Corn syrup is one of the most controversial ingredients in Americans' diets. Many people add it to pies, salad dressings, glazes and other foods, but nutrition experts warn that because it also appears in numerous processed foods, Americans eat far too much of this sweet staple. Alternatives to light corn syrup vary depending on how you need to use them. Pecan pie, for example, requires a syrup to bake correctly, while other recipes might adapt to a sweetener of any kind.
Recipes that call for light corn syrup can often achieve the same results with natural cane sugar. Determine if you can replace the syrup with dry, granulated sugar or if you need it in liquid form to keep the dish moist. To create a simple syrup, boil one part water with two parts sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. This creates a thicker syrup than those used to add to drinks, because it needs to replicate the thickness of the corn syrup. Allow the mixture to cool and add to your recipe as you would the regular corn syrup.
To add sweetness and flavor to recipes, use honey or maple syrup. Both are natural ingredients and come in several varieties. Honey comes in hundreds of flavors, depending on the type of bees, their diet and location when producing it.
Maple syrup producers make their product by extracting sap from maple trees. Grade A syrups include light, medium and dark amber syrups. Grade B syrup is even darker than Grade A dark amber, thus producing a much more intense maple flavor. Grade A and Grade B maple syrups can replace corn syrup in cooking and baking. Do not use pancake syrup, as most include corn syrup as the main ingredient.
Agave nectar, another natural sweetener, has risen in popularity as more and more supermarkets carry it. Made from the agave plant that grows in southern Mexico, producers make agave nectar by cutting the plant, extracting the sap and heating it at a low temperature. Light and dark agave nectars compare in taste to honey or maple syrup and have about the same viscosity.
Artificial sweeteners are food additives rather than food, as they do not appear in nature but are synthetically made. Sugar substitutes include aspartame, sucralose, neotame and saccharin. Although many people use them to cut sugar from their diets, the possible health risks they pose continue the ongoing controversy regarding their use.
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