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What about stevia?

April 12th, 2018 | no comments

 

Plus:

If I had my way, artificial sweeteners wouldn’t exist (for a list of artificial sweeteners and to better understand my disdain for them, click HERE).

I can read your mind: “But Melanie, what about stevia?”

First, what exactly is stevia anyways? It’s a plant grown in South America that has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener and health remedy. It has two main components that lend to its sweetness: stevioside and rebaudioside. Both are sweet, but stevioside has a slightly bitter aftertaste. 

There are three forms of stevia on the market today:

  1. Green leaf stevia: contains both stevioside and rebaudioside.
  2. Stevia extracts: most brands contain only rebaudioside.
  3. Highly processed stevia (white powder): contain only rebaudioside.

Green leaf stevia:

Green leaf stevia is by far the best option of the three because it is the closest to nature and the form touted for its health benefits (especially from stevioside component). It is literally the stevia plant ground up into a powder, making it the least processed and therefore the only form I recommend. 

Green leaf stevia is 30 to 40 times sweeter than sugar, so be sure to use it sparingly. Because it contains stevioside (in addition to rebaudioside), this form of stevia has a slightly bitter aftertaste. 

If you purchase it in the dried, whole leaf form you can either add it directly to your food or grind it up using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

Try adding a pinch of ground stevia to warm beverages like coffee or tea or sprinkle in your smoothie before blending. An alternative to purchasing dried or ground green leaf stevia is to buy a stevia plant for your garden and use the fresh leaves!

When scanning the ingredient list on a food label, look for the words “whole leaf stevia”. Organic Traditions is a reputable company that sells Organic Green Leaf Stevia Powder.  

Stevia extract:

Stevia extract is made by extracting the sweeter part of the stevia leaf (rebaudioside), which unfortunately doesn’t contain the health benefits found in green leaf stevia. It is 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Remember, the sweeter the substance, the more likely you are to experience hunger, sugar cravings and sugar dependence. This is the reason I do not recommend stevia extract, nor do I use it myself.

Processed stevia (white powder):

Put simply, I am not a fan of the highly processed and refined forms of stevia such as Truvia, Pur Via and Stevia in the Raw, all which can contain additives. Not only is it 200 to 300 times sweeter than regular sugar, this form goes through a 40-step process to make…now if that doesn’t fit the definition of highly processed, I don’t know what does! If you have any of these powdered forms of stevia in your kitchen, please toss them in the garbage.

What do I use to sweeten my food?

Well, I don’t use stevia…even in the green leaf stevia form. I tried it, but it’s just too sweet for me!

Over the years, I have trained my taste buds to prefer less sweet, and as a result I use very little sweetener in anything I prepare. If I choose to add a sweetener, I just add a drizzle of natural sugar, such as pure maple syrup, raw honey, or coconut nectar. Sometimes a sprinkle of fresh ground cinnamon or unsweetened coconut flakes is all it takes and there’s no need for any additional sweetener!

If I have a taste for something sweet and a cluster of grapes just won’t cut it, I whip up a batch of Chocolate Almond Truffles, sweetened with just a touch of pure maple syrup.

I always have some really good high quality dark chocolate (72% cacao or higher) on hand too– a square or two is all it takes to satisfy my craving. I’m proud to say I’ve made it all the way up to 88% cacao and now, the 72% tastes too sweet!

It’s important that you understand I didn’t start out this way. I had to work my way up from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Cadbury Eggs (yes…you read that correctly). To train my taste buds, I increased the percentage cacao little by little until I hit 88%: 50%→60%→72%→80%→88% (Woo hoo!) 😉 

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate


A chocolate that is organic, fairtrade, vegan, and free of GMOs and gluten– Endangered Species Chocolate 
supports sustainable farming practices and pays a social premium for their ingredients to ensure that farmers are supported and species are protected.

What I love most about Endangered Species Chocolate is how they donate 10% of their net profits to help wildlife thrive.

They offer a variety of 72% cacao (and higher) bars. My favorite is their 88% Dark Chocolate bar– super intense and full of antioxidants. I break the bar into six pieces and store in an airtight container. When I have a taste for chocolate (which is almost every night), take a piece and let it melt on my tongue…pure bliss!  

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Chocolate Almond Truffles

This recipe is courtesy of Carla IaFelice, a Wellness Consultant for Heinen’s Grocery Store. It’s no-bake, uses only six simple ingredients, and takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

The raw cacao powder-almond butter-sea salt combo means these truffles are a decadent blend of salty, sweet, and creamy. Whip up a quick batch and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freezer for up to a month.

Oh, and by the way…each truffle contains 4 grams of fiber and only 5 grams of sugar!

Print Recipe
Chocolate Almond Truffles
If you are looking for something quick and sweet...and want to actually feel good about your "indulgence", then this recipe is for you! Free from gluten, grains, and dairy! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings (1 truffle = 1 serving)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour I like Bob's Redmill brand
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder I like Navitas brand
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches Sea salt
Course Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings (1 truffle = 1 serving)
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour I like Bob's Redmill brand
  • 1/2 cup fresh ground almond butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder I like Navitas brand
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together and roll into twelve ping-pong sized truffles. Add a tablespoon of water to the dough if too crumbly.
  2. Store truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or freezer for up to a month.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 truffle): Calories: 150Total Fat: 11 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 30 mg; Potassium: 160 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 11 g; Dietary fiber: 4 g; Net Carbohydrates: 7 grams; Sugar: 5 g; Protein: 4 g

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