Today is day 3 of my no-artificial-sweeteners-for-a-month challenge, let’s see how long I can last ;-) Besides foreseeing that I’ll increasingly miss chewing gum and intra-workout BCAAs, I think it’ll be an exciting exercise because, as you can see from this recipe, it calls for extra creativity ;-) I should mention that I’m taking the challenge for fun, to see if I can do it (he things I won’t make it past two weeks) and to see what recipes this whole experience springs forth. I’m not doing it because I in any way think that sugar substitutes are deleterious and ultimately noxious to human health. I think that painting all ‘artificial’ sweeteners with a TOXIC brush and stamping them with a skull and crossbones is unwarranted. I don’t think there’s solid data to back sugar substitutes like sucralose (e.g. Splenda), xylotol, and powdered stevia (i.e. the processed white stuff that’s so far removed from the leaf) as harmful when taken in the small quantities we usually do (in, say, our protein powders and related supplements.) As Paracelsus wrote more than 500 years ago, ‘dosis sola facit venenum’ – ‘i.e. the poison is in the dose’! (cf. Risk Reporting 101.)
Incidentally, The New York Times published an article about sweeteners a couple of weeks ago (check it out here.) I always enjoy reading the ‘comments’ section of these types of articles. I find that they provide a good way of gauging the pulse of popular views and opinions. If we look at the comments from both articles, we notice a clear divide – between those trumpeting sweetener-freedom as the apotheosis of a healthy lifestyle and those forcefully arguing that, all things considered, sweeteners are the lesser Evil (with The Evil here being Sugar due to its indisputable link to obesity and related diseases). “What about Science, what does Science have to say?” you may be thinking (along with “who cares about people’s comments?” and “mainstream newspapers articles should never be approached as the alpha and the omega of scientific information!”) Well, this is where the issue becomes more complicated because you’ll find one group proving one thing and another proving the opposite in the context of various individual sweeteners. We also have the sweetener and anti-sweetener (aka sugar) lobbies, always trying to sweeten research to their favor (cue in Money, the Ultimate Sweetener, huh?)
The conclusion that most black-and-white-thinking people reach is this: “limit or eliminate your consumption of sweet things, sugared or artificially sweetened because, since we can’t be sure if we’re winning the game, we might as well not play.” I personally don’t agree with this view because I think it all boils down to amounts. I think that, in the context of flavored protein powders, sweeteners like powdered stevia, sucralose, and xylotol and fine (for MOST people of course because there are those who objectively do not react well to them at all). I also think that I have a sweet tooth I’m not willing to put down ;-) I like cake, pancakes, cookies, puddings, chocolates, etc/ and derive strong waves of pleasure from sweet things (as this blog makes pretty obvious, hehe.) So, for me, I’ll take my protein powders as sweetener no problem (barring aspartame-containing powders because I think the research against the use of aspartame is pretty solid) instead of sugar and, when possible, cook with fruit instead of either (mostly to inject some nutritional POW! to my protein cakes et al). I’ll do this, of course, once this month is over ;-) Thanks to this challenge, this month will show you (and me!) ideas and recipes about how to bring some sweetness and fun into a sweetener-free life (it’s one of the beauties of elimination really, that you suddenly find yourself thinking even more outside the box!) Bear in mind you can follow my unsweetened protein recipes with sweetened powders too; just tweak them accordingly and BOOOOOOOOM, you’re set ;-)
1. Mixed together and rolled into eight balls.
2. After mixing the above, I melted 30 grams of 100% chocolate (sugarless entirely) and dipped each ball in there until all were fully coated. I then sprinkled some cocoa on top of them and put them in the freezer for thirty minutes until BOOM: the chocolate hardened up and oh, la, la, la they were ready. Unless you’re taking the challenge with me for fun, you can obviously try this recipe using chocolate or whey protein powder.
Macros per Serving (out of 8):
2.9g carbs (0.7g sugars)
1.3g fat (1.5g sat)
The end product is kind of like a protein bar in protein truffle (TM) form – sticky and oatful inside, with banana undertones from the Bench Pressed Oats and a sweetness from the mulberries that I find goes very well with dark chocolate. If you’d like to keep the truffles gluten free, you can sub the oats with ground almonds or add in some vanilla protein powder in there instead! Ah, let the sweetener-free fun continue!