Let's face it, we are all addicted to the taste of something sweet. It is the first taste we receive from our mother's milk and it is the primary taste that keeps us satisfied. However, more often than not Americans will consume sweet in the form of refined white sugar. This type of sweetener is notorious for being a waste of empty calories, plus it jacks up your blood sugar levels, hammers your adrenal glands, makes your brain do a tailspin, then kicks your butt into fatigue. Oh, sweet agony. And after all of this you just want more, need more, in an endless cycle of highs and lows. Sounds like a bad relationship and one you may want to change.
OUR BODIES NEED SWEETS
Believe it or not your body needs that sweet taste, along with bitter, salty, pungent, sour, and astringent. Getting these essential tastes is an important ingredient in your daily diet. Alternative sweeteners are better for you, but they are still a form of sugar and can impact the body in negative ways when eaten in excess. Cakes, cookies, chocolate and other baked sweet goods should be eaten on occasion, 2-3 times a week, and in moderation. You might rotate the list of sweeteners provided below, as some are higher in sugar than others. If you have not included the sweet taste in the form of sweet vegetables, healthy sweeteners, whole grains or fruit, then you will go looking for it in refined, processed desserts and candy. Your body knows what it needs, you just have to steer those cravings in the right direction.
CHOOSE YOUR SWEETENERS
Your local health food store should stock an assortment of sweeteners and you might even find some delicious truffles made with one of them. Why not live life on the wild side and try something different for a change? Truth be told we're all looking for a bit of pleasure in our world of struggle and suffering. And with the right sweet we create a moment of pure delight when all our senses are turned inwards to that burst of flavor and pleasure. Ah, life is good in that moment.
1. MAPLE SYRUP
Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees, and is high in minerals. In recipes: Substitute 2/3 to 1/4 cup maple syrup for 1 cup of white sugar. Reduce liquid in recipe by 3 tablespoons. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of maple syrup.
In recipes: Honey can be used in all baked goods. Substitute 2/3 to 3/4 cup honey for 1 cup white sugar. Reduce liquid by 1/4 cup. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of honey. Reduce oven 25 degrees F. and adjust baking time.
Found in fibrous vegetables, as well as various hardwood trees, like birch, xylitol may be the ideal alternative to sugar. It is slowly absorbed by the body and has very little effect on insulin. It also has 40 percent fewer calories than ordinary sugar. IMPORTANT NOTE: Although xylitol is safe for human consumption, it can be toxic to pets. Seek veterinary treatment immediately if ingested by a pet.
A sweet South American herb used for centuries and regarded as extremely safe. Stevia is 150 to 400 times sweeter than white sugar. Its taste varies greatly from one manufacturer to another. Just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of stevia can substitute for one cup of table sugar.
5. BROWN RICE SYRUP
Brown rice syrup is a sweetener made by fermenting brown rice and boiling the resulting mixture until it becomes thick syrup. It is similar in texture to honey. Brown rice syrup is high in maltose and complex carbohydrates. Use 1-1/4 cup rice syrup for one cup of sugar, using 1/4 cup less
Delia Quigley is a holistic health practitioner, author of seven health books and an experienced yoga instructor. She also teaches the exquisite science of preparing whole, organic foods to support and strengthen the mind, body and spirit.