How much sugar is in your diet? Have you ever considered using a sweetener instead? Would you try this incredible cheesecake recipe?
Last week saw me head to Aveqia in London with some of the UK’s top foodie bloggers, including Mel (Le Coin de Mel), Emma (Free From Farmhouse) and Pippa (The Slimming Foodie) after being invited to attend a special cookery school event with Splenda.
I’ve heard of Splenda before, but never tried it or knew much about it, so I was really looking forward to the event.
Set in the beautiful teaching kitchens at Aveqia, we found out about the background history of Splenda before meeting the lovely Helen Bond (Registered Dietician) who educated us all on sugar facts and misconceptions, and then low-calorie sweeteners and how Splenda was born.
A sugar free revolution
It’s fair to say that a lot of people are beginning to worry about the amount of sugar that is in their food (myself included) and wanting to reduce their consumption in their diet. We’re being told daily to be more conscious of the amount of sugar we consume, and going sugar free is one of the biggest trends to hit the food industry this year!
Interestingly, we have naturally evolved to have a sweet tooth, we’re not born with one! If you think about what is deemed as the natural weaning process, sweet foods make an appearance very early on. So, it’s completely understandable that we would all lean towards sweeter food as a result. And because of this, sugar has become big business!
As part of our discussions, we learned that in the Philippines, when weaning babies, savoury is the primary introduction for food. This is to ensure that sweet food doesn’t become the first option. It makes complete sense to me, and something I would love to see happen here.
We also learned that free sugars, as in those that are added to our foods, are linked to extra calorie intake and also tooth decay and it is this that we should be focusing on cutting down in our diets!
As an example, there are roughly 16 kcals in a teaspoon of sugar, whereas in a Splenda mini (the tiny pellet) there are 0kcals!
In terms of our daily diets, it’s advised that we can have up to 30g of free sugar. But realistically, when you start to add up the food and drink you consume throughout a day more often than not you will have consumed more, especially if you add sugar to tea/coffee. Unlike allergy advise which is easier to interpret on food labels, sugar content is much harder to read, not least because it comes under many different guises.
We can take simple steps to improve our sugar intake which will have a positive impact on our diets, such as swapping 1 teaspoon of sugar in your tea/coffee for Splenda. This alone will save you 20 calories and 5g of added sugars.
Why is it so important to be aware of sugar content?
It is well documented that added or ‘free sugar is known to be bad for our health. And this can be due to it causing obesity, type 2 diabetes or even dental disease. By consuming low calorie sweeteners such as Splenda, it can help reduce the risk of dental caries, and also aid the process of cutting down on ‘free sugars’ but still satisfying a sweet tooth.
Sucralose is what Splenda starts off with, 3 molecules are changed and at this point it becomes an artificial sweetener and no longer has a negative effect on teeth and so on.
Classic queries surrounding artificial sweeteners causing cancer were raised, and the team were quick to respond with confidence, citing studies that have been conducted to dispel this myth. It certainly reassured me.
The message Splenda is giving is to try to help people reduce their sugar content. And it’s not a quick fix, as it can take 2-3 months to realistically reduce consumption levels successfully. It’s not as simple as going cold turkey, you have to reduce the amount of sugar slowly.
The Splenda products
We got to see the original granulated Splenda sweetener, the mini and also the liquid sweetener. Now for anyone with a milk allergy, please be advised that the liquid version does contain lactose so would be unsuitable.
However, the others would be suitable. It does state a ‘may contain’ warning of milk on the packaging for the granulated sweetener and I’m seeking clarification from Splenda as when I questioned the manufacturing methods, it turned out that it is manufactured in a separate part of the factory to the liquid product, and none of the ingredients used contain milk. As soon as I have confirmation I shall update this information!
The liquid sweetener can be used hot or cold, and can be drizzled over porridge, stirred in cold drinks such as a frapaccino, or stirred into natural yoghurt! It can even be used to make lemonade too!
As an avid baker, I found it fascinating to discover that you can’t base recipes on weight when it comes to using Splenda as it is significantly lighter than sugar. To give an idea, the cheesecake recipe we sampled had just 6 tablespoons of Splenda, compared with 200g of sugar.
Cooking with Splenda
We had the pleasure of meeting Splenda’s Consultant Recipe Developer, Amy, who had baked the following treats for us to sample:
- Cherry Almond Crumble Muffins
- Peanut Butter Jammy Dodgers
- Dark Chocolate, Orange & Stem Ginger Cheesecake
Amy’s top tips for cooking and baking with Splenda included:
- Adding Splenda to a recipe after sieving flour as it can’t be sifted
- Using slightly more liquid than normal as it’s more absorbent than sugar
- Being smart with your ingredients to give the golden baked colour, such as the peanut in the jammy dodgers
- Adding extra fruit to recipes where appropriate to give additional moistness
The samples were all delicious, and I was particularly impressed with the cheesecake. So much so, I asked Amy if I would be able to share her delicious cheesecake recipe for you all to try, and she very kindly agreed. I have adapted it slightly to make it more free from friendly!
Dark Chocolate, Orange & Stem Ginger Cheesecake
A deliciously rich and creamy cheesecake, with warming overtones from the ginger and comforting flavours from the orange and chocolate!
You will need:
For the base:
- 55g dairy-free butter - melted
- 200g gluten and dairy-free digestive biscuits
- 1 tsp ground ginger
For the cheesecake:
- 400g dairy-free cream cheese
- 150g dairy-free cream
- 6 tbsp granulated Splenda
- 20g cornflour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- x2 egg replacer - made up (either Orgran or whipped chickpea water)
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 50g stem ginger - very finely chopped
- 75g dark dairy-free chocolate - finely chopped
- Fresh/ Roasted orange slices - to garnish
Preheat the oven to 160c/ 320f/ Gas 3 and then grease a 20cm deep and loose bottomed cake tin, and line with grease proof paper.
Place the biscuits in a food processor and blitz until they look like fine crumbs, before tipping into a large bowl along with the melted dairy-free butter and ground ginger. Stir until well combined.
Spoon the crumb mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth until level, pressing down firmly with the back of a spoon to ensure an even finish. Place in the fridge to firm up whilst making the cheesecake mix.
Add the dairy-free cream cheese, cream, granulated Splenda, cornflour and vanilla extract to a large bowl and whisk until fully combined. Then add the egg replacer a little bit at a time, stirring well after each addition before finally adding the orange zest, stem ginger and chopped dark chocolate.
Carefully fold into the mixture before pouring the mixture over the biscuit base.
Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave to cool with the door closed for 10 minutes, then with the door slightly ajar for a further 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature and then set in the fridge overnight.
Garnish with the sliced orange if desired before serving.
NB: This article is in collaboration with Splenda but all opinions are my own!