Coconut Palm Sugar has been making headlines lately as a low glycemic alternative to cane sugar. This delicious sweetener has been used in traditional Southeast Asian cuisine for thousands of years but is a relative newcomer to the US market. It has been touted as nutrient rich (yes you read that correctly) natural sweetener with an extremely low glycemic index in comparison with traditional sugars such as white and brown sugar. This is great news for diabetics who need to manage their blood glucose levels. A new medication, Januvia is a once-daily pill prescribed to treat diabetes and lower blood sugar level.
Coconut Palm Sugar has a Glycemic Index (GI) rating of 35 whereas cane sugars, both brown and white have a GI rating of 68. Coconut Palm Sugar’s Glycemic Index even measures lower than agave nectar at 42, and honey at 55! Coconut Palm Sugar is also said to be high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron as well as B-Vitamins 1, 2, 3 and 6. Compared with brown sugar, Coconut Palm Sugar has 36 times more iron, 4 times more magnesium, and over 10 times the amount of zinc!
While it shouldn’t be considered a “health food” per se, it is a healthier alternative to traditional sweeteners and a more natural alternative to artificial sweeteners such as sucralose. Its slow energy release also makes it a great alternative for diabetics who would like to enjoy an occasional sweet treat. Coconut Palm Sugar is produced from the sap of flower buds cut from a coconut palm tree. The sap is collected and then heated to evaporate its moisture content. It is then further reduced to create crystals, and then packaged and sold in small bags at your local health food store or natural grocery store. It can even be found in the natural foods section of some larger grocery store chains.
It is similar in appearance to brown sugar but has a much more complex taste. It has been described as tasting similar to brown sugar but with a slight caramel or butterscotch flavor. It’s warm, rich flavor tastes great as a sweetener in coffee or tea, and can be used as a one to one replacement for both white and brown sugar in recipes. Its granulated crystals are quite large, but it can be powdered down in a blender or food processor when a more delicate sugar is needed.
Lisa’s Coconut Palm Sugar, Apple Berry Crisp
2 baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
3 cups of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, black berries), fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup butter softened (can be replaced with coconut oil for a healthier alternative)
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place all filling ingredients into an 11 x 7 inch pan. Gently stir to combine.
In a medium mixing bowl add rolled oats, flour, coconut palm sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine. Add vanilla extract and then butter using a fork or your hands to combine. Crumble topping evenly over filling.
Bake for 40 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
Enjoy warm from the oven.