Launched in Australia in 2019, Lakanto was first developed in Japan back in the 1990s by a company called Saraya. Dr Murata, who is considered the inventor of Lakanto, worked with diabetic entrepreneur, Shota Saraya, on the hunt for a sugar-free, all-natural sweetener that would taste just like sugar without compromising his health. Saraya’s scientists worked out a way to turn fresh monk fruit into a high-purity extract, 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Lakanto hit the shelves in Japan in 1995 and America in 2007. It was only approved in Australia in 2019 and began selling in Woolworths nationally in August 2019. Now Lakanto is stocked by Coles, other leading independent supermarkets and health food shops.
What makes you feel the most alive?
When we have helped endangered animals, like we do in Borneo. The orangutans and pygmy elephants have been badly treated by traditional local people who are just trying to make a living for themselves. We are helping through our establishment of The Borneo Conversation Trust and being a founding member of the RSPO (Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil) in 2005.
What is monk fruit?
Monk fruit is a small round fruit in the gourd family, also known as Luo Han Guo and named after the Luo Han monks who discovered it. The monks were healers of people and stewards of the land. We carry on that tradition today by healing people from their sugar addictions and growing and processing monk fruit in a way that is sustainable, including having a zero-emissions processing plant.
What makes Lakanto monk fruit different?
Lakanto has full control over the supply chain — from seedling to packing in Australia and delivery to the local store. We want what’s best for the health of humans and the world. Lakanto’s mission is to bring chi to life by inspiring people to reach their highest potential in health and wellness, and by creating products that are innovative, delicious, natural, nutritious and sugar-free. This is why we refuse to compromise when it comes to creating the highest-quality monk fruit extract that is best for you and for the environment. The only thing left to do is taste for yourself.
Where does the name Lakanto come from?
Monk fruit is called “lakanka” or “rakanka” in Japanese.
How do you harvest the fruit?
Monk fruit grows in very select elevations and conditions; it requires high rainfall, high humidity and a high-temperature difference between day and night. We ensure the monk fruit for our products is grown on pristine farms in the remote mountains of Guilin, China, hours away from the city pollution. The elevation of the ﬁelds and steepness of the slopes allow for optimal growth, protection from ﬂood damage, and access to unpolluted water. The ﬁelds are generally a 20-45-minute hike from the farm villages.
Each fruit is pollinated, grown and harvested by hand, without pesticides, using the same traditional methods that have been used for centuries. Farmers use natural pest control, including bottle traps and netting, instead of pesticides. We support the local economy without interference, allowing family villages to exist as they have for centuries — some as long as 400 years.
What are some of the health benefits of monk fruit?
Monk fruit is a better way to sweeten your life. By using monk fruit instead of sugar, you can help protect yourself from health problems that are linked to sugar, such as:
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Cognitive Functioning
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Monk fruit extract is all-natural so you avoid the drawbacks of artiﬁcial sweeteners. Monk fruit is one of the few low and no-calorie sweeteners that are permitted by the FDA for use in the US food supply and has FSANZ approval in Australia.
What are some of the ways Lakanto gives back to the planet?
We understand everything is connected through life and we seek to find that balance in all of our activities. We are committed to sustainability and continue to focus on those goals moving forward.
How is monk fruit extract made?
We were ﬁrst to use the modern mogroside extraction process which was created by Dr. Murata. Our monk fruit extract process is held to the highest Japanese standards in our zero-emissions processing plant.
Wanting to improve the economy in the area, Saraya decided to share his research and discoveries about monk fruit openly so that the economy of Guilin and the surrounding areas would beneﬁt and monk fruit could be accessed globally.
The entire fresh fruit is washed, crushed and slowly steeped in hot water. The sweet juice is ﬁltered to remove fructose, sucrose and ﬂavour-altering proteins, leaving mogroside in varying concentrations. The solution is condensed and dehydrated, leaving high-purity monk fruit extract. Saraya Co Ltd, Lakanto’s parent company, takes some of the residual pulp and makes it into a natural hand scrub. The rest is composted and redistributed to local farms. We are always working to further reduce our waste.
If you could imagine a new world, what would it look like?
A global society that is sustainable and prosperous for all, where the health of the earth is in balance with the health of people and the environment.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I like to wake early and go for a swim. I eat small amounts throughout the day as there are many people I like to discuss our business with, and it is important to share a meal with visitors to get to know each other better. It is important that I exercise and get regular sleep.
What’s next for Lakanto?
Lakanto has been growing since 1995; the last 10 years have seen huge growth in the USA and after only 12 months in Australia we see and hear the need from people to create more sugar-free products for them. We are working towards approvals in other countries too for the enjoyment of their citizens.
Black Bean Brownies
Protein and fibre-packed brownies for the three pm snack attack or dessert on the couch with Netflix. These brownies are beautifully sweetened naturally with the Medjool dates and the Lakanto Chocolate Topping.
Makes: 16 brownies
- 20 soft Medjool dates (approx 230g), pitted
- 1½ cups cooked black beans, rinsed
- ½ cup olive oil or other neutral oil
- ½ cup almond milk or plant-based milk
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup oat flour
- ½ cup almond meal
- 6 tbsp cacao powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- 3 tbsp Lakanto Chocolate Topping
- 5 tbsp Lakanto Chocolate Topping
- 3 tbsp cacao nibs or sugar-free chocolate
- pinch sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Add pitted dates to a food processor, then add rinsed black beans. Mix on high speed.
- Add oil, milk, Lakanto Chocolate Topping and eggs and mix until smooth.
- Add almond meal and oat flour (you can make oat flour from rolled oats by simply blending them in a food processor/blender), cacao powder, baking powder and salt. Pulse until everything is mixed.
- Stir in walnuts.
- Place baking paper in a square or rectangle baking dish, pour in mixture and bake for 30 mins.
- Remove the brownies from the oven once they are firm to touch and leave until completely cool.
- Top with drizzle of Lakanto Chocolate Topping, cacao nibs and sprinkle of sea salt.
- Slice and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee.
Pineapple Maple Spring Smoothie
This vibrant refreshing smoothie is perfect to welcome the warmer weather. Pineapple and maple combine to form the perfect amount of sweetness but with 53 per cent less sugar than if made with traditional maple syrup. Pineapple is also rich in vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, making it a powerhouse drink to support your gut health, skin and hair. Best served cold, poolside, with a decent drizzle of syrup on top.
- 2 cups pineapple chunks
- 8 mint leaves
- 6-8 tbsp Lakanto Maple Syrup (adjust to taste)
- 1 cup water kefir, kombucha or coconut water
- ½ cup water
- 2 heaped tbsp collagen powder
- 2 cups ice
- Extra maple syrup, to drizzle
- Extra mint & dried or fresh pineapple, to decorate
- Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Taste and add more syrup if needed.
- Pour into glasses and top with a mint spring, fresh or dried pineapple. Drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy.
Dragon Fruit Tarts with Orange Glaze
Fun, tasty and fresh, these tarts are perfect for your next picnic, family lunch or summer dessert. Full of fibre, healthy fats and protein, the tarts are also gluten-free. With a vegan option available, there’s not much these tarts can’t do. By using Lakanto, these creations can now be low carb and contain 90 per cent less sugar per serve. Plus, let’s not forget, dragon fruit is full of vitamins and minerals. They’re a beautiful reminder that the warmer weather is here!
Makes: 6 mini tarts or 1 large tart
- 2½ cups almond meal
- ⅔ cup Lakanto Baking Blend
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ⅓ cup macadamia or olive oil
- 1 large egg (or 2 tbsp additional oil)
- 280mL creme fraiche/Greek yoghurt/coconut yoghurt
- ½ cup of Lakanto Icing Powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 2 small dragon fruits, sliced
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ½ cup Lakanto Baking Blend
- 1 tsp maca powder
- Orange zest
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease the bottom of six mini fluted tart tins.
- In a large bowl, mix together the almond meal, Lakanto Baking Blend and sea salt.
- Stir in the oil and egg until well combined. If it’s too dry, add in a bit more almond meal, if too wet, more oil. It should not be sticking to your hands but it shouldn’t be too crumbly. Push into the tart tins, ensuring the sides are even.
- Carefully poke holes in the bottom using a fork to prevent bubbling and bake unfilled for 10-12 mins, until lightly golden.
- Remove from oven and let sit in the tins to cool, then remove.
- Mix the creme fraiche and Lakanto Icing Powder together until blended. Mix in vanilla if using.
- Assemble the tarts by dolloping spoonfuls of the creme fraiche/yoghurt mix into the tart bases.
- To make the glaze, mix the orange juice, Lakanto Baking Blend and maca powder in small saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s all blended, until thick.
- Place three slices of dragon fruit on each tart, drizzle with the orange maca glaze and finely grate some orange zest on top.
Serve and enjoy with your favourite cup of tea.
For more, visit lakanto.com.