You already know that sugar is bad for you and can cause weight gain, diabetes, and obesity. But did you also know that, according to recent research, eating too much sugar may lead to heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses? (To learn more, pick up a copy of the August issue of MJ and see "Is Sugar the New Tobacco?" on page 44.) Worse still, sugar is in almost all manufactured and prepared foods – not just the obvious ones like ice cream, candy, and cake, but crackers, cereal, energy bars, bread, salad dressing, and thousands of other products, too. Now, finding crackers, cereal, and salad dressing without sugar is fairly easy – there's no sugar in Triscuits, after all – but getting sugar-free cookies, muffins, banana bread, and cakes (that actually taste good) is another story. Until now.
Truvia, an all-natural, low-calorie sweetener, has just launched a new Baking Blend, which works and tastes like sugar, but has fewer calories and none of the health consequences. Truvia is made from stevia, a plant native to South America that is naturally sweet, and contains no artificial or chemical sweeteners like those found in Splenda, Equal, and Sweet'N Low. Just substitute half the amount of sugar called for by a recipe with Truvia Baking Blend – since stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than regular table sugar, you don't need to use as much. And while foods foods baked with Truvia won't taste exactly the same as when they're baked with sugar, they taste surprisingly similar, and many testers, including this one, prefer the more subtle sweetness the Baking Blend gives dishes. Better yet, foods baked with Truvia contain 75 percent fewer calories per serving. Truvia's Baking Blend also doesn't have a bitter aftertaste, as many stevia products and other baking blends made from artificial sweeteners do. [$7; truviastore.com]