NEWS & MEDIA

A/Professor Kouris and colleagues in the NEWS

BISCUITS

LOW CALORIE SWEETENERS

LUPIN

MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND OTHER DIETS

INTERVIEW WITH A/PROFESSOR ANTIGONE KOURIS

Q. Why did you develop this cookie range?

I was continuously being asked by my patients if there was a healthy but tasty cookie they could have with their cup of tea or coffee which would not interfere with their weight loss, or their blood sugar levels or their digestion. I would scratch my head and say “No – all the cookies out there are either too high in sugar, saturated fat and calories and too low in fibre”. And then I would feel sorry for them and say “well OK, you can have 1-2 plain oatmeal biscuits” which were pretty average tasting and not ideal with respect to saturated fat, sugar, fibre and salt. So I took on the challenge to develop tasty healthy cookies that were suitable for my patients and better than oatmeal biscuits. It took 2 years, because every time I tried to make them healthier the result was closer to card board. Finally, after 2 years, success. I got the taste and texture right and the nutrient profile is pretty impressive with less than 50% sugar, 40% less starch, 23% less calories, 350% more fibre, double the protein, 80% less saturated fat, 0% trans fats, 50%-80% less salt than ather plain sweet biscuits with only 56 calories per cookie. Skinnybik are also a source of magnesium.

Q. Why are they called “Skinnybik”?

The cookies are called Skinnybik to highlight their desirable macronutrient profile i.e reduced (or skinny) in total fat, saturated fat, sugar, starch, calories and salt. I tried reducing the calories further but the result was not that tasty! Despite the moderate calorie content (56 calories/15g cookie) you can’t eat too many because they are so filling due to the fibre and chewy texture. So in some respects they are truly skinny!They have only about 1500Kj/100g (regular biscuits have around 2000kJ/100g), 15% fat (regular biscuits 20%-25% fat), only 2% saturated fat (regular biscuits 12%), 14% sugar (regular cookies 25%-30%), total carbohydrate content 35% (regular cookies 63%-68%), 10% fibre (regular cookies 2%) and only 100mg-200mg sodium/100g (regular cookies 300mg-600mg/100g). Skinnybik Spelt was compared to an oatmeal biscuit because it is high in oatbran. Skinnybik Lupin choc chip was compared to a regular choc chip cookie and Skinnybik Lupin cranberry was compared to a fruit & nut biscuit due to the reasonable amount of cranberries and almond meal.
Q. Why did you try to reduce the sugar and carb content and increase the fibre content of the cookies?
By reducing the sugar (by 50%) and refined starch content (by 40%) and increasing the fibre (by 350%) I was able to reduce the carbohydrate load of the cookie which in turn should reduce the glycaemic index (which has not been formally tested yet) and so making it suitable for people watching their blood sugar levels. Skinnybik is around 14% sugar; regular cookies are around 25-30% and some cookies can be as high as 50% sugar! Skinnybik total carbohydrate content is only 35% which is much lower than the 63%-68% found in most other cookies. Skinnybik have 10g fibre per 100g; oatmeal cookies have around 3g and other cookies are usually less than 2g per 100g! Also, by reducing the carbohydrate load and increasing the fibre the cookies are more satisfying and ‘filling’.

Q. Why did you use artificial sweeteners – namely sucralose?

In order to reduce the total sugar and carb content of the cookie I replaced some of the sugar with an artificial sweetener. I also replaced half the flour with high fibre oat bran and rice bran or lupin flour and added almond meal to reduce the total refined carb content and to increase the fibre content. Sucralose has an excellent safety profile and is tolerated by everyone. I did not want to use xylitol or isomalt or other sugar alcohols like erythritol and sorbitol (often used in diabetic products) because these can cause quite terrible wind and pain and can aggravate irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. I did not use aspartame because some people have an intolerance to this sweetener. I tried using stevia but it affected the taste. Some studies have linked artificially sweetened soft drinks to diabetes and weight gain, probably because they contain large amounts of artificial sweeteners and these drinks are usually consumed in large amounts. This in turn may upset the body’s natural ability to count calories resulting in excess energy intake over the day. However, consuming small amounts of sweeteners in tea, coffee or solid foods like cookies has not been linked to health problems.
Click here to see how little sweetener was used in Skinnybik
For more information about the safety of sweeteners see Diabetes Australia Website

Q. Why are they ‘fructose friendly’ and why did you use spelt flour, oat bran and rice bran?

Spelt flour, oat bran and rice bran are low in fructans, compared to wheat flour, so may be better tolerated/digested by people on the low Fodmap diet for irritable bowel syndrome or for people avoiding wheat. This is why I have called the cookies “fructose friendly”. Also, the cookies contain negligible fructose (the date & almond content is less than 2g per cookie) and zero lactose. These ingredients are also high in fibre, helping to increase the fibre content of the cookies.

Q. Skinnybik are reduced in sugar, carbs and calories but are they low in fat?

Skinnybik contain only good fats from almonds and canola oil. They are very low in the bad saturated fats (having only 2% compared to 12% in regular biscuits) and trans fats (0%). The total fat content is moderate at around 15% (compared to 20%-25% in regular biscuits), but as I said, it is only comprised of good fats so a higher total fat content is acceptable. The Baker IDI allows more than 10% fat in products that contain nuts as long as saturated fat content is low (2% or less). Research suggests that we need to increase our intake of good fats and reduce our intake of bad fats.

Q. The cookie contains egg, so is it high in cholesterol?

No. There is less than 10mg of cholesterol per cookie. One egg has around 200mg cholesterol and the Heart Foundation is now recommending that everyone has up to one egg a day. By using nutritious whole egg I was able to increase the protein content by 70-100% (10g-13g/100g) compared to regular cookies (5g/100g).

Q. Can one have skinnybik for breakfast?

Well, yes. Three skinnybik cookies have a similar nutritional and energy profile to a serving of natural muesli with nuts. If you have them with a cup of milk or milky coffee or tea then the nutrient and energy profile would be similar to muesli with milk.