All About Stevia

Hello all you Sweeties! ;-)

I've tried to gather up all my info about stevia here in one place, since I get asked often about it.  I'll update as needed. Here goes...

My main sweetener is Stevia. I mostly use the white concentrated extract powder... only takes a pinch. I also use Xylitol, Z Sweet, erythritol, and Splenda. I've found sometimes that using a combination brings out the best of each. That's why I tried the Z Sweet, which I really like, though pricey (so I tend to skimp on it). It's a combo of erythritol and stevia, and comes in both granular and powdered form.

My favorite combo is using stevia and xylitol. Caution: if you have pets, please be careful, since xylitol is poisonous to dogs. 

If you don't have a local source, I've found the prices at Netrition to be one of the best for natural sweeteners: HERE.HERE

The main 2 mistakes stevia beginners make are:

They use too much, 
which causes a bitter aftertaste.


They buy an off brand, 
that just tastes bad no matter 
how much you use.

But the main problem is simply using too much. 

An encouragement to remember: after you are off real white sugar for awhile, your taste buds will "revive" and you will not need as much to be able to taste the sweetness. 

For instance, when making a GALLON of iced herbal tea, I use about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of stevia, the white powder extract (adjust to individual taste). It's potent! And yes, it's only mildly sweet. But over time, your taste buds truly do adjust, and you can really taste the sweetness in things.

I love stevia in hot or iced tea, coffee, smoothies... and you can get cookbooks that have sugar-free recipes for desserts, sauces, baked goods, etc, that use stevia. I bought "Low Carb Cooking with Stevia", by James Kirkland. It's nice... but really, there are tons of recipe blogs with free recipes. They all have their own emphasis, so you are sure to find one to your liking (low carb, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, etc).

Here are some recipe blogs I like, visit often and recommend:

Jamie at Your Lighter Side 

Updated 4/5/14: My current favorite pure powdered stevia is by NOW Brand, called Better Stevia Extract Powder. It has NO added carbs or any other fillers, just pure stevia. The formula seems to have been changed on my previous favorite, so I tried this one, and am totally  happy with it. To save boat loads of money, we buy it at Netrition in the 1 lb size. 

Stevia is supposed to be safe for diabetics, because it doesn't affect blood glucose levels. I've tested my blood sugar with a glucometer and stevia doesn't affect me adversely. As always, do your own self-test to be sure.

About stevia: HERE is a good article about Truvia and stevia, from Dr Mercola.

And I TOTALLY LOVE flavored liquid stevias. One bottle lasts a long time, since you only use a few drops at a time. Just a teensy amount in a glass of water and ice, and yummo! Or in tea, or milk, or whatever you invent. My favorites are grape, root beer, vanilla creme and valencia orange. English Toffee in coffee is divine! And my favorite cold drink is grape flavor with ice, seltzer water and a little water. Yummo. HERE.

This is an unflavored liquid stevia that is so easy to use in drinks, hot or cold. Easier to get the right amount because one or two drops with an eyedropper is easy to measure: HERE

This blogger prefers the liquid stevia over the powdered form. She did several posts explaining how to use stevia, with links, tips and recipes (not low carb, but sugar free): HERE

She pointed out the difficulty of baking with stevia, if the recipe is not originally formulated for it. Stevia doesn't have the bulk of other sweeteners. I've recently been experimenting baking with a combo of stevia and inulin. Inulin is a fiber, and several companies have been making a baking sweetener using it as their bulking agent... and charging an arm and a leg for it! I found that the main ingredients are stevia and inulin, also called chicory root. So, I'm playing mad scientist and making up my own formula. If I get it perfected, I'll come back here and include it.
(Edited to add: nope...never did get that perfected)

There is also a liquid stevia called Better Stevia that is French Vanilla flavored... man oh man, it is HEAVENLY in coffee, and I also add it to protein shakes. Mmmmmm... Netrition doesn't have it yet, but I found it at iHerb. I've dealt with them for several years, and am always happy: HERE

Important Tip: 
-For 2 cups of sugar, you'd use about 1 teaspoon of white stevia powder extract. 
-For 1 cup sugar you'd use about 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder.
-For 1/2 cup of sugar you'd use about 1/4 teaspoon of stevia powder 

***So as the amount you need gets smaller, it is important to measure carefully, or you will get way too much. That's why I got the liquid stevia with the eyedropper for teensy amounts like in a cup of coffee or ice tea, when I was first learning to use stevia.

I know there is a current fad to use agave, thinking it is "natural". Please don't. It is NOT natural, and is very high in fructose, which is harder on the liver. The scoop HERE

Hope this helps anyone looking to ditch aspartame and use stevia instead.  Stevia has really helped me enjoy sweet things, without all the unhealthy white sugar. Years ago I used honey, but can't now due to the high carbs in it. 

I am used to stevia being a milder sweet taste as compared to real sugar, so I am happy with it. It took a little time to get comfortable using it, but I am glad I did. :-)

Here's to our health!

PS: Nope, I don't get reimbursements from anyone for recommending their products. I am just passing on things I like myself, in the hopes of helping someone else. 

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