Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What's Your Favorite Sweetener?

 Cane sugar? Agave nectar? Artificial sweeteners? What to choose?

Round Rock Honey is hands down my favorite. It's locally harvested, bottled raw and served just like the bees give it to us.

I am still testing myriad claims of health benefits for allergies as well as its medicinal benefits. But the flavor profile is awesome in dishes that call for sugar. So far I've used it in bread pudding, honey-yogurt dressing for fruit salad, apple-cider vinegar salad dressing for purple cabbage coleslaw, steel-cut oatmeal and cornbread. Just use one third less honey than sugar when you substitute.

From a weight watchers perspective, as in all things food-related, the watchword is "moderation."

Darya Pino, Summer Tomato, offers a really nice primer on the differences in sweeteners from sugar to stevia.
The thing about sugar is no matter what form it comes in, it’s still sugar and is not good for you. Moreover, foods that require sweetening (e.g. pastries) usually have enough other unhealthy ingredients that swapping out the sugar isn’t going to make a huge difference. Sure maybe molasses has a little more vitamin D, or agave ranks a little lower on the glycemic index (because it has more fructose, similar to high-fructose corn syrup), but that doesn’t change the fact that these are still highly concentrated sources of sweetness and should never be eaten in large quantities.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them at all. There’s room for small amounts of sugar in a healthy diet, and it doesn’t matter much where it comes from. Don’t forget to keep everything you eat in perspective. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow, then how virtuous would you feel for ruining your grandmother’s famous apple pie recipe by swapping out sugar for Splenda? We all know pie isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but some experiences have more value than nutrition alone. As long as you don’t choose experiences over health every single day, those occasional indulgences are not going to kill you.

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