23 August 2011

Experiment #1-1: Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cupcake

I have been meaning to find a traditional sugar alternative for a while. My sister-in-law is diabetic, so is my mom. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Alyssa. My doctor warned me because I had gestational diabetes and there is history of diabetes in my family, I should be aware of the fact I am a candidate for diabetes later on in life. GREAT!! So, I have been pretty cautious of what I eat, well I TRY to be cautious. As everyone knows, I like to bake cupcakes and a lot of them. I think I should really find an alternative.

At first, I was looking into Agave Nectar (pronounced ah-GAH-vay). Agave Nectar is sap  is extracted from the plant from which tequila is made, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. It is very sweet and has no after taste like Stevia has. However, with all my research, I have found that although it maybe better then sugar and has a low GI level, it contains the highest fructose content of any other sugar alternatives. I do use Agave Nectar to sweeten my tea, but only is small amounts. I do not cook or bake with it.

After reading so many posts and blogs about Agave, I came across Coconut Palm Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Palm Sugar. Coconut Palm Sugar is nectar from a coconut tree or coconut flower. When a coconut tree gets to a certain age, it starts to ooze sap, which is collected, boiled down and formed into blocks. Palm Sugar is unrefined, which means there are more macro-nutrients, like Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, etc. It's pretty ironic, because I am part Thai, growing up my parents use to always have Palm Sugar in the kitchen cabinet. My grandmother did most of the cooking in the household, and she always cooked with it, never adding regular sugar. We used regular sugar for everything else.

Well, today I tried baking with it and it was wonderful. Since Palm Sugar is pretty grainy, I did put in the blender for a few seconds. I used may favourite vegan cupcake recipe and just substituted the white sugar 1:1 with the Palm Sugar. Oh, to make the cupcake really fancy, I made some Palm Sugar caramel. Oh My God!! It was soo good.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any coconut cream, so I used regular cream in the caramel sauce. Opps!

My first Almost-Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cupcake.
The cake itself was lovely and moist, but the frosting was pretty grainy. I guess I should have left the blender on for a lot longer to make the Palm Sugar into powder. Oh well, I guess this was an experiment. At the bottom of the post, I have included some sites I found interesting to read about refined sugar, agave and palm sugar. If you get a chance take a look. Maybe you'll learn something, like I have. :)

Happy Cooking!!


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