This non-calorie sweetener is gaining popularity. Learn more about it, along with the benefits and cons.
Grown in Southeast Asia and originally eaten by Buddhist monks (hence the name), monk fruit is a small green gourd that is comparable to a melon. While it's unlikely that you've ever seen fresh monk fruit at the grocery store, its popularity as a sweetener has skyrocketed in the last few years.
Right next to the stevia and Splenda, you'll find monk fruit as the newest addition to health food store's non-calorie sweetener section. Created by extracting the fruit and combining with other ingredients, like dextrose, to mellow the sweetness, the powdery product resembles coarsely ground sugar. While it's most commonly seen in the aforementioned granule form, monk fruit is also available as powdered and liquid products too.
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Around 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, a little goes a long way with monk fruit. It has no calories, carbohydrates, fat, or sodium. It won't spike your blood sugar and is low-glycemic. It's heat stable, meaning you can cook and bake with it, but the slightly fruity taste (and potential after-taste) may be off putting to some consumers.
Monk fruit's natural growing climate means it has to travel far before ever reaching your grocery cart, making a case for ecological concerns when it comes to the sweet fruit. Another potential issue is that monk fruit's processing, while free of harsh chemicals, can result in it being a highly processed food.
Bottom line: If you like the taste, monk fruit is potentially a good choice as a no-calorie sweetener. It may be highly processed and mixed with other ingredients though, so always read labels before buying. We at Cooking Light prefer just cutting down on sugar itself or looking towards unrefined natural sources to satisfy our sweet tooth.
What Is Monk Fruit and Is It Healthy?
Monk fruit has increased in popularity over the past couple of years. It's often used as an alternative sweetener and lots of people think it's a better choice than sugar—but is it actually healthy? We dug into the science to answer your questions.
Monk fruit has increased in popularity over the past couple of years. It&aposs often used as an alternative sweetener, and has been classified as healthy by the majority of the population𠅋ut is it actually healthy?
Mix in Some Monk Fruit
Since monk fruit is 100 to 200 times sweeter than table sugar, a small amount will suffice in cooking or baking. Some products are sweetened only with monk fruit, while others combine it with other sweeteners such as cane sugar, erythritol and dextrose. Read product labels carefully as erythritol can cause digestion troubles in some individuals. In the following recipes, we used between 1/4 to 3/4 tsp in both sweet and savory dishes to bring balance and richness. We like to pair this product with bold flavors like smoked paprika or the sumptuous caramel of the dates.
Is Monk Fruit Keto Friendly?
Since so many other fruits are off limits for low carb living, is monk fruit keto? In general, YES – but it depends in part on the type of monk fruit you get (pure or blended with other sweeteners).
How many carbs in monk fruit sweetener?
Monk fruit carbs are the same as monk fruit net carbs: Zero!
Monk fruit sweetener with erythritol or allulose also has zero net carbs per serving.
How many calories in monk fruit sweetener?
Pure monk fruit sweetener contains zero calories. Monk fruit sweetener with allulose or erythritol is also zero calorie.
Does monk fruit raise blood sugar?
Monk fruit alone does not raise blood sugar. However, if you get monk fruit blended with other ingredients, it could impact your blood glucose.
For example, some “monk fruit sugar” substitutes use dextrose or maltodextrin as a bulking agent — both are other names for sugar, and can raise your blood glucose levels.
Is monk fruit good for diabetics?
Yes! Pure monk fruit extract is good for diabetics. Monk fruit has a glycemic index of 0, meaning it won’t cause a spike in blood sugar.
Monk fruit sweetener with allulose and monk fruit sweetener with erythritol are also both great for diabetics, since their bulking agents don’t spike blood sugar, either.
Is there monk fruit without erythritol?
Yes, there is! If you can’t tolerate erythritol but still want to enjoy the sweetness of monk fruit, you’re in luck.
Besti Monk Fruit Sweetener With Allulose has no sugar alcohols, uses the highest grade of mogrosides for perfectly sweet flavor, and still contains zero calories and net carbs! Plus, unlike erythritol blends, it dissolves and caramelizes just like sugar, and makes soft, moist baked goods.
1. Sugar-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
These soft and chewy vegan sugar-free cookies can be made with granulated monk fruit and sugar-free brown sugar, which is made from other alternative sweeteners that you might see population baking aisles: erythritol, stevia, malt extract, and tagatose. Looking for sugar-free vegan chocolate chips? Try these dark chocolate baking chips.
These sugar-free blondies are also flourless. | Clean and Delicious
Here are some of our favorite low carb & keto-friendly sweeteners:
Xylitol is one of our favorite sweeteners. Traditionally sourced from birch bark, xylitol is pretty much on par with sugar in terms of sweetness. We&rsquore also huge fans of how the mouthfeel of xylitol is crystalline just like sugar, and without the aftertaste of other sweeteners.
If you&rsquove never had xylitol before, chewing gums like Pur are a favorite medium for the sugar alcohol thanks in part to its antibacterial nature.
🚫Caution: Xylitol is toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets. In humans, consuming too much can also cause stomach upset and bloating, so use caution until you know how your body responds.
Thankfully, erythritol has become increasingly popular, especially since it doesn&rsquot pose the danger to pets as xylitol does. Chocolate bars like Lily&rsquos and ChocoPerfection both use this sweetener, and they taste pretty close to the real thing!
If you plan to bake your own keto baked goods, brands like Swerve come in confectioners, granular, and even in brown for richer sweetness, so you can use Swerve for everything from the cake to the frosting!
Speaking of frosting, try making our delicious buttercream frosting with Swerve!
Erythritol can have a cooling effect, so it&rsquos perfect when paired with chicory root. Also, since erythritol doesn&rsquot break down in recipes as well as other sweeteners, it tends to keep its crystalline, crunchy structure. I typically measure out the amount I need and then powder it in my Ninja (or another food processor) before adding to recipes. Or you could use the Swerve confectioners and bypass this step.
Stevia has been emerging as a popular keto option for a few years now. Related to the daisy and ragweed family, the species Stevia rebaudiana is found in South America, where, for centuries, people have used leaves from the stevia bush to sweeten their foods.
Stevia is 150 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way. Sure, to supertasters the flavor can be off-putting, but the hybrid sweeteners (stevia + another sweetener, like erythritol) are GREAT for baking, hot drinks, and more.
Monk Fruit (Lo Han)
Monk fruit is a type of small melon found in South East Asia. Antioxidants called mogrosides (found only in monk fruit) create its sweet taste. Monk fruit is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, which means a little goes a long way. And while monk fruit sweetener is still slightly hard to find, you&rsquoll see it increasingly used in products like ChocZero. It&rsquos very good.
We use monk fruit to sweeten our homemade keto ketchup!
Chicory root is a fiber of a perennial plant that&rsquos fairly high in soluble fiber. Studies suggest chicory may prevent constipation since it stabilizes gut health. Before using, be sure to check the label to make sure the sweetener contains just chicory, or if there are other added sugars or alcohols as well. You can either buy it in its natural form and process it, or purchase an easy-to-use granulated version.
In baking, chicory root has a wonderfully warming effect, which offsets the cooling effect of erythritol.
Also known as D-psicose, Allulose is pretty rare since it&rsquos only found naturally in wheat, raisins, and figs. Notably, more keto products than ever are using this sweetener, and it&rsquos very good.
Since Allulose is roughly only 60-70% as sweet as sugar, in recipes, you&rsquoll want to either combine allulose with a more concentrated sweetener (like Stevia) or add 40% more allulose in your recipes (I&rsquove converted to account for the 40% more below).
Either way, taste test and be careful to not overdo it&hellip too much of this sweetener can cause stomach discomfort.
We used Allulose in our &ldquooatmeal&rdquo cookies recipe and it made the cookies soft and chewy with caramelized edges. We also tested using erythritol, and it made the cookies crunchy.
Want to give Allulose a try? Check out Whole Earth and Keystone Pantry brands.
Used in sugar-free Davinci and Torani syrups, liquid Splenda (or generic sucralose) is much better than when compared to powdered products (which contain carby fillers for bulking).
This sweetener is considered dirty keto by many.
This really isn&rsquot the best sweetener for folks who prefer natural sweeteners, but it can be added to coffee or in very small applications where a potent, single drop often satisfies what a few tablespoons of sugar (or sugar substitute) used to.
And since concentrated sucralose is easily 600 times sweeter than sugar, you need only the smallest amount to make a sweet impact. Grab EZSweetz from Amazon.
Hip tips for using these sweetener alternatives:
Coconut Flour Keto Brownies:
Make this recipe using coconut flour instead of almond flour by replacing the almond flour with 3 tablespoons of coconut flour. Proceed as normal for the rest of the recipe!
Serve with Vanilla Keto Ice Cream for a real good time!
Monk Fruit Chocolate Chip Cookies
Without a doubt, one of the most-loved desserts is a classic chocolate chip cookie, and the substitution of monk fruit for sugar will make this cookie a little more satisfying knowing that there is a lot less sugar. Made with gluten-free flour, gluten-free oats, monk fruit sweetener, butter, eggs, baking soda, vanilla extract and dairy-free chocolate chips, these cookies are super soft and delicious. You won’t even miss the refined sugar.
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup monk fruit sweetener
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free optional)
Sheet pan cookies: How to make easy, crunchy cookie brittle at home
Heat oven to 350 F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, gluten-free oats, baking soda and salt set aside.
In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and monk fruit and cream together until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
Once the batter is combined and smooth, remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the chocolate chips into the batter.
Scoop the cookie dough into 2-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet approximately 3 inches apart, and press the cookie dough ball down. (These cookies will not spread very much.)
Add a few extra chocolate chips to the top of each cookie before baking if you like extra chocolate.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden and the center is cooked through.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the sheet pan and serving.
When fresh, the pulp of Monk fruit can be consumed, but the fruit spoils quickly and must be eaten immediately after harvest. Monk fruit is more commonly dried, boiled, and used as a sweetener for drinks and food, found in liquid form, condensed into granules, or made into a powder. When flavoring beverages, Monk fruit can be added to smoothies, teas, coffee, and lemonade and is mixed with honey for added flavor. The fruit can also be incorporated into soups such as pork shank or watercress, or it can be mixed into sauces, cereals, brownies, cookies, and salad dressings. In China, Monk fruit is popularly used during the Chinese New Year to make a green tea monk fruit jelly mooncake. Monk fruit pairs well with almonds, ginger, dates, carrots, cabbage, watercress, butternut squash, and mushrooms. Dried Monk fruit will keep up to three years when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Keto-Friendly Meringues Recipe
Lighter-than-air meringues seem to be making a comeback in the food world, especially piggybacking off the popularity of the pavlova (which is basically a giant meringue topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream). They are crispy on the outside but soft and tender on the inside, making their sophisticated appearance even more intriguing. Seriously, you can never go wrong by serving meringues, they are an absolute French-dessert classic. If you want your meringues to truly stand out, get a professional-grade piping bag which will help define the intricacies of the meringues' shape and texture.
This recipe takes the meringues into keto territory, by substituting the sugar with a low carb keto-friendly monkfruit-based sugar alternative. Monkfruit-derived sweeteners have zero calories and zero glycemic index, which means they won't spike your sugar levels, while still tasting just as good as regular sugar.