The Holiday Baking Season Has Finally Arrived!

Halloween…check. Thanksgiving…check. Next:

HOLIDAY COOKIE BAKE OFF!!!

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Last weekend we were busy taking down the Thanksgiving decoration and replacing it with festive wreaths and our beloved stockings. Although it was sweltering hot outside, we all gathered in the kitchen to bake the first holiday cookies of the year. Vivian and Ben chose GINGERBREAD MEN 

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and CANDY CANE SUGAR COOKIES,

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… my husband and I SOFT CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE ALMOND COOKIES 

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and OAT RAISIN COOKIES (you’ll find the complete recipes in the “Parties and Celebrations/ Holiday Baking” section in the recipe folder).

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The whole house smelled delicious and it was so much fun to bake these cookies as a family. The kids wrapped the candy cane cookies in clear cellophane, tied them with red and white twine and gave them to their friends at school as a holiday treat. They looked gorgeous! Needless to say, all these sweet treats are plant based, egg and dairy free, but you will find some unavoidable traces of sugar in them.

Speaking of which- you’ll find a lot of different types of sugar on the supermarket shelves,
each of which claim to be natural and healthy.

images-3Basically, there are three different types of sugar: WHITE SUGAR, BROWN SUGAR AND RAW SUGAR.

In general, sugar is made from either sugarcane or sugar beets. Which plant is grown depends on the specific climate of the geographical region. The juice is extracted from both sugarcane and sugar beets and impurities are removed. The juice is then boiled to form a thick syrup. The crystals (RAW SUGAR) and syrup (molasses) are separated in a centrifuge. RAW SUGAR has only been minimally processed and has a higher molasses content. It is probably very similar to that made in India hundreds of years ago. 

images-2The dried sugarcane juice can be further refined in a second step, which purifies the sugarcane even further, removing the residual molasses and concentrating the sucrose to turn it into LIGHT BROWN, DARK BROWN and WHITE SUGARS. This refining process involves several steps (if you are interested in the whole process check out this website: http://www.sucrose.com/lref.html).

Don’t mix up BROWN SUGAR with RAW SUGAR. BROWN SUGAR is simply refined white sugar with a molasses syrup mixed in, then dried again.

Which type of sugar is the healthiest?

  • First of all, no sugar is the best sugar! Don’t fall into the sugar trap and use natural sweetener like date paste (recipe in dessert section), mashed banana, applesauce, raisins etc instead of sugar. Excess intake of sugar can be bad for you no matter what kind you use. Too much sugar can cause many health problems including diabetes and obesity. The less sweets you eat, the less you’ll crave them.
  • If you need to add sugar I would recommend the least processed type, RAW SUGAR.
  • Less processing also means using less energy, producing less waste products and using fewer chemicals. Raw sugar is the more earth friendly option.

Even before Dr. Robert Lustig’s “Sugar- The Bitter Truth” talk came out(watch on youtube), the amazing documentary “The Truth About Sugar” on the health impacts of sugar was aired in 1986. It includes interviews with several researchers including Nobel Prize Winner Linus Pauling. http://thetruthaboutsugar.org/?p=65 and is definitely a MUST see. I especially love the intro “Sugar Blues”.

Enjoy!

Ursula

 

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