Wellness Wednesdays: Natural Sweeteners that will change your life!
Written by: Jenny Nicol
Natural sources of sugar, in small amounts are essential to our health. Think of eating a generous handful of
blueberries or raspberries, or warm baked root veggies like sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets. YUM!
The problem with sugar occurs when it is highly processed and consumed in large quantities; this will wreak havoc on your body. The less processed the better, so the final product is close its original whole food state and still contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
When it comes to natural sweeteners like pure maple syrup, stevia, monk fruit, raw honey, dried fruit, root sugars, molasses and any form of cane sugar the same rule applies; the less refined the better. All natural sweeteners, including the whole food source should still be consumed in small amounts. Indulge yes, but be aware of the portion size. That’s why I love minis!
The next time you want to add a little kiss of sweetness to your life, swap the refined white sugar for one of these natural sweeteners instead.
Coconut sugar also known as coconut palm sugar is the dehydrated sap from the coconut palm tree. The sap is heated until most of the water has evaporated and then it turns into brown syrup known as coconut syrup. The process is similar to the process of making pure maple syrup.
The coconut syrup can be dehydrated until it becomes the crystal form or what is known as coconut sugar.
Both the coconut syrup and coconut sugar retain most of the nutrients found in the coconut palm plant, most notably are minerals calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. Coconut sugar is a goo source of inulin, a fiber that can help relieve constipation and prevents bone loss because it improves the absorption of calcium and magnesium. Inulin also promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Replace white sugar with coconut sugar in any recipe, 1 teaspoon of white sugar equals 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar. The flavor is similar to brown sugar; you may actually prefer to use a little less coconut sugar in some recipes.
Monk fruit, also called Luo Han Guo, is native to regions in Asia, including Thailand and China. Buddhist monks were said to be the first to cultivate the plant, which is how it got its name. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, monk fruit has been used for its medicinal and antioxidant properties for over 800 years.
More recently monk fruit has been gaining popularity all over the world as a natural sweetener, particularly because it is over 150 times sweeter than table sugar.
It is often compared to the stevia plant, because of their similarly intense sweetness and slight aftertaste, although for most taste buds monk fruit swe
etener is less bitter than stevia.
Monk fruit contains only a few calories and zero carbohydrates, making it an excellent natural alternative to aspartame and other artificial low-calorie sweeteners.
You may have to experiment with the amount of monk fruit you add to food and beverages before you get to the desired sweetness and taste you like. Until you get used to the flavour, start by combining it with another type of natural sweetener. Less is always best, you can always add more if needed.
Pure Maple Syrup
Naturally sweet with a distinct nutty flavour, pure Canadian maple syrup is not only delicious it’s also a nutrient powerhouse!
Pure maple syrup contains essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which support the immune system and strong bones.
Maple syrup is a delicious alternative to other natural syrups and contains fewer calories than both honey and agave.
For this month’s recipe feature, Organic Apple Chia Cinnamon Fruit Roll-ups, I used only Coconut sugar, Monk Fruit sweetener and Pure Maple syrup to sweeten. However the apples are sweet enough to omit the additional sweeteners if you prefer.
Stop by the Wellness Centre for Wellness Wednesday on October 16thbetween 4:30-7:30pm to say hello and try a sample of my Healthy Apple Cinnamon Fruit Roll-ups.
See you then!