I think of the xylitol as a processed chemical. I've heard that the granulated forms of stevia are no good because they are so processed. I've used the powdered form though, which from what I hear is a minimally processed version as is the liquid. I have not cut out pure cane sugar completely, just cut back to minimal. I feel like the sugar substitutes are poor because they tend to trigger more sweets cravings. I also tend to sweeten with fruit most of the time. I haven't tried agave but I'm curious about it.
"Optimist: someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, itís a cha-cha."~ Robert Brault
I like liquid stevia and I grow my own stevia in the summer. Sometimes I use maui sugar or maple syrup when I make an extra special treat. Applesauce has worked very well in baking as a replacement for oil and it adds sweetness.
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When possible, I love to just use fruit to sweeten things - raisins and dates work well when needed; sometimes bananas or mangoes are sweet enough. (Puree soaked dates with some vanilla and a touch of salt, and you get a wonderful "caramel" dip for fruit slices!)
We used agave for a while, but then I started reading that it's not quite so good for you, and people are now recommending staying away from it.
I used to have a stevia plant, and loved to use it's leaves -- but I've never done the processed forms you buy in the store: the liquids or powders. I feel like if it's been removed from it's natural state, you're moving a step away from the clean, natural eating. So, when that's going on, it's up to you how strict you want to be with your eating style :)
This past month, we've done some experimenting with xylitol. Tastewise, we loved it - and we even made a Paleo chocolate coconut cake with butter pecan icing... so it worked well for baking! But we agreed that it seemed to trigger sugar cravings in both of us, and so we're planning to try to get away from this item, and just return to using fruit as much as possible.
Though, when needed, xylitol is the one we would choose, if fruit just won't cut it :)
Basically, sugars are sugars. They taste differently from each other but the body treats them the same way. Nutritionally, honey and molasses and brown sugar may have a few trace minerals in them but they are not much better nutritionally than regular sugar. Sugars are not bad. Table sugar only has about 15-17 calories per teaspoon. When dieting, we should stay away from a lot of sugar because it does make us feel hungry soon after eating sweets; blood sugar up quickly then down quickly and we then feel hunger.
I hate Stevia, too. Though xylitol occurs naturally in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables and can be extracted from various berries, oats, and mushrooms, I just read on Wikipedia, the stuff we get is manufactured from hardwood and corn husks.
Personally, I prefer to stick to the natural sweeteners.
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Oh yeah, xylitol! I've bought stuff that has xylitol in it but never actually used it as an ingredient. It's zero calorie, I think, and I do believe that switching a couple of years ago to a toothpaste that contains xylitol is partly what helped turn around my years and years of bad cavities and root canals!
~*~ Angie ~*~
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I actually like xylitol. It is basically a sugar alcohol derived from corn or certain trees. It is considered a non nutritive sweetener. It is supposed to be good for diabetics and your teeth. It is a bit sweeter than sugar and it works great for baking.
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Stevia's supposed to be all-natural (though some on the market are mixtures) but I get a bitter aftertaste too. Turbinado is still sugar, just LESS processed, so it works similarly despite being more coarse. I've used coconut sugar in some recipe -- nice texture, not too sweet. I did not care for the date sugar, but I think I was trying to use it in coffee. It just never melts and just sorta turns into this slimy clump! LOL But don't know about it in baking. Been meaning to try it.
Maple syrup is great in oatmeal, brown rice syrup worked well for a take on a Rice Krispie treat I once made. Haven't baked much with agave but my husband uses it in tea. Its consistency makes it act a lot like honey. Molasses -- only in gingerbread, cookies. It's kinda strong, I think. And I have a Paleo red velvet cupcake that I want to make for my MIL that calls for yacon syrup, but so far I can't get my hands on it!
I was doing some research for some sugar substitutes and came up with a list. I usually use Redpath dark brown sugar in my oatmeal but want to play around with baking without processed sugar. I've tried Stevia Sweet and I hate it. I can taste chemicals and I want something I can use that isn't filled with chemicals and actually tastes good. Here is my list:
Solids (crystals): Succanat or Turbinado Rapadura Date Sugar Mesquite Coconut Sugar
Liquids: Maple Sugar/syrup Yacon Syrup Brown Rice Syrup Barley Malt Syrup Agave Syrup Liquid Stevia Blackstrap Molasses
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