November 7, 2008
GUEST POST by Stefani: Sugar, Sugar
Thanks to Stefani, the writer of teensygreen, for contributing this post to Petite Planet!
Are you sweet on sugar? Dealing with sugar is something I feel like I struggle with on a daily basis, for my husband, our daughters and myself. Aside from trying to cut out processed foods, I've been a die-hard Splenda user for years. With negative press about possible carcinogenic qualities, however, my entire family has boycotted Splenda. At my mother-in-law's house, only organic sugar is used, which is admirable in one sense. On the other hand, I worry about my daughter's sugar intake in everything.
I've been hyper-aware of sugar marketing lately, especially due to this heated post about high fructose corn syrup over at 5 Minutes for Going Green. The "high fructose corn syrup are safe and healthy because they come from corn" ads, as well as horribly misdirected ads touting kid's sugar cereal as good for them are everywhere - and they're making me mad!
Generally, I use different kinds of sweeteners depending on my needs. I usually bake with organic raw sugar and use Splenda in my coffee, and I try to use lower sugar/no sugar items for cereals and snacks. Lately, however, I've been experimenting with different sweeteners, for myself right now. I hate giving my kids alternative sweeteners, but can regular sugar be any better? I guess the big question is: is there a perfect sugar? It seems, however, that big name food manufacturers are trying to cash in on zero-calorie sweeteners, and fast. Here are a couple of examples of what you may be finding on your supermarket shelves soon…
I found Truvia in my local supermarket, glaring at me in a green and white box. I immediately put it in my cart and almost made coffee in the middle of the day just to try it. Truvia is derived from stevia, a South American herb and very popular alternative form of sugar. Truvia, like stevia, is suitable for diabetics, kosher, calorie-free and can be used for cooking and baking. This particular product is made from Rebiana, noted as the "best-tasting components of the stevia plant," and erythritol, a natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables. I have to say, it's pretty good (in coffee, at least). It's definitely less artificial tasting than Splenda, with a less-than-sugar consistency, which I got over pretty quickly.
Zsweet is another new sugar substitute on the market, which I have yet to try. Zsweet also has zero calories, Non-GMO, is kosher and is zero glycemic, meaning it won't raise your blood sugar. It comes in varied forms, such as in packets and granular form for baking. The website says it's also "100% natural," which is where I start to get wary. It's strange to read about this seemingly perfect product as natural when it has been through a chemically-based production process. Zsweet is made exclusively from erythritol. Zsweet makes it a point to explain that erythritol has an added benefit that it causes less gastric distress than other sweeteners, which may appeal to many people sick of sugar alcohols in diet foods.
So, what do you think? How do you handle sugar in your home - moderation, of course, but do you only use "real" sugar, naturally derived sweeteners like the ones above, or is sugar not allowed to come around anymore? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and maybe put this sticky situation to rest!