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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Synergy of Low-Carb Sugar Free Sweeteners

I have used Splenda Granular for my family since forever - no, actually, going on almost 20 years now. In addition, I used the product to develop 7 cookbooks for people following special diets - namely, the traditional sugar free, low-fat diabetic diet and more recently and more prolifically the low-carb diet, which incidentally is better for someone with diabetes anyway.

Besides Splenda, there were not a whole lot of good choices for me those many years ago. We had Splenda in Canada (when I was living there) 10 years before the United States. As a result, that is partially, why I was the first in the world to write a cookbook for desserts using Splenda Granular. The other and more important reason I came to write my cookbooks is because, I believe, that was part of God's plan for my life for me to be productive in helping other people. My creative period coincided with a very difficult time in my life, when I was practically falling apart in some ways, due to my old family's utter rejection (disowned, abandoned, told to get lost by a third party actually) of me and my family (my darling husband and precious sons) - long, sad story. I have often wished things had been different (but then my life would not be what it is today - and, possibly, I would not even be a Christian), but one cannot control the choices, actions and decisions that others are responsible for in their own lives, and there are always repercussions - whether for good or for bad.)

The first cookbook became a runaway best seller in 6 short months and eventually the second book did become a best seller as well. I took a long time to write the second one. The Splenda company in Canada practically lost interest in it and in me and a lot of the funding due me went to another Canadian author with a diabetic-style menu cookbook, who had started using Splenda. What the Splenda folks did not realize is that I was suffering from depression due to the actions of my mother, as in the aforementioned story. The publishing company we chose for the 2nd cookbook, the biggest in Canada, hit financial difficulties and eventually that led to us buying our books back from them, as they were selling them for less than $1-00 each at one point. I was getting more pocket money from my husband than their meager royalties! Ironically, they wanted to sell them to us for about $7-00 each! We did get them for less than that though due to a violation on their part of our mutual contract. I did have another traditional diabetic cookbook after that almost ready for publishing, but switched to low-carbing and I subsequently lost interest in it - and, then, so did the Splenda Companies - both in Canada and the United States. The folks in America had made a short documentary video of me baking with Splenda in my kitchen and talking about the product for the launch of Splenda in America and there was an understanding that I would somehow feature - but all of that fell by the wayside. Another author (an American lady) was chosen. They no longer wanted to buy any more of my cookbooks and were certainly not interested one iota in any future low-carb cookbooks that I might have written. I think, personally, that it was so shortsighted of the Splenda companies (McNeil Consumer Products and Johnson and Johnson) not to recognize the low-carb community at all. And, fancy, combining Splenda and sugar in one bag and selling it for a premium! First of all, if I wanted to do that, I could do it in my own kitchen for less money spent, and second of all, if I'm using Splenda to avoid using sugar in the first place - why would I buy a combination product? Not only that, it totally negated their sales to the low-carb community, who don't want sugar at all. Their reluctance to provide liquid Splenda is another short-sighted decision. Then finally the Quick Packs arrived - yay! Now they are discontinuing them. Really, I don't blame the low-carb community for getting upset and switching to another product, when the opportunity avails. As it is, many have switched to sugar alcohols or Stevia or even honey and a Stevia combination - simply to avoid using Splenda. Now there are many questions arising over safety issues in any case. Still, I believe sugar would have been worse for my family than Splenda. Chances are none of you out there will ever consume in your lifetime as much as we have, so I'm still comfortable recommending it as an alternative to sugar in baking. It is inert and stable at high baking temperatures. It seems safe enough, but like with everything else we consume, there are some parts of the foods in our food chain that are not good for us. Meat has problems (hormones, grain fed, etc.), vegetables and fruits have problems (pesticides) and even our water supply is dubious at times - so we all do what we can, but, fact is, we're almost all of us consuming a little bit of something each day that is considered not good for our bodies.

Splendid Low-Carbing (the biggest book - written with enthusiasm, inspiration and sometimes tears) became a best seller and the 4 others have yet to reach that status, possibly because low-carbing fell out of favor soon after poor Dr. Atkins died.

I think if we had consumed that many desserts using white flour and white sugar, we'd probably be in worse shape than we are now. Our sons (22 and 25) have incredible physiques and, well, Ian and I are middle-aged and not too bad, considering prior to our Splenda switch we were sugar coke popaholics and loved sugary desserts, etc., plus we also lived off trans fats (Country Crock margarine) for at least a decade or more, until someone said, "Oops, we made a mistake, butter is better for you!" Gee whiz!.

What I have discovered, especially in the last few years is that Splenda is even better used in conjuction with erythritol (powdered is what I prefer) available at Netrition - Sensato Brand. This is especially true for some things that need a little extra sweetening power than Splenda Granular can give. Splenda does not sweeten chocolate, oats, coconut flour products, peanut butter baked products, etc. optimally. Most other things work well. However, combining Splenda Granular and powdered erythritol or even Xylitol (deadly for dogs to consume - please remember that!) works really well. Erythritol has a slight cooling effect in the mouth if used in excess. It makes a great confectioner's sugar substitute in frostings as, if you taste it - it reminds one of that product. Xylitol may need to be powdered finely in a coffee grinder or powerful blender to prevent grittiness in desserts, and the same with erythritol that comes in granular form. That is why I prefer powdered erythritol. Xylitol may cause gastric distress for some people (however, there are numerous health benefits, such as promoting friendly bacteria in the intestines and strengthening teeth and bones: Health Benefits of Xylitol). Erythritol does not cause any gastrointestinal discomfort at all for the majority of people. Maltitol is very problematic that way.

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the kind emails I received. I was touched. God bless you guys!

ethyl d said...

I'm really pleased to have ordered all of your low-carb cookbooks; I use them regularly. Your recipes for baked goods are the most successful I have tried from low-carb sources. I appreciate all your work in creating these recipes. This post also solves the mystery of why the result still tasted bitter and not sweet when I tried to make my own chocolate by melting unsweetened dark chocolate squares with Splenda.

Jennifer said...

Thank you, Ethyl, for those kind words. I'm so glad that you are happily making low-carb goodies when necessary to stay on track with a lower carb lifestyle.

I made the same mistake, when I first started working with Splenda Granular all those many years ago. I kept adding more Splenda Granular thinking it would make the bitterness disappear - to no avail. It did not have the oomph to sweeten the baker's chocolate appropriately.

Margaret said...

So THAT'S what was wrong with my extra chocolatey chocolate cheesecake!!!!! Thanks, Jen, what would we do without the benefit of all your knowledge and research!!?

I have ordered erythritol from Netrition. . . and look forward to fixing those chocolate cheesecakes!!!Hope the order arrives soon!

Hope you are well, too, my friend! We had a good trip to Alberta last week, but it was still cold! We left Calgary in a bit of a snowstorm! Outran it, actually, and were happy to arrive home safely.

Love to you, and bless you for all the work you do!

Jennifer said...

Hi Margaret,

So good to hear you are back home safely and outran the snowstorm. :-)

I think you will be happy with the erythritol. It should help correct the sweetness level of your chocolate cheesecakes. Do a taste test before baking.

We learn from each other. I learned a couple of tricks from you too, the last time I was in your kitchen. (((Hugs)))