with the natural sweetener agave syrup or nectar. Although it’s a natural product made from cactus, it contains high levels of fructose. This means it is like a more natural form of high-fructose corn syrup – not the healthy alternative sweetener it initially appears to be!

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You may, however, find that the only downside to using natural sweeteners is the cost. With sugar so cheap, stevia/erythritol blends are rather expensive by comparison. But remember, you’ll only be using half as much, so it’s not as drastic as it seems! If you think about the long-term savings to your health, you’ll see that it will really pay off.

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    ‘Paleo’ Banana Bread Recipe

    Makes about 8 slices

    This banana bread is super moist and really more at the cake end of the spectrum – but don’t let that stop you having a slice toasted with fresh ricotta for breakfast.

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    The brand of natural sweetener I’ve been using is called Natvia and it’s a blend of stevia and erythritol. If you can’t find, it you could use plain erythritol and a few drops of liquid stevia.

    Ingredients:

    2 bananas

    5oz (150g) butter, melted

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    6 eggs

    3.5oz (100g) erythritol/stevia blend

    2.25oz (65g) coconut flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    Method:

    1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a small loaf pan with parchment paper.
    2. Peel and mash bananas. Combine with butter, eggs and the erythritol/stevia blend.
    3. Whisk in the coconut flour and baking powder. Transfer to your prepared loaf pan.
    4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the ‘bread’ is well browned and feels firm and springy.

    Featured photo credit: Jules Clancy via flic.kr

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    Last Updated on May 28, 2020

    How to Overcome Boredom

    How to Overcome Boredom

    Have you ever been bored? Restless? Fidgety? In need of some inspiration?

    I have a theory on boredom. I believe that the rate of boredom has increased alongside the pace of technology.

    If you think about it, technology has provided us with mobile phones, laptops, Ipads, device after device – all to ultimately fix one problem: boredom.

    What is Boredom?

    We have become a global nation that feeds on entertainment. We associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People now do not know how to sit still, and we feel guilty when we are not doing anything. Today, inactivity has become the ultimate sin.

    You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety and stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration and feeds procrastination.

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    It’s a desire to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’ – it’s a desire for sensory stimulation. What it boils down to is a lack of focus.

    If you think about those times when you’re bored, it’s usually because you did not know what to do. So, indecision also plays a big part.

    When we are focused on what’s important to us and what we want to achieve, it’s pretty hard to be bored. So, one answer to boredom is to become focused on what you want.

    Sometimes It’s Good to Be Bored

    If boredom is a desire for sensory stimulation – then what’s the opposite of that? To be content with no stimulation – in other words – to enjoy stillness.

    Sometimes, it’s not boredom itself that causes the frustration but the resistance to doing nothing.

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    Think about it. What would happen if you were to ‘let go’ of the desire to be entertained? You wouldn’t be bored anymore, and you will feel more relaxed!

    In my experience, it’s often the most obvious, simplistic solutions that are the most powerful in life. So, when you’re bored, the easiest way to combat this is to enjoy it.

    It may sound weird but think of ‘boredom’ as a form of ‘relaxation’. It’s a break from the constant stimulation that 21st-century living provides – constant TVs, mobile phones, radios, internet, emails, phone calls, etc.

    Who knows, maybe ‘boredom’ is actually good for us?

    Next time you’re ‘feeling bored’ instead of feeding the frustration by frantically looking for something to do, maybe you can sit back, relax, and savor the feeling of having nothing to do.

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    In this article, I’ll share with you my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom.

    3-Step Strategy to Overcome Boredom

    1. Get Focused

    Instead of chasing sensory stimulation at random, focus on what’s really important to you. Focusing on something important helps prevent boredom because it forces you to utilize your time productively.

    You should ask yourself: what would make good use of your time? What could you be doing that would contribute to your major goals in life?

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Spend some time in quiet contemplation considering what’s important to you.
    • Start that creative project you’ve been talking about for the last few weeks.
    • Brainstorm: think of some ideas for new innovative products or businesses.

    2. Kill Procrastination

    Boredom is useful in some ways because it gives you the energy and time to do things. It is only a problem if you let it. But if you use it to motivate yourself to be productive, then you can more easily overcome boredom.

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    So, the next time you’re bored, why not put this good energy to use by ticking off those things that you have been meaning to get done but have been too busy to finish? This also presents a great time for you to clear your to-do list.

    Here are some ideas:

    • Do some exercise.
    • Read a book.
    • Learn something new.
    • Call a friend.
    • Get creative (draw, paint, sculpt, create music, write).
    • Do a spring cleaning.
    • Wash the car.
    • Renovate the house.
    • Re-arrange the furniture.
    • Write your shopping list.
    • Water the plants.
    • Walk the dog.
    • Sort out your mail & email.
    • De-clutter (clear out that wardrobe).

    3. Enjoy Boredom

    If none of the above solutions work, then you can try a different approach. Don’t give in to boredom and instead choose to enjoy it. This doesn’t mean allowing yourself to waste your time being bored. Instead, think of it as your time to relax and re-energize, which will help you be more productive the next time you work.

    Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to be constantly doing things to be productive. In fact, research has shown that people are more productive when they take periods of rest to recharge.[1] Taking breaks once in a while helps boost your performance and can help make you feel more motivated.

    So, take some time to relax. You never know, you might even like it.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to overcome boredom may be difficult at the beginning, but it can be easier if you make use of some techniques. You can start with my 3-step strategy on how to overcome boredom and work your way from there. So, ready your mind and make use of these tips, and you will be overcoming boredom in no time.

    More Tips on Overcoming Boredom

    Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

    Reference

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