Last week in my interview with Sarah Wilson we chatted about the benefits of quitting sugar.
The good news is, there are healthy, natural sugar alternatives out there. So quitting or cutting down your sugar intake need not mean the end of enjoying delicious sweet treats.
So what are these healthy sugar alternatives?
Stevia comes from a naturally occurring herb. It’s hundreds of times sweeter than sugar so a little goes a long way. It’s best for adding a dash of sweetness to things like your tea or coffee. I’ve also found it great to use as a ‘seasoning’ anywhere you’d like a bit more sweetness like in a Thai curry.
It generally comes in liquid form and because it’s so potent, it can’t be used on its own for baking.
Erythritol is found naturally in fruit such as grapes, melons and peaches and in fermented products like wine, beer and soy sauce.
It’s a ‘sugar alcohol’ and has about 70% of the sweetness of regular sugar. It comes in granular form and acts like sugar in baking without the calories or impact on your blood sugar levels.
3. Stevia / Erythritol Blends.
These give the best of both worlds by combining the sugar-like baking properties and granular bulk of erythritol with the extra sweetness of stevia.
Where do I get these healthy sugar alternatives?
My local supermarket supplies both liquid stevia and a stevia/erythritol blend (Natvia brand). The downside here is that Natvia is quite expensive. So I’ve recently been ordering pure erythritol online which is still expensive compared with sugar. But then sugar is one of the cheapest ingredients out there so I don’t worry about the comparison too much.
Health food stores are also a good bet for finding erythritol and/or stevia.
What do I do with these healthy sugar alternatives?
I’m glad you asked!
You may remember last year I wrote about a brilliant healthy baking ebook called ‘Guilt-Free Desserts‘. I’m still loving it for healthy desserts and baked goods. And made a divine flourless chocolate cake from the ebook over the weekend.
The same people have recently released a followup ebook, ‘Carefree Candies‘. I’ve been playing around with some of the recipes over the Christmas holidays.
My favourites have been the peanut butter cups below. And I just LOVED the healthy ‘ice magic’ ice cream topping which took me back to my childhood. I’m also planning to try the salted caramel and the truffles.
To be honest, my gripe with these ebooks is that the recipes are in cups and spoon measurements, rather than weights. But Carefree Candies does have a conversion chart at the back. The other downside is that if you’re looking for tempting photographs, you won’t find them in either book.
BUT! If you’re keen for some great healthy recipes for sweet treats, then you’re in luck.
If you do decide to buy either ebook, these are affiliate links so you’ll be supporting Stonesoup. To say thanks, I have an extra gift for you…
2. Come back and enter your details and receipt number on the page over here:
guilt-free peanut butter cups
takes about 20 minutes
Adapted from Kelly Herring’s Carefree Candies.
These are super rich so it’s best to make them in small mini-muffin papers. I was able to pick some up (in lurid colours) from my local supermarket.
If you can’t find mini muffin papers, make them in regular cupcake papers, but consider slicing them before serving.
The first time I made these, I missed the instruction to use ‘powdered’ erythritol and just popped the granular stuff in. The texture ended up being quite ‘gritty’. Still edible but no where near as good as when I blitzed the erythritol in my spice grinder to powder it before using.
enough for 12
60g (2 oz) butter
100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or more), chopped
100g (3.5oz) peanut butter
1-2 tablespoons erythritol, powdered
1. Melt butter in your smallest saucepan. Remove from the heat.
2. Add chocolate chunks and stand for a few minutes. Meanwhile, place 12 mini-muffin papers in a tray or on a plate.
3. When the chocolate has melted, stir the chocolate and butter until smooth. If there are still some unmelted chunks, pop back on a low heat for a few seconds.
4. Place a teaspoon of melted chocolate in the base of each mini-muffin paper. Use the teaspoon to push the chocolate up the sides of the papers. Then pop in the freezer for 5 minutes to set the bases.
5. Combine peanut butter and erythritol. Taste and add more erythritol if needed.
6. Divide peanut butter mixture between the mini-muffin papers. Top with remaining chocolate mixture, so no peanut butter is visible.
7. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to serve.
can’t find erythritol? – you could use powdered (icing) sugar instead. Or to keep it healthy use a few drops of liquid stevia to sweeten the peanut butter.
milk chocolate – Milk chocolate has quite a bit of sugar so this option is best if ‘health’ isn’t a priority. Replace butter and dark chocolate with 160g (5.5oz) milk chocolate. Melt it carefully over a double boiler or in the microwave, then use as per the chocolate butter mixture.
salted chocolate peanut butter cups – sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top before refrigerating.
different nuts – feel free to play around with different nut butters. Almond is good and hazelnut even better.
nut allergies – moisten some dessicated coconut with coconut cream and use in place of the peanut butter.
dairy-free / vegan – replace butter with coconut oil.
ps. I’ve just realised we’ve had two sweet recipes in a row and it’s only January! Don’t worry, next week we’ll be back to normal healthy savoury meals…