Ok! I’ve posted a little bit about the fact that I don’t really eat sugar. I could seriously write an entire book on sugar free eating, because I’ve done that much research on it, but I’ll try not to bore you. However, if a sugar free book is something you’d read, let me know.
I first became interested in sugar free baking and cooking when my beloved dad was diagnosed with diabetes. I’m a firm believer that no matter what diet restrictions you have, you should still be able to enjoy good food. Then I started to wonder if cutting out sugar would help me lose weight. So I stopped eating refined sugar too, in order to learn more about sugar free baking and cooking. I LOVE cookies, ice cream, and so on – and my favourite food ever ever ever is chocolate. I was re-starting my weight loss journey at the time with a renewed vigor, and I am always up for a challenge, so I figured this would be kind of the ultimate challenge for me.
Little did I know what kind of impact this was going to have on my life. When I first stopped eating refined sugar, it was really really hard for a couple weeks. I had no idea I was so addicted to sugar! I had the worst cravings for it.
During this time, I instead ate fruit when I wanted something sweet. I also experimented a little bit with using dates, bananas, and other fruits to make raw food desserts, all of which I loved. I got stevia to sweeten my tea and coffee with.
After a couple weeks, I noticed that I no longer had cravings anymore! It was so much easier to maintain a healthy diet when I wasn’t craving cookies every five seconds. I was still eating plenty of fruit and making raw chocolate, but I wanted to try making pancakes and baked goods sugar free. Back then, most stevia came in a very concentrated powder – there was only one brand that made a variety of stevia that could be used the same way as sugar in baking – NuNaturals Stevia Baking Blend Powder. Now, there’s tons more, like Stevia in Raw, and you can even get stevia here in the UK now. It’s great how far things have progressed in only 2 years.
Eventually I ran into another problem – there wasn’t (and still isn’t, as far as I know) a stevia based sugar free version of maple syrup. There are sugar free maple syrups, but all of them are made with sucralose. I’m actually not super-duper anti artificial sweetener – I think a little splenda every once in a while isn’t going to kill you. However, the main problem with splenda aside from the fact that its an artificial sweetener and some people have a negative reaction to it – is that it’s made from sugar and therefore, eating it will not curb sugar cravings the way replacing sugar with stevia does. Additionally, sugar free syrup (splenda or otherwise) is not nearly as readily available here in the UK as it is in America. So I decided I wanted to figure out a way to make stevia syrup at home – at least that I could use in baking!
I found a few recipes and while I have not experimented with them all, I’ve found one that works, that I adapted from this steviva recipe. I reckon eventually some company will make a commercially available maple syrup that’s made with stevia and not sucralose… but until then here’s my recipe.
Stevia Maple Syrup
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- 1 tsp liquid stevia, preferably NuNaturals brand
- 2 tsp maple extract (I used this one from Amazon)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
Please note: The brand of stevia you use in this recipe will have a big impact on the flavor. NuNaturals brand tastes the best. I’ve also made this with the Whole Foods brand and the results were… ok, but not as yummy. If you would prefer to use a granulated brand of stevia, try the original recipe I adapted this from.
Method: In a bowl or pyrex measuring jug, mix the water, maple extract, and liquid stevia. Using a whisk, very slowly add the xanthan gum. You can use a sifter if you have one. I found it very difficult to avoid lumps – but they don’t impact the flavor, so I just let them be!
Transfer to a bottle and use on pancakes (or on the Fronch Toast from Vegan with a Vengeance, like I did above!).
In other mofo news…