You can replace wheat and sugar with basic ingredient substitutions found in most major grocery stores. Whether you are avoiding wheat for allergies or conditions such as celiac disease, choose from several grain, nut and seed-based flour alternatives. There are also natural and artificial sweeteners that can replace sugar for daily use.
Wheat-Free Flour Substitutes
Wheat is one of the top eight food allergens, so the need for wheat-free flour has risen with the increased prevalence of food allergies. Common grain-based wheat flour substitutes include oats, barley and rye. What differentiates these wheat substitutes from other wheat-free flours is that they also contain gluten, a protein found in wheat that is a crucial binding agent for dough. Before directly substituting a wheat-free flour in a traditional baking recipe, Wheat-Free.org recommends trying recipes specifically formulated for alternative flours to achieve the desired outcome.
Wheat- and Gluten-Free Flour Substitutes
Individuals with a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease should use flour substitutes that are both wheat- and gluten-free. Gluten-free flours can be milled from safe grains, roots, nuts, seeds, beans and starches. Examples of these flours include amaranth flour, almond flour, coconut flour, corn flour, rice flour, potato flour, garbanzo (chickpea) flour, flaxseed meal, millet, sorghum and soy flour.
Natural Sugar Substitutes
Natural sugar alternatives such as agave, honey, maple syrup and nectars are available for individuals wanting a substitute for refined sugar. These natural sweeteners do contain calories, a factor that should be considered if you're monitoring calorie intake. Though these sweeteners can directly replace sugar, they are also used as added sugars in foods. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that consuming added sugars in conjunction with a diet high in fat and calories is linked to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Artificial sweeteners are derived from chemical processes and are generally recognized as safe when consumed within recommended guidelines. Sweeteners approved for use in the United States include acesulfame K, aspartame, neotame, saccharine, stevia and sucralose. These sweeteners can range from 150 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar, yet they contain very few calories or carbohydrates -- if any -- making them desirable for people looking to moderate intake of sugar. Artificial sweeteners can be used as direct substitutes in certain foods and beverages, but it is advisable to research baking recipes specifically created using these sweeteners.