I’ve been doing some more research and personal experimentation with a sugar alcohol called Xylitol and and have found it to be a good alternative.
You might be surprised to learn that even though I help people break unhealthy sugar cycles and shift their relationships with sugar, I do believe a sweet treat on occasion can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
It would be pretty miserable to think of the rest of your life without a cookie, slice of birthday cake or piece of dark chocolate. Wouldn’t it?
If you are experiencing damaging health effects from sugar, you may need some intervention including elimination, to correct those. But once the metabolic markers start to improve, you can definitely have a sweet treat from time to time.
If you are baking at home and controlling the ingredients in your occasional sweet treats, I think Xylitol is a promising sugar alternative to try.
The upsides of Xylitol
• Small amounts of Xylitol occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables.
• It’s commonly found in sugar-free chewing gums, diabetes-friendly foods and in oral hygiene products.
• Xylitol looks like sugar, tastes like sugar and can be used like sugar in baking but has 40 per cent less calories.
• Sugar alcohols like Xylitol don’t raise blood sugar levels like most carbohydrates, so it can be used even if you’re following a low carbohydrate diet.
• If you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity or other metabolic problems, xylitol can be a good sugar alternative.
• Preliminary studies show that Xylitol can increase collagen production, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and help to feed your good gut bacteria.
The downsides of Xylitol
• As a refined sweetener xylitol doesn’t have any vitamins or minerals and so can be viewed as empty calories.
• Some people experience digestive issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea if too much is eaten. The body does adjust quickly thought so just go slow and introduce it in small amounts. And if you’re only eating it once in awhile in a baked good, chances are it won’t bother you.
• While xylitol appears safe for humans it is very harmful to pets especially dogs so keep it safely away from your fur babies.
What to look for when buying Xylitol
Much of the world’s Xylitol is made from corn husks in China and is highly processed. To ensure you are getting the highest quality, look for a product made from Canadian hardwood trees. The brand I like is Xyla.
Bottom line: Of the various sugar alcohols, Xylitol seems to be one of the best. When you get a pure source, the potential side effects are minimal, and it may even have some health benefits.
I recently experimented with a couple different fudge brownie recipes and this one turned out great.
Adapted from Kate’s Healthy Cupboard
• 3/4 cup coconut cream, melted. (Also called coconut butter, manna, or spread. Can be found in most health food stores stores)
• 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk cream (The thick cream on top of a can of coconut milk)
• 2 tbsp butter, melted
• 1 egg
• 2 tsp vanilla
• 5 tbsp cocoa powered
• 1/4 cup Xylitol
• 1/4 cup coconut sugar/crystals
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
1. Preheat over to 350. Grease (with butter or coconut oil) a medium sized, square or rectangular baking dish (6×6 or 5×7)
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, Xylitol, coconut sugar, baking soda, salt and set aside
3. In a separate bowl, combine the melted coconut cream, butter, coconut milk cream and beat with electric hand mixer until smooth
4. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
6. Spread the batter into greased baking dish
7. Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes or until edges start to brown. It;s okay if the cent seems under cooked. brown.
8. Let cool on baking rack. Cut into squares and serve. Store in the refrigerator.
Over to you
Have you experimented with sugar alcohols like Xylitol? What did you think? Tell me about it in the comments below.
* This post originally appeared in the Halifax Citizen on May 18, 2015.