Stevia is a South American herb that has been used as a sweetener by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay for hundreds of years. The leaves of this small, green Stevia rebaudiana plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 100 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar) at a 10% sucrose concentration. It has been declared as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the FDA.
Stevia has many excellent properties. The body does not metabolize the sweet glycosides from the stevia leaf or any of its processed forms - so there is no caloric intake. Stevia doesn't adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics and does not promote tooth decay.
Stevia truly enhances the flavors of other foods and remains stable in the presence of acid (tomatoes) and high heat. It makes a really tasty marinara sauce and nice, sweet pesto (if you choose to add a pinch). Stevia does not caramelize or brown the way sugar does; you can either add a bit of fruit juice in your recipe or you can add fresh fruit. Check your food by touch, smell and by inserting a tooth pick in baked goods to see if it is all cooked through.
A little pinch goes a long way - you can bake with it, add it to many recipes, use it in place of table sugar, give it to children in recipes and feel good knowing you are using an all natural sweetener rather then a processed sugar!! Do not overdo it or have a heavy hand or you will get an herby aftertaste. You will need to experiment a bit if you are replacing your sugar in recipes with Stevia but a general rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of liquid Stevia extract or 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons of powdered or sifted for each cup of sugar.
I grow Stevia in my naturally grown (organic) gardens, I offer Stevia per ounce here in my Local Harvest store. My Stevia is chopped and sifted; and is not a powder and it is not bleached. http://www.localharvest.org/just-stevia-C10641
Here is my FAVORITE recipe:
1/2 cup rolled oats - 6oz pineapple juice - 1/4 cup vegetable oil - 1 egg - 1 tbsp vanilla extract - 2 oz milk - 1/2 cup plain yogurt - 1-3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour - 1 tsp baking powder - 3 tablespoons of Stevia sifted (or 15 packets of powdered) - 1/4 tsp salt - 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 375 F and oil a muffin tin. In a small bowl, soak the oats in the pineapple juice for 10-15 minutes.
2. In another bowl, beat together the oil, egg and vanilla. Mix the milk into the yogurt to thin and then add to egg mixture. Fold in the oatmeal and juice.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, stevia and salt; fold into the wet mixture, stirring as little as possible. Fold in the blueberries just before the flour is completely blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and bake 25-30 minutes.
Yields 12 muffins
Peaceful Blessings and Happy baking!!