Over the last few years there has been an increase in awareness around the topic of sugar and with it sugar free diets. Personally I think to cut any food group out entirely is a mistake and whilst we could all cut down on the amount of sugar we eat, avoiding it completely isn’t the answer. The old phrase, ‘everything in moderation’ springs to mind.
In my opinion, the rise in sugar intake is directly proportional to the amount of processed food we eat. Many don’t have the time to make homemade products and as a result we turn to convenience food, often full of sugar and other preservatives.
Becoming a parent and introducing Beany to different foods means I have become even more aware of the sugar content in food. To be clear I’m talking about refined sugar, not fruit sugars.
I make a lot of my own baked products now, especially as Beany is allergic to egg, and I have recently started making my own yogurt too, but that’s a post for another day. Through experimenting with recipes I’ve found some really great sugar alternatives.
Here they are:
Black Strap Molasses:
There have been many claims about the health benefits of Molasses from cancer to acne prevention. I’ll leave you to decide which of these are true or not but what Black Strap Molasses is, is a by-product of raw cane sugar production. It’s less refined than white sugar and is a source of B6, particularly good for us ladies and good for the skin.
Once hailed as having many health benefits, Barley Malt was given to young and old as a daily tonic. If you’ve read Winnie The Pooh, you’ll know Roo was given a spoonful a day too.
After the war it was given to malnourished children, combined with fish oil and it was the fish oil that had the real benefits.
What makes Barley Malt better for you than sugar now is that it is unrefined ‘simple’ sugar. Some health professionals have warned that a spoonful a day can create a sugar rushed then a slump leading to health problems such as diabetes, but if you use it in cooking or combine it with protein rich food it is better than refined sugar.
Honey has been proven time and time again to be a great energy source full of antioxidants and vitamins. Unfortunately, the bee keeping techniques of larger farms and high the demand for honey can mean no honey is left for the bees to get them through winter and so they are fed sugar-water. This means the honey contains the refined sugar the bees have been feeding on in the winter.
I my opinion, honey is a great alternative to white sugar, however we should look at where the honey comes from and buy local honey that is produced in an organic way that works with the bees, leaving them a good supply of honey to get through the winter.
These are my three favourites and as I said before it’s important to note that these are still sugar and should be eaten in moderation. What makes them better is that all three are not refined like white cane sugar and can provide nutrients as well as that sweet kick we so often crave.
Most importantly, if we want to reduce our sugar intake, we need to look at the processed foods we are eating and identify where the refined sugar content is.
Finally I thought I’d share my flapjack recipe with you. Now a family favourite, it combines two of the above sugar alternatives to make a gooey yummy flapjack.
200g Organic Oats
50g Ground Almonds
100g Dried fruit (I use sultanas and apricots)
75g Black Strap Molasses
25g Local Honey
100g Unsalted Butter
- Combine the butter, molasses, honey and dried fruit in a pan on the stove on a low heat
- Once the ingredients have melted, add the oats and almonds
- Combine well
- Press into an appropriate sized baking dish
- cook on 160c (fan) for 20/25 minutes
- Once out of the oven score into pieces and leave to cool.
- Once cool cut the flapjack into pieces and enjoy!