Pretty much anyone who knows me from this blog (or anywhere else) knows that I don’t consume refined sugar. In fact, since I started the anti-candida diet in March, 2009, I’ve abstained from almost all sweeteners, refined or otherwise. (I’ve also abstained from about 1,182 other foods that are verboten on the ACD, but that’s a whole other kettle of seaweed. )
Given my sugar-free stance, I was very excited when Hallie and Lexie revealed the theme for this week’s posts in their New Year, New You event: “Swap the Sweeteners”! The event takes place each Thursday this month and is designed to share tips and tricks to help you initiate–and maintain–healthful changes this year. Previous topics include Eat More Produce and Snack Smart. Be sure to check out Hallie’s post today to see what she baked up (yum!) and to enter to win a fabulous package of natural sweeteners, including stevia, agave nectar, unsulphured molasses and raw natural honey!
Looking to Swap Out the Sugar? Here Are My Favorite Naturally Low-Glycemic Alternatives.
Though the ACD prohibits most sweeteners, there are a few permitted (and thank goodness for that!). Here are my top picks for low glycemic sweeteners that you can use while fighting candida (or any time you wish to replace cane sugar with a healthier option).
[One of my favorite breakfast muffins, sweetened only with stevia.]
Stevia (Stage 1 and beyond):
It seems that the popularity of stevia has really exploded over the past year or so. This zero calorie, zero glycemic sweetener is my all-time favorite, and I continue to use it pretty much daily as my sweetener of choice. I’ve already written at length about this all-natural herbal sweetener, so I’ll direct you to this post to learn more.
How to Swap It: Remember that stevia can be up to 100 times sweeter than sugar, so it’s difficult to use as a replacement for all the sugar in a recipe (you’ll be swapping out perhaps 1/2 cup (120 ml) for just 1/8 of a teaspoon (0.5 ml)stevia, for instance, which would alter both the chemical makeup and consistency of your final product). After years of experimentation, I’ve found a few ways to use stevia successfully in baked goods. For my latest favorite, see the recipe at the end of this post.
[Raw Gingersnap Cookie Bon Bons. . . the spices in these confections pair perfectly with yacon syrup.]
Yacon Syrup (Stage 1 and beyond):
This dark, thick and sticky syrup is derived from the yacon plant, a tuberous plant from the Andes region. It registers low on the glycemic index (reports range from zero to 28), so it’s recommended for Type II diabetics (listen up, Paula Deen!) or anyone seeking to cut back on sugars. With a texture and flavor similar to molasses (and, I find, with a slightly fermented flavor), yacon can be used in place of other sweeteners.
How to Swap It: Because of its fairly prominent flavor and not-too-sweet taste, I tend to use yacon along with another sweetener in baking; it works especially well with carob, cocoa or winter spices, the flavors of which are assertive enough to stand up to the yacon.
[Black Bottom Almond Mousse Pie with Chocolate Shortbread Crust and Chocolate Ganache Drizzle. . . sweetened with coconut sugar.]
Coconut Sugar or Syrup (Stage 3 and beyond):
Another instantly-popular newcomer to the realm of natural sweeteners, coconut sugar and coconut syrup, extracted from the coconut palm flower, are natural, minimally processed sweeteners that have been used for ages in Southeast Asian countries; the sugar is sometimes known as jaggery. Both are low on the glycemic index (around 35), with a rich, butterscotch or caramel flavor; coconut sugar also contains a good amount of potassium and Vitamin C. I love the taste of coconut sugar as well as the depth it adds to baked goods.
How to Swap It: Coconut sugar can be used one-for-one instead of regular sugar; the syrup can be used as well, but you’ll need to adjust the levels of liquids and dry ingredients to compensate. I often use coconut syrup in non-baked desserts such as ice creams, fudge, or truffle balls.
[Mint Chip Ice Cream acquires part of its sweetness from pear purée (no ice cream maker required!)]
Fruits (Stage 2 and beyond):
One of the best ways to replace sugar in your baking and cooking is to use fruit purées instead. My favorite choice is dried dates (simply soak for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and blend to a paste in your food processor); prunes (aka dried plums) work equally well. However, since I’m not permitted dates on the anti-candida diet, I’ve turned to other fruits for that purpose. I find that pear purée works wonders to add sweetness and binding power to baked goods; and its mild flavor won’t overpower other ingredients in your recipe. Applesauce is more commonly used, and works very well, too.
How to Swap It: As a rule, you’ll need to reduce both your liquid ingredients and your sugar to swap it for fruit. However, note that the texture may be altered as well. Normally you can replace up to 1/3 cup (80 ml) of sugar with fruit and achieve good results.
Although I’m now able to use coconut sugar in baking, I decided to create a recipe for today’s post sweetened only with stevia so that anyone could enjoy it, whether or not they’re allowed higher glycemic sweeteners. I’ve also used psyllium husks as a binder for the first time, after seeing several recipes with it recently on various blogs I read. I had some psyllium already in my pantry from a raw foods class I took a while back (it’s a fairly common ingredient among those who eat live foods), so it seemed the perfect time to start playing with it in the kitchen.
It took a couple of tries, but I finally found the correct ratio to produce a tasty bread that binds well without xanthan gum. As a bonus, the only fat in this loaf is from the nuts and nut butter–no added oils. The version with quinoa is higher protein (always a good thing for a vegan bread), but I have to admit I preferred the flavor of the amaranth,which offers a more delicate crumb. While it’s not terribly sweet, the flavor is subtle and pleasing–a perfect bread for breakfast or snacking.
The HH has been munching on this for breakfast the past week and seems blissfully unaware that he’s eating something “healthy.” And I’m entirely delighted that I could swap his regular Tim Horton’s muffin for a treat that’s actually good for him!
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway over at Hallie’s! And here are this week’s other participants to offer more tips on swapping out the sugar:
- Amy from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
- Maggie from She Let Them Eat Cake
- Iris from The Daily Dietribe
Low Fat Cinnamon-Walnut Loaf (Xanthan Free)
(Suitable for ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
Despite what looks like a long ingredient list, this is really an easy bread to make. Its light, moist crumb will remind you of muffins, but it’s a bit more sturdy and a bit less sweet. . . perfect with nut butter for breakfast, or even as a means to sop up some hearty, savory soup.
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp (25 ml) whole psyllium husks
1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural almond butter or tahini (sesame paste)
enough unsweetened plain or vanilla soy or almond milk to make 1-1/2 cups/360 ml (see instructions)
1/3 cup (55 g) teff flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) potato starch
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) pure stevia powder or liquid, to your taste
1/3 cup (40 g) lightly toasted walnut pieces or chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly grease a regular loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.
Place the psyllium husks, apple cider vinegar, vanilla and almond butter in a glass measuring cup. Add enough milk to reach the 1-1/2 cup (360 ml) mark. Using a small whisk or fork, whisk everything together until the almond butter is well dissolved in the liquid and no lumps remain. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, sift together all remaining ingredients except for the walnuts. Whisk well to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Add the walnuts.
Whisk the liquid again to ensure that it’s smooth and everything is incorporated, then pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir just to combine (do not overmix!). Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. It will only fill the loaf about halfway to the top; this is as it should be.
Bake in preheated oven for 65-75 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through, until the bread is well browned on the bottom and sides, and the top springs back when touched lightly (there will be a fairly thick crust by this time, but it should still spring back). A knife inserted in the center should come out moist but clean.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan allow to cool completely before slicing. The bread is very moist on the first day and dries a bit by the second. Store, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or freeze for later. Makes one medium loaf, or 8-10 slices.
Note: this is not a high loaf, and will not rise to the top of the pan. That’s just the way it should be, so don’t worry! It will still taste divine.
This recipe is linked to Cybele’s Allergy Friendly Fridays.
Last Year at this Time: Raw Asian Slaw with Fennel, Beet and Carrot (gluten free; ACD, All Stages)
Two Years Ago: Raw Nori Rolls with “Salmon” Filling and Spicy Ginger Miso Paste (gluten-free; ACD All Stages)
Three Years Ago: The Biscuit and the Scramble (to Woo Your Rake) (not gluten free; ACD Maintenance only)
Four Years Ago: Mini Sweet Potato-Chocolate Chip Muffins (not gluten free; ACD Maintenance only)
© Ricki Heller
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