Q I’d really like to give up refined sugar, can you suggest some alternatives?
These days there are so many brilliant sugar alternatives out there that you will hardly miss the refined stuff at all! From stevia to agave syrup, consumers are spoilt for choice!
My favourite natural sweeteners, which can be used to sweeten almost anything, are maple syrup and coconut syrup, for a number of reasons:
Maple syrup is loaded with polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that work as antioxidants, and help to fight inflammation in the body, which may help to prevent diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis. Try to buy the more expensive grade A where possible, as cheaper maple syrups often have refined sugar added to them. Maple syrup contains essential nutrients like zinc and manganese, which can help to ward off illness and keep your immune system healthy.
Coconut syrup has a low GI index, meaning it won’t cause large spikes in your blood sugar. Coconut syrup contains impressive amounts of zinc and iron (which are vital on a vegan diet), and also is high in prebiotic fibre that aids in the process of digestion.
If you’re looking for a dry sweetner with a low GI index, and my personal favourite sugar alternative to use in baked goods, I would recommend using coconut sugar, which shares the same benefical properties as coconut syrup. I also love Rapadura; a low GI sweetener extracted from the sugar cane with a rich caramel flavour, that retains its vitamins and minerals as it is dehyrdated at a low heat.