A note about natural sugar substitutes
Disclaimer: The information in this article does not constitute advice of ANY kind. I would encourage everyone do do their own research on the internet & books by people such as David Gillespie, Sarah Gilbert ??
If you are anything like me, you probably didn’t know that such a thing existed as a natural sugar substitute. I’m sure you have all heard of saccharine, sorbitol & aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. These have been around for many years but the jury is still out on their affect on our health if used long term. We recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners. However, we all like sweet food don’t we? So natural sweeteners are a great way to have your cake and eat it too (literally).
When in the supermarket or health food shop/market, ALWAYS read the label ( which I’m sure you are doing religiously now anyway) as there are many products out there that claim to be sugar free but aren’t.
So what to do if you want to live low carb but still enjoy some of your favorite treats???
Enter Xylitol and Erythritol (Erythritol is often blended with Stevia) !! These are both natural sugar alcohols (as the ending -ol in their name suggests).
I confess that when I first heard of Xylitol I thought it was something made in a lab. I think some of the words I uttered when I first heard the word were ‘How can something with a name like that be natural…. sounds dodgy’ ?!
So it turns out that Xylitol IS natural and it comes from birch trees and also corn. It is sold as white granules that look like extra- chunky sugar. It has no calories or sugars but is sweet and can be used 1:1 as a cane-sugar replacement (even though it is not quite as sweet as sugar) in any recipe in which cane-sugar is required. I grind it into a fine powder if I’m using it in baking.
It will melt into a syrup like sugar does when heated but I have not successfully made a hard meringue with it yet, but hey I’ll just have to keep trying ;).
When buying Xylitol, make sure you get non-GMO …. this is VERY important. (any Xylitol made from corn will not be non-GMO! Always get Birch Xylitol) It can be expensive too so we actually buy it in bulk (a 25kg sack) and store it in 1kg snap-lock bags.
A word of caution with Xylitol and any of the sugar alcohols for that matter….they can have a not -so-pleasant laxative reaction/ side effect in some people so it might be a case of trying one & then another to see which one is best for you.
Erythritol is another common sugar alcohol and is often blended with the Stevia plant. It is sometimes also sold under the name Stevia and there are other brand names too. This product can have a slight aftertaste but nothing like the artificial sugar replacements.
This is fine white powder, about the same as cane sugar. It works well in baking but I have not tried melting it or making meringues (…. hmm note to self to try that 😉 ) Good idea to read the container too as some brands I have funds you only need to use half or 2/3as much Stevia as cane sugar.
Stevia can also be bought in a concentrated form. It’s expensive but you only use a fraction…. like 10% …. of the same amount of cane sugar to get the same sweetness. For example use 22g concentrated Stevia to get the same sweetness as 220g cane sugar. I personally don’t use the concentrated Stevia on cake-type recipes though but you could try & see how it goes for you.
So in my sweet recipes you will notice I have used the term ‘natural sugar substitute ‘ so it’s really up to you to try one and see what works best for you.