This weekend I will be at the National Women’s Show on the Cooking Stage demonstrating how to cook with alternatives to sugar, with a focus on coconut sugar benefits. I will be there at 5:00-5:30pm on Friday evening and 2:15-2:45pm on Saturday afternoon. I will also be at the Organika Health Products booth on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so if you are in the Toronto area, please do stop by and say hello; it’s going to be a great weekend!
What can be said about white sugar that hasn’t already been said? It rots our teeth, makes us fat and, as women, excessive white sugar intake messes with our hormones; all in all white sugar is bad news. It’s funny, just the other day on Facebook I was debating, very heatedly, the perils of aspartame to almost no avail; and someone asked (with more than a hint of snark) that it’s better than white sugar- to which I responded, “THEY’RE BOTH BAD”. This is where I left the conversation for fear of saying something that I may regret; but I digress. There are many alternatives to sugar, none of which contain the word aspartame.
The coconut sugar benefits are long and storied; and it has been in my cupboard for over nine months now and I haven’t looked back since. Of course I believe that raw honey has its merits, but when it comes to baking or adding a hint of sweetness to my morning brew, I always use coconut sugar. Recently, as the world is coming to understand the many reasons we should avoid sugar, the sap of the coconut flower is gaining steady popularity; and not only does it add a light caramel flavor but it provides key vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
The coconut sugar benefits are enviable; from vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6 to potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. But I’ve noticed some confusion over brown sugar, so let me clarify; brown sugar has the same effects on the body as white sugar and bears the same glycemic load, 64. Comparatively speaking, when you look at the difference between brown sugar and coconut sugar, coconut sugar has three times more iron the brown, four times more magnesium and a whopping ten times more zinc, and it doesn’t stop there; coconut sugar contains 16 amino acids, with a supreme amount of Glutamine, which is necessary for synthesizing muscle protein and attaining greater cell volume.
You’re probably wondering how coconut sugar stacks up against the other alternatives to sugar. Well, coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 35, which makes it low glycemic and, therefore, attractive to diabetics; and although agave nectar is even lower at 15, it is highly processed and taxing on the liver. Now, we all know that my love for honey is great, and it clocks in with a glycemic index of 30; but this number is for raw honey only, which comes complete a slew of health benefits. If you are consuming pasteurized honey you are no better off than if you were to consume white sugar, it’s highly processed and, again, stresses the liver.
Despite what the name would suggest the flavor of coconut sugar is that of light caramel and not coconut; this is because it is made from the flower and not the coconut itself, so there is no fear of a bossy coconut flavor manhandling your dishes. When buying the deliciously sweet nectar look for small granules that are light to medium brown; and beware of imposters. If your coconut sugar is clumping, it’s a fake! Organic coconut sugar does not clump, so if yours is clumping, it has very likely been cut with brown sugar.
The Piece De Resistance!
This muffin recipe is chalked full of coconut, from the coconut oil, coconut milk and the shredded coconut, so this dish I decidedly coconut; but if coconut is not your thing, feel free to substitute with hemp seed milk, olive oil and omit the coconut shreds but keep the coconut sugar- making the other substitutions won’t alter the final product at all. This also happens to be a gluten free snack; and it’s important to note that when baking gluten free it’s easiest to go with a blend. You could go the route of blending your own GF flour, but this route is that of trial and error; with the operative words being trial and error- and there will likely be a great deal of error, it’s the nature of the gluten free beast.
Gluten Free Coconut Blueberry Muffins
1 ¾ cup gluten free flour blend (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
½ teaspoon gluten free baking soda
2 teaspoon gluten free xanthan gum
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
½ cup Organika Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
¾ cup coconut milk
½ cup Organika Coconut Oil, melted
½ cup shredded coconut + additional for topping
½ cup blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350OF.
In a large bowl, mix together gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and spices. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg and mix with sugar, coconut milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to wet and fold gently. Then fold in shredded coconut and blueberries. Divide among 12 muffin cups and bake for 20 min, or until tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tins.
Keep in an air tight container up to 2-3 days. Can be frozen