October 8, 2007
Just Like Sugar - Only Better
For several months now, I've been hearing of a new sweetener hitting the market - not an artificial one, but a natural sweetener made from chicory and orange peels. The concept intrigued me, so I found out this sweetener's name - Just Like Sugar - and decided to try it for myself. The first thing I did was go to their website, www.justlikesugarinc.com, and do a little research into their ingredients. Surely, nothing can be as good as the comments I've been hearing. What about people with diabetes? Spice Williams-Crosby, the body-building actor, stuntwoman and food-combining vegan featured in Sweet Remedy, has a diabetic son. She has this to say about Just Like Sugar: "We have experimented Several times with his foods with and without JUST LIKE SUGAR. There Is absolutely NO change in his sugar levels when he uses this Product." Dr. Darren Weissman, DC has this to say about Just Like Sugar and diabetes: “Just Like Sugar goes way beyond its delicious flavor…..people diagnosed with diabetes are stabilizing their blood sugar levels and loving the taste." I was very happy to read this. People with diabetes are so often given the choice of tasteless or harmful sweeteners. While stevia is a tasty option, some people are taken aback by its (albeit natural) aftertaste. I hoped that Just Like Sugar would be devoid of an aftertaste.
I read the ingredient list, expecting to see a long laundry list of unpronounceable additives. Instead I saw only four: chicory root, calcium, vitamin C and natural flavor, orange peel. I was very intrigued by the limited pure-sounding ingredients, but the "natural flavors, orange peel" concerned me. Was the orange peel truly the only "natural flavor"? Or was "natural flavors" covering up something a little less wholesome. Jack Samuels of www.truthinlabeling.org (the extremely MSG-sensitive man who spoke with me sitting at an empty dining table for Sweet Remedy) mentions on his site that natural flavors often contain MSG or create MSG during processing. I certainly didn't want to consume anything with monosodium glutamate, or recommend it to anyone.
So what about harmful ingredients? They must be lurking somewhere, I thought, cautiously. Dr. Russell Blaylock, MD, neurosurgeon featured in both Sweet Misery and Sweet Remedy, must have thought so too. (Skepticism is good. I learned the hard way trusting aspartame to be safe and harmless and consuming the product for twenty years.) Dr. Blaylock put Just Like Sugar to the test: "I had the company test the product independently for the presence of L-glutamate, D-glutamate and aspartic acid, based on concerns about other sweeteners that contain these excitotoxins. The results show that the product is completely free of all three." Thank you, Dr. Blaylock.
Even children with ADD/ADHD, according to Steven Plog, founder of The Results Project, can be helped: "Just Like Sugar is an answer to our prayers. With healthy soft drinks, sweeteners and candy, we'll be able to recommend to all of our child advocates a way to satisfy the kids' sweet tooth without them ending up on prescription drugs."
Well, now I was finally ready to try the sweetener. I live in Tucson, AZ - home of 110 degree and higher temperatures. Currently, it's autumn and the weather was a reasonable 90-95 degrees fahrenheit when I made my first timid attempts at using Just Like Sugar. Naturally, given the climate, I initially tried it in some ICED green tea. My thoughts? Refreshing comes to mind. Just Like Sugar has none of the strong aftertastes of stevia or artificial sweeteners. Its taste is more subtle, providing a natural hint of sweetness which feels pure and cool - at least in iced tea. But what about using Just Like Sugar in baking recipes? After about a week or so drinking Just Like Sugar in green or herbal iced teas, the weather turned cooler and I headed into the kitchen to try my hand at baking. I'm not much of a baker, so I chose an organic mix for hemp brownies with Just Like Sugar frosting and some homemade carob bars from Spice Williams-Crosby's easy chocolate recipe (which is wonderful by the way). Here is a link to it:
I tried making the carob bars first. Pulling a piece out of the freezer once it hardened as the recipe calls for, I took a piece. My first bite was..."yum". It tasted like guiltless decadence. I was amazed. Immediately, I decided to tempt fate further and made the brownies. As soon as they came out of the oven, I popped one in my mouth. Finally, a sweetener which feels good and tastes good. I was thrilled.
I was on my second (or third?) brownie when some friends stopped by. Curious if I was alone in my satisfaction with Just Like Sugar, I offered my friends some brownies and asked them for opinions. "Really good brownies" was the consensus. Next, I gave them a piece of carob. "Excellent. It makes the carob taste incredible" and "Extremely edible" were the comments. Neither the brownies nor the carob bars lasted long.