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Let’s talk pantry staples, more specifically, baking pantry staples. I was asked on Instagram a little while back to list what I usually have in my pantry that allows me to whip up something tasty and sweet without the need to hit the supermarket or health food store. While I have a ‘What’s In My Pantry’ post planned for next week, I thought I’d enlighten you as to what I use in place of sugar.
If you’re not already aware, I quit sugar back in January and as such, don’t have the stuff in the house. You can read a little more about how and why I quit the sweet stuff HERE, HERE and HERE. While many recipes use things like dates or ripe fruit for sweetness, there are certain recipes that do require a little somethin’ somethin’ extra (my absolute fave fructose free chocolate brownies are a great example of this).
If you’ve read ‘Sweet Poison’ or ‘I Quit Sugar’ (you can find a link to the ‘I Quit Sugar’ Ebook AND Cookbook over on the right sidebar’), you’ll have seen ‘dextrose’ pop up reasonably regularly. Even if you haven’t, you still may have seen it or it’s close relative ‘Xylitol’ appear in certain recipes or on the interwebs.
Although both sound kind of scary and chemical filled, there is no reason to be afraid. Don’t let the name fool you. Both these products are, in actual fact, naturally occurring substances that are similar to BUT very different from sugar. Dextrose, to put it simply, is pure glucose. This means it is free from fructose which is the thing we want to avoid when cutting sugar. Fructose is the stuff that we can blame for all the ill effects we associate with sugar consumption; the rapid highs and lows, cravings and eventually, addiction. That’s all down to good ol’ fructose. Technically, when we say we are ‘quitting sugar’ we should say we are quitting ‘fructose’ but I guess it doesn’t have the same ring to it.
So why is dextrose so much better? Primarily because our body recognises and can react accordingly to its presence. This means we will get a ‘WHOAAA STOP’ signal when we’ve eaten enough. Fructose however, doesn’t have an inbuilt slow down signal which is why we can eat and eat and eat without ever feeling full enough to stop. In ‘I Quit Sugar’ they ask you to think about drinking a litre of juice vs a litre of yoghurt. Most of us could probably down the juice and go for a snack shortly after. The yoghurt however would be a struggle. Both contain sugar but the juice is packed with fructose which our body struggles to recognise where as the yoghurt gets its sweetness from lactose which our body knows what to do with.
Which brings us back to dextrose. If you still eat sugar, dextrose won’t taste especially sweet. While it looks exactly the same as it’s sweet cousin, dipping a spoon into the bowl will soon alert you to the fact that it is definitely not sugar. When you’ve cut back or quit sugar however, it becomes very similar to what you remember sugar tasting like, or at least what you remember foods sweetened by sugar tasting like.
I use it whenever a recipe calls for sugar. It often takes a bit of playing around if you are converting directly from sugar to dextrose (the common rule of thumb is 1 cup of sugar to 1.4 cups of dextrose. You can find plenty of recipes that are formulated using dextrose which you won’t need to modify. You will find however that the less sugar you eat and the longer you’re off it, the sweeter dextrose becomes and hence, the less you use. These days, when a recipe calls for 1 cup of dextrose, I can usually get away with 3/4 of a cup quite easily.
You can find my favourite, dextrose based recipes at the links below. It’s also worth checking at the ‘I Quit Sugar‘ website and sites like ‘Chocolate Covered Katie‘ and ‘PaleOMG’ for delicious recipes.
Healthy Peanut Butter Cups
Gluten And Sugar Free Banana Crunch Muffins
Healthy Cookie Dough
Sugar Free Rich Hot Chocolate
Have you quit sugar? What’s your fave sweetener?