Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mick's up with the Sweeteners

Stevia Flowers
At this point, you probably are thinking we don't have much fun in life, if we are keeping sugar away from our house.  Well, let me tell you:  living with a bunch of sweet-tooths (is that how it's said, when plural?), and having a good-sized one myself, we had to find creative ways to bring the joy of sweets into our new healthy lifestyle.

Ready to be creative?  It is worth it!

There are two main sweeteners that I have found endorsed in the health arena:  Stevia and Xylitol.

You might have heard of Stevia, but where does it come from?  As Wikipedia explains: "Chemists isolated the glycosides that give stevia its sweet taste. These compounds were named stevioside and rebaudioside." The plant is named Stevia rebaudiana.  We can find it in products named:  SweetLeaf(includes inulin) or Stevita(includes erythritol) or store brands of Stevia, such as KAL and Vitamin Shoppe.  You can find Stevia in both powder and liquid forms.  You can also find several other brands, when you search online for Stevia.  Just be sure, as always, to look at the ingredients.
Steviol Glycoside

I like to use liquid Stevia in beverages and certain recipes, whereas the powder form seems best suited for most cooking.  Beware:  Stevia has a very powerful taste!  If you use too much, you will get scared away.  (Some of us also find it has an aftertaste.)  Definitely do not substitute Stevia in the same measurement ratio as sugar in your recipes.  You will want to go on taste, until you get used to it.  Be sure to have a conversion chart handyIf you like the taste of diet drinks and foods, then you will probably find the taste of Stevia appealing.  If you really need a soda, then try out Zevia or Virgil's Zero.


Xylitol
The other sweetener we like to use in our household, Xylitol, is
considered the 2nd best sugar substitute (with Stevia being the #1 choice).  As you can read in Wikipedia and xylitol.org, it comes from fruits and vegetables.  It is easier to cook with Xylitol, since the substitution ration is basically 1:1, and it doesn't have the aftertaste some of us notice with Stevia.  It is also found to have health benefits.  You can read about some of them at xylitol.org.  The drawback is that Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, which means those who have digestion issues with sugar alcohols will find they have a reaction.  Great information about Xylitol can be found at this FAQ

There are many great products out there containing Xylitol instead of sugar.  Along with packaged Xylitol (brands such as XyloSweet and KAL at Vitamin Shoppe and Amazon as well as other stores), you can also find amazing treats, such as candies (Dr. John's and SparX) and gum and mints (Spry and Zellies), as well as necessities like toothpaste, mouthwash, and nasal spray.  (Spry and Xlear products are found online at places like Amazon and VitaCost, as well as in stores such as Vitamin Shoppe)!  (As always, read the ingredients! Don't be fooled by a product listing Xylitol as the sweetener and then adding to it some chemicals you don't want in your body.)

There are some other alternatives I'll get to in another post at a later date, but to get started on the
road to a healthier lifestyle for your family, reach for Stevia or Xylitol instead of sugar... and most definitely, stay away from the artificial sweeteners!  (There is some lifesaving information out there for you, and I'll be bringing it right to your fingertips in tomorrow's post dedicated solely to artificial sweeteners!)

Enjoy being creative!

"One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet."
Proverbs 27:7 (NIV)

When you're hungry for sweets, you'll try anything!
Trust me, though.  This really isn't so bad.
SweetLeaf
Stevita

Do you want to know a secret?
We practically live on these for snacking:
LARABAR
(Still looking at ingredients, though...
we stay away from the chocolate chips!)

~

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