Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Monofloral Honey—The Which?!

 

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Oh my goodness!!! Before I started reading up on honey, I had no clue that there are SO, SO, SO many varieties…I thought honey was just something you picked up in a bear-shaped container found on the very top shelf at Walmart.

By the way, that top shelf at Walmart can be a very scary place for short people like me. One day I was on my tiptoes reaching up to get a can of canned salmon. That can fell on its edge into the top of my head. I got a concussion.

Anyway, back to the varieties of monofloral honey…

 

Monofloral honey, unlike multifloral or wildflower honey, must contain the nectar of one single predominant plant.

In theory, this sounds so easy…but in real life, this can be difficult to achieve because bees cannot be herded like cattle or trained like circus animals to go to a particular type of plant.

Producing relatively pure monofloral honey requires two things to happen—(1)the predominance of the target plant within a given radius from the hive…and (2)the timing of the introduction of the fresh hives when the target plants start producing nectar and the actual removal of the hives and extraction of the honey before any other plants within the area start blooming also.

Monofloral honey comes in hundreds, perhaps thousands of different varieties, each unique according the the specific flower that the nectar has been gathered from. Each variety of monofloral honey having its own unique characteristic flavor, texture, and aroma.

Anyway, I had originally planned on doing a quick synopsis of each type of honey and describing its unique flavor, texture, and aroma…a few recipes that can this particular type of honey can be used for…and a few of the best places to find this particular type of honey.

After discovering that at least 111 different varieties of monofloral honey exist, I’ve decided that this would be quite overwhelming, not to mention boring…

So instead—just like my posts on essential oils—I have decided to choose one particular honey each month to highlight.

The honey of the month for July is…

Acacia Honey

Join me on this journey…accomplished by a single step, or in this case, a single jar of honey.

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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Honey—The Why?!

Now for the most important question about monofloral honey—or at least to me and my family at this time as we rethink our diet and learn more about nutrition…

Do we add/keep monofloral honey on our Grocery IQ app or not?!

Just like I did in previous posts on why we should all be eating avocadoes and blackstrap molasses, let’s look at the nutritional benefits of honey in a way that corresponds to the nutrition labels.

  1. Serving Size…Honestly how much honey you eat at one time is totally up to you—how sticky do you want your toast to be—how sweet do you want your hot tea to be…but for our purpose, we’re gonna look at the nutritional value of 1Tbsp.
  2. Calories…Each tablespoon of honey contains about sixty-five calories.
  3. Basic Nutrients…Now as for those specific nutrients contained in monofloral honey—such as carbohydrates, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar—that all of us typically eat in adequate amounts….honey contains little fat (zero grams), dietary fiber (.2grams), or protein(.3grams).
  4. Vitamins and Minerals…Monofloral honey actually contains very few vitamins and minerals, but let’s take a look at how much honey does contain…
    • Folate (B9)…1%…2 μg
    • Iron…3%…0.42 mg
    • Calcium…1%…6 mg
    • Magnesium…1%…2 mg
    • Niacin (B3)…1%… 0.121 mg
    • Pantothenic acid (B5)…1%…0.068 mg
    • Phosphorus…1%…4 mg
    • Potassium…1%…52 mg
    • Riboflavin (B2)…3%…0.038 mg
    • Sodium…0%…4 mg
    • Vitamin B6…2%…0.024 mg
    • Vitamin C…1%…0.5 mg
    • Zinc…2%…0.22 mg

There are benefits of honey in general—such as being a natural antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and antibiotic—but monofloral honey not only provide these benefits, but also many other benefits and unique properties that make them even more beneficial.

These benefits are related to the following conditions…

    1. Acid reflux…Monofloral honey can help reverse acid reflux damage.
    2. Infection…Monofloral honey often contain strong antibacterial elements—such as hydrogen peroxide and antioxidants.
    3. Cancer…Monofloral honey controls the side effects of radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
    4. Digestive conditions…Monofloral honeys are good for stomach health. They  have prebiotic benefits that help to improves digestive health, such as helping to soothe an upset stomach or constipation. These honeys can also encourage the stomach to regenerate itself, helping heal gastritis naturally.
    5. Fatigue…Monofloral honeys can give you more energy and help you combats fatigue and hypoglycemia.
    6. Immunity…Monofloral honeys, especially those produced from local sources, make your immune system more effective.
    7. Respiratory conditions…Monofloral honey helps you recover from respiratory infections more quickly, as well as helping you deal with seasonal allergies due to pollen.
    8. Skin conditions…Monofloral honeys are good for all skin types. They help prevent acne by reducing bacteria and the excess sebum that these bacteria feed on and by calming skin irritation. As far as dry skin, monofloral honey nourishes, hydrates, and restores radiance.
    9. Sleep…Monofloral honeys can help you fall asleep faster.
    10. Sore throat…Monofloral honey is good for sore throat and cough, common cold and tonsillitis.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Honey—The What Else?!

Monofloral honey is a type of honey that is produced by bees that have only gathered nectar from one particular plant or flower, instead of whatever is available. In other words, they have been very picky eaters.

Although this honey is predominantly made from the nectar of one flower, it may also contain smaller amounts of other flower nectars.

In order for a honey to be classified as a monofloral, the nectar of one particular plant or flower must not only be the most important ingredient, but any secondary flower must not affect the flavor or color of the supposedly primary source.

In fact, the stronger and more clearly distinctive the characteristics of the primary flower nectar are in a honey, the higher its price and the more revered by honey hoarders.

Several factors go into the production of monofloral honey. These include location, timing,

The bees must be in an area where there is a plentiful supply of a certain flowering plant, and hardly any food sources available.

Different varieties of honey will have different primary sources, blossom variety, locality produced in, colors, flavors and a different crystallization time.

Primary Source…This is the main source of nectar gathered by bees that make this particular type of honey.

Locality…This is the region where this particular source of honey can mainly be found.

Color….As far as color, honey can range in color all the way from clear to dark purple or black.

Taste…As far as taste, honey can range in taste all the way from mildly sweet to very strong.

Flavor…As far as flavor, honey can range in flavor all the way from pleasantly sweet to entirely bitter.

Getting Healthy

Honey—The What?!

Honey is so familiar to almost all of us as Americans, that there’s really no reason to go into a in-depth explanation of what honey actually is…most of us already know that honey is primarily produced by bees gathering nectar from nearby flowers and storing it in wax structures called honeycombs.

And the 20,000 to 40,000 female worker bees and seasonally variable number of male drone bees available to “fertilize” new queens all work together with one goal in mind—to keep the one and only single female queen bee happy.

Kinda like the bride preparing for a wedding…right, Bridezilla?!

 

 

But a few interesting facts about honey that I recently learned include…

  • It typically requires drinking the nectar of over a thousand flowers over a timespan of more than an hour to gather the average of 3Tbsp that the bee gathers before returning to the hive.
  • The amount of nectar that he gathers is about half of the bee’s initial weight.
  • Once the forager bees return to the hive, they transfer nectar to the hive bees by regurgitating it. Then the hive bees “share” this nectar between themselves in a process that typically takes as long as twenty minutes.
  • There is a specific bird called a “honeyguide bird” that leads beekeepers to wild bee nests.
  • Beekeepers use the smoke that you typically imagine them using mainly to pacify the bees and make them think that there is an actual fire that requires them to attempt to save the hive and obscures the pheromones the bees use to communicate.

 

But even more interesting to me is the myriad of honey found on the market and knowing which one(s) to actually buy.

High-quality honey varies and can be distinguished by a number of factors—including absence of defects, clarity, color, natural sugar and microorganism content, water content, flavor, aroma, pH, additives used, strain of yeast used to process the honey, and consistency.

 

1. Quality...First of all there are differences in the quality of the honey available.

Although the USDA does actually require inspection and grading in actual honey manufacturing places to ensure that honey meets specific USDA standards. a grading system is accepted by these manufacturers to help consumers know the quality of the honey that they are purchasing.

The American scale for grading honey is basically as follows…

  • Good—”has a good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is free from caramelized flavor or objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”
  • Practically free—”contains practically no defects that affect the appearance or edibility of the product”…Clear—”may contain air bubbles which do not materially affect the appearance of the product and may contain a trace of pollen grains or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not affect the appearance of the product”…B…≥ 81.4%…
  • Reasonably good—”has a reasonably good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a reasonably good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is practically free from caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”…
  • Reasonably free—”may contain defects which do not materially affect the appearance or edibility of the product”
  • Reasonably clear—”may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not materially affect the appearance of the product”…C…≥ 80.0%…
  • Fairly good—”has a fairly good, normal flavor and aroma for the predominant floral source or, when blended, a fairly good flavor for the blend of floral sources and the honey is reasonably free from caramelized flavor and is free from objectionable flavor caused by fermentation, smoke, chemicals, or other causes with the exception of the predominant floral source”…
  • Fairly free—”may contain defects which do not seriously affect the appearance or edibility of the product”…
  • Fairly clear—”may contain air bubbles, pollen grains, or other finely divided particles of suspended material which do not seriously affect the appearance of the product”
  • Substandard…Fails Grade C

 

2. Color…Next there are differences in the colors of various honey. The USDA has established a Pfund scale which set standards for grading honey based on its color and optical density…such as 0 for “water white” honey to more than 114 for “dark amber” honey.

 

3. Form…Next there are other forms of honey available, other than the typically expected liquid form of honey, based on how the honey has been processed. These include…

  • Chunk honey…widemouth containers consisting of one or more pieces of comb honey immersed in extracted liquid
  • Comb honey…honey that is still in the honeybees’ wax comb by cutting out chunks of honey from the wooded frames used in beekeeping.
  • Creamed honey, (also called whipped honey, spun honey, churned honey, honey fondant, and set honey)…honey that has been processed to control crystallization. Creamed honey contains a large number of small crystals, which prevent the formation of larger crystals that can occur in unprocessed honey and produces a honey with a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  • Crystallized honey, also called granulated honey or candied honey…honey that has had some of the glucose crystallized
  • Dried honey…honey that has had the moisture extracted from liquid honey to create completely solid, nonsticky granules….typically used in baked goods and for garnishing desserts.
  • Filtered honey…honey that has been filtered so that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed. Thi process typically involves heating the honey to 150–170 °F. Filtered honey is very clear and will not crystallize as quickly, making it preferred by the supermarket trade.
  • Pasteurized honey…honey that has been heated in a pasteurization process which requires temperatures of 161 °F or higher in order to destroy any yeast cells and liquefy any microcrystals.
  • Raw honey…honey that still remains as it was when first collected—without any other processing involved…Raw honey contains some pollen and may contain small particles of wax
  • Strained honey…honey that has been passed through a mesh material to remove particulate material—including pieces of wax, propolis, and other defects—without removing pollen, minerals, or enzymes
  • Ultrasonicated honey…honey that has been processed by ultrasonication, a nonthermal processing alternative that destroys most of the yeast cells originally found in the honey, reduces the rate of honey fermentation substantially, eliminates existing crystals, and inhibits further crystallization.

 

4. Source…But the main difference between the different types of honey available is the major plant source of nectar that the bees have used to make the honey.

Basically there are two types of honey based on source—

  • Polyfloral honey, also known as wildflower honey, is derived from the nectar of many types of flowers. The taste, aroma, and flavor may vary from year to year, depending on which flowers are most available for the bees to gather nectar from.
  • Monofloral honey, on the other hand, is made primarily from the nectar of one specific type of flower. These different honeys each have its own different, distinctive flavor and color because of differences between their principal nectar sources.

In the next post, we will look at the different monofloral honeys available and the uses and qualities of each…

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review—The First Mess by Laura Wright

The book The First Mess by Laura Wright is a book about the accessibility and joys of plant-based wellness.

This book first appealed to me because lately I have been looking for healthier ways for our family to cook and eat…especially since my husband has been diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic.

This book will be especially of interest to people who are interested in learning how to prepare simple, seasonal vegan and plant-based meals that my family will enjoy

The central themes carried out throughout the book are the love for fresh ingredients, a respect towards the process of prepping and cooking them, and an overall approach to keeping it simple.

The author of the book is Laura Wright, the blogger behind the Saveur award-winning blog The First Mess.

Laura grew up working at her family’s local food market and vegetable patch in southern Ontario, where fully stocked root cellars in the winter and armfuls of fresh produce in the spring and summer were the norm. After attending culinary school and working for one of Canada’s original local food chefs, she launched The First Mess at the urging of her friends in order to share the delicious, no-fuss, healthy, seasonal meals she grew up eating, and she quickly attracted a large, international following.

The book features more than 125 whole-food recipes that showcase the best produce that each season has to offer.

The book begins with a guide for stocking your pantry and buying kitchen equipment, and then features over a hundred recipes organized into the following categories…

Mornings & Breakfast, such as Fluffy Whole Grain Pancakes

Soups & Stews, such as Garlicky Winter Vegetable and White Bean Mash with Mushroom Miso Gravy

Salads & Dressings, such as Romanesco Confetti Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing

Hearty Mains & Big Plates, such as Butternut and Pesto Cream Lasagna

Vegetables & A Couple of Grains, such as Burrito-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Energizing Drinks & Small Bites

Desserts & Small Treats, such as Earl Grey and Vanilla Bean Tiramisu

Each seasonal, wholesome, and delicious recipe includes a photograph…gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, and nut-free options…and the amount of time that recipe will require.

 I didn’t find the recipes too complicated or too “extra.”  These plant-centric recipes will allow you to use up what you already have, encourage you to try something new, and create your own basics instead of buying them.

I found this book to be very organized, especially because it contains an easy-to-use index and informative table of contents.

I also found the book to be encouraging and fun to read because Laura shares interesting stories about specific ingredient and dishes, memories from childhood about harvesting and preparing it certain foods, and her decision to become a vegan.

The book is beautifully designed and laid out. The fonts are easy to read, and the ingredients and instructions are listed side-by-side in a very user-friendly way.

Each and every recipe has a beautiful color picture (almost always full-page)…a series of icons at the top for nut-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc….and the amount of time that the recipe will require.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

Now that my husband has been officially declared as a type 2 diabetic, one of my priorities as far as our family meals has been to start cooking healthier than my Mississippi ancestry and love for foods such as Paula Dean’s Sour Cream Pound Cake have always taught me.

I have started exploring options to ordinary cane sugar, such as agave nectar and coconut sugar. Lately I have starting experimenting with date sugar.

But how do you use date sugar to make an awesome dessert…especially on holidays such as Father’s Day and the 4th of July?

So I have started my quest for new desserts to put in my recipe box to replace my recipe repertoire…such as this chocolate mousse pie made with a homemade vegan pie crust and coconut whipped cream.

Vegan Pie Crust

  • 1-3/4C flour
  • 3/4tsp salt
  • 3/4tsp sugar
  • 6Tbsp cold vegan butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 6 Tbsp shortening
  • 5 Tbsp ice water

Instructions

  • Fill a small bowl with water and a couple of ice cubes.
  • Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
  • Add the cold butter. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dough.
  • Add the shortening to the bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dough until the butter and shortening pieces are about the size of peas.
  • Incorporate tablespoons of additional water as required for the crust to stick together when pressed between your fingers.
  • Dump the pie dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate at least thirty minutes.
  • Place the wrapped disk on a large smooth surface. Unwrap. Sandwich the dough between two pieces of Saran wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a 13″ diameter circle.
  • Generously grease a 9″ pie dish. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap. Invert the crust into the pie dish. Carefully remove the other piece of plastic wrap. Fit the crust into the pie dish. Lightly press the dough around the edge of the pie pan. Use scissors to cut excess dough from the edge, following the edge of the pan. Fold the dough over to make a double-thick rim of the crust. Use a fork to crimp the edges.

Chocolate and Date Mousse…This chocolate mousse has a delicate sweetness, an incredibly smooth texture, and best of all—it’s healthy for you.

  • 1/2C Hershey’s Cocoa…(Cocoa can actually be good for you because, depending on how the cocoa has been processed, it often contains a high concentration of antioxidants)
  • 1/2C Sunsweet pitted dates…(In a previous post, I shared the health benefits of dates and date sugar…so not going to reiterate…look here at this post instead).
  • 1-1/4C coconut cream
  • Optional ingredients…(use one or more of the following if desired)…a pinch of sea salt, vanilla extract, some cinnamon, more cocoa, cayenne pepper, a few drops of peppermint extract or fresh mint, finely chopped pineapple, rum, orange zest or extract, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, coffee, Kahlúa, raspberries

Instructions

  1. Refrigerate the can of coconut cream overnight. This allows the cream to solidify and separate at the top of the can, leaving a clear liquid at the bottom. Once you are able to shake the can and no longer feel liquid moving, the coconut cream is ready.
  2. Carefully turn the can upside down. Open and discard the transparent liquid.
  3. Stir the dates with 1Tbsp water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave one minute. Drain. This allows the dates to not be as dry and helps your mousse to have a smooth consistency.
  4. Blend ingredients together until smooth.
  5. Taste and add any optional ingredients until you get the “flavor of the day.”
  6. Spread the mousse into a pie crust.
  7. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 14oz can coconut cream
  • 1Tbsp sugar substitute
  • 1tsp vanilla

    Chill the can of coconut cream for at least one day to allow it to separate and harden. Refrigerate your mixing bowl and beaters for thirty minutes.

Take the can of coconut cream out of the refrigerator. Scoop out only the hard coconut cream that should has settled at the top of the can.

Whip ingredients together until fluffy. Add any additional extracts, spices, and/or cocoa powder as desired.

Making Dinner Plans, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Silan Chicken

Silan,  also referred to as Israeli date honey, is a rich syrup made from dates.

Silan has a dark chestnut color, darker than maple syrup, about the color of cola….a taste similar to molasses….and a texture that is as thick as molasses but more fluid than bee honey.

You can find at local “kosher” markets, but even living here in DFW, I have no idea where one of those would be and it would be much easier to order it while still wearing my pajamas online from such retailers as World of Judaica or Date Lady.

Just be sure to stay away from the varieties with added sugar—those can be too sweet and lack the authentic flavor of the kind found in Israel.

One of the most common recipes using silan is Silan Chicken…had this for dinner last night, making it again tonight perhaps because it was so very good and there are no leftovers.

  • 4# chicken legs or thighs
  • 1 cup silan
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp tamarind or soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Maranating…Prepare a 9- x 13 baking dish. Mix together the silan, oil, brown sugar, tamarind, garlic, and chicken stock. Place the chicken in a foil-lined roasting or baking pan. Rub the chicken pieces with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.

Baking…Bake for an hour, uncovered, brushing the chicken with the sauce every fifteen minutes. Increase oven temp to 375°F. Bake for another thirty minutes.

Getting Healthy

Date-Sugar Sugar Cookies

Now that we know that date sugar is a healthy sweetener alternative for diabetics than standard granulated sugar…where do we find it?…how do we make it ourselves?…how do we use it in a recipe?

What are the benefits of using date sugar instead of regular granulated sugar?

  • Antioxidants…Dates contain the highest concentration of antioxidants of any dried fruits.
  • Caloric Content…Date sugar contains 288 calories per half-cup, as opposed to regular white refined sugar which has 387 calories per half-cup.
  • Energy Boost…Dates contain 29 grams of natural sugars—such as glucose, sucrose and fructose—and are one of the best snacks that you could eat to help you have more energy.
  • Intestinal Health…Dates helps increase the amount of “good” bacteria found is in the intestines and as a result help to keep you “regular” and prevent constipation.
  • Nutritional Value…Date sugar is loaded with vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium; where white sugar does not.
  • Potassium Content…Date sugar actually has more potassium per serving size than bananas do.
  • Weight Control…Date sugar is loaded with fiber, protein and carbs which make you feel full much longer. This can help to curb hunger and help prevent weight gain.

Where do we find it?

Commercial date sugar made from unsulfured, organically grown dates is typically hard to find in actual local grocery stores and even health food stores. Your best bet is to buy your date sugar online from such sources as Thrive Market, Bob’s Red Mill, and Amazon.

How do we make it ourselves?

The problem with date sugar, however, especially organic types, is that they can be very expensive.

But it is possible to save money by making your own date sugar.

Making your own date sugar is actually quite simple. Simply buy inexpensive fresh or dried dates in bulk…It is not even important that the dates that you choose to make your date sugar are  the richest, sweetest, moist varieties. Just any old date will do.

Pit and slice them, and dry them using a food dehydrator or a very low-temperature oven. Once your date slices are fully dry, pulverize them in a food processor.

How do we use it in a recipe?!

Commercial or homemade date sugar can be substituted measure for measure for both granulated white sugar and brown sugar…but many people claim that this makes their baked goods taste too sweet, and reduce the amount of date sugar to only 2/3C date sugar for every cup of sugar called for in the original recipe.

Date sugar is particularly good when baking nut or fruit breads that will also contain whole pieces or chunks of another type of fruit or nut….such as banana-nut bread or an apple-walnut bread.

Date Sugar and Liquids…Remember that date sugar does not dissolve when stirred into water or liquids. Many chefs try dissolving the date sugar in boiling water before adding to the batter. This might work if water is already an ingredient in the given recipe. I personally hate changing ratios and proportions, and leave all this to the people who actually passed college algebra the first time that they took it.

Otherwise, just be aware that date sugar may show up as distinct, sweet flecks in cake, pancake or waffle batters.

Storing Your Date Sugar

Date sugar, just like brown sugar, tends to clump together…because they both are naturally “hygroscopic”…new word of the day, simply meaning “able to readily absorbs and retains moisture.”

So be sure to store your date sugar in an airtight jar or other container…probably in your pantry with perfectly-alphabetically-lined Mason jars containing brown sugar, coconut sugar, and now date sugar…

If you want to store your date sugar in a shaker, place a saltine cracker or two in the container to absorb any moisture.

Date-Sugar Cookies

Date Filling:

  • 2C chopped dates
    1C sugar
    1C water
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pound chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine chopped dates, sugar and water in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Simmer ten minutes. Add lemon juice and salt. Cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Dough

  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1C butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 1/2cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground cloves
    1Tbsp baking soda
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Cream together vanilla, eggs, sugar, milk, and butter until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves.

Add to creamed mixture.

Cover dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours for easier handling.

Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut with floured 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter.

Cut out and remove 1″ round hole from center of half of the cookies. Return dough centers to remaining dough for rerolling.

Place the whole cookies on ungreased cookie sheets.

Spoon 1tsp cooled filling onto center of each whole cookie.

Top with dough ring. Press the edges of each filled cookie together with the tip of a fork to seal.

Bake for ten minutes. Let cool on pans two minutes. Remove from pans. Let cool completely.

Let cool. Dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Date Sugar—What?! Why?! How?!

The What?!

  • Another natural sugar substitute that’s popular among raw food enthusiasts.
  • Date sugar is simply made by dehydrating and finely grinding whole dates into a granular powder and requires no processing whatsoever.
  • Date sugar has a lightly sweet, caramel-like flavor and the consistency of brown sugar.

 

The Why?!

  • Even though dates contain tons of fructose by ratio to their weight…about six times more sugar and calories than most other fruits….for example, five small apples have the same amount of sugar as four dates….dates also contain many important nutrients—especially fiber and potassium.
  • As far as sugar substitutes, date sugar has the highest nutritional value.
  • Fiber…Fiber is important for slowing down the absorption of sugar to your liver and regulating insulin. Fiber also fills you up faster.
  • Potassium…Potassium is important for flushing out toxins and balancing electrolytes.

The How?!

  • Date sugar is not a good substitute for sweetening beverages because it remains grainy and does not dissolve well just placed in hot liquids, such as coffee or tea.
  • Even though date sugar doesn’t dissolve in hot liquids or baked goods, date sugar can still be a great one-to-one replacement for granulated or brown sugar in baking recipes.
  • Dates can be used as a binder for cookies and bars, turned into caramel, and also used as a sweetener for smoothies and salad dressings as long as the ingredients are blended well.
  • Date Syrup…You can also turn raw dates into a date syrup by boiling the dates and reducing the liquid until it’s the consistency of honey. This is actually a much better option than using date sugar when baking.
  • When using date syrup to replace granulated sugar in a baking recipe, be sure to use less date syrup than the amount of granulated sugar that the recipe calls for—about 2/3 cup date syrup for every one cup of sugar called for in the original recipe…as well as making sure than you reduce the amount of liquids called for in the original recipe.
  • Because dates have a low glycemic index, dates are actually a great sugar substitute for diabetics and for prediabetics who hope to keep their blood sugar in check….so, yes, adding this to my upcoming grocery list.
Getting Healthy, Instruments, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Coconut Sugar

Okay, so now that I’ve started shopping at stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods, I think that I’ve seen every product imaginable made from coconut and learned several really good reasons to keep a good supply of castile soap and coconut oil on hand, so why does it surprise me that the almighty coconut can also be used as a sugar substitute.

Coconut sugar, made by drying out the sugary sap of coconut trees, has been used for centuries in many countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia.

This syrupy liquid has a taste much like brown sugar…and though coconut sugar

may often be more expensive than regular granulated sugar, coconut sugar is a much better option than many other sweeteners currently found on the market.

Coconut juice, which is where a lot of coconut sugar comes from, is full of potassium, electrolytes and nutrients…coconut sugar has many benefits that you will not find in regular table sugar, it may require large amounts to really make a positive affect.

Like plain white sugar, coconut sugar contains vitamins, minerals, trace elements—such as iron, zinc, calcium, potassium—as well as short-chain fatty acids, polyphenols, antioxidants, and phytonutrients—such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyanidins—that help reduce blood sugar, inflammation, and cholesterol.

Coconut sugar also contains about twice as much iron and zinc as the same amount of granulated table sugar…as well as 25% DV of potassium per four ounces…(okay, when you sit down to eat 1/2C of coconut sugar at one sitting, please call me…right?!)

Another reason that coconut sugar is better for diabetics than regular table sugar is the fact that it contains inulin, a fiber that helps slow glucose absorption and keep glucose levels in check.

Just like coconut oil and coconut water, coconut sugar is becoming a very popular item at health food stores across America. Coconut sugar is being used to sweeten everything from coffee and tea…to cookies, cakes, and pies.

The American Diabetes Association states that even though coconut sugar is a great alternative sweetener for those with diabetes to use, coconut sugar has the same calories as regular sugar and should be used in moderation.

When shopping for coconut sugar, remember that many products that are available on the shelf combine both regular sugar and coconhttps://www.texanerin.com/perfect-paleo-chocolate-chip-cookies/ut sugar…so remember to take time to check the label before tossing the coconut sugar into your cart. Avoid these brands.

Also take the time to look for organic coconut sugar that is unrefined, vegan, non-GMO.

So  I AM adding coconut sugar to my routine grocery list or tossing it out the window as another “What Not to Eat Now That You’re a Diabetic” item?

As far as the following Chocolate Chip Cookies made from coconut sugar, not sure if they’re really healthy or not…

But they taste great!!!