Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sweet Nothings

Happy Snow Day!  Snow day morning are the second best kind of mornings (summer mornings are the best).  Snow day mornings are the only mornings I don't rush, because for once I have no where to go.  So there's time to make and savor good coffee...

My coffee from New Orleans in a coffee press... oh yeah.

...and real breakfast.

I'm getting a hang of the steel-cut oats... and they're totally worth the cooking time.

I used two kinds of sweetener this morning.  It's all part of my Great Sweetener Experiment.

Okay, it's not really that official.  But with all the information and misinformation out there about sweeteners, it's hard to know what to choose, so I've been trying a few different kinds to figure out what I like the best and what makes me feel the best.

As you know, I like to get as close to nature as possible.

I used to be all about the Splenda.  It was close enough to sugar and was supposedly guilt-free.  However, though it's made from sugar, it's not considered natural, because it's been modified at the molecular level to be digested differently by our bodies so that we don't get the calories.  This might be fine... or it might not be.  Our body doesn't break it down... and neither does nature.  A researcher discovered that it might even be contaminating our water.

This week, my friend Andrea gave me a packet of Truvia to try, the new no-calorie on the market.  This one is derived from a plant, so it is considered natural.

White sugar is top left, Truvia in the center.  It looks like sugar, but bigger.

I like the idea that it is natural, and calorie free, but I was not impressed with the taste.  It had that slightly bitter taste that aspartame-type sweeteners have... it was strong enough to taste through my cup of tea.  Not a fan.  Maybe the actual leaves are better? (I've seen them at the Greenmarket.)

Some of my "tried and true" favorites:

1. Palm sugar.

You can get this at the co-op, and it's like a very mild brown sugar, which it tastes a little bit like, but I think it's really good in my coffee.

It's healthy because it comes from the coconut palm plant, and, according to the bag has "a lower glycemic index...than cane sugar, agave or honey."  This means it won't spike your blood sugar.  It also has potassium and B vitamins.

2. And my favorite, honey.  As far as I know, it affects your body as sugar does, but if you buy it local to your area, then supposedly it can help with your allergies (the story is, you may build up a tolerance to that pollen from which it is made).  And you know it's natural because it comes from bees.  Again, I find it cheapest at the co-op, and I use it to sweeten just about anything...

...especially my morning oatmeal.  Mouth-watering, right?

I've also tried agave, which also comes from a plant and is similar to honey, except I thought milder in flavor, and I think it's also supposed to be better for your blood sugar.  I don't like it as much as the first two, though (I found it kind of bland).

It really boils down to priorities and personal taste.  There are so many options that are healthier, you just have to find the right one for you.

And taste-testing sweets isn't so bad of an experiment... :)

"A man without a mustache is like a cup of tea without sugar."  
English Proverb

(Okay, it doesn't really make sense, but it's funny.)


  1. I like to use pure maple syrup as an all natural sweetener. It has been found to contain many beneficial compounds including anti-oxidants.

  2. My apprentice, Andi, uses some crazy liquid sweetener. It looks like she's adding some LSD to her coffee.