Monday, March 22, 2010

Naturally Sweet

I've been trying to reduce the amount of refined sugar we eat. I cut out devilish HFCS, but the yummy white stuff isn't angelic either. I'm trying to save it for occasional treats like birthday cake or other special desserts.

For more everyday-type baked goods (muffins, quick breads, etc) I replace oil with applesauce and reduce sugar by 1/3 to 1/2. If I'm leaving out brown sugar, a little added molasses maintains that warm sweetness. I sometimes use honey, depending on the recipe.

For breads, I always use honey.

Popsicles, yogurt, and oatmeal are sweetened with fruit purees or juice.

I usually don't sweeten my coffee, but I had an itchy tooth for a sweet cup this morning. I glanced at my sugar bowl, then opted for a drizzle of real maple syrup. Oh My Goodness. It is delightful! Try it!

Here's a list of sweeteners in pure form that I've tried:

Honey- Remember, if you buy local, you get great allergy protection! And for a touch of fun, check out my adorable new-to-me vintage honey pot!

Maple Syrup- The real stuff. Pancake syrup is sketchy. This is one of those things you probably want to buy organic...many brands contain formaldehyde. Gross. Did you know that maple syrup has more calcium than milk? For use in baking, sub 1c maple syrup and 1/4t baking soda for 1c sugar and reduce liquid by 3T for ever cup used.

Fruit Purees- Applesauce is easy, but be adventurous! Purees have the added benefit of moisture, so you can replace oil or egg yolks in baked goods.

Fruit Juice- Juice is sweet on it's own, and concentrate is even sweeter. Many commercial concentrates are stripped of any nutrients, so I recommend making your own by bringing juice to a boil and simmering until reduced to 1/4 the original amount.

Molassas- Made from cane juice and high in calcium, potassium, and iron.

Sorghum Syrup- Sorghum cane juice, boiled down. Even if you don't buy organic, it has a low instance of pesticides because the cane is naturally insect-resistant.

I used to tout agave nectar, but I've been reading some sketchy things. Consumers are led to believe that it is some natural wonder, pressed from the leaves of the agave plant. Apparently, it goes through about the same level of chemical processing as HFCS. I will try to dig up some article links for you. For now, I'm looking for sweeteners whose processing involves no more than boiling.

There are other things out there that I want to try (especially date sugar!). I'll be sure to let you know what my results are.


Jen said...

Wish I'd read this before I bought costco sized amounts of agave. :P Le sigh. It's not easy finding safe stuff, is it?

Jana Burrow said...

For people like me who are just really getting a hold on some of this, can you tell me what HFCS means/is and why it's bad?

Renee said...

Jana- it's High Fructose Corn Syrup :)

Megan said...

I love your honey pot! Now I know what I'm on the search for...