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Food and Recipe of the Month

December - Brown Rice Syrup

I have been asked what is the healthiest substitute for sugar and in my 23 years of teaching cooking classes my answer has not changed, it is brown rice syrup. Brown rice syrup is make from the whole grain brown rice. The whole brown rice is cooked down to create the thick, sticky syrup that you can use to make any and all desserts. Because this sweet syrup comes from a whole grain, it is maltose. This is very important. Other sweeteners are sucrose, fructose or dextrose.

Maltose is the least reactive sugar there is, it releases slowly into your blood stream. Unlike white sugar or sucrose, which releases very quickly into the blood stream and reeks havoc with all the organs in your body. Brown rice syrup and the maltose in the syrup will not spike your blood sugar. For that reason it is considered the healthiest sweetener.

It has a mild sweet taste that is satisfying. However, if you have been using sweeteners that are very sweet, it may not be sweet enough for you at first. If you stick with the brown rice syrup, it will taste sweet after you give up all those intensely sweet foods that are not good for you. You will find it in a jar at you local health food store, or even some main stream grocery stores now carry it. It is thick and sticky like honey.

When measuring it, coat your measuring cup and spatula with a little oil and the syrup will slid right off instead of sticking.

Recipe of the month:

Soft Ginger Cookies with Frosting

1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup molasses (or barley malt)
1/3 cup rice beverage
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. each: ginger, cloves
pinch sea salt

1 tsp. baking powder
3 ½ cups whole grain flour (spelt, oat, whole wheat)

1/3 cup Sucanat (evaporated cane sugar)
1/3 cup arrowroot
3 T. Earth Balance, vegan buttery spread
2 ½ tsp. rice beverage

Put wet ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. In a mixing bowl, mix together the wet and dry ingredients. Cover dough and refrigerate for a couple hours until cold. Spoon on an oiled cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 350°. Be careful, these cookies burn easily. Let cool before frosting.

Put the Sucanat and arrowroot in a food processor. Process for a couple minutes to break up the Sucanat. Add the Earth Balance and rice beverage and puree until smooth. (Be careful not to add additional liquid, the frosting will become too loose.) Refrigerate frosting until cold. Frost each of the cookies.

Recipe note: For gluten free cookies, use all brown rice syrup.

This recipe is from Chef Val's Year Round Healthy Holiday Dishes cookbook.

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