Healthy sweeteners. Unhealthy sweeteners. No sweetener should be the main focus of a healthy daily menu, but there are times when we like a little treat. Sweeteners are here to stay, we just need to make good choices. Can you do it? Of course you can! Let’s take a look at what’s in our pantry! Remember that that we’re sharing what’s in OUR pantry. You’ll need to make decisions about what you keep in yours and why. (Want to see how to have a pantry that’s beautiful and purposeful? Find out in Part 1 of this series “An Organized Pantry of Purpose and Beauty”)
SWEETENERS WE DON’T USE
Highly refined sweeteners or chemical sweeteners just aren’t good for you; they aren’t real food, and are aren’t processed in your body like real food. If you’re having health issues, take a look at what sweeteners you’re using and try switching to healthier options.
- Refined stevia~Nope. Not a good one. Stevia is very refined and many times has GMOs such as dextrose. I particularly hate the aftertaste, though the reaction to this taste seems to be determined by each person’s palette.
- Agave~Surprise! Agave is not a healthy sweetener. It’s highly refined and stripped of any goodness it may have had. It’s super high in fructose and the jury seems to be out as to it’s true glycemic load.
- High fructose corn syrup~Surely everyone knows that this is a bad, bad sweetener but just in case…It’s bad. It’s so bad I don’t have room to list all of the bad. I’ll let Dr. Axe explain so I can save a little room: Lord have mercy, don’t eat high fructose corn syrup!!
- White sugar~Did you know that when you buy white sugar, it is not just cane sugar? It has Genetically Modified beet sugar, too. Refined sugar spikes blood sugar and has no nutritional value.
- Artificial sweeteners~ Aspartame and Sucralose aren’t natural, healthy sweeteners. They’re manmade chemical sweeteners and cause so many issues in your body.
- Sugar alcohols~Xylitol, Erythritol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, etc. We don’t regularly use sugar alcohols, though we get them in gum and a couple of items occasionally. The Healthy Home Economist shares more about sugar alcohols.
HEALTHY SWEETENERS THAT WE KEEP IN OUR PANTRY
Y’all, just because I think these sweeteners are healthy doesn’t mean I should eat them by the spoonful. Sweeteners are to be used in moderation. They all affect blood sugar to some extent(except Stevia), which affects your whole body including teeth, glands, liver, etc.
- Raw Honey~We use raw honey for smoothies, tea, tisanes, toast, enchiladas (that’s another whole story), and more. In its raw state it has amylases that digest carbohydrates. Don’t feed to kiddos under 1 year.
- Organic Maple Syrup~Yum. We use maple syrup on creamy rice porridge, homemade ice cream, smoothies, sourdough waffles and pancakes, hot tea, homemade yogurt, and more. By the way, this maple syrup bottle doesn’t wear a cabin made of logs. It is pure maple syrup, the kind Cracker Barrel used to serve until they sold out…But I’m not bitter.
- Organic Unrefined Sugar~Also goes by the name Sucanat, Rapadura, whole cane sugar, and dehydrated cane sugar. What? Sugar? Yes. This sugar is in its unrefined state and has lots of vitamins and minerals including chromium. I note chromium, because it is commonly taken as a supplement to balance blood sugar, which explains why its presence in this sugar is important. Unrefined sugar looks like dirt, but tastes delicious and rich. We use it in chocolate syrup, sourdough bread, baked goods, to sweeten coffee, and in many cooking applications. Use it in place of brown sugar by adding a tablespoon of honey to each cup.
- Organic Coconut Sugar~Also known as coconut palm sugar, contains inulin, and it has its minerals intact. We use it for baked goods, though not as often as unrefined sugar, and to sweeten hot beverages. We also use it to make chocolate syrup and chocolate cake.
- Sorghum Molasses~Sorghum Molasses is made from Sorghum Cane, while Molasses is made from sugar cane. These are different plants and different syrups. I like Sorghum better. It’s milder than Molasses, but is just as good for you. We use it for ginger bread, molasses cookies, and on the occasional hot buttered biscuit.
- Stevia~ We don’t actually use stevia (personal taste preference), but yes, it made both lists. Stevia is an herb that is easily grown in your garden, and it’s a good sweetener when used in its green, powdered or leafed state. It doesn’t raise your blood sugar and may even lower it.
- Organic Evaporated Cane Juice~Use Very Sparingly as this product isn’t really healthy, but we do use it occasionally. This is basically white sugar but not quite as refined, with a little touch is molasses is left. It IS organic, so at least it doesn’t have the pesticides and other chemicals. We use this crystalized sugar in baked goods that won’t work with other sweeteners and in some canned goods like sweet pickles.
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