Archive for Sugar/Sweetners

A minute on the lips, forever on the hips!

I am often asked what types of sugars and sweeteners I recommend.  I’ll start with saying that most of us need to substantially reduce, if not eliminate, the majority of sugars from our diet.  Some of the “good” sweeteners can depress the immune system just like the “bad” sweeteners.   The key is moderation.  With that said, I will confess that I can’t pass up a McAlister’s Sweet Tea when I go to “the big city” and I have a hard time passing up a good brownie!  

Here is my list of sweeteners that I prefer:

Honey ~ Most of the honey in supermarkets has been processed with nutrient destroying heat.  The best quality is unfiltered, unheated honey.  Local bee keepers are a good source.  Health food stores usually carry unfiltered, unheated honey but it costs quite a bit more than what I get from my bee keeper.  I use honey mostly in drinks and my bread baking.  I also love it on toast with butter!

Maple Syrup ~ Use pure, grade B maple syrup.  It is stronger in flavor and nutrients than grade A.  Get Vermont or Canadian syrup to insure it is free of formaldehyde residue.   If your not sure where a syrup comes from, organic also insures that it is formaldehyde free.  I occasionally use maple syrup in baking but usually it is used as a topping for pancakes and in hot cereals.

Sucanat ~ Sucanat (Sugar Cane Natural) is sugar in its most natural form. It is extracted from the sugar cane and the freshly squeezed juice is evaporated by a special Swiss process. Only the water is removed. This process preserves all of the molasses. Sucanat is organically grown with no added preservatives and additives.  Sucanat is less sweet but has fuller flavor than white sugar. I usually use sucanat in the place of brown sugar.  To substitute for honey, use at least twice the amount.  To substitute for white or brown sugar, use the same amount.

Rapadura ~ It is organic, whole, unrefined, evaporated sugar cane juice.  It is not separated from the molasses, so it has a lot of nutrients left but does have a different taste.  I use it some in baking, but don’t like it in my drinks.

Stevia ~ A natural sweetener that is made from the stevia plant.  It is 300 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories.  My favorite brand is Stevita.  It comes in a spoonable form, packets and liquid.  I use it in both hot and cold beverages.  It can have a bitter taste if too much is used.  I have never cooked with it but you can.  There are cookbooks that are specifically geared toward cooking with stevia. 

Some of the other natural sweeteners that I haven’t tried or just don’t use very often are molasses, barley malt syrup, date sugar, rice syrup and sorghum.

Whatever sweeteners you decide to use, please stay away from the artificial sweeteners.  They are known to cause many health problems.