Sugar...Sugar...or Sugar?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Info from

Many kinds of sugar exist -- beyond white, powdered, and brown. Although sugar is not generally touted for its health benefits, some types are far more natural and healthy (and less synthetic) than conventional white sugar. So, open your cupboard to these:

Muscovado: An unrefined brown sugar, Muscovado is moister, stickier, and darker than commercial brown sugar. It also has far more depth of flavor than refined white sugar. The richness of the Molasses in this sugar gives foods a caramelized (almost candied) quality.

Uses: Try using Muscovado in a rub for pork shoulder or other barbequed meats. A touch of it (not too much, or the sugar will burn before the fish is cooked) mixed into a Cajun spice mix for blackening fish is also delicious.

Demerara (or Demerera): Also purely natural, Demerara sugar has a yellow, almost golden, hue and serves as a healthier, tastier substitute for white sugar. Because it retains a firm texture through the cooking process, it makes a wonderful (and easy) crunchy topping for cookies or cakes.

Uses: I like to mix a little coarse sea salt and Demerara sugar together and sprinkle it on top of savory cheese biscuits or even something sweet like dark chocolate chip scones. The salty/sweet combination is so tasty!

Turbinado: Another all natural sugar, Turbinado is actually extracted from steamed unrefined raw sugar. Turbinado, while similar-looking to brown sugar in color and texture, is actually milder and contains less molasses than brown sugar. Though Turbinado contains about 25% less calories than ordinary granulated sugar, it should not be substituted for granulated sugar in precise baking recipes; it has far more moisture and far larger crystals. Instead, sprinkle Turbinado sugar where you would enjoy the flavor of a mild brown sugar blend.

Uses: When I oven dry tomatoes or sauté some corn that I cut off the cob, I would use Turbinado to evoke these ingredients' inherent sweetness. A tiny sprinkle is also delicious on cooked beets or mixed into a sweet potato purée.

Although honey is not a sugar, it is another wonderful substitute. When looking for ways to add sweet notes to savory preparations, I invariably choose honey over sugar. And quite simply, nothing soothes more than a cup of a loose, herbal tea with a dollop of honey. I love the experience of each type of honey: chestnut, apple blossom, Tupelo, sunflower, and many more.

Because of their moisture content, natural sugars are more prone to spoilage than conventional sugar. Buy them in small quantities, so you can replenish your supply more frequently.

Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.