Birthing the Coconut Secret line ~ a true family story...

Events often seem to unfold in such an innocent, uneventful way...

One of my all time favorite sayings was insightfully written by the late, great John Lennon:  "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"...   No truer words had ever been spoken, as unbeknown to my brother and I, our "clearly thought out" business dream was about to change direction.

It all began in the Spring of 2008, with an overwhelming desire to create a low glycemic, gluten-free snack line that was truly safe for diabetics, using the purest, most organic, least processed ingredients we could find.  A few years earlier both our parents were diagnosed with Diabetes, and we quickly became appalled at what was beingsugar2 passed off as "diabetic-safe" foods, especially in the snack category.  We discovered, that oftentimes, sugar is disguised on labels in a myriad of creative technical terms.  Newly invented imitation sugar substitutes are used as sweetening agents.  Sugar in other forms are frequently added such as fruit juice concentrates, honey (which when heated and processed for use in manufacturing, essentially becomes sugar syrup), and the most infamous of all, "high fructose corn syrup" (HFCS), now widely known as one of the primary contributors to Diabetes and Obesity.  None of these sweeteners are truly "safe", no matter how they are purported to breakdown in the body.

The bottom line, is that sugar by any other name is still perceived by your body as a sugar, and thus, prompts it to respond the same as it would with sugar by increasing blood sugar concentrations.  This in turn, causes your body to produce an over abundance of insulin to compensate.  A downward spiral begins to occur, as your blood sugar levels then take a dive in the opposite direction and decrease rapidly, thereby initiating an equally rapid decline in energy.  An endless seesaw effect of ups and downs, that over time, truly takes its toll on our exhausted bodies.

Yikes ~ so sorry for the digression.  Now back to the Coconut Secret story!  As I mentioned, it all began with a heartfelt desire to create a low glycemic, gluten-free snack line for diabetics.  And that is precisely what happened!  We've been busy this past year creating an extensive line of coconut-based snacks to satisfy (and satiate!) virtually every kind of craving.  We've recreseedlingated (with a few healthy improvements) some old time favorite snack bars, macaroons, and many other incredibly delicious surprises still to come!

The unexpected hairpin twist in the road (hence the Lennon quote), came when we discovered that the well-researched organic agave syrup supplier we were purchasing from for sweetening all of our products, was no longer selling the brand we had been using.  Upon further investigation, we uncovered that this so called "reputable" raw, organic agave, was not raw, nor organic, and was watered down with corn syrup.  To say that we were horrified is an understatement, but on another level, we were grateful beyond belief, to have revealed this atrocity BEFORE we had actually gone into full-scale production of our products.  What an incredible blessing in disguise these turn of events ultimately morphed into...

At that point, I didn't trust ANY agave syrup!  And yet, all of our recipes had been developed using agave as the low glycemic sweetener of choice.  I then also began to discover through online blogs from respected gluten-free/Celiac websites, raw food sites, Autism sites, and Diabetes sites, that the overall public buzz was beginning to turn away from agave as an accepted low glycemic sweetener.  Not because it isn't still considered to be well within the low glycemic range of less than 55 on the glycemic index (GI) scale (less than 55 is the agreed standard for "low" glycemic) ~ but because people are now recognizing that most agave syrup is very "processed", and therefore lacking in the majority of naturally occurring nutrients and enzymes needed in order for our bodies to properly digest and utilize it nutritionally.  I then learned that most agave is "hydrolyzed" at temperatures of 140 degrees F. for approximately 36 hours in order to turn the agave juice which has almost no sweetness, into a sweet tasting syrup.  The end product contains nearly 90% fructose.  Even though fructose breaks down in the body at a much slower rate than sucrose, a 90% ratio still seemed very high to me.

Thus began the mysterious search to replace the agave syrup in all of our recipes.  We couldn't in good conscience continue to use a sweetener that already had such a questionable history.  We then quite literally scoured the globe in search of another low glycemic syrup.  Nearly out of options, I came upon a product that was relatively unknown in the American marketplace.  It's nsugar1ame sounded intriguing.  Wow, what exactly was this new thing I found called "coconut sugar"?  Here's what I learned.

Coconut sugar is made by collecting the "sap" from coconut tree blossoms.  Who knew?!  There are specific species of coconut trees that can be "tapped" (much like maple trees are tapped in the maple syrup making process).  Bamboo containers are used to collect the sap of the coconut trees right at the blossoms.  When the coconut trees are tapped, they produce a continuously flowing "inflorescence" (juice or sap) that exudes from the coconut blossoms.  This naturally sweet sap is very low glycemic (GI of 35), raw and enzymatically alive, an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. It is then minimally evaporated at low temperatures (only to remove excess moisture), never exceeding an average summer day in the tropics.  The end result is a syrup-like product known as coconut "toddy", which is then further evaporated into crystal form to produce the coconut sugar.

A gigantic light bulb went off in my head!  Who cares about the sugar end product ~ I want the toddy!  If it is in syrup form, then who knows, maybe it will work as our long sought after replacement for agave.  Numerous communications with companies in the Philippines ensued, and a short time later, alas, I held in my hands, coconut toddy...

I must admit that it wasn't an immediate love connection.  The toddy we received initially was very dark and pungently sweet.  We continued to work closely with our Philippine affiliates, and over time, discovered that the evaporation process could be adjusted to produce many variants of toddy from lighter to darker with equal variation in flavor.  We landed on the exact perfect viscosity and flavor to our liking.  But, the miracles weren't over yet!  Through our affiliation with this Philippine company, we were offered the opportunity to bring the coconut toddy (which we now call "Nectar"), the coconut sugar (which we now sell as "Crystals"), and other sap-related ingredients to the American marketplace (the sap also prodleslie and randyuces an amazing vinegar and a soy-free seasoning sauce we call Coconut Aminos).  It began to make sound business sense, to first introduce these coconut sap ingredients into health food stores, even prior to our snacks, which are now made with these wonderful low glycemic sweeteners.  Our task is to first educate the American public about how nutritious and awesome tasting these products are, in order to pave the way for the uniqueness of our yummy snacks that are made with them.

Hence, with immense gratitude to the grand creation of life, you have just shared our serendipitous journey...  It is continuing to evolve at this very moment, and we can't wait to see what happens next!  We'll keep you posted...

Blessings,  Leslie

Click here for Our Continuing journey ~2015 update

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