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Austin ChronicleExperience Chocolate Pharmacy: New business offers truffles with soulAustin ChronicleThese two friends dreamt of a chocolate not currently found in stores, without the additives people react to, either physically or emotionally. Thus was born Chocolate …. Instead of sugar, they chose Yacón syrup as a healthy substitute. Yacón is a …

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Questions and Answers

What can I use to sweeten my oatmeal other than sugar?

I am on an extremely strict diet due to medical reasons and cannot have any of the following:
corn
gluten
soy
dairy
sugar (I CAN have fructose though, the natural sugar found in fruits)
I can have basically any spices, but what are some things I could do to make my oatmeal taste better?
The only "fake sweetener" I can have is Stevia, but I do not prefer the taste.
I cannot have honey or syrup or anything with sugar in it AT ALL.
Does anyone have any recipes with cinnamon and different fruits?

Posted by
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Ah man, sorry to hear about the diet, hon. I'm right there with you. Literally – those are all on my bad list too.

So, first, just a quick question – you know to look for gluten free oats, yes? Regular oats are highly contaminated with gluten, is all. :-) And to be careful of your salt? Any iodized salt has corn contamination as it is used to stabilize the iodine. :-(

For making oatmeal a bit better:
Dried dates are the sweetest dried fruit to add to a dish, especially if you can get fresh ones. They have a deep, rich kind of sweetness. Raisins are next in line. You can make a kind of syrup with either of them if you grind up some along with water in a blender until it's a puree – it'll keep for a few days.

Bananas, over-ripe and mashed, are also a good sweetener to add.

You can mess around with a lot of different fruits, but generally, if you get a fruit and juice it, you can take the juice and boil it until the liquid is about half of what it was. It will concentrate the sweetness AND the flavor, for the right fruit. Apples do this well. Citrus is amazing, although more the smell and tart zing than the sweetness. Pineapple does well with this as well. Berries are very nice, but I wouldn't boil as long, as it seems to keep the sweet but lose the flavor of the berry.

Some fruits don't work so well, though, like pear – it just doesn't turn out as well.

Another thing that would go well with this type of homemade fruit-concentrate is homemade nutmilk. Get almonds, pecans, whatever. Take maybe 1 1/4 cups nuts and soak them overnight in 4 cups water. The next morning, blend them in a blender until nuts are pulp. Pour it twice through a mesh sieve or once through cheesecloth. You can mix a little oil or fruit juice in for sweetener into the milk and then add to oatmeal. The pulp can be saved for lots of different things, like veggie burgers or dried and used as a nut meal for baking (crackers, for example).

Baked, mashed sweet potatoes might be another idea to add. It's a mild sweet taste, but it might do all right.

If you can have fructose, check out a health food store. They actually sell pure, powdered fructose. Unless it's the concentration outside of the fruit itself that is more of an issue, then that would probably not work so well.

How many sweeteners have you explored? Another few sweeteners you could look at, if you haven't already, would be coconut sugar – I wasn't sure what you react to in terms of sugar, whether the processing or sucrose/glucose ratios or yeast concerns, etc… But coconut sugar might be something to consider. It might be fructose related – uncertain about that.

Mesquite syrup or sorghum syrup might be something to consider, as well. Mesquite is a legume with a high level of natural glucose and sorghum syrup is from the stalk of the sorghum grain, although I'm not sure if it's fructose or a different sweetener involved.

Yacon syrup, from south america, is very similar to the stevia plant but without that licorice taste – has inulin as the sweetener and not glucose, so that might be worth exploring as well. If you are avoiding sugar for yeast overgrowth reasons or diabetes-type issues, I believe this one is a possibility, as it is not processed by the body but merely gives us a sweet taste and then passes through the body. I'm not sure if you can get the yacon plant as easily as you can stevia, but if the processing is an issue, you might even want to look into growing yacon yourself. :-)

Or you can go the savory route. Look up recipes for oatmeal herb breads and you can see what goes well with oats. Thyme and oregano are two I see frequently used with oats in this capacity. If you were going this route, I would mix in a little vegetable broth or chicken broth with the oats, maybe bits of diced, cooked meats or oven-roasted veggies.

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