When it comes to a healthy diet, a general rule of thumb I try to follow is to maximise the amount of whole, natural foods my family and I eat, and minimise the highly processed stuff.
One food we particularly try to steer clear of is refined white sugar.
The sheer level of processing that sugar cane goes through to create those pure white crystals leaves the final product stripped of all nutritional goodness. It results in a substance many argue is no longer even a food.
The backlash against white refined sugar in recent years has left many of us looking for alternatives sweeteners, and one of the better (and least processed choices) out there is rapadura.
Why make the switch to rapadura?
Also known as panela, rapadura is often referred to as the most natural, unprocessed version of sugar. Some call it the whole wheat of the sugar world.
Rapadura is made from sugar cane – just like white sugar – but unlike white sugar, it undergoes very minimal processing. To make rapadura, the juice is squeezed from the sugar cane; it’s lightly heated to evaporate the liquid and then ground. That’s it.
Unlike white sugar, rapadura has not been separated from the molasses, which means it contains vitamins and minerals you won’t find in white sugar. The molasses content also gives it its beautiful mild caramel toffee flavour, which is superb for baking and sweetening food and drinks (it’s particularly good in coffee).
Rapadura’s great for baking
It’s super easy to make the switch to rapadura, because you can use it in exactly the same way you would white sugar. While other natural sweeteners like honey can be tricky for substituting into baking, rapadura is simple – just switch one cup white/brown sugar for one cup rapadura. If you’re used to white sugar in your baking, you might notice a change in the taste of your baked goods, but it will be for the better!