For a while now I have been trying to replace many of the overly processed ingredients in our cupboard with more nutritious options. One item I have been struggling to replace is sugar. I know, I know, this should have been one of the first ones to go.
White sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever and it takes a toll on our bodies yet it is one of the hardest ingredients to avoid. Sugar is in everything from bread and pasta to prepared sauces and the obvious sweets. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 13 per cent of the average Canadian’s total calories come from added sugar, and this, they say, is a conservative number. Too much sugar can wreak havoc on the body causing everything from obesity and heart disease to diabetes and even cancer. Sugar also acts like a drug in the body and can cause depression. I am no nutrition expert, but I know that sugar is just plain bad. If you want to learn why you should banish sugar from your life you should check out this post on The Naked Label (This is a great site by the way. The team of nutritionists, led by Beamsville-native Briana Santoro (who I have had the pleasure of interviewing a few times), undress the food we eat. Beware, this site may cause you to never consume your favourite things again, ever.).
This past week I have been making a bigger effort to cut out sugar. I have yet to indulge in a French Vanilla from Tim Hortons (I know, I know, this stuff is terrible, but it tastes so creamy and vanilla-y (yes, I know this is not a word, but how else do you describe the wonderful, warm taste of vanilla?) and have instead been drinking herbal tea without any added sweetener, not even honey. I have also been using coconut sugar instead of white sugar and I have to tell you, I think I have finally found a replacement for the white stuff.
Coconut Palm Sugar is made from the sap of cut flowers from coconut trees. This dark brown sugar is a source of minerals, vitamin C, B vitamins, and amino acids. So right there, coconut sugar: 4, white sugar:0. Not only is coconut sugar a great substitute for sugar in baking, it also adds nutritional value to said baking. You can read up on all the benefits of coconut palm sugar on The Healthy Home Economist.
So far I have tested coconut palm sugar in chocolate chip cookies (recipe below), healthy peanut butter cups (recipe soon), pancakes and cheese bread (which I just took out of the oven and cannot wait to cut into) and am impressed with its versatility. It brings the same level of sweetness without any coconut flavour. Coconut sugar can be substituted 1:1 in recipes. For these coconut sugar chocolate chip cookies I substituted both the white and brown sugar with coconut palm sugar. I also ran out of baking soda and substituted that with four teaspoons of baking powder. The result was a soft and chewy cookie with just enough crisp on the edges.
Coconut Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/2 C flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/3 C unsalted butter, softened
- 1 3/4 C coconut palm sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Chocolate chips
Sift dry ingredients in a bowl. In the bowl of a mixer cream butter and sugar. Once fluffy, add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients until it resembles cookie dough. Add desired amount of chocolate chips.
Put dough in fridge for an hour.
To bake: Heat oven to 375 and bake for 12 minutes. Cookies will be lightly browned around the edges.
Let cool slightly before moving to racks.
Made two dozen large cookies.