Last week I was visiting my Naturopath and we were discussing alternative sweeteners. She asked if I had tried Xylitol. I told her I’d heard of it and knew it was good at protecting against cavities but that I had yet to try it. She recommended it and said you could use it one to one in place of sugar. I’m not a fan of artificial sweeteners and am unwilling to use them, however, since xylitol is considered an alternative sweetener, not artificial, I thought I’d give it a try. So, off I trotted to the health food section of Fred Meyer. There a 1 lb bag of Emerald Forest Xylitol sold for $10. And I thought my organic sugar was expensive! Thinking that this was going to make for a very expensive batch of cookies, I plopped down the money and went home to do some research.
I went to www.emeraldforestsugar.com in hopes of getting more information and more recipes. They didn’t have a ton of recipes but I did get a bit more informed on exactly what Xylitol is. I also noticed that they were selling the same 1lb bag for almost half the price I paid. Of course there’s always shipping to add.
The very next day I spoke at a MOPS group about added sugars in food and someone asked specifically about sugar alcohols and if I had an opinion of Xylitol. This prompted me to go home and actually try the stuff so I could give a more informed opinion. I thought I might try the brownie recipe on the Emerald Forest website but then I had an idea!
Lately, to assuage my chocolate cravings I’ve been making a very rich, very dark, and extremely satisfying cup of hot cocoa at night. The original recipe, which I got out of the newspaper years ago, contained double the sugar I currently use so I knew I was really pushing the envelope trying to cut it in half again, only this time substituting Xylitol. My husband loves this hot cocoa and he agrees that less sugar makes it more satisfying. However, he is not usually a fan of my healthifying of treats so, after quietly substituting half of the sugar with xylitol, I slid the steamy mug of hot cocoa in front of him and walked away.
Now, the one thing that Emerald Forest warns against is that too much Xylitol can cause “stomach upset.” Having tried the Atkins diet treats years ago I remember quite well exactly what can happen. It’s not pretty to say the least. So, I thought I’d start small. And my favorite hot cocoa was just the place to start!
I sipped away at my almost pudding like consistency hot cocoa. I couldn’t for the life of me taste anything different, unusual, or after-tasty. It tasted the same. I wondered if it was just me, but there was my husband, fully enjoying his mug of chocolatiness and he wasn’t making any faces or looking at his mug in wonderment.
I let my husband in on my little secret and asked him if he’d noticed anything different. He said he hadn’t and that it tasted the same as usual. Neither of us had any stomach upset that night or the next day. It was a hit!
If you’re looking for a tasty, low calorie treat I highly recommend what Seattle chef and cookbook author, Greg Atkinson dubbed his original recipe “The Best Hot Cocoa.”
Be sure to let me know what you think!
Best Hot Cocoa
1/4 cup dark (european style) cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Extra Dark)
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup xylitol
2 Tbs organic (non-GMO) cornstarch (look for it in the Fred Meyer health food section)
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup water
2 cups milk (I substitute 1 c. with unsweetened almond milk, or unsweetened chocolate almond milk. This cuts down on calories too!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put the cocoa powder, brown sugar, xylitol, cornstarch and salt into a saucepan and stir with a whisk to mix. Add the water and whisk until smooth. Put the pot on the burner over high heat and continue whisking until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil (careful, it globs up fast! So have your milk ready).
- Gradually stream in the milk, whisking all the while. While adding the milk, keep the mixture hot and steamy, just below the boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir gently for 3-5 minutes, or just until the mixture is thickened and beginning to boil. Remove the cocoa from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Ladle into cups and serve immediately. Enjoy!
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