Wednesday, 03 February 2016 00:33

The Sweet Life

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While sugar-free baking has become big business in the last couple of years, one enterprising Perth woman was pioneering the movement more than a decade ago. Lara Bailey meets ‘the xylitol lady’ and chats about her exciting new sugar-free recipe collection.

If you’ve tried the sugar alternatives du jour, you’ll    know    that    some    don’t    quite    have the same taste as sugar, so you may still find yourself craving not-so-healthy foods. As awareness of the health risks associated with excessive sugar intake increases, the availability of alternatives is skyrocketing – it seems that while we don't want the potential problems, we want our sweets! Far from being a new concept, however, one sugar alternative has built quite a following over the last 12 years, courtesy of entrepreneurial Perth grandmother, Carolyn Hartz.

Diagnosed with pre-diabetes at the age of 41, Hartz undertook a self-imposed 12-month sugar ban, but found the cravings for sugary treats never subsided.

“I stopped eating sugar – I was fanatical,” she says.

“I reduced fruit drastically [and] didn’t drink [sugary beverages]. I did this for a year and found out it’s really hard to live without sweets!”

Eventually, Hartz reintroduced tiny amounts of white sugar in her diet, consuming it only at dinner parties, but found the cravings persisted. Having been a fully- fledged sweet tooth, her new and necessary diet proved a struggle.

“I was a huge sweet eater – it was nothing for me to have half a cheesecake for breakfast and then [more] cakes in the afternoon,” she says.

“It was when I was overseas that I met a lady who [introduced me to] xylitol. At first I thought it was artificial, because it sounds artificial, but I did my research and found out it isn’t. It’s all natural; it’s extracted from the cob of corn or from birch trees
and it doesn’t have an aftertaste like some of the other sweeteners.

“I tasted it and loved it and thought, ‘hooray, at last!’, so I decided at age 55 to open a business and bring xylitol [to Australia]. I was the first person to bring it here. It was a huge learning curve; I had been out of the workforce for 30 years, and in those days, people never discussed type 2 diabetes, plus there wasn’t an obesity problem like there is now. I brought [xylitol] in, established myself as ‘the xylitol lady’ and hooray, I could have sweets again!”

“It was nothing for me to have half a cheesecake for breakfast.”

As more people discovered Hartz’s business and the advantages of xylitol, demand grew for a recipe book. After more than ten years of promoting the benefits of xylitol and meeting countless customers – including many who have lost weight or managed to enjoy sweets despite suffering from type 2 diabetes – Hartz, now 67, has released her carefully curated recipe collection Sugar Free Baking: No Everyday or Hidden Sugars.

“While I was running my business, I started introducing all my favourite recipes, like my grandmother’s lemon curd and cupcakes, and over the years, I’ve [compiled] a whole collection. People were asking me when I was going to do a book, so I’ve finally done it!”

Sugar Free Baking features 60 recipes that are both sugar- and gluten-free. Additionally, Hartz has written a foreword extolling the virtues of xylitol and cautioning against thepervasiveness of ‘hidden sugars’, particularly in products we perceive as better alternatives to foods regarded as sugar-laden and unhealthy.

“Sugar has a GI (glycemic index) of 65, whereas xylitol has a GI of seven, so [xylitol] doesn’t cause cravings and it has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels,” she says.

In addition to weight gain, sugar also damages tooth enamel, but xylitol doesn’t – in fact, xylitol is even used in toothpaste because of its tooth- friendly composition.

“I decided at age 55 to open a business and bring xylitol [to Australia].”

“The bacteria in the mouth can’t use [xylitol], so you don’t get an ‘acid attack’ when you have it,” Hartz explains.

Hartz encourages everyone to try xylitol and experience the difference for themselves. The combination of xylitol and healthy ingredient alternatives in her recipes means you can have guilty-pleasure desserts – without the guilt!

“I started adding protein to my recipes [early on]. I used a lot of almond powder, which is done now but 12 years ago it wasn’t! The recipes were more nutritious [than standard choices], they had more protein, they had more fibre, and they were very low-carb. We have a recipe for a lamington that you could have for breakfast, and you would get much more nutrition from it than from a muffin.

“Of course, it’s a treat – you wouldn’t sit down and eat seven lamingtons in a row like I did in the old days – but you couldn’t eat seven even if you wanted to, because of the protein [filling you up].”

Packed with a range of delectable sweet recipes, including banana bread, ice-cream cake, pavlova, chocolate tart, brownies, shortbread and much more, Sugar Free Baking proves Hartz’s message: going without sugar doesn’t mean going without dessert!

“This book is dedicated to anyone and everyone who thought giving up on sugar meant missing out on the sweet treats in life,” she says.

“You don’t have to feel guilty and you don’t have to miss out!”

See page 138 of the magazine for a sample of the recipes featured in Sugar Free Baking.


Read 274880 times Last modified on Wednesday, 10 February 2016 23:22