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Wenmin

Gluten Free Sugar Substitute?

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I am battling with pre-diabetes right now and would like to know what gluten free sugar substitute is best to use. I realize the holidays are right around the corner and would like to be prepared when the time comes to start baking. I do remember early in my diagnosis, trying a sugar sub at my mom's house and felt really bad after. Not real sure if it was the sugar substitute or something else that got me. I have access to many different kinds of substitutes, but not real sure which ones are gluten free. Please help!

Wenmin

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I am battling with pre-diabetes right now and would like to know what gluten free sugar substitute is best to use. I realize the holidays are right around the corner and would like to be prepared when the time comes to start baking. I do remember early in my diagnosis, trying a sugar sub at my mom's house and felt really bad after. Not real sure if it was the sugar substitute or something else that got me. I have access to many different kinds of substitutes, but not real sure which ones are gluten free. Please help!

Wenmin

First off I don't know of any sugar substitutes that contain gluten. Yes there is glucose syrup that is sometimes made of wheat. But you wouldn't be using that if you are trying to cut the carbs.

Do beware of sugar alcohols such as mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, pretty much anything ending in "ol". They can have a laxative effect.

Also realize that a sugar substitute is going to alter the end ingredient. Splenda is the one generally used for baking because it can take high heat. But the best results would be a mix of 1/2 Splenda and 1/2 sugar. But if you're going to do that you are only slightly cutting back on the carbs. For most baked goods the flour you use is going to add so many carbs it may not be doable for you. Cheesecake is one thing I've been told does well with a sugar substitute and you can make it crustless or use a nut crust.

I have tried several times to make sugar free cranberry sauce. I just didn't like it. It came out as a strange pinkish color and didn't taste anything like the canned stuff I am used to.

I have diabetes. I don't eat a lot of sweets. I don't really like most of them. But if I am going to eat them, I just have one bite or a very small amount of the real thing. That to me is better than a whole serving of something made with a sugar substitute that just isn't good tasting.

My daughter has essentially what is pre-diabetes even though the Dr. didn't call it that. She has mostly given up sweets. She did get a couple of pre-made gluten-free cheesecakes that are a single serving. If she wants one of those she will cut back elsewhere in the meal on carbs. Or she will eat one as a snack before dance when she is going to be active and burn the carbs off. She will also eat candy by portioning out in very small amounts. Such as 10 Skittles per day.

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I can only recommend Stevia, as it is completely natural, zero carbs, zero sugars, zero calories, and zero on the glycemic index. However, this would apply to only the pure extract. The Stevita brand has a pure extract called Simply-Stevia, which I use exclusively. This product has the highest purity of any Stevia extract I am aware of. It can take high heat, so it is good for cooking and baking.

However, because it is so intensely sweet, you must know how to use it, or you'll likely not get the kind of results you're hoping for. I do not have a sweet tooth, and I find that less than half a teaspoon is sweet enough for a recipe which traditionally would have about a cup of sugar. What this means is that you'll have to adjust the recipe to account for the reduced bulk. I don't find this to be a problem, but then I cook and bake entirely from scratch. I'm also not super-picky about the results, as long as it isn't distasteful, which rarely happens.

An example of how one might use Stevia in baking for the holidays would be pumpkin pie. What to use to make up the missing bulk? Well, it's pumpkin pie, ain't it? So why not extra pumpkin? You can also get creative and add some not-so-traditional ingredients. I find lots of things go well with pumpkin.

Another example is apple pie, and this is quite a bit easier since there isn't usually much added sugar to bulk up a traditional apple pie anyway. Depending on the variety of apple you use, you may find it only takes 1/4 tsp or less of Stevia to sweeten the entire pie.

Lastly, I find that a pinch of salt can go a long way in helping the taste when using Stevia as the only sweetener in a recipe. I'm not sure why this is, but I know many traditional sweet recipes have a little salt anyway, so perhaps it's nothing out of the ordinary. I just don't usually add salt unless I find it needs it.

The only sugar which I know is generally safer than sucrose (regular table sugar) for diabetics is fructose, but then that carries its own possible implications, especially if you use it often, or in high amounts. Not something I'd recommend using to any great degree, but since fructose is the primary sugar in most fruits, it cannot be pure evil. Though fresh fruits as found in nature tend to be better balanced in terms of nutrition than confectionery or a purified sugar product. Many fruits have fiber too, which I understand can slow the absorption of sugars, thus reduce the possible blood sugar spike. Agave is said to be relatively low glycemic, since it is primarily fructose. Granulated fructose is also available. But again, I do not recommend using fructose like the typical American uses sugar. That'll surely have health implications.

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This may sound odd, but this tea tastes very sweet to me:

http://www.goodearthtea.com/?page_id=54

and I've considered trying to use it in baked goods to see if it adds sweetness without the sugar.

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Thanks for all ya'll help.

Wenmin

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