Rapadura

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I really like trying to eat healthier, without having to totally give up on my food vices. When it comes to sweeteners, I rarely use plain old granulated sugar anymore, and try to use something that adds more nutrients and complex flavors as well. Some of my favorites are fruit juices, honey and molasses, all of which give their own unique character to the dish, as well as bringing in a wide variety of nutrients.

When I do use sugar, I try to go with organic turbinado as my first choice, which is the raw cane juice with the molasses removed, but no further refining or bleaching. This leaves a lot of nutrients and minerals that are removed in white sugar, though still in small amounts. It's still sugar, but at least there is some benefit as well.

There are a few times then I've experimented with panela, the cones of straight evaporated cane juice that you can get in Mexican groceries. It has a wonderful, rich sweet flavor that is consistent with having the molasses still in the mix. I would buy it much more often if it was available in an organic form. It can also be a pain in the butt to grate into a useable form if you are going to be using a lot of it. In Portugese this form of sugar is called rapadura, so imagine my delight yesterday when I noticed a bin of organic granulated rapadura in the bulk food area of my local co-op! It will take me a while to figure out which recipes I can use it in, but it will be fun trying.

I also want to try doing some experimenting with agave nectar, where I can.