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Monk fruit could soothe fears about artificial sweeteners
Monk fruit is being heralded as the next big sweetener.
A fear of artificial ingredients has had customers turning away from sodas in droves, but experts say a melon might be the key to winning them back.
According to Business Insider, the monk fruit, a sweet green melon about the size of an apple, is being tossed around as the potential source of a natural sweetener with zero calories.
That would be great news for the company that discovers it, and for the soft drink industry as a whole, as people are moving away from diet sodas and towards naturally sweetened juice, teas, and lemonades. Neilsen data shows diet soda consumption fell by 7 percent in 2013, and could drop by 20 percent through 2020.
“We believe we are seeing a fundamental shift in consumption behavior as diet drinkers leave the category altogether,” said Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, to Business Insider.
Stevia was heralded as a potential solution, but its bitter aftertaste has turned some customers off and the natural sweetener has not performed as well as expected. Monk fruit avoids the bitter aftertaste, and if its flavor is perceptible at all it’s usually described as fruity.
While monk fruit has potential as a sweetener, it’s also twice as expensive as stevia, and the fruit is only grown in some regions of China. It also has not yet been approved for consumption in Europe. But some analysts are still saying it could be the best option for the industry.
“The consumer is voting with their taste buds and concern for wellness,” said Ali Dibadj, a soft drink industry analyst at Bernstein. “Investors realize that they have to shift their ingredient base not to be artificial and it is a tough combination to get right.”
Monk Fruit: Our Sweetener of Choice
This article has been written by experts and fact-checked by experts, including licensed nutritionists, dietitians or medical professionals. The information in the article is based on scientific studies and research.
It is designed to be honest, unbiased and objective, and opinions from both sides of an argument are presented wherever there is disagreement.
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Is Whipped Cream Keto Friendly?
If you’re following a Keto or Low Carb way of eating, you don’t have to miss out on your favorite sweet treats and desserts. And that includes whipped cream!
With a very simple swap, every generous serving of 1/4 cup of Keto whipped cream has only 1 net carb! You can’t beat that. You might be wondering how to make whipped cream keto and sugar free. It’s easy!
To make whipped cream Keto friendly and sugar free, simply omit sugar and swap a keto-friendly sweetener.
An Obscure Melon Could Save The US Soda Industry
You won't find monk fruit in any of the soft drinks at your local convenience store. So far, shaky supplies and limited demand have kept the expensive melon on the sidelines of the sweetener industry.
But some experts think the fuzzy green fruit, which ripens to the size of an apple, could be the ingredient soda makers have sought for decades: a natural product with great taste and no calories.
When "someone figures this out and gets a taste that is low-calorie and natural, it could really be a silver bullet that catapults that company ahead," said Ali Dibadj, an analyst at Bernstein who follows the soft drink industry.
Soft drink makers are increasingly desperate for just such a miracle ingredient. Once a booming sector, diet soda has become a laggard. In the United States, consumption fell about 7 percent this year and could shrink by 20 percent through 2020, according to Nielsen data.
Consumers, increasingly wary of the health risks of artificial sweeteners, are ditching diet sodas for juices, teas and naturally sweetened lemonades, according to a recent Wells Fargo analysis.
"We believe we are seeing a fundamental shift in consumption behavior as diet drinkers leave the category altogether," said Bonnie Herzog, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities.
Beverage companies have struggled to hold on to customers amid fears about the safety of FDA-approved aspartame, which has sweetened diet soda for 30 years.
The aspertame debate continues to rage on the Internet, even though the American Beverage Association says the artificial sweetener is safe for consumption.
Five years ago stevia, a low-calorie sweetener made from the leaves of a Paraguayan plant, was heralded as an ideal natural sweetener. But it has had only limited success in the marketplace.
Coca-Cola Co uses stevia in 45 products in 15 countries, including in Coke Life, a low-calorie alternative available in Chile and Argentina. PepsiCo uses stevia in Pepsi NEXT, a low-calorie drink it sells in Australia and France. But customers have complained that stevia's bitter aftertaste alters the sodas' flavors.
Now, some beverage manufacturers are pinning their hopes on monk fruit, which is already used in protein shakes, snack bars and brownies.
This week, Zevia, a premium-brand company based in Culver City, California, introduced a new recipe for its no-calorie sodas sweetened with a blend of monk fruit and stevia. The company's drinks, which sell in 12-ounce cans for about $1 each, were previously sweetened exclusively with stevia, which gave it a bitter kick.
"We feel like we've really cracked the code," said Paddy Spence, chief executive officer of Zevia, which sells its naturally sweetened no-calorie soft drinks at about 16,000 high-end grocery stores in the United States.
"Using the two side by side, we were able to get a higher level of sweetness without the bitterness," said Spence.
Zevia, which was founded six years ago, has seen its sales quadruple in the past three years, to $60 million this year.
"If you do detect any kind of taste, it is a fruity taste, which goes well with soda," said Linda Gilbert, CEO of EcoFocus Worldwide, a consumer research company focusing on green and sustainable trends.
Analysts say the company could be on to something because monk fruit neutralizes stevia's bitter notes.
Coca-Cola, which uses monk fruit in its Core Power protein drink, said it is exploring ingredient options but would not confirm that monk fruit is among them. Aurora Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for PepsiCo, said the company is not considering monk fruit but would not provide further details.
Monk fruit has been consumed for centuries in southern China, especially by the Cantonese, but in recent years it has become popular across the country, where it is marketed in dried form and used to flavor soups and tea, and as a remedy for sore throats.
One gram of the fruit extract replaces eight teaspoons of sugar, allowing consumers to significantly reduce their calorie intake, according to Laura Jones, a global food science analyst at Mintel, a food and drink research firm.
While Procter & Gamble Co. patented monk fruit sugar extraction as a potential substitute for sugar in 1995, it wasn't until BioVicttoria, a New Zealand company, shepherded the fruit through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval process that it became available for mass consumption.
The FDA approved monk fruit for consumption in 2010, and the fruit has no reported adverse side effects.
Monk fruit presents a number of challenges for beverage makers. It is twice as expensive as stevia and is grown only in some regions of China. It's also not yet approved by European regulators for consumption.
Extracting sugar from monk fruit is a long and arduous process that further increases costs.
Meanwhile, Chinese law prevents monk fruit seeds and genetic material from leaving the country, according to BioVittoria, confining production to China.
At BioVicttoria, the fruit's top exporter, monk fruit is bred for maximum sweetness and is hand-pollinated. The company mechanically extracts its sugar content.
As public concern about artificial sweeteners has grown, demand for monk fruit extract has increased. Chobani recently launched a line of its popular Greek yogurt that is sweetened by monk fruit, and this year 91 public schools in Omaha replaced sugar in its flavored milk with monk fruit extract.
Supplies have also steadied since BioVittoria began producing monk fruit extract. The company has deals with local farmers to produce 60 percent of China's yield of 400 million monk fruits, distributed exclusively by global sugar and sweetener giant Tate and Lyle.
Ultimately, big soda companies may have to swallow higher prices to hold on to diet soda drinkers.
"I'm not sure they have much of a choice," said Dibadj, the Bernstein analyst. "The consumer is voting with their taste buds and concern for wellness. Investors realize that they have to shift their ingredient base not to be artificial and it is a tough combination to get right."
(Reporting By Marina Lopes Beijing Newsroom contributed reporting Editing By Jilian Mincer and Douglas Royalty)
When making your own homemade chocolate, I highly recommend using a chocolate melting pot. It melts chocolate at the perfect temperature so it&rsquos always smooth and never burns.
I find that the melting pot is much easier to use than a double boiler. Plus, there&rsquos no boiling water and steam to deal with. Although you can melt chocolate in the microwave, you need to be very careful not to overcook it.
If you don&rsquot already have a Chocolate Candy Bar Mold, you could use an ice cube tray or shape a mold out of aluminum foil. You can also pour it onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking pan.
Adding in a little bit of food grade cocoa butter does seem to give a better texture to these homemade chocolate bars. But, you can experiment with leaving it out if you don&rsquot have any.
Also, the quality of the unsweetened chocolate can make a big difference. So, try different brands to see which one you like best.
Powdered Monkfruit | Vanilla Sweetener
Directions: First, put monk fruit sugar in a high powered blender. Secondly, blend until a powder substance. Be careful when removing the top of the blender as there will be a large cloud of powdered sugar. Remove sugar and place into a glass jar with a lid and store in the pantry.
Powdered Monkfruit Vanilla Sugar
First, put monk fruit sugar in a high powered blender. Second, blend until a powder substance.
Thirdly, cut the vanilla bean in half and remove the seeds from the pod by scraping out the vanilla caviar. Next, pour the powdered sugar into a glass jar with a lid. Put the caviar and the cut vanilla pod into the sugar and stir. Lastly, leave the vanilla pod and seeds in the powdered monkfruit. Let sit for two days. After two days use monk fruit powdered sugar use in any recipe. Don’t remove the vanilla pod.
Americans have a sugar problem. According to the University of California San Francisco, Americans on average consume 17 to teaspoons of added sugar daily. That’s a whopping 25 kg of added sugar per person each year.
Everyone’s concern about sugar consumption has prompted more consumers to look for natural and artificial sugar substitutes with fewer calories.The global artificial sweeteners market is expected to reach its revenue amount of more than $13 million by 2023.
What&rsquos Special about Monk Fruit?
A naturally occurring superfood, monk fruit sweetener is naturally sugar free, low-carb and calorie-free. The sweetener is extracted from the monk fruit, a green melon-like fruit that grows in Southeast Asia. Known as Luó-Hàn-Guǒ, this fruit was cultivated for centuries by Buddhist monks (hence the fruit&rsquos English name!). Monk fruit extract&rsquos sweet flavor doesn&rsquot come from sugar rather, its sweetness comes from a compound called mogrosides, a type of antioxidant. With all of its positive health benefits, no wonder it's our sweetener of choice in all of our flavored drinks!
Maple sugar is maple syrup that’s dehydrated into light brown granules. It adds a rich caramel-maple flavor. It’s high in minerals like manganese, iron and potassium and lower in calories than sugar (30 calories compared to 48 per tablespoon). While one of the pricier sugar substitutes, maple sugar is truly delicious.
Maple Sticky Bun Cake
How to use it: Maple sugar is wonderful when used for homemade granola, in fruit compote or added to coffee. It can be used as a one-to-one replacement for sugar when baking, though you may want to cut it to 3/4 of a cup, because the flavor is really strong. You can use it for everything from brownies and cookies to cakes and pies, as long as you enjoy the taste of maple. Cut any other liquids in your recipe by 2 to 3 tablespoons to compensate.
Ingredients for low carb lemon bars
2. Mix melted butter, 1 cup of almond flour, ¼ cup Lakanto Powdered Sweetener and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Combine and pour into an 8” x 8” pan lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake for 20 minutes and then let it cool (about 10 minutes).
4. In another bowl, combine the fresh juice from 3 lemons (strained of seeds), eggs, ¾ cup Lakanto Powdered Sweetener, ¾ cup of almond flour and a pinch of salt. Whisk together very well to incorporate the eggs.
5. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and bake for 21-23 minutes. The center should jiggle slightly but jiggle all together with the rest of the lemon filling. If you over bake, it will crack. It will still be delicious, however. Allow the bars to cool in the refrigerator for several hours until firm enough to cut into squares.
6. Dust with additional Powdered Monkfruit Sweetener using a small sieve to decorate. Keep stored in the fridge.