Tuesday, October 9, 2012
First, the bitch session. I am always talking about sweeteners and begging people to get off the artificial stuff. I am not a fan of the processed stevia stuff. For example, did you know that the #1 ingredient in Truvia® is actually erythritol, a chemically-derived plant sugar? It isn't the same thing as drying stevia leaves and sprinkling them over food! Plus, I said first ingredient, meaning this "all natural" sweetener actually contains several; the third of which is "natural flavors." Time to bust out the BS card because I am just not buying that one. Erthritol is a sugar alcohol that is known to cause digestive upset. And if you STILL need convincing to question its use: Coca Cola is behind the stuff. And just to be fair, Pepsico is behind Pure Via™
The best plan to get off the sugar is to do just that: cut out refined sugars in your diet. If you have a dessert when you go out to dinner with your wife, share it. Don't settle for factory made sweets! When you have dessert (which I do, say, once every 2 weeks), EAT HOMEMADE. Seriously, why waste calories on a cookie made by a robot who doesn't love you or her product. Heck, she doesn't even care if she stays employed. The home baker; the serious foodie baker; the local cupcake place that says they make exotic treats using only the finest ingredients--these people do care about the quality of their food. In between now and that slice or grandma's real apple pie, fill up on fruit. The less sugar you eat, the more the flavor in real fruit will come to life.
Have I made my point? It's probably not the last time I'll visit this so I'll assume not.
In the meantime, even if we are off sugar, there are some things that we will want to make a little bit sweeter, no? My plain, organic yogurt tastes better w/ a drizzle of raw honey as does my morning bowl of oats. Sometimes I make a "pumpkin mousse" by blending yogurt with pumpkin and this is better with a hint of added sweet. So are some smoothies.
The answer? Dried, ground dates! They have a warm flavor that makes me think of caramel and that, my friends, is a good thing. They also contain a healthful boost of the B vitamins and vitamin A, and are high in dietary fiber and iron. My last push here is to point out they are high in the antioxidants known as carotenoids, which are great for repairing cell damage done by free radicals. No chemically-derived stevia wannabe can claim that!
As with any sugars, you should still use this sparingly as they can cause blood sugar fluctuations.
How to Make Dried Date Sugar
1 - Using only pitted, whole dates (the already chopped ones are dusted in sugar!), chop in smaller pieces and spread out on baking sheet.
2 - Cook in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until dates have thoroughly dried out.
3 - Set aside to cool.
4 - Pulse in food processor until you get a course texture resembling large coffee granules.
5 - In small batches, grind in a spice grinder until powdery. I use a coffee mill that is only used for grinding spices.
Use as you would sugar. It is a little rough in coffee or tea (meaning gritty) but it's a great sugar substitute in baking. Has a caramel-like taste that is especially great with apples.