Coconut sugar is a natural sugar derived from the flower stem of the coconut tree. Coconut sugar is made from 100% coconut sap and is rich in amino acids. It is not highly processed, absolutely no additives, bleaching agents, or any chemicals are used to produce coconut sugar. In fact, the only processing that takes place is heating the coconut sap to evaporate its water content.
Coconut sugar has a low Glycemic Index and is more nutritious than granulated cane sugar - it even contains 1.3% protein. Although new to the western world, it has been used as a traditional sweetener for generations, particularly in South East Asian countries where the coconut tree grows in abundance. Coconut palm nectar has a nutritional content far richer than all other commercially available sweeteners. It is especially high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron and is a natural source of the vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C. It’s also very rich in other minerals and enzymes which aid in the slow absorption into the bloodstream.
The taste of coconut sugar is reminiscent of brown sugar but with a slight hint of caramel. It can be used as a 1:1 sugar substitute in your coffee, tea, baking and cooking.
Here are five great reasons to introduce coconut sugar into your kitchen.
1. Low G.I
Coconut sugar's low Glycemic Index provides you with long sustained energy and won't spike your blood sugar like regular sugar. It is a great alternative for people who want to watch their calorie or sugar intake. Coconut sugars are rated as a GI 35. By comparison, most commercial Agave syrups are GI 42, Honeys sit at GI 55 and Cane Sugars top the scale at GI 68.
2. Packed with vitamins, minerals and amino acids
Coconut sap contains 16 out of the 20 amino acids the body needs to build the proteins used in growth, repair and maintenance of body tissues, enzymes, and hormones. The highest amount of amino acid found in the coconut sap is glutamine. Glutamine is essential for the body to perform its natural healing process in states of illness or injury. Coconut Sugar is also rich in vitamins, including twelve of the essential vitamin B complex.
3. High levels of inositol - The 'feel good' vitamin in B8
Inositol, sometimes referred to as vitamin B8, is high in coconut sugar. Inositol is required by the body for the formation of healthy cells. A lack of Inositol may lead to depression, anxiety, OCD and other psychological disorders that respond to serotonin uptake inhibitors. Healthy levels of Inositol help you avoid the moody blues!
4. High levels of electrolytes for post-workout muscle recovery
Pure Coconut sugar provides an incredible amount of electrolytes readily available to re-energize your body. Mixed with water coconut sugar can rehydrate and boost energy levels naturally without the unwanted artificial colorings, additives and poor-performing refined sugars found in some commercial sports drinks.
5. It is sustainable
Coconut trees can grow in severely compromised soil and need very little water to produce the sweet nectar that is used to make coconut sugar. Once a coconut tree is tapped, the sap will flow continuously for the next 20 years. This roughly equates to about 5,000 litres per hectare. Coconut Palms are considered the “Tree of Life” by many traditional communities throughout the world as they provide over 100 products that can be sold to make a livelihood.
Consider substituting the sugar in your baking for pure coconut sugar. This won’t significantly change the consistency or taste of your recipe, but it will dramatically improve the overall nutritional profile of whatever you are baking as well as lowering the overall GI index, thereby protecting your bowel, pancreas and waistline!
This Carrot Cake recipe uses 100% coconut sugar and is a staff favourite. It comes from the kitchen of Christina Glucina, Matakana SuperFoods co-founder and general manager.
Coconut oil, to grease the cake tin
1 cup raisins or sultanas
1 medium-sized orange, zest and juice
2/3 cup wholemeal flour
2/3 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs, separated
1 cup pure coconut sugar
½ cup mild olive oil
2 cups grated carrots
1 small or ½ medium-sized ripe banana, mashed
150g reduced-fat cream cheese
150g reduced-fat sour cream
4 tablespoons pure coconut sugar, finely ground (use a mortar & pestle)
2 tablespoons orange juice
- Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F)
- Spray a 24cm round cake tin with oil spray. In a bowl combine raisins and add orange zest and juice. Set aside while preparing cake mixture.
- Place flours in a bowl with baking soda, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon baking powder. Add mixed spice.
- Whisk egg yolks until pale and creamy with electric beater. Whisk in sugar and then oil, alternating. Fold in the dry ingredients in twoThe mixture will be quite dry at this point.
- Fold in carrots, raisins and juice and bananas in two lots. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Carefully fold the egg whites into the carrot mix, with the remaining baking powder. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cake is firm to touch. Set aside to cool.
- To make icing - mix cheeses, pure coconut sugar and orange juice together until smooth. Spread over cooled cake.
- Decorate with chopped apricots, walnuts and coconut thread as desired.