GreenWise October 2005
|We all enjoy the sweet flavors of life, and sugar is no exception. But with the average American consuming approximately 150 pounds of this sweetener a year, perhaps life has become a little too sweet.
Often used as a filler ingredient and to make products taste better, "sugar is the number one food additive," according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because it's added to so many products, we're likely to overindulge, which can be detrimental to our health.
Standard table sugar is made from either cane (a form of grass related to wheat) or from the sugar beet (a tuber). The problem with white sugar is that it's been more refined than many other sweeteners. Here are natural alternatives that offer taste¿and a bit more nutritional content.
If you wish to substitute a liquid sweetener for white sugar, reduce the total liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup. After opening liquid sweeteners, store in the refrigerator.
- Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of sugar refining. Containing approximately 50 percent sugar, it is rich in iron and minerals. Used even in infant formulas, We all enjoy the sweet flavors of life, and sugar is no exception. But with the average American consuming approximately 150 pounds of this sweetener a year, perhaps life has become a little too sweet. Naturally sweet molasses is considered to be one of the best natural sweeteners.
- Maple syrup is an old-fashioned favorite. Made by boiling down maple sap, it contains trace amounts of vitamins B2, B5, and B6.
- A syrup produced naturally by bees, honey contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, as well as potentially beneficial enzymes. Since it's twice as sweet as sugar, use half the amount of honey as you would sugar in a recipe. (Raw honey may contain bacteria spores that can cause botulism in infants, so it should not be given to children under a year old.)
Applesauce and other pureed fruits can
replace some of the oils and sugar in baked
goods. These natural sweeteners also make
the end product more moist and tender,
while adding fiber┐something most
Americans don't get enough of. Fruit purees
of all types add flavor and are considered to
be healthier natural sweeteners.
Fruit juice concentrates are frozen
products. They're made by cooking down
fruit juices such as apple, orange,
grape, cranberry, and grapefruit. To use
them in place of sugar, just substitute
3/4 cup of thawed juice concentrate for
one cup of white sugar, and decrease
liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons.
Keep fruit juice concentrates frozen
until ready to use.
Working with natural sweeteners
is easy. Better yet, look for recipes
that incorporate honey, maple syrup,
applesauce, or molasses instead
of sugar. Just remember to keep
moderation in mind. Sweeteners┐
even natural ones┐are best kept to
a minimum in the diet.
Gluten-free, Sugar-free Cooking by Susan
O'Brien ($17.95, Thorsons, 2005)
The New Complete Book of Food by Carol Ann Rinzler ($19.95, Checkmark Books,
Prescription for Dietary Wellness by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC ($19.95, Penguin
Ginger Spice Cookies
From Conscious Cuisine
by Cary Neff ($35, Sourcebooks, Inc., 2002)
25 minutes prep time
Makes 65 cookies
3/4 c butter, softened
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 c molasses
1/4 c egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
1-1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until soft and creamy. Add the applesauce and pumpkin puree. Mix well. Add the molasses and egg whites. Beat until creamy.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until well combined.
Drop the dough by heaping teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Per serving: 164 Calories, 2 g Protein, 21 g Carbohydrates, 1 g Fiber, 9 g Total fat (5 g sat, 3 g mono), 112 mg Sodium, *Vitamin A, B6, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Selenium