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Guilt Free Chocolate with Peru’s Secret Sweetener
Unlock the yet untapped potential of the greatest and healthiest sweetener on earth.
Yacon Root from Peru
Yacon is an Andean tuberous root, a perennial plant that produces large storage roots, known as yacon root. The roots are normally eaten raw off the ground like a fruit as they are delicious, crisp and sweet-tasting. Its texture and flavor have been described as a cross between a fresh apple and watermelon, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the “apple of the earth.” The root is composed mostly of water and contains fructo-oligosaccharides, inulin and phenolic compounds.
A fructo-oligosaccharide is a complex carbohydrate, which is made of a short chain of fructose molecules (simple carbohydrates) linked together. The word comes from the Latin word, “oligo” meaning “few” and saccharide, meaning “sugar” and is commonly known as “FOS.” An inulin is a soluble dietary fibre, a naturally occurring oligosaccharide that unlike most carbohydrates, is non-digestible as there is no enzyme in the body to absorb it; a prebiotic by excellence. FOS and inulin are both soluble fibres and are primarily found in the yacon nectar, key factors in the manufacturing of high quality yacon by-products: yacon syrup and yacon powder.
Yacon syrup is a common product in the market, of which you’ll find two variations, a black and thick syrup resembling molasses, and the other is a light-coloured syrup with orange notes, and a light and fruity honey-like taste. So, which one is best? The colour is a clear indication of the quality of the product; one is dark because of the use of yacon solid fibres and high heat used in the manufacturing process – simple sugars stored in the yacon root fibre will burn providing a molasses-like product. The other is processed from the nectar and no high heat is involved in the production preserving its taste and known benefits as a healthy sweetener. For a general sugar substitution: 1 cup of sugar equals approximately 1/3 of a cup of yacon syrup. Exact substitution also depends on the taste and sweetness preferences of the person making the blend.
Yacon powder is not so common and probably neglected, but it has the same benefits as the syrup if processed correctly. Most powders in the market are a blend of the whole root including the solid fibers in order to reduce cost, which leaves traces of simple sugars around. Once again, the problem lies on the use of the fibre of the yacon and not working from the nectar as a starting point. A good powder will be made using the nectar and lower temperatures in order to preserve its nutritional value. Yacon powder needs to be stored in a dry, dark environment to avoid the product from clumping and hardening due to its hydroscopic nature.
So, which yacon products should you choose? Ensure the preparation of yacon products is done carefully without the use of solid fibres and high heat (check the fibre content). As base ingredients, you may choose to use yacon powder or syrup to replace your household sweeteners. Both will enhance the flavour and sweetness of your favourite recipes. They can be used in everything from smoothies to baking and confectionery. Substitute 1/2 cup of yacon powder for 1 cup of sugar or to taste. This Valentine’s Day, remove the guilt of sweet chocolate for those with a sweet tooth!
chocolate chip cookies
2 ½ cups any gluten-free flour, such as almond flour
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup yacon syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup-1 cup guilt-free chocolate chips
Tip: For a chocolate mint recipe add ½ cup cacao powder and 1 teaspoon peppermint extract.
Pre-heat oven to 350˚
• Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl
• Stir in wet ingredients
• Make sure ingredients are well combined
• Form into 1 inch balls and place on parchment
paper covered baking pan. Press each ball with a
fork to flatten.
• Bake for 8-12 minutes
Recipe courtesy of Toronto’s Big Carrot.