With the holidays approaching and the temptation for sweets at its highest, you can enjoy delicious and satisfying desserts that are naturally sweetened and still absolutely delectable! Before we get into some recipes, let’s learn a bit about natural sugars, why they’re a better alternative, and how you can use them in your desserts.

So, why use natural sugars? Simply put, because they are real food and not synthetically created and processed. Natural sweeteners are less refined and contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — and unlike refined white sugar and ‘sugar free’ sweeteners, they have some nutritional value! Finally, our bodies find it difficult to digest highly refined and concentrated sugar alcohols, but not natural sweeteners. Now, I do want to preface this by saying you should not go eating dessert for every meal. Like any sugar, it’s best to consume it in moderation. But when you do, make sure it’s making your body feel as good as your taste buds! Now let’s get into the different types of sugar substitutes.

Coconut sugar

Beginning with my favorite — coconut sugar, a palm sugar produced from the sap of the flower bud stem of the coconut palm. It tastes nothing like coconut, rather it could be compared to brown sugar with a toasty, caramel taste. This sweetener is great for really any type of cookie! Coconut sugar is lower on the glycemic index, so it will not spike your blood sugar, and is also high in antioxidants and other minerals. In your desserts, you can use coconut sugar as a 1:1 replacement as it has the same texture and consistency as white sugar. My favorite (and quite affordable) place to purchase coconut sugar is Amazon. Madhava is a great, and very reputable brand — only $11 for a 3lb bag.

Maple syrup

Second, is 100% pure maple syrup. When added to desserts, maple syrup has a strong caramel and vanilla flavor. This replacement is a bit higher on the glycemic index, but still lower than white sugar. It is also very high in manganese and zinc! When using maple syrup in recipes, replace 1 cup of white sugar with 3/4 cup of maple syrup and decrease the liquid in the recipe by 3 tbsp. My favorite place to purchase maple syrup (as it can be quite pricey) is Costco . Here, you can get a quart for approximately $10.


Lastly, we have raw honey. A high quality honey, like raw honey, is very rich in antioxidants! It has an earthy, floral sweetness that is perfect for fruity desserts. If you have the option, choose raw honey as it hasn’t been subject to any heating, processing, or filtering — retaining most of it’s natural compounds. Honey also has prebiotic properties to help ferment beneficial bacteria in your gut leading to strong immune function and enhanced mental well-being. When using honey for your sweets, replace 1 cup of sugar with 2/3 cup of honey and reduce the liquids by 1/4 cup. Another tip is to lower the oven temperature as the honey caramelizes quickly and can burn at a higher temperature. Honey is one of the more affordable sweeter swaps and can be found at most grocery stores.


Now onto the fun stuff — recipes! We have a few of our holiday favorites below. Praline Pumpkin Pie and Gingerbread Cookies, both with minimal sugar. As for holiday drinks, we have our Hot Chocolate recipe below! For cocktails or mocktails, I’ve had great success making a honey simple syrup. Just add 1 cup water and 1 cup raw honey to a saucepan and let melt then cool. Store in the fridge and then add to any drink!

Photo courtesy of Alms + Fare

Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup milk (any kind)
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup

Heat milk and whisk in cacao & maple — enjoy!

Photo by Dilyara Garifullina on Unsplash

Gingerbread Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour, blanched
  • 1/4 cup tapioca/arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Mix all ingredients together, refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper then cut into shapes! Bake for 10 minutes on 350F — enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Alms + Fare

Praline Pumpkin Pie


  • 2 cups almond flour, blanched
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, solid
  • 1 egg


  • 1–15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1–13.5 oz can coconut milk (only solidified top part, not liquid)
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot/corn starch
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Make crust by mixing almond flour and salt, then adding maple syrup and coconut oil. After these are well mixed, add in egg and mix until dough is formed. Press into a well greased 9inch pie pan. For the filling, mix together all ingredients and pour into crust. Place aluminum foil/pie crust shield on the edges of the crust and bake for 50 minutes at 350F or until filling it slightly cracked. Mix together topping ingredients and layer over the top of the pie. Bake for another 20 minutes. Allow pie to cool — enjoy!

Alms + Fare ships nationwide, so snag some of these tasty goodies from Christine in their online shop.

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