Since starting this blog, I’ve tried to make an effort to provide something for everyone. I think I’ve said this before, but I don’t think food allergies/sensitivities come in a vacuum. I’ve tried to make a point to provide some soy-free recipes here, some nut-free recipes, some grain-free, corn-free….you get the point. I like to diversify my flours, in case some people can’t tolerate a certain type. Believe me, I know as much as anyone that food intolerances can go beyond the typical and verge on the obscure. I’m allergic to pineapple, for example. Everytime I see a good recipe calling for pineapple, my heart sinks a bit.
But one area where I think I could improve on in the diversification department would be sugar substitutes. I know I’ve used Truvia on here occassionally, but for the most part I’ve been an agave monogomist — rarely straying from this recently controversial sweetener. While I’ll leave the agave bashing (or myth debunking) to the experts, I will say that too much of a good (or bad) thing is probably never good. And too much of one sweetener can’t be good, either.
So, I’ve been doing some experimenting. In my recent transfer to a (more) vegan diet, I’ve sort of eliminated the possibility of raw honey — or honey — as a sweetener. Even if vegans seem to differ on whether honey is acceptable, I’d rather not alienate anyone on a strict vegan diet. It’s also perhaps a bit higher on the glycemic index than I’d prefer, as is maple syrup. Xylitol scares me. I have a dog that eats anything and everything he can get his hands on, and while I make things with chocolate, from what I’ve heard, xylitol can be a lot worse. That leaves a few options, but the most popular, natural alternative would probably be stevia. While I mentioned that I’ve been using Truvia for a few recipes here and there, 1) I found out that bee pollen is used in the processing of erythtritol, which is used in Truvia, which makes it technically not vegan, 2) there is currently no bulk Truvia baking product, which can make things tricky sometimes, and 3) like I said, I like to diversify. So, back to stevia. It’s pretty popular these days. I’ve even received a few requests for some recipes using liquid stevia. But the truth is, my tastebuds, in general, have been rather intolerant of the stuff, so I’ve usually given up on it after a few baking attempts. But after my mom sent me a recent (I’m not sure entirely unbiased or accurate — but still pretty powerful) article about some of the “dangers” of agave nectar, I thought it couldn’t hurt to revisit liquid stevia.
A few of my favorite bloggers provided some inspiration here. These apple pumpkin crumble bars from the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs look absolutely amazing (just be sure to look for certified gluten-free oats in the recipe — and to make sure you can tolerate oats in the first place!), as do these egg-free, grain-free brownies from Kelly over at The Spunky Coconut.
For my inaugural post utilizing liquid stevia, I went with carob muffins. These not-too-sweet muffins are simple, one-bowl operation. Like I said, they are not too sweet, so you may add in a few extra drops of stevia or a few tablespoons of your favorite liquid sweetener here. Or, alternately, you might try really ripe mashed bananas in place of the applesauce. I was going for a not-so-high-sugar fruit as bananas here, but if you want to use bananas I’ve tried carob muffins with banana before and think it’s the perfect combination.
Yield: 9 muffins
Stevia-Sweetned Carob Muffins:
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup unsweetened carob powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce or mashed, ripe banana
2/3 cup almond milk or other dairy-free milk
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon + 3 drops liquid stevia, or more to taste
chopped, raw pecans for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sorghum flour, potato starch, flax, carob, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
3. In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together until incorporated.
4. Drop batter by heaping 1/4 cups into a pre-greased muffin tin. Sprinkle tops with a few pecan pieces. Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until tops bounce back when pressed down upon. Let cool in tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.