Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ah, Sugar, Sugar. (Substitutes)

Slow but steady, right? I'm down 9.5lbs ** after about a month and a half of adjusting my low-carb regimen. That;s great, but I'm impatient. I want to lose more and faster. Recently, I chatted with someone on another social network and he reminded me to up my fats, lower the carbs, and adjust the proteins. I know that he is right because I've been reading other info and trying to head in that direction.

Getting more fat into my diet isn't too hard because I am in love with the new butter I've been using in my coffee. It's from KerryGold brand and it's from grass-fed cows. (And, yes, I remember being a little side-eye-ish about this a minute ago!) I still need to get more fat into my diet, but I'm working on it.

Losing some of the protein isn't a hardship, at least, not mentally. My problem is I haven't been diligent about thinking out my meal plans. Grabbing some bacon, pork, or beef is so easy when you haven't thought about side dishes and all that.

The hardest thing is ditching more carbs. Giving up pasta, bread, crackers, chips, and cookies bothers me not one bit. Those were never my weakness. It's my coffee creamer that I'm mourning. Every kind of creamer I like (and there are only a few) are loaded with carbs - especially because I drink more than a tablespoon per cup. A tablespoon's worth of creamer might as well be no creamer at all. It's like all foreplay and no sex. It's like only getting to watch someone make a cake and not getting even a taste. It's like when you dream you grabbed a handful of money only to wake up clutching empty air. It's- Never mind. I think you get what I mean.

Anyway, I've been trying to jazz up my coffee with lots of cream and different extracts. Vanilla is a favorite. Also, since I never did like table sugar in my coffee but still want something to sweeten it, I've been trying various sweetening substitutes.

Let's take a look at the different ones and why I do or don't like them or can't use them:

Brown Sugar
Love brown sugar in my coffee and, if I just have to ditch more carbs, I will start back using a bit of brown sugar mixed with whole heavy cream as a backup. (By the way, this explains the differences in light/golden and dark brown sugars.) Here are two different brand nutrition labels:

This one is the Bakers & Chefs Light Brown Sugar label. Note the 4 carbs per teaspoon. Teaspoon, ~sigh~

This one is the C&H brand of golden brown sugar. Same carb count. Same sad face for me.

Y'all know I love my honey, but it's not a great coffee sweetener. At any rate, I've been abstaining until I can get into good keto, but I am never giving up my honey full-time. I still use it on my mouth when I feel a cold sore itch trying to start (and I haven't restocked my Abreva since I started using honey instead). Just in case someone wants to use honey in their coffee (and definitely in tea), I'm including it here. There are too many types of honey to show labels for, so I'm going to show a common raw brand that I love.

By the way, those carbs? Those massive, massive carbs? That's typical for honey. Trust me, I try not to even lick my lips when I dab on some for a honey scrub or to treat a cold sore.

Blackstrap Molasses
First: ick. When I first started using 'strap to treat my low energy, the one way I couldn't stand it was in my coffee. The taste is too much. Like with honey, I am temporarily abstaining but when I do take 'strap, I put it in vanilla soy milk. As you can see, it's high carb but that's for a tablespoon, not teaspoon. Still, in coffee, ick.

I have never, ever liked Splenda. Ever. My sister and most of my friends choose this for an artificial sweetener. I just can't handle the after-taste. Also, I hate the powder that puffs up when you open a packet. Just. Gross.

The other thing that bothers me is when I check the ingredients label, I see what someone just warned me about today. What's listed is Dextrose, Maltodextrin, and Sucralose.

I've heard that these can be just as bad as regular sugar if you're really, really watching carb intake. Also, dextrose = saccharine which reminds me of that nasty liquid stuff my mother used way back in the 70's. Ick. Maltodextrin is glycemically high (and I just made that word up, btw). Sucralose seems to be what gives Splenda it's "flavor", so ick.

Okay, so now that I have grumped and griped about those choices, let me share some other substitutes I've tried recently.

I won't go into it much because I talked it to death in this post. I will say that I am learning a little more about sugar alcohols and all that.

As you can see it is not carb-free, just low-carb. Pay attention to that one ingredient of 3 grams in the photo on the left. Now notice the ingredients listed in the photo on the right? Hold on to that for a minute.

We'll get to that in a moment

Just Like Sugar
I already talked about this in a post here. I like the taste (or lack of aftertaste), but I have to use too much to get any flavor. The stuff is too pricey to use so heavily. Also - and this is bigger for me - I am having trouble deciphering the carb counts.

Is it NO carbs or is it 4 carbs???

Another thing is that that there are nutrition label differences between the "tabletop" and jar versions. I submitted the questions about this to Amazon community and, usually, the Seller will chime in with an answer. Not so in this case.

Now this is a sugar substitute I can get down with. There are 2 ingredients listed on the package.

Of course, I'd like this one the most. Look at the carb count...

Another thing I'm wondering about: what exactly are those "natural flavors"?

The best thing about Swerve is that, like Just Like Sugar, it really tastes a lot like table sugar right out of the bag. I did the finger-dip test to figure that out. There's none of the metallic 'twang' that is common with a lot of substitute sweeteners. But, then again, those carbs. If I want to enjoy my coffee, I have to choose between a teaspoon of this or a tablespoon of Almond Joy creamer. (I never use sweetener when I use the creamer anyway because it's sweet enough.) I have to say that I do like using this if I'm just adding butter and heavy cream to my coffee. Next time I make fat bombs, I'm going to try this on a few of them.

I mentioned that we'd talk about one of the ingredients in Truvia. Well, let's talk about this erythritol that is also found in Swerve. (I've heard that substitutes are often combined because doing so enhances their individual sweetness.)

The big positive of this one is that it seems so much sweeter than the other 'fakes'. The negative is that it does have a sort of back taste that sticks to my throat, but only if I use too much. Basically, this one is great if you are careful about measurements. I think it will be the best one to cook or bake with.

Once again, though, check that carb count...

 One last thing: according to the info panel on the back, Erythritol is "derived from non-GMO corn". I need to get my facts on this but, for some reason, I thought "corn" products were not great.

If you want more information about sweeteners, make sure you check out the Sugar and Sweetener Guide. I bookmarked the site so that I can go over and do some reading. Everything sugar is covered - even the history of sugar - and there are links to even more information.

For now, I have to tell you that I am alternating between the substitute sugars. It depends on what day it is. Also, I have been treating myself occasionally by using sweetened condensed milk in my coffee. This is a nice cheat as long as I make a teeny-tiny cup of coffee and add some heavy cream to break up the acidity of the brew. The label on sweetened condensed milk?

So, there you go. I hope this little rundown on the different sugars is helpful


** Today, it's official: I'm down 10 pounds!