Raw Vegan Sweeteners

Raw Sweeteners

I find it quite  interesting that so many raw foodists or health conscious individual’s are completely fruit-phobic and yet they have no qualms about eating tablespoon after tablespoon of refined sweeteners like agave and honey.

You would think that someone who severely limits their consumption of sweet fruit because the simple sugars cause  ” Candidiasis” would be even MORE careful about his or her use of concentrated sweeteners.

 

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, call 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.

Raw Agave Nectar

  1. Agave comes from none other than the agave plant.
  2. Agave is a liquid sweetener that is low glycemic.
  3. 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.
  4. Agave adds sweetness without having any strong particular flavor.
  5. Agave comes in light and dark.  Agave nectar is sold in light, amber, dark, and raw varieties.  Light agave nectar has a mild, almost neutral flavor, and so sometimes used in delicate-tasting foods and drinks.  Amber agave nectar has a medium-intensity caramel flavor, and is used in foods and drinks with stronger flavors.  Dark agave nectar has stronger caramel notes.
  6. Agave nectar is sweeter than honey,  though less viscous.
  7. Agave nectar is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar.
  8. Agave is commonly used as a vegan alternative to honey in cooking.
  9. Agave dissolves quickly,  therefore it can be used as a sweetener for cold beverages such as iced tea.

Raw Honey

  1. Honey is made by bees using nectar from flowers.
  2. Honey is not vegan.  Make sure you use raw honey otherwise it is pasteurized.
  3. Raw honey has some pollen and may contain small particles of wax.
  4. Local raw honey is sought after by allergy sufferers as the pollen impurities are thought to lessen the sensitivity to hay fever.

Maple Syrup

  1. Maple syrup is not raw but it is vegan, so you need to way out your priorities.
  2. Maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees.
  3. Maple syrup also contains nutritionally significant amounts of zinc and manganese.
  4. Compared to honey, maple syrup has 15 times more calcium and 1/10 as much sodium.
  5. 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

Dried Fruit

  1. Dried fruit is fruit where a large part of its original water content is removed either naturally, through sun drying, or through the use of specialized dryers or dehydrators’.
  2. Be aware: Many fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and mangoes are often infused with a sweetener (e.g. sucrose syrup) before drying.
  3. Like fresh fruits , dried fruits are practically devoid of fat, trans fats, saturated fat and cholesterol. They are also very low sodium content.
  4. Dried fruits are a particularly significant source of dietary fiber and potassium.
  5. 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.
  6. Always buy UNSULFURED dried fruits.  If you can’t find them, dehydrate your own!

Dates

  1. Majool dates are the most popular dates used in raw recipes.
  2. 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.
  3. It is best to tear each date in 1/2, removing the pit and exam the inside.  Bugs can lay eggs inside, discard these.
  4. 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.
  5. Many of the brands available in supermarkets are not organic or raw.

Yacon Syrup

  1. Yacon Syrup is a new sweetener (vegan) like molasses.
  2. 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.
  3. Yacon syrup is pressed from the yacon root and has been enjoyed for centuries in the Andean highlands ofPeru.
  4. Yacon syrup is a prebiotic, yacon is good for digestion, safeguards against colon cancer, and helps absorption of calcium and vitamins.
  5. 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.
  6. Use yacon syrup as you would honey or maple syrup on foods and in recipes or sweeten teas and beverages with a small amount.

Coconut Nectar

  1. 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.
  2. Coconut nectar is naturally sweet and has a mild flavor.

Coconut Crystals

  1. 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, has 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH Small batches make sure 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).
  2. Replacement for sugar.

Raw, Organic Mesquite Pod Meal

  1. 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.
  2. 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 has 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.Mesquitepod 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 and not 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.
  3. 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.

Rapadura

  1. 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.
  2. Rapadura has not been heated or refined, simply spun to change it into crystals.  As a result, rapadura has an rough taste, heavy on the molasses but still quite sweet.
  3. Because Rapadura is not heated, the vitamins and minerals have been retained.
  4. 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 will not affect your blood sugar levels very much at all.
  5. 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.
  6. Rapadura can be used cup for cup as an alternative to sugar in all your raw dishes and baking.

Green Stevia Leaf – Whole Leaf Powder

  1. A 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.
  2. It doesn’t contain any calories or carbs.
  3. It is shown to help improve the pancreas and digestion.
Lucuma (loo-ku-mah) Powder
  1. Is  considered a healthy alternative sweetener as it lends a sweet taste to recipes, but is very low in sugars.
  2.  With naturally occurring beta-carotene, niacin, and iron, lucuma powder is a welcome antidote to notorious “empty calorie” sweeteners.
  3. Lucuma Powder has a distinctively sweet fragrance and full-bodied, maple-like taste
  4.  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
  5. Lucuma is a fruit from Peru which is dried and ground to be sold as a natural sweetener.

Fresh Ripe Fruits from Your Kitchen. This is the simplest way to get some sweet flavor into your foods. Ripe bananas in particular are very sweet and are commonly used in smoothies and blended foods. You may also want to chop or re-hydrate some fruits you may have dehydrated in your own kitchen, or purchased in bulk at the natural foods market. Feel free to experiment.

As you can see, there is no reason to suffer on a raw food diet, even if you have a sweet tooth. The extensive and varied raw sweeteners available on the market make it easy for you to have your raw cake and eat it, too.

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