Everyone seems to be getting pretty excited by the idea of quitting sugar at the moment. They have a point. A ridiculous amount of sugar is hidden in so many things we eat and we’ve always know that it’s not great for us, so it’s a good idea to try and reduce our sugar intake. The interesting thing is that there are now a lot more plant-based sugar alternatives around and I wanted to test them out in some of my favourite recipes.
Oatmeal biscuits was my first port of call, mainly because they’re awesome. What’s not to love about their sweet and crunchy goodness, particularly when you’re kicking off the feeding baby thing? My friends and I all make each other oatmeal biscuits when a new little bub arrives in the world, because they’re the perfect snack. I know I’ll be eating a lot of these oatmeal biscuits over the next few months.
To ascertain the top picks for plant-based sugar alternatives, I trawled through the various national diabetic association websites and they proved to be a great place for straightforward advice on how the sugar replacements work. My three favourites are:
The stevia plant is a native to the tropical regions of the Americas and comes out with glowing reports. The Australian Diabetes council lists the extract of the stevia plant as a ‘low joule’ sugar alternative and the American Diabetes Association even calls it a ‘zero-calorie’ sweetener. Sources seem to differ on exactly how much sweeter it is, some say it’s 30 times sweeter than sugar, whereas some even suggest it’s 300 time sweeter. Whatever the case may be, the good news is that you need to use a lot less, which is lucky because in large quantities it has a slightly aniseed or licorice taste.
Agave syrup or nectar
This derivative of the agave plant has the same calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar, but a lower glycemic index, because it is released into the blood slower, according to the American Diabetes Association. The main advantage is that it’s naturally a bit sweeter than sugar, so you can use a little less of it – approximately 2/3 of a cup of agave to 1 cup of sugar.
Rice bran syrup
I am not sure why the diabetic associations do not list rice malt syrup in their sugar alternatives, but quit sugar advocates like Sarah Wilson believe that rice malt is better than agave because it has a lower fructose level. Again, it’s sweeter than sugar, so you would use 1/2 cup of rice malt syrup to 1 cup of sugar.
Sugar-free oatmeal biscuit
by Christophe It’s not always possible just to switch sugar types in a recipe, so I called on the help of Christophe, our pastry chef extraordinaire, to reinvent the the mighty ANZAC biscuit. For those of you who have not been introduced to the wonders of the humble ANZAC biscuit, it was traditionally made with golden syrup and sugar and sent over to the New Zealand and Australian soldiers fighting in the First and Second World Wars. Those of you in the know will find the sugar-free ANZAC is crumblier than the original.
1 cup of plain flour 1/2 cup stevia granules 3/4 cup desiccated coconut 1 cup rolled oats 125g/ 4.4oz unsalted butter 4 tbls agave syrup or rice malt syrup 1/2 tsp bicarbonate/baking soda Pinch of salt
To make the oatmeal biscuits
Preheat oven to 175°C/ 350°F.
Sift flour into a bowl. Mix in stevia, coconut, oats and salt in a bowl. In a small saucepan, over a low heat, melt the butter and agave syrup together and stir through the bicarbonate/baking soda. Pour into the bowl of dry flour mix and stir. Scoop teaspoons of the mixture onto a greased tray and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. They will turn crispy when cooling on a rack. However, I sometimes like to take them out of the oven early (when only light brown) so that they’re crispy on the edges and soft in the middle.Enjoy x
Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine