Leslie’s Healthy Nutrimentals: Substituting Applesauce for Sugar

Many of us are trying to reduce refined sugar in our diets and don’t want to rely on artificial sweeteners.  Applesauce can be a very healthy substitution.  While it doesn’t always turn out when you reduce all the sugar in a recipe for applesauce, it often can be used to reduce the amount of sugar initially called for.  To give you an example of how much you can reduce sugar in a recipe, if you use ½ cup of sugar you have approximately 96 grams of simple sugar.  If you use ½ cup of applesauce, it is only 11.5 grams of sugar.  Also, sugar is basically empty calories while applesauce contains magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin C and folate. 


Applesauce contains natural sugars which the body will break down much more slowly than refined sugar.  This means that your blood sugar doesn’t rise as rapidly.  It can be tricky at first substituting applesauce for sugar.  It will change the texture and also add moisture.  You need to ask yourself what is the purpose of sugar in the recipe you want to alter?  Is sugar used as a sweetener? For flavor? Or is it in baking where it will aerate and tenderize food or allow it to brown?

Next you will ask how much sugar does the recipe call for?  In baking, you can reduce sugar by at least 1/3 without affecting the taste or the texture of the batter.  In food that is not heated, you can replace sugar with an equal amount of applesauce.  In heated sweet side dishes, cookies or muffins, you can replace up to 2/3 of the sugar.  With cakes, you want to replace about ½ the sugar with applesauce and then add about an additional 1/3 more applesauce than the amount of sugar you replaced.  For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use ½ cup of sugar and ¾ cup of applesauce. 

Third, you will need to reduce liquids.  For every cup of applesauce you add you need to reduce the main liquid by ¼ cup.

Finally, when actually adding the applesauce in a recipe in which it will not be heated, simply add the applesauce when the recipe calls for sugar.  In baking you need to beat the applesauce into the eggs.  If there is butter or oil in the recipe, first mix the fat into the eggs then add the applesauce.

By following the above guidelines, you should be able to substitute applesauce for some or all of the refined sugar in your recipes.  A tip I learned from Dee is to mix unsweetened applesauce into my oatmeal for a sweeter taste.


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