Article by XIANEASE
If you haven’t kept up with the latest in health news, sugar is pretty bad for you. Like tobacco bad for you. As such, there has been a trend in recent years to try and drop that added addictive sweetness that has crept into practically every aspect of modern commercial food, with companies trying to keep up with consumer demands for their favorite products sans the sugar and high-fructose corn syrups. While the local market has been a bit slower to adapt, gradually increasing waistlines and a looming childhood obesity epidemic has caused the sugar crusade to kick into gear. As such, we’ve decided to list out five of the products that have gone sugar-free, avoiding the expected international brands that we already know.
01 Suan Mei Tang 酸梅汤
A staple of the local cuisine and mighty refreshing on a hot summer day, Suan Mei Tang is delicious, but is often sweetened to the point of being almost syrupy in consistency, likely to soften the bitter sour edge of the primary ingredient. When it was served in small 250ml bottles and tiny plastic cups, this was less of an issue, but as it was moved to larger containers, the sugary calories continued to add up. Trying to do something about this, 元气森林 developed a line of sugar-free sodas that incorporate local favorite flavors, such as peace, lychee, grape, and, yes, Suan Mei Tang. Now, taking a sip of this might bring you a bit of a shock, as absent an overwhelming sweetness, the tangy sour bitterness of the flavor takes over, but it is still just as refreshing when served cold.
Where you can get it: Most chain convenience store and supermarket carry these in the regular drink areas.
Chocolate is one of those things that you would expect to be loaded up with sugar. After all, it’s chocolate. However, with the health benefits of cacao being touted recently as well, it was a matter of time before someone took out the sugar entirely. Landbase has done just that with their offering of low or no-added sugar chocolates, including dark chocolate, and chocolate with almonds. If you’re looking to avoid sugar all together, check the packaging, which have the contents listed in English and Chinese. Obviously, this is going to be more bitter than your average chocolate, but that is part of what makes it great, if bitter is your thing.
Where you can get it: BLT supermarket in XiaoZhai usually carries several of the varieties, as well as other higher-end supermarkets.
Yogurt is always one of those foods that people assume is very healthy, when, in fact, it is crammed to the gills with sugar. This subversive stack of extra calories can sometimes come in at numbers beating out regular sodas and other sweet drinks. While there are several sugar-free yogurts appearing on the market, one of the best is produced by a local dairy, 和润 (He Run), that does yogurt simply and right. The only ingredients on the lid are milk and the two bacterial strains used to ferment the yogurt. That’s it. No funny business. In addition, the longer that you leave this in the fridge, the more sour and tangy it becomes, eventually becoming inedible – avoiding the eerie longevity of some dairy products you might find here.
Where you can get it: Most large chain supermarkets, and Seven-Eleven in the dairy aisle.
Ok, this one is a bit of a lie, as these cakes are not completely sugar free, compared to an average cake, it is practically sugar-free. These cakes, called 古早蛋糕, are a simple recipe containing eggs, milk, flour, salt, sugar, oil, and leavening agent. Watching one of these massive cakes come wobbling out of the oven to be sliced in to thick rectangles of light, spongy goodness is entertaining by itself. The flavor is plain and straight forward, and makes and excellent base for fresh fruit. Different shops have experimented with different mix-ins, including chocolate, dates, and… American cheese? That one definitely takes a minute to get your head wrapped around. In any case, you’ll definitely find the levels of sugar significantly reduced in your dessert offering.
Where you can get it: Stands selling these have popped-up in several malls, including Joy City at Dayanta and Saige in Xiaozhai. Dazhong Dianpin has a map of locations around the city.
05 Bing Feng
That’s right. The granddaddy of the Xi’an beverage scene has gotten in on the sugar-free product game. Sugar-free Bing Feng tastes nearly identical to its forbearer and comes, as far we’ve seen, exclusively in the slim 330ml cans popular in Japanese vending machines and trendy supermarkets. Whether the other offerings by the Bing Feng company will also be offering sugar-free versions is yet to be seen, but it is a great way to enjoy a classic, without the added calories.
Where you can get it: Coverage for this beverage seems to be spotty, as it has been seen at some supermarkets in one chain, only to be missing in other shops. It can fairly reliably be found at 唐久 convenience shops.
Do you know of any other local products that have gone sugar-free? Let us know by messaging us through our official WeChat account or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org