You will be familiar with Agave syrup if you are a vegan. People extract agave syrup from the agave plant and this is an excellent alternative for honey. Agave syrup was always available; however, what made it more popular was the Vegan lifestyle in the new age. Agave is very similar to honey in terms of taste, texture, and sweetness. Agave is a plant that grows in Mexico and is used to prepare the agave nectar, commonly known as the agave syrup.
Apart from the vegan lifestyle, agave syrup has the lowest Glycemic Index (GI) among other sweeteners making it a healthier alternative. However, there will be times when you simply run out of Agave syrup and have to substitute it for the time being. This is where our substitutes will come in handy. We have brought you a list of varied substitutes that you can easily find in stores and also use easily in any preparation of your choice. Let’s start.
As the name suggests, coconut nectar is made by tapping coconut trees for their sap. This sap is tapped at the very top of the tree, where the blossoms happen and where the coconuts form. Therefore, this sap has the best quality, is full of nutrition, and is the sweetest. Coconut sap is concentrated by boiling it over an extended period letting all the natural sugars slowly caramelize. This leaves a somewhat thick and sticky residue which we call coconut nectar.
You can use coconut syrup in place of coconut nectar. Coconut syrup is a less processed and less concentrated version of coconut nectar. People make coconut syrup from either Coconut nectar or coconut sugar by adding water to make it a syrupy consistency. Gram for gram, coconut nectar has far lesser calories than maple syrup. However, maple syrup is less processed and so retains a higher level of nutrients like antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
Coconut nectar has a delicious sweetness due to caramelization and so you can use it in recipes where its focus is on both sweetness as well as flavor.
Maple is produced by tapping the maple tree for its sap and then boiling the syrup continuously till the desired syrupy consistency is reached. The syrup looks, tastes, and feels almost the same as honey. The wonderfully golden color gives a different look and feels to any recipe. It’s our choice of preference when both looks as well as nutrition matter. The best part is that maple syrup isn’t nearly as sweet as honey or agave and so you have a nice flavor to the preparation without the overpowering sweetness. Fruits, salads, pancakes, bakes, and desserts taste wonderful when they include maple syrup. We would strongly recommend maple syrup if you want to drizzle it over any preparation.
In addition, Maple syrup has a lower Glycemic Index (GI), which is lower than even sugar, making it a healthier option. Maple syrup is available in different grades of consistency, Grade B being more concentrated than Grade A. So choose wisely, as the sweetness will increase with concentration.
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is great when you are looking for something which is not as sweet as agave or sugar. The GI index of brown rice syrup is higher than Agave but lower than sugar, making it a healthier option. Brown rice syrup is great for recipes where you want a hint of sweetness that’s not too much and does not overpower other flavors. It also has its unique taste of sweetness. Since it’s made from rice starch, it’s not as nutritious as the other options we are considering today.
Brown rice syrup is thick, just like honey, and is used as a replacement for honey or corn syrup. However, you would want to use it in moderation as a substitute because its GI index is higher than Agave syrup.
Corn syrup is handy where agave and other syrups tend to crystalize and spoil the preparation. This usually happens in recipes like candies, toffee, and fudge, where the sugars crystalize and also appear as crystals spoiling the look and texture completely. Corn syrup prevents this from happening. You should use corn syrup with white sugar in an equal ratio to get the best results.
When sugar is manufactured, a thick black-colored substance called molasses is also produced as a by-product. This by-product is naturally sweet, so you can also use it as a sweetener. While sugar is devoid of minerals and vitamins, molasses does retain some nutrients. Molasses has quite higher levels of sweetness, making use viable as an agave syrup substitute. Do note that both molasses and agave taste different, so the final taste of the recipe will have a slightly different flavor.
Stevia and Aspartame are the two popular artificial sweeteners available in stores, among several others. Stevia is made from the leaves of its plant, while Aspartame is manufactured by using several synthetic chemical methods. However, both have been rigorously tested by regulatory bodies for safety and health. Both of them are very sweet and display a sweetness much higher than regular sugar. You will find them in a lot of products with the Sugar-Free label. They are a safe alternative, and you can use them in any recipe of your choice as an Agave syrup substitute.
If you are looking to cut some calories, I recommend you to use them. However, do note that artificial sweeteners taste quite different, and their aftertaste is also bitter. Therefore, they both may not be the substitute of choice for all. They are still a viable option as they are inexpensive and easily available.
Your last go-to option should be regular sugar. Sugar is not at all a recommended option; forget being a healthy alternative. However, you can certainly use it in moderation during times of emergency when you have nothing and need to save the recipe.
We have shared quite a few alternatives with you. These are all commonly available and are typically inexpensive. You can use any of them to suit your needs and preferences. Ideally, the choice of sweeteners will depend on their comparative level of sweetness, the taste, the Glycemic Index, how they look, or the needs of the recipe. Apart from sugar, all of them are natural products and contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.