Sugar Blues...

White Sugar - White sugar is another big no-no at my house. White sugar is just as bad, if not worse, than white flour. White sugar as we know it today is unnatural; it is usually derived from sugar cane or sugar beets. As with white flour, it starts as a natural plant that has nutrients and minerals present. However, through the refining process, it is stripped of all vitamins, enzymes, proteins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients leaving only simple sucrose, more commonly known as table sugar. It is noted on a site called Organic Nutrition that the average American consumes 115 pounds of sugar a year. Sugar is an addictive substance that does more harm to the body than most narcotic drugs. The one thing that makes sugar unique from these narcotic poisons is that it is difficult and commonly illegal to buy them. Sugar however, is present in almost everything you purchase from the store.
The negative effects of sugar are too many to count; however, I am listing just a few here to give the reader a general idea. Sugar is the leading cause of tooth decay, bleeding gums, and deteriorating bone structure. Sugar consumption can lead to diabetes, hypo- and hyperglycemia, cancer, poor eyesight, lowered immune system, heart disease, the increased presence of bad forms of blood cholesterol, and it really wreaks havoc on the endocrine system, causing problems with all of its organs, including the pancreas, adrenal glands, and the liver. Sugar also can cause yeast infections, chronic fatigue, increased PMS symptoms, and increased weight gain, and it has been shown to cause hyperactivity in at least 50% of children.
My dietary alternative for white sugar is rapadura. This sugar can be found in your local health-food chain-type markets. In my area, I get it in bulk from a place called People’s Co-op. Whole Foods sells it as well.
So what make this sugar so special? It’s not as refined as white sugar. The way this sugar is produced is by extracting the juice from the sugar cane, and simply dehydrating it. There is no refinement, and it is not separated from the natural molasses that is present. Therefore, what you have is an all-natural sweetener with all the nutrients intact the way Allah intended. The taste is better than refined sugar, and it is actually good for you - in moderation of course. It has a caramel-type taste to it, and I replace it as the sweetener of choice in most of my baking. It is more costly than white sugar, but well worth it. And the way I rationalize it is that I try not to bake too often anyway, so it lasts a while. It’s great in cookies, most pies and cakes, muffins, and so on. The only thing that I don’t use it in is cheesecakes, yellow cakes, pound cakes, and lemon meringue pie, since their flavors may clash with a molasses taste. However, I don’t bake those things often, and when I do I use raw sugar or evaporated sugar cane crystals, as it’s also called, which is still less refined than white sugar.
Another fine substitute for white sugar is sucanat. There is no real major difference between sucanat and rapadura. They are both unrefined cane sugar. I just have more of an affection for rapadura. More expensive but acceptable substitutes include maple sugar, date sugar, agave, stevia, and honey. I have not tried these, but I know of others who have and say they work fine as sweeteners. I would recommend that those who are concerned for their health, but still have a sweet tooth, replace refined sugars with these all-natural sweeteners.

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