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Feature Articles
 New Product to Know!
 I Have a Metabolism?
 Dining at 14,000 Feet
 Diet Secrets of the Stars
 Make it Low Carb!
 Fun with LC Cooking!
 Carb Credit Card?
 Dreamfields Recipes
 The Goodness of Butter
 Beauty of Eyeglasses
 Sweet Freedom!
 Understanding Antioxidants



 Jonny Bowden Solutions


  Make it Low Carb by Joan Hedman

Lately it has seemed like every time I turn around, someone is talking about whether or not Splenda is "safe." I have received a number of e-mails from readers asking me why I use Splenda, and why don't I create recipes using all-natural Stevia products. Recently I was accosted at the check-out line by another shopper who insisted that I was poisoning myself! That was an interesting encounter, to say the least.

I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or food scientist. I did take a fair bit of chemistry in college, though. I consider nutrition a hobby, and a very interesting and tasty one, at that. So what follows here is my explanation of why I use Splenda, and what my preferences are for using sweeteners in low carb foods.

I have read Dr. Mercola's anti-Splenda website, and I've also read MacNeil's Splenda site as well. I've enjoyed Jennifer Eloff's Sweety site, which briefly "defends" Splenda; she has written a more in-depth testimonial as well.

So, having read all that, and continuing to read everything that comes out on the subject of artificial sweeteners, here's where I stand. First of all, I was diagnosed several years ago as pre-diabetic, and if I were not already following a low carb diet, my endocrinologist would have put me on one. She warned me quite sternly that if I ever returned to eating the standard American diet, I would develop Type II diabetes. It's not a question of "if," but "when." By controlling my carb intake, I can prevent the disease.

For me, then, the choice to use real sugar or sweeteners is not one I would readily make.

Ideally, I could just walk away from sweets altogether, but I don't have that much discipline. Fortunately, there are low carb solutions to the problem. There are a lot of artificial sweeteners out there, but I principally use Splenda, erythritol, and xylitol.

I understand that Splenda caused some health problems in laboratory animal subjects. However, I also know that the dosage that the animals were given was extreme. I subscribe to the theory, there are no safe medicines, only safe doses. If I were eating 10 pounds of Splenda per week, I'd worry about my thymus — but I'm not. It's a rare week when I consume more than cupful. Another knock I often hear about Splenda is that it's made with chlorine. It helps to keep in mind that ordinary table salt is half chlorine — we have chlorine in our bodies all the time. Yes, chlorine gas is poisonous, but we ingest chlorine in all sorts of things, and frankly, 3 additional chlorine atoms per molecule of Splenda are just not worth getting worked up over, at least to me.

Erythritol and Xylitol are sugar alcohols that are naturally occurring. Both help texture considerably in baked goods, especially. Of all the sugar alcohols, erythritol has been demonstrated to have very little of the dreaded "laxative effect." Xylitol does have some, unfortunately, but it has other properties that make it desirable; see here for more information.

I like to use a combination of sweeteners because they have a synergistic effect, tasting sweeter than their combined volume would seem to indicate. A combination of sweeteners also reduces some of the metallic or "cool" aftertastes that some people detect from artificial sweeteners.

I'm not the type to lecture anyone on which sweeteners they should choose. Personally, I avoid aspartame (I don't like its taste, and besides, it's useless for cooking), and I avoid the more common sugar alcohols like maltitol and lactitol. While they taste very good and yield excellent textures, I simply can't deal with the side effects. I know people who are able to enjoy these sweeteners, though, and I know people who have problems with Splenda-sweetened products. I feel lucky that I don't.

My recipes use different kinds of sweeteners and work well for me. If you would prefer to use a different sweetener, please experiment! The combinations I recommend have yielded successful taste and texture, both of which are very important to me. If you use a different combination, you might not get the same results, but with a little experimentation, you can devise a substitution formula using your favorite sweeteners that works well for you.

The recipe below is quite forgiving regarding sweeteners, because it uses just enough to temper the taste of the fresh lemon. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Lemonade Muffins
12 muffins dry ingredients:

  • 1+1/2 C vanilla whey protein powder (Designer Whey)
  • 2 T Bob's Red Mill vital wheat gluten
  • 2 T oat flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
wet ingredients:
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1+1/4 C full-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T grated lemon rind OR lemon extract
  • 1/4 C Splenda (or other artificial sweetener, eq. to 1/4 C sugar)
  • Choose one:
    • 2 T erythritol (vanilla) OR
    • 2 T sugar free honey OR
    • 2 T Steel's vanilla nature sweet OR
    • 2 T vanilla sugar free syrup (DaVinci, Torani, etc)
    • 2 additional T Splenda
  • 1/3 C lemon juice
  • 1/3 C Splenda
  • 3 T water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, melt the butter, then stir in the lemon rind, Splenda, and other sweetener; stir to combine. Then add the yogurt and the 2 eggs and beat thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and stir quickly, just to combine. Don't overwork this batter or your muffins will have tunnels.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3rds full. Bake at 325 for about 12 minutes or so, until tops are pebbly-looking and just starting to brown. The tops should spring back when touched, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean. Underbaking is worse than overbaking with these, so watch carefully. (These muffins are not as sensitive to getting dried out because of the glaze.) Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.

While the muffins are baking, combine the ingredients for the glaze in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Stir well to be sure all the Splenda is dissolved.

When the muffins come out of the oven, poke each one two or three times with a fork, and drizzle 2-3 teaspoons of glaze over each muffin.

Best warm, but still quite tasty at room temperature. They can be sticky from the glaze, but that is what makes them so special. These freeze well and reheat just fine in the microwave. This recipe also bakes up nicely in mini loaf pans.

Approximate nutrition information per muffin: 158 calories; 10 g fat; 5 g carbs; 1 g fiber; 11 g protein. These counts will vary depending on the sweeteners you choose; this is the approximate count using all Splenda.

E-mail me with questions, comments, or requests. Thanks!


Copyright © August 2005  Joan Hedman and Low Carb Luxury



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