STEVIA: ZERO CALORIE NATURAL SWEETENER
What is it?
Stevia is a zero-calorie natural sweetener made from extracts of the leaves of the Stevia plant. It js the ONLY natural sweetener with zero calories. It is a fine white powder which is around 200 times as sweet as sugar. Very, very small quantities are necessary to produce very sweet foods or baked goods.
The two major sweet compounds in it are called Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. Look for stevia products which contain mostly Rebaudioside as this does not have any after taste when used at the correct dosages.
What can I do with it?
You can use stevia in baking and cooking as a sweetener in place of sugar or any other sweetener. It does not however have the same properties as sugar and recipes may have to be adjusted accordingly. It will also not provide the same binding effects or browning as sugar will.
Stevia's taste has a slower onset and therefore longer duration than that of sugar. Do not over sweeten with stevia as some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.
As little as 1 teaspoon of stevia extract can have a similar sweetening power as a whole cup of sugar, but this can vary between brands.
What can it do for me?
Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, hence it is attractive to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets. It has a number of other potential health benefits, including contributing to lowering blood pressure.
As it has no calories it will also help with reducing calorie intake, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
Buy the least processed stevia without additives.
What can I substitute?
You could use any other natural sweetener such as Xylitol as a substitute sweetener, however the baking results may not be identical.
How do I store it?
Keep in airtight container away from moisture.