In the ongoing quest for a great-tasting, zero-calorie sweetener, we tried Swoon, the brand new, all-natural sugar alternative developed for coffee, cocktails, and other beverages. Here’s what we thought.
There are some healthy alternatives that I’ve learned to live with, even embrace, while others not so much. As much as I love fluffy white rice with my kung pao, I’ve managed to work cauliflower rice in about half the time, and in some dishes like flavorful stir-fries, I barely even miss it. Lettuce wraps subbed in for taco shells works too, on occasion, if not only so I can eat more of the carnitas or pulled chicken without slipping into a coma.
Related Reading: The Three Best Cauliflower Snacks That Slay Our 3:00 PM Cravings
Sugar substitutes have proved a bit of a slower burn but since sugar is poison, especially in large quantities, I’ve always been willing to try. I don’t mind agave in a margarita or honey in a smoothie but both are still loaded with glucose (and calories) and can’t be described as “healthy.“
Aspartame (Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) have always tasted like exactly what they are…chemicals, but more recently some all-natural alternatives have landed in the market. Stevia (Truvia) is the most ubiquitous and while I’d contend it tastes better than its chemical predecessors, it still misses the mark.
Which is why I was so pleased to discover an all-natural, completely plant-based liquid sweetener and zero-calorie sugar alternative derived from non-GMO monk fruit called Swoon, which launched this month.
To be sure, I tried Swoon in a matcha latte, cold brew coffee, lemonade, and margarita and it tasted as much like the real thing (sugar) as any of the zero-calorie sweeteners I’ve had to date. In the coffee, matcha, and lemonade, I would have never known the difference. In the cocktail, I could have probably picked Swoon in a side by side taste test but otherwise wouldn’t have noticed.
Pretty high marks, all things considered.
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One of Swoon’s co-founders, Jennifer Ross, who suffers from type 1 diabetes, says she was inspired by coffee and cocktail culture. Sick of ordering bland vodka sodas, she and friend Cristina Ros Blankfein, set out to develop a zero-glycemic liquid sweetener that bartenders and baristas could easily drop into margaritas and lattes. Monk fruit (or Luo Han Guo), a sweet melon native to Southeast Asia and rich in antioxidants, has been used as a sweetener in other parts of the world but only in 2010 did the FDA approve its use as a sweetener here. Ross tells me it’s more difficult to extract and process than other sweeteners, which might also explain its slow pace to market, but she and her team are convinced no other sugar substitute tastes as good.
The Swoon team has had some luck convincing some lofty folks in the food and drink world, too. Bluestone Lane, a posh coffee chain, will start incorporating Swoon into beverages in their New York locations this summer, while Thomas Keller’s restaurant at Hudson Yards TAK Room, and former world’s #1 restaurant Eleven Madison Park (NYC), have Swoon in place of simple syrup for a rotating series of low-calorie cocktails.
Unlike some other monk fruit sweeteners that exist, Swoon claims to be the only one to use no added chemicals or sugar alcohols which can cause digestive issues and bloat, and with a zero-glycemic index it’s ideal for diabetics or those trying to follow a low-carb, low-sugar diet, like keto or paleo.
Related Reading: The Best Low-Sugar Cookbooks for Keto, Paleo, and Diabetic Diets
Swoon Zero Sugar Simple Syrup, $11.99 on Amazon
For your morning lattes, evening cocktails and more.
Header image courtesy of Swoon