Cutting back on sugar is not easy for anyone. There are sugar substitutes on the market that taste almost like sugar. Nutrasweet, Splenda, xylitol all taste a lot like sucrose sweetener; and there are proven problems with the use of sucrose, aspartame, saccharine that make some of the newer alternatives something to be tried in moderation. I’ve forgotten about mallitol. What is mallitol other than a sweetener, something used in industrial manufacture that also has a laxative effect. Stevia has a licorice flavor, which adds to recipes such as those that call for licorice or anise flavors, however, stevia might detract from the flavor of sugar-free key lime pie, sugar-free mint tea or sugar-free vanilla meringues.
Dextrose is an easier sugar to break down in the human body, I looked up what dextrose is in Grolier’s Encyclopedia, it is merely glucose. I became scared when seeing dextrose on a label at the level of 1 gram per serving in a baking mix, and called up customer service. I was instructed to look at the label of the”health food” variety of the product, and discovered that this version of the product has 3 grams per serving of sugars, both dextrose and sucrose. Look on the label when you purchase a product, a lot of products have hidden benefits, others have hidden sugars. By the way, this is the Bisquick pancake mix by General Mills, which has 1 gram of dextrose in it, and the “Heart Healthy” variety of Bisquick is the version to watch out for, containing 3 grams of sugar, namely sucrose mixed in with the dextrose, per serving. Baking mixes are fun to use in a variety of ways, and can be cooked on the stove top, in the microwave, in the oven, and these pancake or waffle mixes will create something hot and edible, if a bit bland, when prepared with water and a little cooking oil or butter.
However, there are many ways of adding flavor and more sweetness to a baking mix, these range from sugar-free chocolate shavings and sugar-free minced peppermint patties, to sugar-free syrups, such as Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth’s or Torani.
People who get accustomed to the taste of sugar start to like the taste of sugar. It is in the mind, this craving for sugar, changing an attitude is something we all need to do sometime. We can go sugar-free without having our food be tasteless or dull. There are sugar substitutes on the market that are safe to use.
Stevia, I bought a bottle of stevia last year from a health food store, it tastes just like sugar (until you inform the dieter or diabetic), and is excellent if you enjoy your cooking being just slightly sweet. Stevia is a little more expensive than nutrasweet, and there are stevia cookbooks available. In liquid form, the bottle of stevia is great, until the label starts wearing off… at $5 – $8 per bottle, the liquid form of stevia may be expensive, and it is best to be patient with the drops slowly emerging from the tiny bottle, as a mistake with stevia drops will give the recipe much too much of a flavor of licorice.
Star anise iced tea
4 star anise flowers
4 cups (1 quart) boiling water
4 – 12 drops stevia (to taste)
1 tea bag, or 2 tea bags for stronger tea
The star anise are an excellent decoration to the glass, so save these.
Apple Spice iced tea
1 cinnamon stick
2 fruit flavored herbal tea bags
1 cored small apple, sliced thinly
4 cups boiling water
4 – 12 drops stevia (to taste)
Directions (for either variation)
Add the ingredients in this order to a tea pot, that will contain 4 cups or more of water.
Wait for the tea to cool to the point of being tepid, or lukewarm. Remove the teabag(s).
When the tea is lukewarm, add to a glass filled 3/4 with ice cubes to test, if you wish.
Place iced tea in a pitcher, or suitable glass or plastic container and refrigerate.Serve
Sugar-free peppermint patties make an excellent “crust” for single dishes of sugar-free pudding, and can be cut stylishly to decorate the top of the pudding. York sugar-free Peppermint Patties are sold in many grocery stores, as are Russell Stover sugar-free peppermint patties. These sugar-free peppermint patties can also be cut with a plastic knife or a butter knife and mixed into plain yogurt or sugar-free ice cream to give it a little more flavor and decor. Leave the fillings in the refrigerator, leave the ice cream in the freezer while you are baking. All three of these fillings are also excellent in a pie crust made with 1 cup of baking mix, 1 tablespoon of water, and 1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter, rolled flat, and then placed into a greased 8″ or 9″ pie shell (or cake tin) then baked for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in an oven. Allow the pie crust to cool, then place in your favorite filling, and freeze for one hour.
Go Lightly sugar-free candies, I bought a few bags from the dollar store – the sugar-free fudgies are tasty, and great for the person who has infrequent cravings for sugar. The chocolate hard candies are tasty on their own, too, and are manufactured in America. First of all, the hard candies, when melted in a tablespoon of butter, and a tablespoon of water make a fantastic syrup for biscuit concoctions, or a drizzle for cakes and cookie bars. The candies are also sold in the sugar-free hard candy peppermint and the sugar-free fruit creme variety.
There are also Baskin-Robbins sugar-free hard candies, just right for adding a little pep to your sugar-free ice cream, sugar-free yogurt, or baking mixes, as well as Estee candies, manufactured specifically for diabetics (which are a little bit dry for eating, however, great for use in baking).