Monk fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo, is a miraculous fruit hailing from China. Named after the Buddhist monks who cultivated it, it is treasured for its super sweet flavor and potential health benefits. Its calorie-free sweetness is appreciated by some in the paleo community, as well as in diets that reduce sugar such as: ketogenic, diabetic, low carb and HCG.
Personally, I love monk fruit extract for its ability to sweeten culinary delights with just a pinch of powder, or with drops of homemade liquid. The best part about it is there is no strange chemical or overpowering aftertaste. You know how stevia can get ya in the back of the throat? Gaggggg. (If you really do like stevia, though, you will LOVE this stuff. No gag, SRSLY.) It really tastes…well, just SWEET! I do feel that I taste the sweetness more toward the back of my tongue than toward the front (where I taste real sugars), and this can take a little bit of getting used to for monk fruit beginners.
When purchasing monk fruit extract, be sure to steer clear of blends that contain non-Paleo and gut-harming ingredients. Some of the major brands contain ingredients such as:
Maltodextrin (corn product, quite often GMO)
Erythritol (hard on the gut, can cause GI damage)
Sucralose (neurotoxin, addictive)
Fortunately there are a few different PURE powders out there that contain no ingredient other than, you guessed it, Monk Fruit. What you are looking for when purchasing a pure powder are “mogrosides.” Monk fruit mogrosides (which have been shown in studies to have antioxidant properties) are generally shown as a percentage, and the higher the percentage the sweeter your powder is going to be. This is why a tiny little bitty container may cost you about $17, and a big one can cost ya $25 or so. That little jar probably has a higher mogroside percentage than the big guy does. Its really up to you how sweet you need the powder, and you may want to consider what recipes you will mainly be using the powder in before you spend dat cash.
I use this one by LC Foods due to its 40% mogroside content (click pics below for buying options):
And I recently tried this medium-sized jar by NuNaturals and was very pleased as well (reviews stated the mogrosides were about 40%, but I haven’t been able to verify this other than by tasting it, and it is just as sweet as the above product):
Last but (mayyyybe) not least is Swanson’s brand. Its touted in Paleo Magazine as being one of the pure ones, but I did not buy it yet due to not being able to find the mogroside content, and I do not know how well it dissolves to make the liquid.
For this recipe, I’ve used both of the smaller jars. They both seemed equally as sweet, but I do believe I prefer the flavor of the NuNaturals. Not that I disliked the LC Foods brand. I would still purchase it again…good stuff.
Here’s the method I use to make the liquid (before I talk your ear off summore about the monk fruitness in all of its glory):
I fill a 2 oz dropper bottle about 1.5″ from the top with filtered water. This ensures proper measurement, as well as leaves space for adding the powder and the dropper.
Depending on the mogroside strength of your powder, and also how strong you want your CUSTOM (eeeeep!) liquid to be, add anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 tsp of monkfruit powder to a measuring cup. Pour in your measured water from the dropper bottle.
Whisk. And whisk. Then whisk summore til its dissolved. WHISKWHISKWHISK and away!
*tap*tap* Your monk fruit liquid is now ready to pour into your dropper bottle. If you need to use a funnel, that is just fine, sweetie. My hands are not always stable enough to aim correctly, and a funnel is one of my best friends in that situation.
The reason I made a liquid was because the powder is difficult to measure in a hurry, and this makes for expensive messes during the morning rush! Plus, I had previously used a liquid version (before I realized it had maltodextrin it…UGH) and had been pleased with the ease of dispensing the drops. Sometimes the powder can be difficult to dissolve into liquids that are too hot or too cold, or to get a teeny little 1/8 tsp to evenly incorporate into a huge batch of cookies or so. The liquid just seems to work fabulously for my needs.
Both mentioned in Paleo Magazine, Mark Sisson and Jane Barthelamy discuss the Paleo-ishness of monk fruit:
“I’d say it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for a non-caloric, natural sweetener. Verdict: Primal.” – Mark Sisson
“It’s delicious! A favorite healthy Paleo sweetener. Hooray!“ – Jane Barthelemy
The Paleo Mom isn’t so convinced about any non-nutritive sweetener, though, no matter how natural it may be:
“Monk fruit stimulates Th2 cells so it’s an immune stimulator. “ – Sarah Ballantyne. Sarah has also mentioned before that non-nutritive sweeteners can stimulate the adrenal gland.
The moral of the story is: Use your best judgment; research for your body type and specific dietary needs; and if it feels right for you, give monk fruit a try!
*UPDATE 2019: I no longer use monk fruit due to my adrenals always needing constant monitoring, and that I find it stimulates my Hashimito’s thyroid autoimmune disease.
Photo credits: https://pixabay.com/en/buddhist-monk-buddhism-meditation-737275/ https://pixabay.com/en/hydrosol-bottle-aromatherapy-939216/