Your Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free Brownie has a TONE of Sugar in it!

In honour of National Chocolate Day and my entertaining encounter with yet another demo rep at Wholefoods who thought it was appropriate to promote a cold pressed juice whose second ingredient was honey as a no added sugar beverage, I thought it was only appropriate to create this post.

How many times have you seen a post on your Facebook newsfeed or popular wellness focused website that says “sugar free X, Y or Z” – It could be “sugar free banana bread” “sugar free chocolate brownie” “sugar free smoothie”  or a myriad of other concoctions that always sound too good to be true…

Until you click on them, and realise that one of the key ingredients ends up being maple syrup, coconut sugar, agave, honey, rice malt syrup, molasses, apple sauce, pumpkin puree..and the list can go on.

Not sugar free..

Not sugar free..

I am not saying that these all have exactly the same nutritional properties as each other, or that they have no nutritional advantages over regular table sugar; I am simply stating, if these are in the ingredients list, then the product you are about to buy or create is definitely not sugar free!

When you buy a bottled beverage and pay a hefty price tag, and the ingredient list starts with “filtered water, organic cane sugar..” (or any of the alternative sugars mentioned above) … maybe think twice about what you are actually paying for!

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 5.25.09 PM

So where to from here for those of us that still want to enjoy something sweet tasting? 

There are SO many options these days, it is just about knowing what to look for, having them on standby at home, and finding the ones that sit best with your palate.

Here are a 4 of my all time favourites!

1. By far my absolute favourite is VitaFiber – This prebiotic fiber sweetener comes in powder and syrup form and tastes great. Due to the different forms it comes in, you can easily use it in different recipes based on the consistency you are after. The parent company is Bioneutra from Canada, however VitaFiber seems to be the consumer focused leg of the business now. I am a HUGE fan.


VitaFiber nutrition information VitaFiber sugar free prebiotic sweetener


2. Oligosaccharide and erythritol mixes – Similar to above, the prebiotic oligosaccharides can be found in mixes currently with erythritol. Erythritol is a “sugar alcohol” that is known not to cause gastric distress, meaning you are getting the prebiotic fiber and not getting the common digestive troubles that may come from consuming xylitol, mannitol or sorbitol which can be found in a range of “diet” products as natural low calorie sweeteners. Currently there is a nonGMO product called Swerve available in the USA.

Swerve sweetener

Swerve natural sweetener Swerve low calorie sweetener natural

3. Monk Fruit based sweeteners – A zero calorie natural sweetener that also goes by the name luo han guo; it doesn’t have the strong aftertaste that a lot of people find upsetting from stevia based products. Monk fruit is often mixed with erythritol or xylitol for a desired consistency and sweetness level that people find more reflective of table sugar. There are multiple brands creating this product such as Monk Fruit In The Raw in the USA and Norbu in Australia.

monk fruit in the raw

Monk fruit in the raw nutrition facts

Monk fruit in the raw nutrition facts

Monk fruit in the raw - one for one with sugar as a substitute

Monk fruit in the raw – one for one with sugar as a substitute

Norbu natural monk fruit sweetener australia

4. Flavoured stevia drops – So these ones have slowly become another favourite of mine! Sweetleaf Stevia Drops are an amazing organic product that give you a way of flavouring and sweetening your foods all at once without adding sugar or artificial ingredients. I use the different flavours through my Greek yoghurt or Skyr daily, turning them into chocolate coconut concoctions, or vanilla and hazelnut mixes…I really can’t believe everyone else isn’t onto these too!

sweetleaf stevia drops sweetleaf stevia drops

All these ingredients are slowly making their way into the food supply and can be seen to be replacing artificial zero calorie sweeteners such as sucralose (splenda), aspartame, and more.

As an example, there is a new protein bar called BUPBar on the market that tastes incredible and doesn’t contain any of the artificial sweeteners (yes sadly even many of the Quest Nutrition bars that people love still contain sucralose which has been shown to have negative effects on our gut health). I guess you can see now that it is starting, it is just a slow and steady process.

BupBar Natural Protein Bar

Bupbar protein bar high fiber high protein bulbar natural high protein low carb bar

I hope this post has proven useful and acts as a reminder to both actually check the ingredients list before purchasing that “sugar free” brownie, bar, or beverage; and also to realise that there really are great alternatives out there these days.

You really can still enjoy a sweet tasting end product without the negative effects on your health or weight that typically come from consuming either too much regular sugar, or the artificial sweeteners that are still widely spread throughout our food supply, it is just about having the knowledge of what to pick instead!

Until next time,

Travelling Dietitian x

About The Author

Kara Landau aka "Travelling Dietitian" is an Australian Accredited Practicing Dietitian based in NYC. She is a world explorer, healthy foodie, social butterfly, barre and HIIT class lover. When she isn't trying new cuisines, researching new product innovations in the health food space, or speaking to the media on behalf of her food industry clients, she can be found quietly conjuring up her next idea on how to make this world a healthier and better place.