Turns out that marshmallows, well, they are mostly sugar. I knew this. But as we have begun preparing for Nathan's birthday camping trip this weekend, I had to face the reality of this. Let me roll back however to first describe my deep and unabiding love of the marshmallow. I love them. I recognize they hold no nutritional value however there is something about that powdery coating that then melts away into ooey-gooey stickiness that just calls to me.
Let's be clear I am referring to jumbo sized, roasting on a spit, s'more making marshmallows and not the mini version that might as well be used as museum putty. I love roasted marshmallows so much that I've been know to make them happen over a gas, or hell, even an electric stovetop. Of course over an open fire is preferred. And then I don't just roast those babies once, I take a twice as nice approach. First I do a quick burn so that the outer layer of the marshmellow takes on a dark amber color and the sugars crystalize to form a bubbly crispy shell. Then that layer is gently removed when it has cooled just to the touch, and again, into the flame the interior cotton ball of marshmallow goes for a slow roast till golden brown and delicious.
Now it's important to note that I can and I just might have a marshmallow in the future - be it this weekend or some other time - let's however take a look at the numbers and what that means for Ms. Diabetic over here. A single lonely marshmallow is 6 grams of carbohydrates. But let's be honest with each other - who eats just one, right? A serving size of marshmallow is 4, so now we are up to 24 grams of carbs. Now for just the one I could maybe get away with not taking any insulin but odds are good I would see a sharp blood sugar rise as marshmallows aren't exactly complex carbs so they would pretty much hit my blood stream straight away. So when the math is said and done, I would have to take 2 units worth of my fast acting insulin prior to consuming just the marshmallows.
What about s'mores, Michelle? Well let me tell you that would push us up to about 3-4 units of insulin depending on how good of chocolate is used and assuming a 10 carb graham cracker. To give some perspective, I've been averaging 4 units of insulin for full meals. This would be 4 units for a single desert.
With all this in mind, I found myself in Whole Foods this weekend (a dangerous game, let me tell you). I think in my head I thought that perhaps they would have an ridiculously expensive albeit alternative marshmallow that would somehow miraculously be low carb. Unfortunately this was not the case. Like a fool I found myself tearing up with the bag of marshmallows in hand. Seriously, I got weepy.
I think the hang up is not that I can't eat this marshmallow or any other, essentially sugar packed product, but more that I have to think about everything that goes in my mouth. And not from the perspective of "don't be a fatty, Michelle." But rather from the perspective of - will this cause significant BG rise which despite offsetting with insulin will proably still result in a sharp sugar spike that will then cause all the associated symptoms of yuckiness and feeling awful? Everything in this disease is constant. Worse part - I'm only 29 days in.
On the recommendation of my dear friend Kayla, I made a go at making my very own low-carb marshmallows for Nathan's Birthday camping trip this past weekend. On the whole, I will rate them a qualified success in terms of taste and texture. In regards to roasting, well... they failed. Can't win them all I suppose.
Below is the recipe I used to make these tasty morsels, courtesy of Low Carb Luxury. They were quite fun to put together as the marshmallows start as fluff and its glossy and white and all together yummy looking.
- 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 5 Tablespoons artificial sweetener (I used Xylitol)
- 3 egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3/4 cup boiling water
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and let soften for 5 minutes. Add to boiling water in saucepan; cook and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to the consistency of thick syrup. Stir in artificial sweetener and vanilla extract. Beat egg whites till soft peaks begin to form, then very slowly, trickle a small stream of gelatin mixture into egg white, beating until all gelatin is mixed in. Continue beating until light and fluffy (but not until they're dry).
At this point, if you're making marshmallow crème, you can pour the mixture into a jar and refrigerate. If making marshmallows, quickly pour into a greased and floured pan and smooth to desired height, cool to set, and cut into size desired. At this point, I then tossed the marshmallows in a plastic sealed bag of a little bit of flour and cornstarch so that they wouldn't stick together in storage. The net carbs is like .5 g to each marshmallow.
The flavor and texture is refreshingly similar to a true marshmallow, I imagine it might differ a bit depending on what type of artificial sweetener you employ however. As I alluded to however, this marshmallow did not hold up well when tested over an open flame. Unlike real sugar, Xylitol in my case, does not have the structural ability of real sugar to caramelize when heat is applied thus resulting in the marshmallow just melting back into the gooey-ness from whence it came. Nathan and I caught on quick to this so we only lost a few to the firepit as they slipped from the clutches of our marshmallow roasting forks.
I think that next time I might try a combination of real and faux sugar to see if a blend will allow enough properties of each to properly roast but still have the lower carb count.
But what's a s'more without the graham cracker? Well I figured, in for a penny, in for a pound. If I was going to make home-made marshmallows, why not make my own low-carb graham cracker alternative as well? I found a recipe for a grain free graham cracker that felt almost like a variation on gingerbread. Very yummy. I bet they would have been delicious with a cup of coffee. The recipe I found from Deliciously Organic follows:
Yields: about twenty 2 x 2” crackers (I actually split this recipe in half)
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
3 tablespoons whole milk or coconut milk (I used soy milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350° F and adjust rack to middle position. Place flours, gelatin, honey, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 4 times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 7 times until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the molasses, milk and vanilla extract to the dough and process until the dough forms a ball. The dough will be very tacky. Pour the dough out onto a large piece of parchment paper (a piece large enough to cover a large baking sheet).
Dust the top of the dough with a little coconut flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it’s a rectangle about 14 x 11 inches and about 1/8-inch thick. Using a knife or rolling pizza cutter, divide it into 2 x 2-inch square pieces. There will be small pieces of excess on the sides (use these little bits for a snack later). Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the dough. Place the baking pan with the dough in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges just start to darken. Remove from the oven and cool completely. (The outer crackers on the pan will be crisp and the interior crackers will be a bit softer. When crackers are completely cool, break into individual squares. Store in an airtight container, the crackers will keep for 1 week.