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A few twists and substitutions create a nearly guilt-free treat Mauer: One recipe inspires another.

After the holidays end and Jan. 1 becomes just another date on my calendar, I immediately start to think about how to lose the weight I added during those holidays.

Before the holidays began, I promised to limit myself to small tastings of homemade-only cookies and candies. Unfortunately, I broke that promise frequently.

If you read the current crop of books about healthy weight loss diets, you know, with some certainty, that sugars and insulin can be a major culprit when it comes to weight gain; not good news for those of us who indulge in holiday sweets.

For years I was certain the clearest paths to weight loss was trading artificial sweeteners for some or all dietary sugars. Studies have shown that may not have been the right path.

Those studies, gathered by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, seem to show that artificial sugar substitutes, such as Splenda or NutraSweet, can trigger weight gain, as well as other health issues. Visit www.hsph. harvard.edu/nutrition source/healthy-drinks/artificial-sweeteners.

What currently appears to be a way to cut dietary sugars, reduce calories and lessen insulin issues is using either stevia or monk fruit-based "natural" sugar substitutes.

I use organic stevia to make sure the stevia leaves havent come in contact with pesticides or herbicides, as well as to avoid possible GMO additives (like dextrose, made from corn).

I cant see my way clear to go to zero dietary sugars. Right now, if I want a lower calorie, reduced-fat, reduced-sugar treat, I make it at home. Yes, thats a control issue on my part. However, I know what ingredients go into these rare treats.

A few readers have asked why I use stevia in packets, rather than the less expensive version that can be measured out. The answer is if I use 15 packets as a sugar substitute and you do, too, theres a good chance your results will be the same as mine.

Heres why. Six months ago I bought a one-pound container of organic stevia and was dismayed to find no indication whatsoever on the label as to its

measurable equivalency to sugar. Plus, I dont know if different bulk stevia brands may not be equal to the same sweetness as cane sugar based on measurement. Thats why when my recipe requires stevia or another natural sugar substitute, I list the sugar equivalent.

It didnt take long after the holidays for my sweet tooth to guide me to a recipe for "thin" brownies. The thin referred to its thickness, not that it was for weight loss.

However, that recipe from Rhoda Boone, the Food Director at epicurious.com, sparked an idea.

If I could cut the added sugar in half, as well as reduce the added fat by half and cut them into smaller pieces (Boones recipe called for 36 brownies, my new recipe makes 48), this might just be a treat for someone looking to lose weight or to keep it off.

I changed a lot in Boones recipe including adding chocolate chips on top instead of in the batter because it was easier to spread the batter evenly and thinly in the pan without the chips or nuts in it. In the end, my brownies looked amazing.

One word of caution, each of my brownies delivers just 51 calories. They taste so good youll be tempted to have more than one.

* Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Jan 10, 2018
Words:585
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