Sweets galore! Everywhere you look during the month of December there seems to be a sweet, a treat, a piece of pie, cake or sugary confection, around every corner. I love a sweet treat just as much as the next person, but what I prefer to indulge in is unrefined sweets. What are “unrefined” sweets, you ask? Well, I hope I can shed a bit of light on the unrefined mystery here.
This type of sugar has gone through a chemical process to remove the molasses that is naturally found in sugar. The refining process removes the natural minerals and nutrients from the sugar, making it have a higher shelf stable life. Did you know that many companies use animal bones in the refining process? “Bone char, which is used to process sugar, is made from the bones of cattle from Afghanistan, Argentina, India, and Pakistan. The bones are sold to traders in Scotland, Egypt, and Brazil who then sell them back to the U.S. sugar industry.“ Find out more about this common process here from People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). They also list sugar companies that do not use bone char in their filtering process. Refined sugar tends to dissolve more quickly in water and is commonly used in the food and beverage industries.
These types of sweeteners provide more nutrition for our bodies because they have been left in their original state. Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, unsulphered molasses, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, fruit, and date sugar, are a few of the more common unrefined sugars. These types of sweeteners should still be enjoyed in moderation.
Many desserts can be made by replacing refined sugar on a 1:1 basis with unrefined substitutes. But if you are looking for a quick sweet treat that does not involve baking, here are a few ideas for the holiday season.
Dried fruit: Look for brands that do not use sulfites as a preservative and types that are unsweetened or sweetened with fruit juice. More info here on sulfites.