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 Nectar, raw
- Agave comes from none other than the agave plant.
- Agave is a liquid sweetener that is low glycemic.
- Raw agave nectar also has a mild, neutral taste. It is produced at temperatures below 118 °F (48 °C) to protect the natural enzymes, so this variety is an appropriate sweetener for raw foodists.
- Agave adds sweetness without having any strong particular flavor.
- Agave comes in light and dark. Agave nectars are sold in light, amber, dark, and raw varieties. Light agave nectar has a mild, almost neutral flavor, and is therefore sometimes used in delicate-tasting foods and drinks. Amber agave nectar has a medium-intensity caramel flavor, and is therefore used in foods and drinks with stronger flavors. Dark agave nectar has stronger caramel notes.
- Agave nectar is sweeter than honey, though less viscous.
- Agave nectar is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar.
- Agave is commonly used as a vegan alternative to honey in cooking.
- Agave dissolves quickly, therefore it can be used as a sweetener for cold beverages such as iced tea.
- Carob powder has a sweet nutty taste and is often used as a substitute for cacao or chocolate powder when less caffeine is preferred. For anyone with a sensitivity to chocolate or any of its active ingredients, such as caffeine or theobromine, carob offers a chocolate-like (or at least brown-colored) 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 a tropical pod that contains a sweet, edible pulp and inedible seeds.
- It is an alkaline food, low in fat (contains less fat than cocoa), good for your gums, teeth, and bones
- It is known to help lower cholesterol levels
- 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 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.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- Fruits can be dried whole (e.g. grapes, berries, apricot, plum), in halves, or as slices, (e.g. mango, papaya, kiwi). Alternatively they can be chopped after drying (e.g. dates), made into pastes, or concentrated juices. Dried fruits are used a lot in raw food recipes as they help to create a stickiness, thus holding foods together.
- Always purchase UNSULFURED dried fruits. If you can’t find them, dehydrate your own!
Green Stevia Leaf – Whole Leaf Powder, not raw
- 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.
- Honey is made by bees using nectar from flowers.
- Honey is not vegan. Make sure you use raw honey otherwise it is pasteurized.
- Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax.
- Local raw honey is sought after by allergy sufferers as the pollen impurities are thought to lessen the sensitivity to hay fever.
- Use Lucuma Powder in place of sweeteners like Agave, Stevia, Xylitol, Honey or Dates.
- The powder has a mild sweetness to it. Start with a 1:1 ratio of lucuma powder for the sweetener in the recipes below and then adjust to your desired sweetness.
- 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.
- Navitas Naturals Lucuma Powder has a distinctively sweet fragrance and full-bodied, maple-like taste, butterscotch and shortbread. A deliciously versatile dessert ingredient, lucuma blends well to make alluring smoothies, puddings, and ice creams, and can also be used as a flour in exotic 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, not raw
- Maple syrup is not raw but it is vegan, so you need to way out your priorities.
- Maple syrup 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 will not do – and a rare color, amber set alight. It is uniquely different from any other.
Mesquite Pod Meal, raw, organic
- Can be used like Carob Powder but mesquite is much more aromatic and flavorful.
- Mesquite is a relation of carob, though it is lighter in color and has a very different taste. Mesquite powder has a molasses-like flavor with a slight hint of caramel. It is high in minerals, protein and calcium, and tastes a little like a slightly bitter caramel. It is also slightly sweet.
- 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. It is not sweet enough to use as the only sweetener in a recipe.
- 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
- It is a nutritious condiment ground from the bean pods of the mesquite tree. This aromatic powder or meal can be used as a sweetener or flavor enhancer for your raw food and other culinary creations. 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.
- The entire mesquite pod is ground, including the protein-rich seed. This produces a meal that is highly nutritious as well as flavorful. The meal ground from the pod contains 11 to 17 percent protein. A high lysine content makes it the perfect addition to crackers and dehydrated foods often low in this amino acid. Mesquite pod meal is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, protein, and lysine. It has a pleasantly sweet molasses-like flavor with a hint of caramel. Traditionally, the pod flour or meal was made into a porridge. Since the flavor and nutritional value of mesquite pod meal is high, it should be regarded more as a condiment rather than a flour or meal. However, it can be used as to replace a portion of your flour in baking and is high in soluble fiber and protein.
- Your use of this mesquite pod meal product provides not only the satisfaction of the flavor, it also provides support for the conservation of natural and cultural resources through economic incentives, the heart of the concept of sustainability.
- 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. It is just the juice extracted from the cane in a press, which has then been evaporated to dry it into granules.
- Rapadura has not been heated or refined, simply spun to change it into crystals. As a result, rapadura has a rough taste, heavy on the molasses but still quite sweet.
- Because Rapadura is not heated, the vitamins and minerals have been retained.
- 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.
- Rapadura is available in crystal form. But, it can also be ground (in a blender or coffee grinder) 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, raw
- Yacon Syrup is a new sweetener (vegan) similar to molasses.
- Yacon syrup 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.
- Use yacon syrup as you would honey or maple syrup on foods and in recipes or sweeten teas and beverages with a small amount.