Both carbohydrates and fats, though often cited as unhealthy dietary components, are macronutrients that play a vital role in maintaining your overall health. Added sugar, on the other hand, doesn’t provide much of a benefit to the body.
What does all this mean for 2013?
I think we can expect more sugar alternatives to come onto the market, so watch this space…
One such alternative already appearing is Sukrin – a natural sweetener developed in Norway from erytritol, a sugar alcohol fermented the from glucose found in pears, melons and mushrooms.
Most importantly: Sukrin has zero calroies and zero GI (ie. it doesn’t affect blood sugar – important for diabetics and dieters). And it can be used in baking too.
Sukrin is in fact only 75% as sweet as sugar, it has not artificial sacharin taste and is totally safe for sonsumption. But what I really like about this product is the diversity of products available from Sukrin…
In addition to normal white Sukrin crystals, you can also get Sukrin + which is mixed with Stevia to give a taste twice as sweet as sugar! (In other words you only have to use half as much.)
Also there is an icing sugar version called Sukrin Melis – very useful indeed… But, my personal favourite is Sukrin Gold, wich is composed of several natural sweeteners to make a brown caramel flavoured sugar at less than 1 calorie per teaspoon. Perfect for coffee!
An ancient form of sugar is gaining new popularity partly because of its low GI status.
Coconut Palm Sugar (sometimes just called palm sugar) has a GI level of just 35. Such a low glycemic value means that it is beneficial to diabetics and people watching their weight alike. It is also low in fructose, even though it is taken from the sap of a coconut tree.
The taste is described as a mild butterscotch or caramel flavour. It can be used in the same proportion as sugar in cooking and it has a low melt temperature and a high burn temperature which makes it a useful ingredient. It doesn’t turn food brown when cooking either.
Biona’s Organic Coconut Sugar offers a rich supply of mineral salts, B vitamins and amino acids but is completely natural, not filtered, processed or bleached. It is considered to have health benefits among some cultures and is known by many names including gula kelapa, jaggery or gur.
I just found this great video on making Birch Syrup, which is a bit like Maple Syrup but is also a natural source for Xylobrit Xylitol which is much healthier than sugar.
Xylitol is found naturally in many plants, it is just as sweet but has nearly half the calories as normal sugar (40% less) with a low GI of 7. This means it is good for diabetics and hypoglycemics. And becasue Xylobrit Xylitol is made from birch rather than corn it can be used as a safe alternative for people with candida. Plus it actually lessens tooth decay and fights bacteria!
We all know that sugar is bad for you, so it makes sense to use Xylitol for baking your cakes, biscuits, crumbles and muffins*.
Chocolate muffins – dairy-free with no added sugar
1. Beat eggs (with a whisk) for 10 minutes, add xylitol and reduce whisking speed. Add cocoa and mix well.
2. Add oil to the mix, then apple juice and dry ingredients including salt.
3. Add boiling water to the mixture.
4. Line muffins tins with muffin cups. Fill each cup to ¾ full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes at 180 C. Cool on rack.
*Xylitol inhibits yeast so cannot be used in dough that requires yeast.