I completely understand why those who need to avoid sugar for medical reasons do so. I liken it to those with food allergies avoiding the foods they are allergic to.
As a baker, I like to use sugar. In Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, I discuss sweeteners in detail. In short, sugar is rarely a concern for those with food allergies, and it’s one of the few traditional baking ingredients most of us don’t need to substitute for.
I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners. Saccharine, aspartame, sucralose… they aren’t for me.
I love natural sweeteners, including honey and maple syrup – and use them – but they tend to be very expensive. (And we’re already paying a lot more for other specialty ingredients.)
I also like to use agave nectar. It tends to be very smooth and blends extremely well (more so than honey).
But there are things you can do with sugar that you just can’t do with these natural sweeteners, such as make a sugared topping on a muffin or pie crust, or cream the sugar and shortening together to make a fluffier cake.
I do like to use sugar, but in moderation. I never (ever) buy an off-the-shelf mix where sugar is the first ingredient. It’s simply not necessary to use that much sugar. When I make my own jams, I use about half the sugar of what is typically called for, and when baking, I like to keep the sugar low – so that the finished product is just sweet enough.
Now you tell me – how do you feel about sugar? Do you use it? Would you like more recipes without it?