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Sweeteners in the “raw world” tend to face controversy at some point or another. My suggestion is to use sweeteners in their raw and purist form so be sure to read the labels and if you are really concerned, called the manufacturers. Some raw sweeteners are vegan and some or not, you decide on what the priority is for you. All we can ask of ourselves is to make the best possible decisions with the information we are given and what is available to us.
- Agave comes from none other than the agave plant. Not all agave is raw so do your homework.
- It is a liquid sweetener that is low glycemic, having a glycemic index of around 30.
- I find that it has a mild, neutral taste adding sweetness without having any strong particular flavor to a recipe.
- You can find agave in light and dark nectar. The light agave nectar has a mild, almost neutral flavor whereas the amber agave has a medium-intensity caramel flavor.
- It is non-crystallizing and dissolves quickly in hot or cold beverages.
- Agave nectar is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar.
- If you are vegan, agave is an alternative to honey. It is sweeter than honey, though less viscous.
- Like all sweeteners use in moderation and feel free to mix it in with other sweeteners, creating layers of flavor and sweetness.
- Carob powder has a sweet nutty taste and is often used as a substitute for cacao when less caffeine is preferred. If you have a sensitivity to chocolate or any of its active ingredients, such as caffeine or theobromine, carob offers a chocolate-like alternative.
- Carob also contains 3 times the calcium of cacao. It is a great source for; Vitamin A, Vitamin B (e.g, B1, B2, B3, B6), Vitamin D, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Selenium, Fiber, Antioxidants and Protein
- Carob is naturally sweet, so less can be used when substituting for raw cacao powder.
- It is an alkaline food and is low in fat.
- It is known to help lower cholesterol levels and helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels.
- Combines well with lucuma to add depth to the taste.
Coconut Crystals, raw
- When the coconut tree is tapped, it produces a naturally sweet, nutrient-rich inflorescence (juice or “sap”) that exudes from the coconut blossoms. This sap is very low glycemic (GI of only 35), diabetic-friendly, contains 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH Small batches ensure that our organic, Crystals sweetener, made from this natural sap, is a raw product, minimally evaporated at low temperatures for 90 minutes (to remove excess moisture and allow for crystallization) Most brown cane sugar is boiled at temps up to 221 degrees F. (the end product containing 93% sucrose, compared to sap nectar which is only 16% sucrose).
- Replacement for brown sugar.
- Not all brands are raw. Coconut Secrets carries a raw form.
Coconut Nectar, raw
- When the coconut tree is tapped, it produces a highly nutrient-rich inflorescence (naturally flowing juice or “sap”) that exudes from the coconut blossoms. This sap is very low glycemic (GI of only 35), diabetic-friendly, is an abundant source of amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH.
- Coconut nectar is naturally sweet and has a mild flavor. It doesn’t taste like coconut.
- It is very thick and syrupy so it is a great alternative for molasses texture wise.
- Not all brands are raw. Coconut Secrets carries a raw form.
- Medjool dates are the most popular dates used in raw recipes.
- When using dates you need to de-crown them and remove the seeds that are inside. The crown is just a small piece at the top of the date where it connected to the stem.
- It is best to tear each date in 1/2, removing the pit and exam the inside. Bugs can lay eggs inside, or molds can grow… discard these.
- You can use the dates as is (pitted of course) and they will break up into sticky nuggets. If you are looking for a smoother texture, soak your dates first. You can also make a date paste.
- Dried fruit is fruit where a large portion of its original water content has been removed either naturally, through sun drying, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators.
- When purchasing dried fruits, be aware: many fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and mangoes are often infused with a sweetener (e.g. sucrose syrup) prior to drying.
- Like fresh fruits , dried fruits are practically devoid of fat, trans fats, saturated fat and cholesterol. They are also very low sodium content.
- Dried fruits are a particularly significant source of dietary fiber and potassium.
- Always purchase UNSULFURED dried fruits. If you can’t find them, dehydrate your own! If you are new to doing this, click (here).
- A little bit goes a long way. Stevia leaves are incredibly sweet, tasting as much as 30x sweeter than sugar, yet it doesn’t contain any sucrose.
- It doesn’t contain any calories or carbs.
- It is shown to help improve the pancreas and digestion.
- Personally, I only use one brand and type of stevia… NuNaturals. It doesn’t have any bitter aftertaste and it comes in a liquid dropper bottle which is perfect for sweetening drinks with.
- I use stevia in some of my recipes in conjunction with other sweeteners. It helps elevate the sweet level without adding in more sugars, calories, etc.
- Honey is made by bees using nectar from flowers.
- Honey is not vegan. Make sure you use raw honey otherwise it is pasteurized and often cut with other sweeteners… buyers be ware.
- It is always best to buy raw honey locally which helps the body fight against seasonal allergies.
- When using honey in raw recipes it is very thick, gives a specific undertone of flavor. It doesn’t always substitute for other sweeteners, it will always depend on the recipe.
- Use Lucuma Powder in place of sweeteners like Agave, Stevia, Xylitol, Honey or Dates.
- The powder has a mild sweetness to it, this is where I like to pair it with Stevia.
- Lucuma is considered a healthy alternative sweetener as it lends a sweet taste to recipes, but is very low in sugars. With naturally occurring beta-carotene, niacin, and iron, lucuma powder is a welcome antidote to notorious “empty calorie” sweeteners.
- It has a distinctively sweet fragrance and full-bodied, maple-like-butterscotch shortbread flavor.
- Lucuma blends well in smoothies, puddings, and ice creams, and can also be used as a flour in pies and pastries.
- It partners incredibly well with chocolate, softening and warming the taste. Combined with cacao, it helps to satisfy any cravings for milk chocolate.
- Maple syrup is not raw but it is vegan, so you need to way out your priorities.
- It is made from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees.
- Maple syrup also contains nutritionally significant amounts of zinc and manganese.
- Compared to honey, maple syrup has 15 times more calcium and 1/10 as much sodium.
- Maple syrup is a unique ingredient, smooth and silky textured, with a sweet, distinctive flavor – hints of caramel with overtones of toffee.
- Mesquite is a relation of carob, though it is lighter in color and has a very different taste. It has a slightly sweet molasses-like flavor with a slight hint of caramel.
- I find that it is’t sweet enough to use as the only sweetener in a recipe. I use it more as a flavor enhancer. Use it in salads, flax crackers, raw pies and frozen desserts. Add it to soups, sauces, pastas, vegetables, pie crusts, or sprinkle on desserts such as fruit compotes or frozen smoothies.
- Mesquite comes from the mesquite tree of South America and is a relation of carob. It is not that sweet (less so than lucuma I would say) but adding it to recipes – it works well in smoothies for instance . You can add less actual sweetener to your recipe in conjunction with Mesquite.
- Mesquite powder is ground from the entire pod, including the seed, it is high in protein (11–17%). It is also rich in: Lysine, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Dietary fiber
- Mesquite is also highly effective in balancing blood sugar. Because its sugar is in the form of fructose, which does not require insulin for metabolism, mesquite helps maintain a constant blood sugar level for a sustained period of time. It supports the diet of diabetics, and helps maintain a healthy insulin system in others.
Rapadura, not raw
- It is evaporated cane juice – it’s also known as Sucanat. It is the least refined cane sugar available.
- Rapadura is dehydrated at low heat, and not separated from the molasses, the natural balance of vitamins and minerals present in the sugar cane have been retained. But always check your source.
- Rapadura is an organic, unrefined sugar with a delicious, caramel flavor and a grainy texture.
- It also still has the natural balance of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, and contains components essential for its digestion. It is metabolized by the body more slowly than white sugar, and therefore will not affect your blood sugar levels very much at all.
- If you want a fine sugar you can ground (in a blender or coffee grinder) it to a fine powder. Thus it is a great replacement for powdered sugar in any recipe.
- Rapadura can be used cup for cup as an alternative to sugar in all your raw dishes and baking.
- Yacon Syrup is a sweetener (vegan) similar to molasses.
- It is a natural low-calorie sweet treat which is positively good for you and one you can indulge in even if you’re diabetic.
- Yacon syrup is pressed from the yacon root and has been enjoyed for centuries in the Andean highlands of Peru.
- Yacon syrup is a prebiotic, yacon is good for digestion, safeguards against colon cancer, and helps absorption of calcium and vitamins.
- Yacon syrup is packed with sweetness, the sugar in yacon is mainly fructooligosaccharide, which cannot be absorbed by the body. This means yacon syrup is both naturally low-calorie and low in mono and disaccharides (less than 1/2 g per serving), sugars that rapidly elevate blood sugar levels.
- It is a bit on the pricey side of sweeteners but a nice one to have on hand when you are looking for a replacement to honey or maple syrup.