20th February, 2010 - Posted by Kimberly Guthrie - 2 Comments
Which Sweetener Should You Use?
I am often asked what kind of sweetener I use. The answer is, I use a variety of sweeteners, depending on what I am putting it in or on. I use STEVIA, HONEY, AGAVE* and SUCANOT. Occasionally I will use traditional sugar or powdered sugar, but it is rare and only in small amounts.
What is STEVIA? Stevia rebaudiana is an herb in the chrysanthemum family native to sections of Paraguay and Brazil. It is a salicylate but, I have been told by my natural health care practitioner, the purification process decreases the salicylate content, and that approximately 1 tsp. of stevia has about as much salicylate as a raisin. Even though my daughter has some salicylate sensitivities she has never demonstrated a problem using stevia. Stevia can have a bitter aftertaste especially if too much is used. It works very well with fruits complementing their natural sweetness. It has no calories and doesn’t impact blood sugar.
I love to use STEVIA to sweeten tea, coffee, and lemonade, as well as, on fruit and in cream cheese to make a tasty icing. When using stevia to sweeten cream cheese for icing I also add a little honey, to not only thin the cream cheese a bit, but to add sweetness without the bitter aftertaste. I am still learning how to bake with STEVIA. When I find a hit recipe I will share it with you. If you already have had success baking with STEVIA please send me an e-mail and share your recipes!
Remember that not all brands of STEVIA are equal! Don’t give up using it if you have had a bad experience. Try different brands to see which one you prefer. I have been very happy using Herbal Advantage brand of STEVIA. I have been purchasing it through my chiropractor but, I am now ordering it in a larger quantity. Check them out at:
HONEY is commonly known and used as a sweetener. Did you know that HONEY is also a natural energy booster? The glucose in the honey is absorbed quickly by your body and gives that instant surge of energy, while the fructose is absorbed slower giving you sustained energy. HONEY also has antibacterial properties. There is a specific type of HONEY, Manuka that has been approved by the FDA for wound treatment. It has been used in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as an antimicrobial dressing. Unfortunately, the honey you see on the grocery store shelves is NOT good to use as an antimicrobial dressing! If you want to try honey as a wound dressing, please make sure you are using RAW HONEY! Otherwise, it could have the opposite effect of what you had hoped for! Raw honey is much more expensive than what you normally see in the grocery store. Honey is also a good source of antioxidants. Remember that it is a sugar and should be used within reason. I think using Honey in your home baked breads, and as a sweetener in tea, and desserts is a healthier alternative to refined white sugar.
AGAVE* is a sweetener that comes from the Agave Tequilana plant in Mexico.To produce Agave Nectar, juice is expelled, then filtered and heated. It is a syrup like liquid similar to honey in color and consistency. AGAVE is a low glycemic sugar. This was one of the benefits for Faith. Because it was a slow burn she wouldn’t become hyperactive when she ate something with AGAVE on it. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of controversy about AGAVE recently. Until my nutrition consultant tells me it is safe to use AGAVE we are not using it. I recommend that you do your own research and decide what is best for your family.
SUCANAT is minimally refined sugar cane. It is sugar. The process of making SUCANAT is initially the same as refined sugar. The sugar cane is cut off leaving the root behind. The cane is crushed to extract the sweet juice, the juice is then heated and it turns to crystals as it cools. Essentially it is dried cane juice. SUCANAT retains most of the natural molasses which gives it it’s characteristic color and flavor. SUCANAT is a much less refined sugar. I enjoy it’s distinct taste and think it adds wonderful flavor to baked goods. My family has especially enjoyed making chocolate chip cookies with it. Make your cookies out of hard red whole wheat flour and use sucanat for some awesome cookies! =) Remember these should be a rare treat not a daily indulgence!
Julie, from the Ultimate Women’s Expo, recently asked me the difference between SUCANAT and TURBINADO SUGAR. I have found that there are some differences. Turbinado is much less refined than white sugar, but has less molasses and vitamins than SUCANAT does. The process for making TURBINADO SUGAR is: once the juice is extracted, it is evaporated by heat, then crystalized. The crystals are then spun in a turbine to remove the excess moisture and molasses. This also results in less vitamins. It is still less refined than white sugar. Go ahead and give it a try and see what you think.
My number one preference for a sweetener is stevia! I love that it is a sweet treat that is guilt free! I don’t have to worry about any reactions or blood sugar issues while using it. It does taste different from sugar, and it is more noticeable in some things than others. The best way to get used to stevia, in my opinion, is to use it in lemonade. Make it a glass at a time to help you learn how much to use. You will be surprised! You may also want to decrease the amount of sugar you use in your coffee or tea and add some stevia. Continue to decrease the sugar and increase the stevia until you have no more sugar! Then you can enjoy your favorite beverage guilt free!
Blessings from My Heart to Yours,
Tags: ADD, ADHD, alternative, cane, diabetes, diabetic, Diet, Expo, glycemic, healthy, healthy alternative to sugar, honey, index, low, molasses, natural, raw, refined, replacement, stevia, sucanat, sugar, sugar replacement, sweetener, Turbinado, Ultimate, Women's
Posted on: February 20, 2010