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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 November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

    More Time Management Techniques

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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