That is my approach to sugar.
My Favorite Sweeteners
I used to preach that sugar was sugar, no matter the kind, but there is some exciting research about left-spinning sugars (the adulterated, processed kind) and right-spinning sugars (the whole, natural kind found in fruit for example) that may soon turn heads. So are all sugars really the same? I will leave that for another post. But I will say that there are a handful of natural sweeteners I have come to love and that have helped me to cutback on the use of refined cane and beet sugar.
- Stevia – Zero-calorie, no guilt, combine it with any of these others to reduce sugar in baked goods
- Raw Honey – Anti-bacterial (when eaten raw), rich and sweet
- Coconut Sugar – Lower glycemic ... a good replacement for "crystalline" sugar, especially for brown sugar
- Medjool Dates – Dates, date paste and date syrup (boil dates and blend with water) are divine!
- Maple Syrup – Sometimes you just need that rich, maple flavor
- Coconut Nectar – Lower glycemic ... a caramel-like syrup that I drizzle on homemade frappucinos
- Jerusalem Artichoke Syrup – Lower glycemic and loaded with inulin, this goes in our smoothies
There are numerous articles out there talking about these naturals sweeteners so I won’t reinvent the wheel here, but will point you to this post over at Renegade Health. The one sweetener I will comment on is stevia. It falls at the top of my list for good reason. It is zero-calorie and is completely natural (as long as you buy it pure, sans flowing agents like maltodextrin). I have come to realize that many people don’t give stevia a fair chance. They will try it and be turned off by its somewhat sharp aftertaste. If this has happened to you, you just may have used to much or a bad tasting brand. NuNaturals Singing Dog Vanilla Liquid Concentrate is the bomb! Two drop in my tea is all that I need. And when baking, I suggest combining stevia with another sweetener (say honey or coconut sugar) to achieve a nice balance.
So, I want to show you just what you can do with one of these sweeteners—coconut sugar. I love coconut sugar because it is one of the few alternative, natural sweeteners that comes in crystalline form. Here is a recipe for Coconut Sugar Candied Walnuts. I love these on a salad of greens and strawberries or atop a chewy (low-sugar, of course) brownie.
Coconut Sugar Candied Walnuts
Makes: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
6 tablespoons COCONUT SUGAR
6 tablespoons WATER
Pinch of SALT
1 cup raw WALNUTS
- In a small skillet, combine coconut sugar, water and salt. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.
- Once sugar has dissolved, add walnuts.
- Stirring constantly, cook until all liquid evaporates, nuts become sticky, and "cobwebs" begin to form as you stir.
- Remove from heat and spread out on a plate to cool and harden.
- Coconut sugar has a low burn point, so be careful to cook at a low simmer over medium to medium-low heat.
- Serve over ice cream, brownies, or salad—if they last that long. I end up snacking on them.