In Praise of Sweeteners

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For the last few years, I’d always wondered about those “alterative sweeteners” used in place of refined sugar in a lot of vegan recipes. While I regularly used pure maple syrup as a liquid sweetener in my baked goods, “agave nectar” and “brown rice syrup” always sounded so uppity and out of my reach, so I didn’t bother giving them a chance.

Then I realized that I wanted to be uppity, so I tried them.

Brown rice syrup is a great natural sweetener that can be used in place of any other liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup. It “is derived by culturing rice with enzymes to break down the starches, then straining off the liquid and cooking it until the desired consistency is reached” (source). Tastewise you can’t really tell the difference in baked goods since it’s relatively light, but may work better than maple syrup in recipes where the sweetness should be less pronounced.

While I haven’t used any agave nectar yet, I’ve tasted it plain because I’d heard to it referred to as “honey for vegans” or some such before. And I’ll be damned if this low-glycemic, plant-based sweetener doesn’t have that “nearly-honey” flavor, even when eaten plain. Agave nectar is a favorite sweetener for diabetics because of it’s low glycemic value, though this site warns that “f fructose [which makes up 90% of agave nectar] is consumed after eating a large meal that overly raises the blood sugar or with high glycemic foods, it no longer has a low glycemic value. Strangely enough, it will take on the value of the higher glycemic food.”

There are plenty of other sweeteners left to try, but for now I’m happy with my two new friends, Mr. Brown Rice and Mr. Agave. They promise to be good baking buddies in the months to come.

Doody Call

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I’ve been meaning to post about this for weeks: Foody Call.

It’s a show on style. (I hate having a period in the middle of the sentence like that, but it is part of the network’s name) that “transforms average guys and gals into cooking Casanovas” in order to help win over a potential love. Get it… “Foody” call? It sounds like “Booty” call? It’s SO CLEVER.

The show is as stupid as the name and the premise. Making it most painful: the hosts. You have never seen a bigger pair of amped up twits in your life. Rossi Morreale is a cross between Ryan Seacrest and Ty Pennington (yes, that bad… and then some) while Michele Merkin plays the “ooh, I’m such a sexual being… a sexual, blonde, empty being…” role. The show is based on the book Cook Your Way Into Her Pants by Ted Taylor, which I haven’t read but I can only assume is also stupid.

The episode I saw drove me nuts. It featured a vegetarian woman who wanted to win back a supposedly very carnivorous man she broke up with twice. She’d been an ethical vegetarian since she was a teenager, yet she cooked a gigantic hamburger for him. Sure, she made a veggie burger for herself, but she specifically went against what she believed was right for a stupid TV show and a guy she had already broken up with two times.

To make it even worse, the guy seemed like a pretty normal, easy-going guy…. not at all the ravenous flesh-tearing beast he was made out to be. I got the impression he wouldn’t have cared in the least if he was served a vegetarian meal. This left me screaming, “Sell out!” at the screen, playing my role of Obnoxious Vegan as well as Rossi Morreale played his role of Supreme Tool of the Universe.

Needless to say: stay away from this show like your sanity depended on it. Because it does.

Vegan Lunch Box

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Now here’s a neat idea for a blog: Vegan Lunch Box is a photoblog that features pictures of Jennifer’s son’s lunch box. The kid’s first day of school? He got sushi!

I dream of the day when I can pack my kid vegan sushi in his lunch box.