Thursday, 27 May 2010

Sweet Freedom



I came across all sorts of really interesting products at The Real Food Festival in London earlier this month, but the one that impressed me most was Sweet Freedom, a totally natural alternative to sugar. Developed by two foodie friends, Tina Michelucci and Deborah Pyner, this great tasting product has 25% fewer calories than sugar.  

I met Tina Michelucci at The Real Food Festival and she explained that Sweet Freedom has only three ingredients – apples, grapes and carob.  No chemicals are used in production and it is GM and gluten free.  Its ingredients make it suitable for vegetarians and vegans and it has a low glycaemic load, making it suitable for diabetics as part of a healthy diet.  Tina also mentioned that Sweet Freedom can be used anywhere sugar can - from sweetening coffee, tea and cereal to baking.  You can make salad dressings, marinades, jams and chutneys with it - you can even spread it on toast.

There are two types of Sweet Freedom, mild and rich. I tasted both at the festival, and have been using the rich variety at home over the past few weeks.  The mild version reminded me of wildflower honey with a light, sweet taste and the rich version has a flavour that is reminiscent of toffee.

Sweet Freedom is the first ever sweetener to win Gold at the Great Taste Awards.  Both products won Gold in two separate categories
.  It also has a number of high profile fans including Raymond Blanc, who is now serving Sweet Freedom as an alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners on the tables and using it in his kitchens at the world renowned Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. 

I wondered how Sweet Freedom would perform in my favourite recipes but Tina, who is also a keen cook, assured me that it works very well.  If a recipe calls for 100 grams of sugar she suggests using 75 grams of Sweet Freedom and keeping the oven temperature to a maximum of 180℃ to see great results. 

Masterchef finalist Joy Skipper and food writer Suzie Banks are both fans of Sweet Freedom too.  Suzie has developed a delicious recipe for Pecan Pie made from Sweet Freedom and gluten free flours turning this American classic into a much healthier treat.  (Photograph and recipe reproduced with permission.)



Pecan Pie
Serves 8

Pastry
75g Quinoa Flour
75g Rice Flour
35g Ground Almonds
65g Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes
20g Sweet Freedom natural sweetener (Mild)
1/4 Tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
1 Medium Egg Yolk (reserve the white)
25ml Cold Water

Filling
25g Unsalted Butter, melted
250g Sweet Freedom natural syrup (Rich)
2 Medium Eggs
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Finely Grated Zest of 1/2 Lemon
125g Pecan Halves, lightly toasted

To make the pastry, place the quinoa flour, rice flour and ground almonds in a bowl and using clean fingertips, rub the butter into the flours until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the baking powder and then add the Sweet Freedom, egg yolk and cold water, cut through the flour mixture with a knife and then use your hands to bring the pastry together into a ball.

Put the ball of pastry on top of a sheet of cling film and then place another sheet of cling film over the top. Roll out the pastry, in between the two sheets of cling film, into a large circle, just a little bigger than a shallow tart tin measuring 20cm (8”) in diameter and 2.5cm (1”) deep.

Peel off the top layer of cling film, slide your hand underneath the bottom layer of pastry and carefully flip it over onto the tart tin. Keeping the cling film on the pastry press it into the tin. Peel off the cling film and finish lining the tin. Trim any excess pastry and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170/ Fan 150.

Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and baking parchment.

Brush the inside of the case with some of the reserved egg white - this helps to seal the pastry. Bake for another 5 minutes.

Make the filling whilst the pastry is cooking. Mix together the melted butter and Sweet Freedom then whisk in the eggs, vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Roughly chop about half of the pecans and sprinkle them over the base of the pastry case. Pour over the filling then arrange the remaining pecan halves on the top and carefully push them into the filling so they are coated with the syrup.

Return to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and is set in the centre. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

For more recipes using Sweet Freedom, please click hereSweet Freedom is now available in all large Tesco stores in the free from/sugar aisle, www.tesco.com, in the free from aisle in some Waitrose stores, at www.ocado.com, Whole Foods Kensington, Fresh & Wild, Planet Organic and all quality health food stores, delis and farm shops nationwide.  Also available at http://www.dietfreedom.co.uk/.



The 21st Century Housewife has not been paid for this post.  

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