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Fibrelle: The High Fiber Sugar Substitute

15 Dec

Fibrelle: The High Fiber Sugar Substitute

Fibrelle is a fiber-enhanced sweetener that can be used in place of sugar for baking in a simple 1:1 conversion ratio. One teaspoon of Fibrelle contains 2 grams of dietary fiber and 5 calories – as compared to 0 grams of fiber and 15 calories per teaspoon of white granulated sugar.

In addition to providing sweetness in baked goods, sugar also acts as a tenderizer, a moisturizer and provides the nicely browned product we associate with visually appealing baked goods. I was interested to see how Fibrelle – a combination of Splenda, Acesulfame-K and a number of isolated fibers – would stand up to good old fashioned white sugar.

I tested Fibrelle as a 1:1 replacement for granulated white sugar in the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe – a good starting point as the recipe calls for both 3/4 cup white sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar. I replaced the white sugar with Fibrelle, retaining the brown sugar. My yield produced 36 decent-sized cookies, as opposed to Nestle’s 60 mini-cookie output projections.

With Fibrelle in place of the white sugar, the calories were reduced by 40 calories per cookie and the fiber went up from 0 to 2.3 grams of fiber per cookie. As far as taste goes, I tested the raw batter – come on…who doesn’t – and noticed a slightly metallic taste; however, that disappeared in the final product.

I was pleasantly surprised with the texture and sweetness of the finished product. Fibrelle did play some visual and textural tricks on my cookies: the coloring of the cookie was uneven, with alternating and unusual white and brown spots (baked using convection bake setting). And, despite fully cooling the cookies before storing, when stacked, the baked cookies disintegrated into a big cookie blob, losing their individual texture, but still tasting great if you don’t mind how they look.

To rectify these problems, one might consider freezing individual Fibrelle cookie dough balls – which would help the cookie retain its texture, and also help promote portion control. Additionally, making the dough into bars as opposed to cookies, freezing and then cutting would help avoid the disintegration problem.

All in all, Fibrelle was a unique product to experiment with. I can’t say I’ll start using it in place of sugar in baking, and cookies are of course not the place to be getting most of your fiber. But, when compared to Splenda No Calorie Granulated Sweetener, the added fiber component of Fibrelle – which Splenda only offers in their fiber packet form – is a nice addition.

Cookies Aren’t Good for You? WhoNu?

12 Aug

Cookies Aren’t Good for You? WhoNu?

There’s an old adage in the nutrition world, “If it looks like a cookie and it tastes like a cookie…it’s a cookie.” Well, leave it to the makers of WhoNu? “Nutrition Rich” Cookies to indelibly justify this cliche.

WhoNu? Cookies are the brainchild of some packaged food folks who want to take the confusion out of eating well. You like cookies. Cookies aren’t good for you. Let’s make a cookie that we pretend is good for you.

Infantile spelling of the product name aside, the uninspired mechanisms by which these cookies claim to be “nutritious” are plastered about the loud orange packaging:

OK, let’s break this down:

  • As much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal!

Yeah but that fiber isn’t from whole grains or any other naturally occurring source of fiber, it’s from an isolated, functional fiber – the type that we’re not even sure conveys health benefits. (Read more about fake fibers here.)

  • As much calcium and vitamin D as an 8 oz glass of milk!

Never mind that there’s no data indicating supplemental calcium is any more well-absorbed than naturally occurring sources, aren’t there some other redeeming qualities to milk: protein, phosphorus, vitamin A, etc?

  • As much Vitamin C as a cup of blueberries!

Big deal, all fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. Eat them to get your needs.

  • As much iron as a cup of spinach!

There’s not really that much iron in a cup of raw spinach, which is what it looks like they’re comparing in the picture. A cup of cooked spinach or an animal flesh food that’s actually high in heme iron – the more easily absorbed type of iron? Now we’re talking.

  • As much Vitamin E as two cups of carrot juice!

Because vitamin E is widespread in vegetable oils – and we all eat too much oil – there’s no concern about Americans not meeting vitamin E needs.

  • As much Vitamin B12 as a cup of cottage cheese and fruit!

A well-balanced diet has plenty of vitamin B12 – and if you get too much of it, it’s a water-soluble vitamin, so you just pee out the excess. Great selling point.

  • As much vitamin A as an 8 oz glass of tomato juice!

Drink a cup of milk for vitamin A – not a one cup serving of tomato juice that has more than half of your daily sodium allotment.

Wait, so these cookies really aren’t that good for you? Well, if you have been offended and/or duped by the nutritious claims of the WhoNu? cookie product, consider contacting this forward-thinking law firm, who appear to be soliciting like-minded individuals for a class action lawsuit: Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz P.C. Attorneys at Law.

No doubt, eating right isn’t always easy. But you don’t have to be stupid about it either. And thinking you can eat a cookie instead of a well-balanced diet full of whole grains, lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables? Sounds stupid. Who knew?

TCBY’s Super Fro-Yo with Fiber

3 May

TCBY’s Super Fro-Yo with Fiber

TCBY announced today that it will introduce a line of “Super Fro-Yo”: frozen yogurt with added nutrition benefits.

The company maintains that the product will meet the following guidelines per serving:

  • Less than 120 calories
  • At least 3 grams dietary fiber
  • 4 grams or more of fiber
  • 7 types of probiotics
  • Provide 20% DV for vitamin D and 10% DV for vitamin A
  • Have live active cultures (20 billion after manufacturing)
  • Less than 2 grams saturated fat

No information yet about the ingredient list – but rest assured that 3 grams of fiber will be from an isolated, functional source. Frozen yogurt – like all dairy and most desserts – lacks dietary fiber. The manufacturers will likely add a third party fiber source – something such as inulin – that old standby that gives Skinny Cow ice cream products their 3 grams of fiber per serving.

The probiotics will likely be this product’s primary selling point. Problem with probiotics is – there is no generally agreed upon consensus regarding how much or which types of probiotics are beneficial.

So it’s unlikely that this souped up sugary product will yield any significant health benefits beyond empty calories…but it doesn’t mean the marketers won’t try to convince you otherwise!

Pumpkin Posts Good Fiber Stats

5 Nov

Pumpkin Posts Good Fiber Stats

If you’re looking for a fabulous fall fiber treat – look no further than the mighty pumpkin. Canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) is chock-full of nutrients: a 1/2 cup serving has 40 calories, 4 grams of fiber and is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin A.

Wondering what you can use canned pumpkin for besides pumpkin pie? Try this great sugar-free pumpkin mousse recipe:

  • 3 cups skim milk
  • 1 large package sugar-free vanilla pudding (8 servings/package)
  • 1 15-oz. canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tub Cool Whip

Instructions:

  • Pour cold milk slowly over pudding and whisk until smooth
  • Stir in canned pumpkin & add pumpkin pie spice mix
  • Fold in cool whip
  • Refrigerate & serve

Servings: 8. Per serving: 90 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 1.5 grams fiber, 3 grams protein, 200 mg calcium