Sunday, October 2, 2011
Oh sugar, how we love you so...
And maybe a little too much. The USDA estimates that every year, each American eats roughly 156 pounds of added sugar. That's quite a bit... It's no surprise there is such an obesity and diabetic epidemic in this country. What can we expect?
The sugar often comes in the form of junk food, sodas, and candies- not surprising. It also hides in places one wouldn't expect it, like crackers, yogurts, peanut butter, and more.
But sugar doesn't have to be unhealthy. We like it so much because in ancient times, sugar was such a rare treasure to come by. Our desire for it now is a leftover trait from our ancestors who would be driven by their taste buds to work extra hard just to enjoy a sugary natural treat, like honey or sweet fruits. But unlike refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup; fruit and honey are good for us. Being vegan, I choose not to eat honey or any bee products, but there are still plenty of better sweeteners that can be enjoyed.
Dates are the most natural. And then there is agave syrup, rice syrup, barley malt, molasses, stevia, and, my personal favorite, maple syrup (which may or may not be vegan, it's important to contact the company to ensure no animal ingredients are used!). And which of them all is the healthiest?
I have an aunt who is rather adamant about blackstrap molasses. She will eat a spoonful of it, and loves adding it to her breakfasts.
Blackstrap molasses are just one type of molasses, and are by far the healthiest. Out of all the liquid sweeteners, this is probably the least sweet. 'Acquired taste' would be a proper term for it, as it is a bitter, bitter syrup.
The molasses is a byproduct of the cane sugar industry. When sugar is boiled for a third time and the sucrose crystallizes, the nutrients removed from the now-refined sugar concentrate into a thick, dark syrup.
It's rich in manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, and selenium. In fact, it provides more iron than red meat per calorie, and with no fat or cruelty. For just one tablespoon, it provides roughly 20% RDA of iron. Along with 17% calcium for only 50 calories.
It delivers a robust flavor reminiscent of baking cookies during the holidays (or at least for me it does!)
I struggle to eat it straight, for it is not that same delicious, sweet goo that maple syrup is. Yet taste buds grow to accept and love it, as I am doing it. I love adding it to fruit purees for breakfast and to raw pie crusts to give them that extra kick. It may not be raw, and is it in no way a cup of kale, but it's a great way to sneak in extra minerals in places you would least expect it!
How do you enjoy eating your molasses?