According to Patrick, xylitol should be your go-to sugar replacement as it contains 40 percent less calories than normal sugar, has a sweeter taste than most other artificial sweeteners and does not contain any unnatural chemicals, unlike aspartame or saccharine.
Xylose, or xylitol, is found naturally in fruits such as plums, cherries and berries, and is metabolised differently in your body and so will not raise your blood sugar levels in the same way as normal sugar. It is has a low glycaemic load of only 2 GLs, which means it is great for those trying to lose weight.
This sugar substitute has been shown to prevent tooth decay, because it acts as an antibacterial agent. It kills off bacteria which cause cavities and tooth decay, as the bacteria feeding off of xylitol are unable to stick to teeth.
Xylitol can be eaten like regular sugar, sprinkled over foods or added to drinks. Unlike other sweeteners, which break down when heated, it can be used in baking or cooking. The substitution for sugar is 1:1, and you can use it in any recipe that calls for sugar, but because it cannot be metabolised by wheat, it is best not to use it in bread recipes.
If you are going to use xylitol in place of sugar, your body may need time to adjust to it. Start slowly, substituting sugar with xylitol over a two or three week period before switching completely. Patrick urges caution over having too much, as this can re-encourage your sweet tooth.
If you’re looking for a tasty, sweet treat, try the apricot amaretti biscuit recipe below using Patrick’s own brand of Xylitol. These more-ish biscuits have a soft, macaroon-like texture and are perfect as a pudding or with a cup of tea:
Apricot Amaretti biscuits
300g ground almonds
6 tsp almond extract (not artificial almond flavour)
4 organic, free range eggs
1 can of apricot halves in unsweetened fruit juice (or fresh apricots in season), drained
3 good handfuls of flaked almonds
- Preheat your oven to 180oC and line a baking tray.
- Combine the ground almonds, xylitol, cornflour, almond extract and eggs and mix thoroughly until smooth. Spoon into a lined baking tray and smooth out.
- Lightly press the apricot halves evenly into the base then sprinkle the flaked almonds on top.
- Bake for around 20-25 minutes, until the top is light golden (check after 20 minutes).