A new year has begun, and as such, a new list of resolutions for becoming a better me has been made. Among my list is reducing my sugar-intake. Now this is particularly difficult for me since Filipinos have an inherently sweet diet… I’m pretty sure at some point early in my childhood, I’d been weaned on sugar cane.
Problem is, high blood pressure and diabetes has been running rampant in my family these days. Much of it may be a developed diabetes, but the traditional diet (largely consisting of rice and other foods with sugar added…yes, even in pinoy spaghetti).
I am now trying to wean myself slowly (it’s difficult) off of sugars and one method is by using less/unprocessed natural sweeteners like honey. Here’s a fun article from NPR’s Kitchen Window on alternative sweeteners and recipes for baked goods (recipes will be posted after in their own posts to make it easier to search for and follow).
Agave nectar, extracted from the agave cactus plant, is a little sweeter than sugar.
Barley malt syrup, from sprouted barley, roasted and cooked down to a syrup with a maltlike flavor, is great for using in more savory recipes, such as a barbecue sauce, rather than baking.
Brown rice syrup tastes about half as sweet as white sugar, with a mild flavor.
A host of organic cane sugars, includingmuscovado sugar (made from unrefined, evaporated cane juice), organic, whole cane sugar (unrefined and unbleached); turbinado sugar (made by heating sugar cane juice, then spinning it in a centrifuge or turbine to extract moisture and molasses for large, golden crystals) and demerara sugar (similar to turbinado, with large sugar crystals).
Molasses, a byproduct of refining sugar cane, is slightly sweet and a source of iron and calcium.
Stevia, derived from a perennial shrub with leaves 30 times sweeter than sugar and calorie-free.
Xylitol, a sweetener made from corncobs that is low in calories and tastes similar to cane sugar, is available online and in some health food stores.