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Wednesday, February 25, 2015


THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SUGARS & SWEETENERS (The Experiment, 2014, 280 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-216-8, $16.95 US paper covers) is by Alan Barclay (consulting dietician for diabetes), Philippa Sandall (a nutrition editor) and Claudia Schwide-Slavin (an RD specializing in diabetes education). There are 185 entries, with products from acesulfame potassium to yacon syrup, arranged in dictionary format with material on history, taste, use, nutrition, and scientific data for each. There's a primer on using the book and on the Glycemic Index; as well, there is a discussion on health matters, such as added sugars = added calories, special diets, and labeling issues. Of great interest is the chapter on "test kitchen" wherein two recipes are used to substitute a variety of sugars and sweeteners, with cosmic results: vanilla butter cookie, and blueberry bran muffin. They use rice syrup, agave nectar, honey, stevia-erythritol blend, Demerara sugar, coconut sugar, and xylitol. Both the cookie and the muffin were compared and contrasted with the various sugars as to taste, texture, appearance, finish, calories. At the end there is an appendix of brand names of high-intensity, non-nutritive sweeteners. The book will answer important questions, such as which sweeteners perform well in baking, will the kids notice if there are sugar substitutes, and which are best for dieting or blood sugar.
Audience and level of use: libraries, those looking for sweeteners beyond sucrose.
Some interesting or unusual facts: From a taste note on stevia – "then came the follow-up – a lingering, very sweet, slightly bitter aftertaste on the tongue and the front palate. You could not really identify the vanilla or butter flavours – the whole point of making a vanilla butter cookie."
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

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