I discussed my personal goals at length the first week, but to sum up, this is what I’m hoping to do in the course of these 12 weeks:
I’ve mentioned before that I’m using stevia more and more as a sweetener, and I’ve almost completely eliminated sugar (cane sugar) from my diet. I don’t eat sugar at all at home, and I try to keep my consumption of it minimal when I’m eating elsewhere. Personally, I think it’s the best thing anyone can do for their health!
Stevia is a great replacement for sugar because it doesn’t raise the glycemic levels, which is good news for people like me who are purposely reducing carbs and sugar for that very reason. Of course, food manufacturers see the money available here, and are doing everything they can to profit from this trend, which inevitably results in a watered down, less-than-healthful product.
Consequently, you’ll see all kinds of stevia sweeteners popping up in stores everywhere, but not all of them are created equal. Real Food Forager and Kitchen Stewardship both have done a lot of research about stevia and have written great posts about the different kinds and which ones you should use. Since my information on stevia largely comes from them, I will direct you to their work instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel.
Suffice it to say, your best bet with commercially available stevia is the liquid form, preferably glycerin-based rather than alcohol-based. Powdered stevia (with the notable exception of the SweetLeaf brand ) is often highly processed with added chemicals and sugars, which, in my opinion, makes it a less desirable option. I do still occasionally use it, but mostly because I received a whole package of different types of stevia in a giveaway, and I hate to waste them! (You know !)
In an ideal situation, you could grow your own stevia and make your own stevia liquid from that. I was actually attempting to do exactly that this year, but something happened to my plant and the whole thing turned black. I am thinking it was a little cold snap we had, but since none of my other plants were affected, I’m not really sure. I still plan to order some dried stevia online and make my own liquid, which is also an option if you’re not up to growing your own stevia.
Since stevia is a LOT sweeter than sugar, you only have to use a few drops of it per serving. As you can imagine, this complicates the process of baking, where the ratio of dry to wet ingredients is important. I also find that stevia – even liquid stevia – can negatively impact the taste of the finished product unless you use the more highly processed powdered stevia products that act as a one-to-one sugar replacement. My personal opinion is that I don’t really like baked goods made with stevia alone, so when I do bake with it, I usually prefer to use part stevia and part other sweetener (such as honey or palm sugar).
I use my stevia all the time in beverages and raw foods, though. You have to play with it a bit to find your personal level of desired sweetness, but I find that 5 drops is the perfect amount in my cup of coffee.
Other easy uses for stevia that don’t require a recipe:
Dips (I love to mix peanut butter, plain yogurt, cocoa, and a little bit of stevia for a great apple dip!)
I also have used liquid stevia with good success in vinaigrettes and other dressings, as well as tomato sauce. I just add a few drops until I get the desired level of sweetness.
If you’re not familiar with stevia, it’s best to start with recipes that have already been adjusted rather than attempting to substitute your favorites. Once you’ve experimented with it, you’ll get a better handle on how to work it into your regular recipe repertoire (hey, say that 3 times fast!).
To get you a head start, here are some great recipes (most of them I’ve tried myself, but some of them are on my to-try list) that use stevia:
Stevia Soda (very yummy, especially if you have flavored stevia liquid!)
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