A few days ago I read a terrific post over at the Witchy Kitchen. Stella was writing about the affects sugar has on our bodies and how it's found in so many foods that we may not even think about. Sugar can become quite an addiction. It can cause mood swings, it reduces the collagen and elastin levels in our skin, it can affect our insulin levels which can lead to overeating... I began thinking about my family's diet and about our sugar consumption. Stella's post inspired me to make some changes.
One small change I made was cutting out our juice at breakfast time and replacing it with water and maybe a slice of lemon. I also decided to experiment with some natural sweeteners. The first one I'm trying is Xylitol. I picked up a bag at Bob's Red Mill. It's quite a bit more expensive than sugar but you really don't need to use as much either so maybe it all evens out. Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from fruit and vegetable fibers. It is metabolized more slowly and does not cause glucose level to rise rapidly the way regular sugar does so it is also safe for diabetics. I found some excellent information on Xylitol Here .
It's an interesting product. It has a similar flavor and texture to granulated sugar but if you place it on your tongue it feels cold.
I used it in my shortbread recipe and didn't notice any difference in taste at all.
I liked that I could use less of it and still get the flavor and touch of sweetness needed in my recipe.
I did cheat a little by using 1 tbsp of my Vanilla Sugar in my whipped cream. I could just as easily used the Xylitol and some ground vanilla bean instead.
I think I'll try Stevia next. I've only tasted Stevia in a soda drink and I hated the after taste. I'll have to see how it is in baked goods.
Sugar-Free Almond Cornmeal Blueberry Shortcakes
Makes about 6
6 tbsp of unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 almond meal
1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup Xylitol
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint whipping cream
1 tbsp vanilla sugar or 1 tbsp Xylitol and ground vanilla bean
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease muffin cups.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer beat the butter until creamy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and milk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cornmeal, baking powder, Xylitol and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until combined. Evenly fill muffin cups and top with a few slivered almonds. Bake for 16-20 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in cups. Remove from cups and cool completely on a wire rack.
Combine the whipping cream, vanilla sugar and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Cut shortcakes in half. Add a scoop of whipped cream and a handful of blueberries over bottom 1/2 of the shortcake. Place top of shortcake over whipped cream and berries. Serve.
Everyone in my family loved this!
Have you ever used alternative sweeteners? What is your opinion? Do you like them? Do you have a favorite?
P.S. I'm submitting my recipe for this month's BSI. The ingredient for this month is flour and is being hosted by Veronica at Recipe Rhapsody.