How Do You Sweeten?

floridacrystals2In my inbox today, I received an email from Mambo Sprouts with information about, and a coupon from Florida Crystals. You can get the coupon yourself and print it at floridacrystalscoupon.com, but it is a wee bit different from your average coupon.

They offer you the chance to “donate” a portion of your coupon to the Jaguar Conservation Fund. Yeah, I know, playing the guilt on us foodies trying to save a nickel during these hard economic times … while supporting organic sugar nonetheless! But it does look worthwhile, and it got me to thinking about my “sugar” choices (which seem to be evolving in recent years), and curious about yours and any insight you might have.

This week was the first time all year that I bought white sugar (to top these awesome Snickerdoodle Blondies, after all, who could resist?), but my husband was grateful. It is still the only sweetener he really likes in his coffee. It was organic, but still white sugar no matter  how you rationalize it. I do often keep a bag of Trader Joe’s organic brown sugar on hand, and use it in small amounts when needed (it is so frickin’ good!).

In all cases, I do choose organic sugar, and for the longest time I couldn’t remember why. But the other day, while in the grocery store, I saw a small reminder – pesticides and genetic modification. Sugar is a top pesticide crop, and it is increasingly being added to the GMO list. While I do my best to minimize our pesticide load, I am firmly against GMO’s, and work oh-so-hard to avoid them. Luckily, since we use sugar (I am including evaporated cane juice/sucanat in this term) so seldom, it doesn’t eat into my budget.

The three sweeteners we use most often in my house are honey, maple syrup, and fruit. In our day to day lives, I really prefer just making fruit-sweetened goodies, like our favorite Banana Bread and our breakfast smoothies. But, here and there I use a little honey or maple syrup to jazz up a salad dressing, make a sweeter treat, for a recovery drink or bar, or simply to mellow out a sauce. As you probably already know, I mostly buy honey and maple syrup on Amazon when the deals pop up, and I certainly don’t use these by the glug, so again, not a problem using these slightly higher end natural foods without breaking the bank.

I do have some pure stevia on hand, which I got for an insanely good price on clearance, that I use very, very sparingly. If the fruit in my smoothie isn’t quite sweet enough, a very small dash of stevia brightens it up. Otherwise, I really don’t like the stuff. It is used so much in natural foods these days, and both my husband and I can really taste it no matter the medium. Does it taste funny to anyone else?

Many people love agave, and while I have used it in the past, it was only to use up the quantities I purchased for such a good price. Again, we aren’t big fans; and yes, we have tried a few different brands. Raw honey still wins hands down for us any day.

So what about you? Are you a sugar-aholic (like my husband) or weening yourself off (like me)? What types of sweeteners do you use and why? Is there a perfect recipe that you have discovered/created for your favorite sweetener?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I took the middle ground – 25 cents for me, 25 cents for the Jaguars. It seemed fair.