There aren’t many things that make me angry.
I do get a bit worked up when a certain 3-year-old puts my shoes in the toilet. But you know what pisses me off even more?
It’s when I read blogs and cookbooks that use ‘natural’ sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, dates or agave and imply that these are a better choice than regular white sugar.
I know it’s tempting to fall into this trap. I’ve been there myself.
But since having gestational diabetes and monitoring my blood sugar levels I’ve been forced to change my view on all sweeteners. Even using fruit to ‘sweeten’ baked goods.
And like any recent convert, now whenever I see a reference to ‘natural sweeteners’, it really drives me crazy.
There are two reasons…
1. It’s just plain wrong.
Sugar is sugar.
Even if there are slightly more minerals in honey and maple syrup and more fiber in dates, your body essentially treats natural sugars the same way… The glucose part spikes your blood sugar levels and caused all the insulin related chaos. And the fructose goes into your liver to be stored directly as fat. Yes fat.
It’s a bit like low nicotine cigarettes, sure they’re slightly better but they still give you cancer.
2. It gives people a false sense of security.
It’s human nature right? Oh this cake is made using healthy ‘natural’ sweeteners. That means I’m fine to have another slice.
I wish I could remember where I read a study about this phenomenon. From memory researchers compared the amount of cake eaten by two groups of people. Group A were told the cake contained a certain amount of calories per slice. And group B were told it contained twice as many calories.
They were then invited to eat as much cake as they liked.
You know where this is heading right?
The people in group A who thought the cake was healthier ate significantly more cake. More!
So what sweeteners do I use?
Before my gestational diabetes and subsequent diabetes diagnosis I didn’t mind using honey and maple syrup as a treat.
But now that I’m watching my blood sugar, I stick to stevia.
My favourite is pure stevia powder (not an affiliate link) which is expensive but a tiny amount goes a long long way. We’re talking 1/4 teaspoon to sweeten a whole cake.
I also keep granular stevia like Natvia on hand for when I just need a tiny bit of sweetness like in a cup of chai or turmeric tea or these puddings below. But I limit it because it contains erythritol as well as stevia and I suspect the erythritol isn’t great for our gut microflora.
What about you?
Which sweeteners do you use? I’d love to hear in the comments below :)
Low Carb Chocolate Puddings
I love these for so many reasons. First they’re not going to spike your blood sugar. But more importantly they only take a few minutes to stir up AND use ingredients you probably have in your pantry – perfect for those nights when you haven’t planned anything for dessert but then feel like something warm and chocolatey.
The good news with this recipe is the stevia is only providing sweetness and doesn’t have any other function so you can easily substitute your preferred sweetener or even use sugar if that’s what you have. See the variations for ideas.
I like them with lashings of double cream but if you’re OK with a sugar hit ice cream is also good.
enough for: 2
takes: 20 minutes
4 tablespoons (30g) almond meal
3 tablespoons (45g) milk
2 tablespoons (12g) cocoa powder
1 pinch pure stevia or 1 tablespoon granular stevia (15g) (see below for alternatives)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and grease two 1 cup ramekins or oven-proof tea cups.
2. In a small bowl mix almond meal, milk, cocoa powder, stevia, egg, vanilla and baking powder until well combined. Taste and add more stevia if needed. Divide mixture between your prepared ramekins / cups.
3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the puddings feel springy to touch. I like them slightly underbaked so they’re squidgy in the middle. Serve warm or at room temp.
no stevia – use you favourite sweetener… Honey, maple syrup or white sugar! You’ll probably need 2 tablespoons because stevia tends to be pretty instense but taste and see.
dairy-free – use your favourite non-dairy milk such as almond, hemp or coconut.
ginger puddings – replace the cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger.
peanut butter – add a big tablespoon of peanut butter to the centre of each pud before baking.
double chocolate – add a square of dark chocolate to the centre of each pud before baking.
hazelnut – replace almond meal with hazelnut meal.
nut-free – I haven’t tried this but replace the almond meal with 2 tablespoon flour and 2 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil – and they won’t be low carb any more.
more servings – I’ve included the weight measurements in case you have more mouths to feed!
ps. And yes there’s more than 5-ingredients in these puddings but sometimes it’s good to break your own rules ;)