Thursday, 22 October 2015

The sweet things in life don't always need sugar

A year or so ago I had a miraculous recovery from an illness that had us all very worried. A few months before this recovery, I accidently breathed in some moth ball dust and shortly after developed a cough that would not go away. It got worse and worse, to the point that I could not cross the room without having a coughing fit so bad that it would make me pass out. Not good. No one could figure out what was wrong until one day (one dark and miserable day) it dawned on me that it was sugar, or
at least the fructose part of regular sugar that was making me sick.  I refrained from sugar for a day and noticed an immediate change. After the mothball incident there was a change in my throat that caused my throat to swell when I had a lot of fructose. Since having this realisation I have had to be almost completely sucrose and fructose free, but I am cough-free, too.

While I have been ok without sugar, it is times like my birthday where I really want cake. This weekend I decided to experiment with some of the fructose-free alternatives out there and had such a great result I want to share it with you – we will get to that.

Fructose is a monosaccharide found in plants. It is usually bonded to glucose to form a disaccharide called sucrose. Sucrose is what you have in your cupboard in the form of white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, maple syrup, golden syrup etc… There are then other sources of fructose in your cupboard from honey, agave and hidden in lots of products like pasta sauce, mayonnaise and curry pastes – it is everywhere! Refined table sugar (sucrose) starts life as sugarcane and sugar beets. Those plants are processed in hot water to form concentrated syrup which is then crystallised to what you buy from the store. You don’t need sucrose to survive; you do however, need glucose as a ready source of energy to keep our bodies working and you get enough of that from eating plant-based foods. There has been a lot in the media of late about fructose and the bad stuff it does to our bodies. I am yet to meet someone who has the same problem I do, but our fructose consumption is something we all need to think about.

So, if you cut out the fructose, where do you get the sweetness in life from? Stevia is the obvious choice. This weekend I made profiteroles and iced them in chocolate icing made from powdered Natvia (available from the store) and sweetened the some coconut cream with a little Norbu (a monkfruit product). Because the Natvia is so sweet, I used a lot more cocoa than I would normally. The profiteroles were delicious and everyone liked them a lot. Other than the lovely taste, one of the best things was to eat something so decadent and sweet without the sugar rush. If you are cutting out sugar but concerned about missing out on treats like this, it can be done. Over the next couple of months I am going to try new ways to use these fructose-free alternatives to sucrose.
Kia makona,

Mawera Karetai – The Wild Cook x

Profiteroles
•             50g butter cut into cubes
•             75g white flour, sifted with a pinch of fine sea salt
•             2 eggs, lightly beaten
•             few drops vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan. To make the profiteroles, put the butter and in a small pot with 150ml water. Place the pan over a medium heat until the butter has melted, then bring to the boil. Take off the heat, add the flour all at once and beat energetically with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.
Leave to cool for 5 mins, then beat in the eggs bit by bit until you have a stiff, glossy mixture.

Rinse two baking trays with cold water, shaking off any excess so they are slightly damp (this helps the pastry to rise, then line with good quality baking paper. Using 2 teaspoons, spoon balls of the mixture onto the baking trays, or pipe them with a round piping nozzle, in one ball. Then place in the oven and cook for about 18-20 mins until well risen and brown. Remove the profiteroles from the oven and cut a small slit in the base of each one so they don’t collapse. Turn oven off and return to the oven for 5 minutes to dry out the insides. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

To make fructose-free icing:
125gms soft butter
125gms cocoa powder
100gms powdered Natvia
3 Tblsp boiling water
Add butter, cocoa and Natvia to a small bowl. Add two Tblsp boiling water and mix to combine. If the mixture is too thick, slowly add more water, stirring well before each addition.


I piped my profiteroles with whipped coconut cream flavoured with some vanilla and a little Norbu. Using a piping bag, fill your profiteroles through the small hole you made at the bottom and top with chocolate icing.

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