Every Saturday there is an organic market just around the corner from our flat. To be honest most of the market stands are not exceptional – neither do they sell regional nor organic food. There is this one stand however, which is really fantastic. It is a local, organic and Demeter certificated farm which sells just the best seasonal fruits and vegetables. Everything they grow and sell tastes amazing, it’s always a wealth of aromas and flavors. Last week, tasting some of their plums took me back to my childhood, eating from my grandfather’s yard in Portugal.
This Saturday I bought some great blackberries and as I still had a coconut yoghurt in the fridge and it was really hot in Berlin, I longed for a refreshing frozen yoghurt. I made it with a mixture of honey and maple syrup. If you are a strict vegan however, you are totally free to substitute the honey with extra maple syrup.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT – SWEETENERS AND SUSTAINABILITY
Concerning honey, I am not super strict. For me local, organic honey is still one of the most sustainable sweeteners. There are some really cool beekeepers, which try to be super sustainable and animal friendly in their honey production. They try for example to minimize the stress on bees in forgoing migrations, or minimizing honey harvests. In addition some urban beekeepers even help the bee civilization in cities to survive better.
As a matter of fact it would be the most sustainable to just give up all kind of sweeteners. It is not really healthy for your body and their production often brings adverse effects for the environment. The fructose and glucose in fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts is more than enough for our body.
I personally find it really hard to give up sweeteners completely, but I really try to minimize their use. Now and then we omit sweeteners for 2 weeks which helps to sensitize your taste buds again, because sugar is kind of a drug. You get quickly used to and dependend on high sugar levels and soon your taste buds and your body are so used to the high sugar level, that you don’t notice how sweetened something actually is, you just get hooked on it.
I follow a diversity strategy cornering sweeteners. I mostly have 5 sweeteners at home which hold for months. I buy an organic local honey, and an organic local sugar beet syrup, and from overseas I buy an organic fair trade raw cane sugar, and a whole unrefined cane sugar, and an organic maple syrup. Thus I have the variety to switch around depending on the recipe and as I use very few amounts in my recipes, they hold for quite long. On a site note, the strong malt flavor and the consistency of the beet syrup is more difficult to combine in recipes in comparison to the other sweeteners.
I did some research concerning the effects of sweeteners on your health, and I found out that maple syrup and coconut blossom sugar or syrup are relatively healthy sweeteners. This is mainly due to the inherent minerals and antioxidants and also their mono- and polysaccharides structures. Both make their glycemic index, which defines how much and to which extent your blood sugar level rises, much lower than most sweeteners. Directly behind the maple syrup and the coconut sugar comes the honey regarding the positive effects of minerals.
I also found out that there exists a magical sweetener which is super healthy and has no adverse effects on your health. It is called yacon syrup and is made out of the yacon root. It contains fructooligosaccharides and a fiber called inulin, which feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Its glycemic index is super low and it has high mineral and antioxidants levels. I definitely want to try it and after informing myself I also want to cut down even more my raw cane sugar consumption and try to use maple syrup, coconut sugar or honey instead.
However it is absolutely crucial to choose a sustainable, organic and fair trade source when buying these sweeteners. Especially when buying products from developing countries you have to be sure that you support small farmers, who get paid well and work under good conditions. And also to assure a good handling with the environment and the soils. You already have the drawback of long transportation routes – so be sure to do some good with the decisions you can make.
Bottom line on sweeteners: as always organic and fair trade is a must, as well as regional if possible. Inform yourself about local, organic sweetener options around you and about their cultivation and production processes. If buying something from overseas inform yourself on the websites and be sure to choose a brand with positive impacts. Just organic might not be enough here.
For the frozen blackberry coconut yoghurt I decided to make a vegan waffle which is denser, but still fluffy and moist like a muffin. For me they taste like a mixture of waffles and muffins, so I called them maffles. I made them with spelt flour, spelt flakes and grounded hazelnuts. The nutty hazelnut flavors goes surprisingly well with the coconut taste.
100 g spelt flour (type 630)
100 g ground spelt flakes (you can also substitute with oat flakes)
50 g ground hazelnuts
1 tsp vanilla sugar (or vanilla extract)
2 heaped tsp baking powder (11g)
10 g flaxseeds ground
+ 3 tbsp tap water
1 tsp apple vinegar
175 g oat milk (I use an organic oat milk which is infused with pea proteins)
100 g sparkling water
25 g coconut oil (fluid)
FROZEN BLACKBERRY COCONUT YOGHURT
400 g coconut yoghurt ( 7% fat)
200 g blackberries
25 g honey
25 g maple syrup
2 tbsp water
½ vanilla pod – pulp scraped out (optional)
In a small saucepan combine the blackberries, the vanilla pod, vanilla pulp, and the 2 tablespoon of water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Let it simmer on lowest heat for just a couple minutes, until the blackberries are tender and you can break them down with the back of your spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sweeteners.
Let it cool completely and then store it in the fridge to let it cool even more. After at least 3 hours, take out the vanilla pod, fold in the coconut yoghurt and freeze it in the ice cream maker.
For the maffles, start by combining the milk with the apple vinegar and the flaxseeds with the 3 tablespoons of water, leaving both to sit for at least 10 minutes.
Combine the rest of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour the milk, the water, the coconut oil and the flaxseed mixture over the dry mixture and stir with a fork until just combined.
Heat your waffle maker and let the maffle mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. My waffle maker has 6 levels. I bake my waffles always at level 5, for around 5 minutes.
Enjoy the baked maffles with the frozen blackberry coconut yoghurt, some cocoa nibs, and some drops of maple syrup on top.
Healthy for people & planet – please go always organic!