Sometimes we need that little touch of sweetness to top off what is bound to be a brilliant breakfast. From porridge oats to pancakes, breakfast muffins to smoothies, there’s no shortage of vegan options when morning comes calling. Honey can feel like a hard one to replace with a vegan option – especially when you don’t want to coat your breakfast in refined sugars or syrups. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural unrefined vegan sweeteners to choose from!
The team at MOMA have provided a rundown for me to share with you of their top four favourite vegan sweeteners, the health benefits and what they go great with. Which one of these vegan sweeteners are you going to try first?
1. Agave Syrup/Nectar
Agave syrup, sometimes known as agave nectar, is made using sap that comes from the agave plant. Darker coloured agave syrup tends to be better quality, offering a much richer taste. Although it might sound exotic, it’s actually widely available not only in health food shops but supermarkets too.
It has a runny consistency, making it a great addition to your morning tea and coffee, as well as porridge. If you’re a baking fanatic, you might find that agave syrup works well to create gorgeously chewy flapjacks and sticky ginger cake.
Due to its lower levels of glucose, it is lower in GI (glycemic index) than regular sugar, which helps to prevent any quick spikes in insulin. On the other hand, it also contains high levels of fructose which can increase blood sugar levels when eaten in large quantities. Make sure you invest in a high quality agave syrup rather than one that has been heavily processed.
Top Tip: Be careful with how much of this sticky syrup you use as it is much sweeter than regular sugar.
2. Maple Syrup
Similarly to agave syrup, maple syrup is also made using the sap from a plant – this time, the maple tree. This delicious syrup also has a low GI, making it a healthy choice instead of regular sugar.
Enjoying a drizzle of maple syrup with your breakfast can provide you with plenty of nutrients, including manganese and zinc. Studies have also found that it can help to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s due to its ability to stop proteins in the brain from grouping and clumping together – this process is usually what triggers the onset of the disease.
Maple syrup is so versatile that it can be perfectly paired with all kinds of dishes. While we absolutely adore it stirred through a hot, steaming bowl of porridge, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it. Try glazing your carrots with a drizzle of maple syrup before roasting, or use it to coat a handful of nuts, ready to be used for a porridge topping.
Top Tip: Look for Grade B maple syrup as opposed to Grade A. The quality of the former is much higher, its colour is darker and it contains many more nutrients.
3. Date Syrup
The process in which date syrup is produced is very natural – simply soaking and then squeezing dates creates the deliciously sweet syrup. This simple and unprocessed method is what makes date syrup a healthy alternative to regular sugar. Most of the dates’ nutrients are kept in the syrup itself, including copper, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
Date syrup is much thicker compared to the previously vegan sweeteners, and has a lovely rich flavour. Not only can it be used as a lovely topping to your porridge, pancakes or cereal, it also makes a healthy addition to cakes, brownies and flapjacks.
4. Pomegranate Molasses
A delicious syrup made by combining pomegranate juice, lemon juice and a tiny bit of sugar (but not too much sugar!). Pomegranate molasses provides you with the health benefits of pomegranate juice, but in a lovely, sticky syrup that’s great as a breakfast sweetener.
With a little pomegranate molasses in your day, you can reap the benefits from vitamins B and C. Whilst vitamin C helps to support your immune system, vitamin B1 helps produce plenty of energy to keep you going throughout the day (no wonder it’s such a good breakfast addition!). Vitamin B3 keeps your skin looking and feeling great and supports your digestive system, whereas vitamin B6 helps break down proteins and keeps red blood cells healthy, too. Phew, that’s a lot of vitamins!
You can add pomegranate molasses to pretty much any meal, not just breakfasts. It’s great on salads and desserts in particular. For a sweet breakfast, try adding a drizzle of pomegranate molasses to your porridge. Alternatively, mix it with olive oil, onions, garlic, paprika and parsley into quinoa and enjoy alongside a roasted aubergine for a more savoury start to the day.
Looking for more healthy breakfast inspiration? You’ll love these healthy, vegan breakfast recipes:
Vegan Banana & Oat Breakfast Biscuits – fantastic made with agave or maple syrup
Spiced Breakfast Quinoa Porridge – add a drizzle of date syrup to sweeten perfectly
Tofu Bacon Recipe – delicious sweetened with maple syrup or a dash of pomegranate molasses
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