New Sweetener Gets Rave Reviews And A Recipe For Almost Magic Cookie Bars

The food industry is all in on this one! Allulose is made by the British company, Tate and Lyle. It has been available in the UK since 2015, but because the FDA counted it as sugar on labels, American food manufacturers wouldn’t use it.

Almost Magic Cookie Bars, photo by Judy Barnes Baker, © 2021

When I started a low-carb diet there were very few options for sugar substitutes, but back then the USDA told us that fat was the enemy; sugar was fine and everyone, even those with diabetes, needed it. (At one point, they even suggested that hard candy was a healthful substitute for fat!) The 2021 dietary guidelines still warn against saturated fat and salt, but they now say children under 2 should get no added sugar and everyone else should have 10% or less of their calories as added sugar without mentioning the fact that all digestible carbs turn to sugar, not just those that are “added.” (The label on a 5-pound bag of sugar can truthfully claim that it has “no added sugar!”) USDA modifies sugar guidelines — but only for children under 2 | 2021-01-13 | Candy Industry In spite of what the USDA says, ordinary people know that sugar is not good for us and they want sugar replacements that taste good and perform like sugar.

Allulose

The food industry is all in on this one! Allulose is made by the British company, Tate and Lyle (the one that introduced Splenda). It has been available in the UK since 2015, but because the FDA counted it as sugar on labels, American food manufacturers wouldn’t use it. (It is a natural sugar, but one that your body eliminates before it gets used for energy or stored as glycogen or fat.) Now that the labeling rules have changed, we are seeing a bumper crop of new products that use it. Keep reading for my new recipes for Almost Magic Cookie Bars and Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk, below.

Allulose is one of several sugar substitutes that taste like regular sugar, but unlike the others, tests have actually shown it to have health benefits, including the ability to reduce blood sugar by about 10%.

“…Human trials showed that d-allulose attenuates postprandial glucose levels in healthy subjects and in borderline diabetic subjects. The anti-hyperlipidemic effect of d-allulose, combined with its anti-inflammatory actions on adipocytes, is beneficial for the prevention of both obesity and atherosclerosis and is accompanied by improvements in insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance…

Rare sugar d-allulose: Potential role and therapeutic monitoring in maintaining obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus – ScienceDirect

This is good news for most people, but anyone who is at risk for hypoglycemia may need to be careful with it until they see how they react. It is possible that it might alter the effect of medications for diabetes that lower blood glucose levels and for steroids, like prednisone and hydro-cortisone, that ramp up gluconeogenesis to prevent low blood sugar. Also, those who suffer from digestive issues caused by fermentable carbohydrates will need to start with a small amount of Allulose until they see how it affects them. It may cause some digestive distress for those who are especially sensitive, but the effects are said to be temporary and less severe than those caused by sugar alcohols. The manufacturer suggests using no more than about five teaspoonfuls a day.

I have been using Allulose for several years and I can confirm that the hype is justified.  (It is in my Ice Cream Perfection recipe from 2017.) I usually combine it with other sugar subs, which can improve the results in many sweet recipes, while reducing the likelihood of side effects.

Different sugar replacements have specific pros and cons so a combination that can be customized to take advantage of each one’s properties is especially desirable. Erythritol has become the most popular choice for sweeteners with bulk because it doesn’t cause digestive distress, like gas and bloating, the way some sweeteners do. It works well for making things crisp and it will caramelize, but it has a few major disadvantages: it has an odd, cooling taste; it tends to crystallize and make foods turn grainy; and it is only 70% as sweet as sugar.

Allulose excels for its ability to absorb liquids and keep foods moist and creamy, a welcome addition to our arsenal for use in ice cream, sauces, puddings, and marshmallows. (Yes! Marshmallows that melt and brown, as in S’mores!) It also produces a good crumb texture in cakes. It caramelizes beautifully and browns easily, to the point that it can make cakes and cookies look dark even when they are not burned. However, it can’t make anything crisp and even a small amount may inhibit crisping. Both Allulose and erythritol are only 70% as sweet as sugar, so they are often combined with a high-intensity liquid sweetener like stevia, monk fruit, or sucralose so they measure cup for cup like sugar. Alternately, if you want more sweetness, you could just use 30% more. Allulose comes in granulated, powdered, or liquid form.

Products Made with Allulose

We are already seeing a lot of commercial products that include Allulose now that the labeling rules don’t require counting it as sugar. Here are a few (they are still processed foods; so homemade may have advantages):

  • Duncan Hines has a mug-cake-style brownie that has 5 net grams of carbs: Keto Microwave Brownie Mug Cake Cups | Duncan Hines.
  • Legendary Foods makes pop tarts that come in four flavors; the chocolate and strawberry are best IMO. There is a Cinnamon Sugar variety, but I try to avoid commercial products with cinnamon because I’m sure they are all made with cassia, not Ceylon cinnamon, and my liver doesn’t need anything more to detox. The fourth flavor is Birthday Cake, which is thick and doughy, not thin and crisp like pastry.  https://www.eatlegendary.com/collections/pastries.
  • High Key makes a sweetener blend that contains monk fruit, stevia, and allulose. It has 2 grams of erythritol and 1 gram of Allulose per teaspoon that count as 3 grams of carbs from fiber. www.HighKey.com

Recipes

Read more about Allulose


Almost Magic Cookie Bars in the pan, photo by Judy Barnes Baker, © 2021

Do you remember Magic Cookie Bars? They were called “magic” because they were a snap to make: you just layered some goodies on a graham cracker crust, poured a can of store-bought sweetened condensed milk over the top, and baked them. Mine are not quite that magical since sugar-free, sweetened condensed coconut milk is not something you can buy (yet); but they are still very easy to make and blissfully gooey and yummy! (Should I call mine Muggle Cookie Bars?)

Cow’s milk tops the list of the most common food allergies. I used coconut milk instead of dairy in this recipe, but included a dairy option for those who prefer it. Coconut milk tastes good, it has almost no carbs, and it doesn’t spoil as fast as regular milk because the fat it contains is mostly saturated, which is more stable.

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups (125g) blanched almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon (48g) of an erythritol-based blend (one that measures cup for cup like sugar)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup of room temperature coconut oil (for nondairy) or cold butter (for dairy)
  • 1 cup sugar-free chocolate chips,* divided
  • ¾ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 recipe (about 1 cup) of sugar-free Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk (recipe follows), at room temperature.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease bottom of an 8- x 8-inch baking pan or spray with non-stick cooking spray. If using butter, cut it into small pieces and chill.

Put the almond flour, sweetener, and salt in the bowl of a food processer. Pulse until blended. Remove lid and scatter bits of coconut oil or pieces of cold butter over the top. Pulse until it becomes like coarse crumbs. Press into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake at 325° F for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool.

Increase oven temperature to 350° F.

Reserve a few of the chocolate chips for the top and distribute the rest evenly over the cooked crust. Make a layer of coconut next and then a layer of chopped walnuts. Sprinkle the top with the reserved chocolate chips. Pour sugar-free sweetened condensed milk evenly over all. Press down gently on chips, coconut, and nuts with a fork until fully covered. Bake at 350° F for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool and place in refrigerator to chill before cutting.

Serving: 16 servings

Nutrition Information per cookie:
Calories: 232; Fat: 21.8g; Carbs: 5.4g; Fiber: 3g; Protein: 4.2g;
RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalent): 0 mcg

*Sugar-free chocolate chips are available online and in many stores. Here are a few choices, including one sweetened with Allulose and two with no sweetener at all:

  • Lilly’s brand is sweetened with erythritol and stevia.
  • Lakanto brand is sweetened with erythritol and monk fruit.
  • Better Foods makes Alllulose sweetened Chocolate Chips: Sugar Free Mini Chocolate Chips Sweetened With Allulose – BetterFoods Online Shop (shopbetterfoods.com)
  • GoodSam’s chocolate chips, available from Thrive for $7.99, are Allulose sweetened. (Ignore the cookie recipe on the bag; it contains regular sugar and flour—go figure.): https://thrivemarket.com/
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Completely Cacao Chips have no sweetener.
  • Pascha chips also have no sweetener. They have one ingredient, organic chocolate liquor, but I find them to be quite good in these sweet bars.
  • Another alternative is to cut a sugar-free chocolate bar into chips.

Variations

Add other kinds of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to the bars if you like. Dried cranberries with no sweetener are available; they are chewy and tart and would make a nice addition. One brand is here: (http//:www. myberryorganics.com/).  And here is another one that is sold at Fred Meyer: Fred Meyer – Honestly Cranberry Unsweetened Dried Cranberries, 3 oz

Also see: Protein Bars


SWEETENED CONDENSED COCONUT MILK

Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk, photo: Judy Barnes Baker © 2021

Oh, the wonderful things you can do with sweetened, condensed coconut milk! It is well worth the effort to keep a batch at the ready in the fridge. It makes a tasty dip for strawberries, a sauce for puddings, a syrup for pancakes, and it can be used in any recipe that calls for sweetened condensed milk. Poke holes in a low-carb cake and pour it over: Viola!—Tres Leches Cake! It’s also good over hot popcorn. I now make it in double batches.

You could use real cream in this recipe if you tolerate dairy, but not milk, because the lactose (milk sugar) would make it high in carbs. Even if I didn’t have a dairy allergy, I would prefer coconut milk or coconut; it tastes great and it is high in healthful mct oils that break down quickly into ketones to keep your body using fat for energy instead of storing it. Other advantages are that it keeps a lot longer without going rancid and it has no vitamin A, a plus for those of us who are over-loaded with it, like much of the industrialized world. https://www.carbwarscookbooks.com/eureka/

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups non-fortified, non-sweetened coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons of a powdered erythritol blend that measures like sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Allulose
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, ethically-sourced palm kernel oil, or butter or ghee (if you eat dairy)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon konjac powder, as needed

In a wide heavy pan, bring the coconut milk to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep at a brisk simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and the sides of the pan to prevent lumps. It should bubble, but don’t let it come to a full, rolling boil.

When the milk has reduced by half, remove the pan from the heat and add the coconut oil, palm oil, or butter and the sweeteners. Whisk until well blended.

The mixture should be thick and syrupy. To make it thicker, press ¼ teaspoon of konjac powder evenly over the surface of the mixture through a sieve with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Whisk until combined.

Let mixture cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with an additional ¼ teaspoon of konjac powder if it is not thick enough and stir it in. Pour into a jar with a lid and refrigerate. If it becomes too thick after chilling, put the jar in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

Serving: About one cup or 16 tablespoons


Nutrition Data per 1 tablespoon made with Coconut Milk and Coconut Oil (for nondairy):
Calories: 55.9; Fat: 5.9g; Carbs: 0.6g; Fiber: 0; Protein: 0.4g;
RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalent): 0 mcg

Nutrition Data per 1 tablespoon if made with dairy cream and ghee:
Calories: 88.6; Fat: 9.5g; Carbs: 0.6g; Fiber: 0; Protein: 0.6g;
RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalent): 103.8 mcgs

Notes for Sweetened Condensed Milk:

1. Buy full-fat, organic, non-fortified, and unsweetened coconut milk.  Don’t buy the ones listed as beverages or coffee creamers. Aroy-D contains nothing but coconut milk. Trader Joe’s and some other brands are also unsweetened and non-fortified.

2.  LC Foods sells a Sweetened Condensed Milk mix that you reconstitute with cream, not milk, so that is an option for those who eat dairy (be aware that the powdered mix contains milk proteins, though.) https://www.amazon.com/Low-Carb-Condensed-Milk-Sweetened/

3. Gail Borden invented sweetened condensed milk in 1856. (He also invented the lazy Susan and the prairie schooner, a sail-powered wagon). At that time fresh milk spoiled quickly due to lack of refrigeration and was often the cause of food poisoning, especially among infants. To make shelf-stable milk, Borden added sugar to fresh milk as a preservative and used a vacuum evaporator to remove some of the water, a method he learned from the Shakers, who used it to preserve fruit. His product became immensely popular after he started selling it to the Union Army to use as part of their rations during the Civil War.

Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk from Borden

I am not an affiliate of any company and do not receive a commission on product sales.

#Allulose, #lowcarbcookies, #sweetenedcondensedmilk, #magiccookiebars

© 2021, Judy Barnes Baker

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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Justin Marchert
Justin Marchert
3 months ago

Sounds great! I look forward to trying the Almost Magic Bars. 🙂