Friday, May 18, 2007

Maker’s Diet Sweeteners

Find out what the healthiest sweeteners are, where to get them, how to use them and where to look for recipes …

Jordan Rubin’s book The Maker’s Diet lists acceptable sweeteners as:

-Honey (unheated and raw) - (no more than 3 Tbsp. per day)
-Maple Syrup

Although sucanat (dehydrated cane juice) and rapadura (raw, organic sugar) are not included on this “ok” list, they do appear in some of the recipes in Rubin’s book.

Sucanat & Rapadura
In doing some research on sucanat and rapadura, it appears that they do not promote tooth decay as much as refined sugars, and they do not spike insulin quite as much a refined sugars, although they could do so if used daily. They also do not promote yeast growth as highly as refined sugar. These raw cane sugar forms have 85% the sugar content found in commercial refined sugar due to their retaining of natural molasses and nutrients.

The point is this, using rapaduar or sucanat once in a while will not harm your Maker’s Diet lifestyle, but consumption of either of these products is not recommended either while doing a cleanse or in consistent daily quantities.

Sucanat and rapadura can be purchased at most health food stores as well as Organic Food Depot.

Stevia is a South American herb that has been used as a sweetener by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay for hundreds of years. The leaves of this small, green Stevia rebaudiana plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. Very popular in Japan where it has been widely used as a sweetener for over 35 years, Stevia is sold in the U.S. as a dietary supplement.

Stevia comes in powder, tablet, and liquid forms. Of these, the liquid drops are the tastiest. I have found that Stevia powder does not taste very good in coffee, oatmeal or tea, but the liquid drops are quite delicious. And both forms are often called for in Stevia recipes. Stevia can be purchased online, at a variety of health food stores, and even via the Organic Food Depot.

Stevia has been found to be a healthy substitute for diabetics because it does not spike insulin levels.

There are Stevia recipe books available, as well as a number of websites providing free Stevia recipes.

Remember, as always, too much of a good thing isn’t good. The key with Stevia and other sugar substitutes is not to go on eating tons of it as people currently do with refined sugar—we must cut way back and instead use these healthy sweeteners sparingly. The FDA has not yet approved Stevia to be used commercially in grocery-store foods and food products because of a study conducted in which rats were fed enormous amounts of Stevia over a many-month period. This led to reproductive problems, cancer, and problems with energy and metabolism. This study, however, is nothing to be concerned about if you’re using Stevia in moderation as people have done for thousands of years.

Raw, unheated honey is the only form of honey you should be eating. If your honey has been processed, heated, filtered or treated, you are missing out on all of the beneficial living enzymes naturally present in raw honey. Raw, unheated honey has been used to treat ailments for thousands of years. It is delicious when used in cooking and has a greater sweetening power than sugar. Twelve ounces (weight) of honey equals one standard measuring cup.

You can purchase raw, unheated honey at health food stores and now at a few regular grocery stores (but look at the labels carefully). Local health food stores in Hampton Roads, including the Organic Food Depot, sell a variety of raw honeys including Really Raw Honey, Golden Angels Apiary (a local Virginia producer), Garden of Life and others.

Cooking and baking with honey can take a little bit of practice and a little math, but it is well worth it. Click here for Real Raw Honey recipes. Click here and scroll down for additional links to recipe lists.

As a general rule when substituting honey for sugar in baked goods, reduce the amount of liquid by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used; add ½ teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey used; reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over browning. For easy removal, rub extra-virgin coconut oil or olive oil on the inside of the measuring cup before adding honey.

Once again, you don’t want to overdo it with honey. It is much sweeter than sugar, and it does affect insulin levels. Jordan Rubin recommends no more than 3 Tbsp. per day.

Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup is not as potently sweet as honey and can be used for more than just topping your waffles and pancakes.

Commercial brands of syrup, such as Mrs. Butterworth’s and Log Cabin, are terribly unhealthy as they contain high-fructose corn syrup. Pure maple syrup, on the other hand, is healthy in moderation and contains zinc and other minerals.

Pure maple syrup is rated by grades: A, B, and C. Grade A pure maple syrup is light amber, grade B is a medium amber, and grade C is very dark and not usually available for purchase as it is used in commercial baking. Grade A maple syrup is the most tasty for things like pancakes. Grade B is often used more in baking.

You can purchase pure maple syrup at most grocery stores, but you can only purchase organic pure maple syrup through health food stores. As I mentioned in another post, I often purchase pure maple syrup (non-organic) in bulk at Costco.

Click here to see a history of maple syrup and its nutritional content.

Here are a few links to maple syrup recipes:

Some of the recipes on these links may call for sugar. Try to avoid those or attempt to substitute the sugar for rapadura, sucanat or honey.

You can find more recipes using honey, maple syrup, rapadura or sucanat in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions

If you have questions concerning any of these sweeteners, please post a comment. I hope this has been helpful.


Lynn said...

Thank you so much for posting all this online. I've learned so much from you and am excited to have this resource. Much love--Lynn :)