Life is sweet in California. We’ve got our blue skies and ocean, purple flowers on the mountains and (since we’re always up on healthy food trends) sweeteners labeled “Natural” in our stores that range in color from yellow to orange. But with all those sweet options comes, well, confusion. Can you use them all safely? What works best for baking? How about sweetening that coffee? We’ve got the sweet skinny here:
Stevia: Say hello to sweetening your coffee naturally with stevia. With zero calories and all natural ingredients, it’s replacing aspartame and saccharin in many homes and health food cafes. Available in packet form, such as the Vitacost brand, as well as flavored liquid drops to jazz up that coffee, such as Wisdom Naturals Sweet Leaf SweetDrops.
Agave: It’s all natural as well, but it differs from stevia in two important ways: First, it does contain calories, so if you’re on a diet, measure carefully. And second, it’s a liquid, not a powder. Experiment with it in baking or try using it to replace syrup for those yummy weekend brunches of waffles or pancakes. In addition, you can use agave to sweeten beverages such as cocoa or herb tea.
Monk fruit: Seeking an option to stevia? Meet zero-calorie, natural monk fruit. It’s especially good for making dairy recipes such as smoothies, because it doesn’t have that aftertaste which some alternatives contain. The packet form from In the Raw is handy for taking to the office or while you travel. Dislike plain grapefruit but know it’s good for you? Try sprinkling on Natural Balance SlimSweet Honey. O
Honey: One of our favorite TV talk show doctors recently proclaimed that he’s so fond of honey, he’s got his own beehive. However, like Winnie the Pooh, we just like the taste. Whether you use it in baking, to sweeten your tea or to stir into your oatmeal, honey’s natural sweet flavor makes it a winner. For a fabulous dessert, cut up apples and dip in honey, then alternate with bites of sharp cheddar cheese. Gourmet goodness! Experiment with different types, such as YS Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey and Vitacost Raw & Unfiltered Honey, and become a honey connoisssseur.