It sounds like I’m being my usual sarcastic self but there’s a sad ring of truth to the above noted statement. My paternal grandmother almost went into a diabetic coma a few years ago and my dad has been dealing with type II diabetes for the past decade. Given the amount of sugar I eat on the regular and the fact that no matter how often I say I’m going to start exercising, I never do, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that I’ll be a type II diabetic someday.
Soooo…I tell myself everyday that I’m going to cut back on my sugar intake. I’ve started looking into and using different types of sugars and sweeteners. I always scale back the amounts in my baked goods. I’ve used coconut sugar (love) and Zulka Morena sugar (double love). I’m not a scientist and I still have lots of research to do, so I won’t pretend I know what I’m talking about by giving you the blow by blow on the benefits of these different sweeteners.
I follow my sweet friend Brandi’s awesome blog, The Healthy Flavour. This girl is everything I aspire to be. She’s a loving mom and wife who, both out of necessity and choice, lives an admirable healthy life style. She cooks mostly vegetarian foods and all of her recipes are to die for. She made these incredible chocolate espresso almond cookies that I’ve been meaning to try and she used Xylitol in them. I commented on her post and Xylitol Canada reached out to me, asking if I wanted to sample the sweetener myself.
They kindly sent me a care package, with a bag of sweetener, mints and chewing gum. So what have I learned?
There’s a bit of controversy on the interwebs about this product. Pros include the fact that it’s made from plant fibres – according to Xylitol Canada, the vast majority of Xylitol on the market is imported from China, made from corn, or both (not good). Instead, Xylitol Canada produces its Xylitol entirely from North American grown hardwood trees which is definitely admirable. Xyolitol is known for being a natural insulin stabilizer since it’s slowly absorbed by the body and doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar. It’s also tooth friendly since it doesn’t feed cavity-causing mouth bacteria (it also won’t feed yeast so you can’t use Xylitol to bake bread).
Some cons: don’t eat too much of it since it can cause stomach upset. Xylitol Canada’s website warns that “excessive use might cause a mild laxative effect which resolves as the body’s enzymatic activity adjusts” so good for them for acknowledging that. Xylitol is fatal to dogs so I’ve got to keep this stuff far away from my little Abby, who will eat anything.
I tested it on my finger and it’s definitely not as sweet as regular sugar. It also had a cooling effect on the tongue and no weird aftertaste like other sweeteners. I used it in these coffee muffins and it did a great job.
I’m grateful for the sample Xylitol Canada sent me and the opportunity to learn and judge for myself. I’m not going to tell you, my dear reader, whether you should use this or not. I think the jury’s still out but it’s good to know there are sugar alternatives that are made from natural sources and are gluten-free and GMO-free like Xylitol.
There’s only half a cup of sugar in this recipe, which made 18 muffins. That’s a pretty good sugar to muffin ratio in my opinion!
Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook’s Big Beautiful Muffins)
1 1/2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1/2 cup Xylitol sweetener
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 packets of Starbucks VIA coffee (or 3 tbsp instant espresso)
1 1/2 cups sour cream (or yogurt) *Note: I only had 1 1/4 cup sour cream and supplemented the rest with buttermilk. The muffins turned out fine*
2 large eggs
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ground flax and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, eggs, oil and instant coffee. Gently fold the liquid mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. It’s going to be a thick batter so make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl in order to fully mix the batter. Add your chocolate chips.
Use a large ice cream scoop or spoon to divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until golden and a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
These were perfectly serviceable, tasty, everyday kind of muffins. Not the most glowing of descriptions but you know what I mean – they’re good to eat every morning with your cup of coffee or tea. Not too sweet, with a full, lush coffee flavour. I found that they were best in the first two days after baking. Left any longer at room temperature and they dried out considerably. If you’re not going to eat them all within the first few days, I’d recommend freezing them.
Disclosure: I received the above noted products from Xylitol Canada to review. All opinions are my own.