When I started trying to replace the sweetness of sugar with healthy, natural alternatives, I started with stevia. I was pregnant with my fourth tiny toad and I had gestational diabetes. Not one to consider giving up baking, I searched for the most natural sugar replacer available. Long story short, I ruined a lot of good baking with a sweetener my super pregnancy senses said “Hell no!” to.
Enter Monk Fruit. Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a gourd grown in Southeast Asia. It got its name because its first mention was in the records of 13th century Chinese monks. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine since then. It has no calories and since it is 300x sweeter than sugar, you only need to use a small amount. That sweetness comes from an antioxidant called mogroside V, which laboratory studies have shown to prevent oxidative damage to cells, and exhibit anti-diabetic and anti-carcinogenic effects (Phytochemical and pharmacological aspects of Siraitia grosvenorii, luo han kuo, Jin and Lee 2012). Had I known about monk fruit while I was pregnant, I could have enjoyed some sweet treats without worrying about spiking my blood sugar.
What’s amazing about the monk fruit we use at Tiny Toad Creations is that it is vegan (most other monk fruit is extracted using gelatin), and has no aftertaste. I formulated our first product, the Universal Muffin Mix, with stevia. I could taste it, and for 10% of my product testers, it was a deal breaker for enjoying the muffins. Not good enough. I searched for an alternative and sourced a monk fruit powder that is undetectable, other than being sweet.
The secret ingredient for this magical monk fruit is the “natural flavours” you see on our ingredient lists. The monk fruit we use is sprayed with the juice from organically grown and cultivated mushrooms. What this does is block the bitter receptors on the back of your tongue and eliminate the aftertaste you notice with other monk fruit products.
Is it safe? Yes, it has the same government safety rating as flour, eggs and milk, but if you want to read up on it: