Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut palm sugar is made from the flower sap of the coconut palm tree 

I'm always on the look out for a good alternative to sugar in baked goods.  Technically, sugar does the job and tastes really good but there are side effects.  The first problem is that it's addictive, the average American consumes about 115 pounds per year.  Since I don't eat anywhere near that much, someone out there is eating my share.  Someone is eating over two hundred pounds of sugar a year!?!  

Do you know what that can do to you?  It can do this:
Suppress you immune system
Contribute to hyperactivity, depression and anxiety
Upset you body's mineral balance
Increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease your HDL (good) cholesterol
Cause hypoglycemia and hypertension
Weaken you defense against bacterial infections
Cause migraines, arthritis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and liver, colon, and kidney problems...

This is the short list.  We need to find a way to eat a lot less of the stuff.  I think that coconut palm sugar is a good substitute in many cases.  This granulated form is not boiled down in the traditional way, but evaporated so that it still contains it's vitamins and minerals and is enzyme active and truly raw.   White sugar is striped of vitamins and minerals and is highly refined.

Palm sugar is also eco-friendly.  Coconut palms produce 50% - 75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar while using a fifth of the resources.  It's thought to be the single most sustainable sweetener in the world.

The best new is that it's low on the glycemic index scale, which rates how your body metabolizes sugars.  Here's a comparison: (Low is considered 55 and below)

          Glucose                                      96 GL
          White Sugar                              64 GL 
          Brown Sugar                             64 GL
          High Fructose Corn Syrup      62 GL
          Evaporated Cane Juice            55 GL
          Molasses                                     55 GL
          Maple Syrup                              54 GL
          Barley Malt Syrup                    42 GL
          Coconut Palm Sugar                35 GL
          Raw Honey                                30 GL
          Brown Rice Syrup                     25 GL
          Agave Syrup                               15 GL

I decided decided to test it out using my "go to" chocolate chip cookie recipe, which I make weekly for Mr. RK.  All I did was replace the 1/4 cup of white sugar and the 1/4 cup of brown sugar with 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar.  Here are the results.

The cookie on your left was made with white and brown sugar.  The cookie on your right was made from coconut palm sugar.  The coconut palm sugar cookies did not spread out as much so I needed to flatten the ball of dough out before I baked them.  They were also browner in color (from the start) even though they were cooked for the same amount of time.  They were not quite as sweet or crispy as the regular sugar cookies but Mr. RK thought they were good, and he eats most of the cookies.  Those chocolate chips are sweet enough.

The down side to coconut palm sugar is that it's expensive.  I bought it from a bulk bin but it was over twice as expensive as organic unrefined sugar.  If you have to buy it packaged, online, it's going to be even more expensive.  I encourage you to ask  your local grocer to stock it in their bulk bins, if they have them.  Even though it's pricy, especially during these troubling economic times, I think your family's health is worth it.

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