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Jessie Bee
I am a seeker of God, a help-meet to my husband and a mother to my 3 children. I love hot lattes, good books, cold weather and anything that inspires me to be creative. I desire simplicity and authenticity, but often have to remind myself to seek those .
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Health 101: Palm Sugar

If I made a list of the best gifts my mom has given me over the course of my life, the first 3 items on the list would be:

1. She brought Jesus into our home
2. She passed down her thirst for learning
3. She fed us healthy food

Healthy food. 

Have you ever stopped to think about what that is?  Michael Pollan, in his book "In Defense of Food", argues that all food is healthy, because in reality, anything that comes in a box is not food at all.  As a result, he urges his readers to steer clear of any box that makes health claims about itself.  I guess I'll just stick with the boxes that don't make them.  What aisle are the Ding Dong's on?

Only joking.  In reality, my aim is to feed my family well.  I want my kids to be able to recognize potatoes in their natural form and eat colorful salads on a daily basis.  And I want to be healthy.  So with that goal in mind, my sister and I have challenged each other to eliminate nearly all sugar and gluten from our diets.  No, this is not permanent; more like a restructuring.  But its been good, and educational, and now we're eating food.  =)

But it hasn't all been positive because I MISS BAKING!  I love to cook, and I absolutely love to bake.  But how do you bake without sugar?  Honey, you say?  Good idea.  However, remember that second gift my mom gave me?  This drove me to research sugars and sugar substitutes.  Sure I could throw in half a cup of Splenda, but yuck.  Or use honey.  But what if there was something better?

Sound the trumpets, folks, there is!  At Whole Foods I discovered an ingredient called Palm Sugar.  

Palm sugar is the crystallized nectar from the coconut palm flower.  It tastes really similar to brown sugar, but better.  It acts very similar to sugar when baking (dissolves the same, used on a 1:1 ratio, no weird aftertaste), but the three biggest differences are this: 
1. It actually has health benefits.  It is by far the healthiest sugar option on supermarket shelves, brimming with nutrients, minerals, and phytonutrients.
2. It has an extremely low glycemic index.  The glycemic index rates foods by how quickly they can raise our blood glucose level.  The GI of table sugar is 61.  Honey has a relatively low GI of 55.  In contrast, palm sugar's GI is 35, similar to that of milk or cooked carrots.  Crazy!  
3. It is a culturally sustainable food source.  

So with palm sugar in hand, the kids and I set out to make our first gluten-free recipe:  almond cookies.  Fun fun!

  Note:  I read that some brands mix palm sugar with other sugar.  As such, it is recommended that you buy organic palm sugar.  I purchased the Navitas Naturals brand of organic palm sugar (see picture above).


Michelle said...

wow! those cookies look super yum! i am always trying to find new ways to be healthy. i am definitely going to have to look for this. thanks!

The Professor's Wife said...

Oh awesome! I am on a no sugar diet myself - I will have to look for it! Pete will be soooo happy!

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