Stevia does have a place in my home, along with the white sugar and the white rice. I know some traditional foodists disprove of it. However, their objections all seem to be in the ‘it’s processed’ camp without any regard to use of the unprocessed leaf or the dried, green leaf.
It’s a food we consume because we believe the benefits outweigh the risks and the unprocessed leaf has a long history of use. And I always use it in concert with another sweetener. A quick poll on the CTF Facebook page showed that about half of the people who responded do use stevia at least on a a rare occasion and the majority of those who objected did so due to the aftertaste.
I use stevia because there are a couple of carb monsters in our home. They also happen to be sugar monsters, too. I believe most people under five feet lean this way at least somewhat, and a portion of the over-five-foot population does, too. Considering we are a very low sweetener household compared to most, it is an ongoing issue. I don’t want my children to backlash and go nuts with food later in their lives because they felt I deprived them as children. I want them to value food as a way to fuel their bodies, not a way to exert control, stuff their emotions or work out their frustrations.
Desserts are reserved for holidays and weekends at our house. We’ll have a treat either Friday or Saturday night after dinner. I cut the sweetener down even farther than a traditional foods diet would and I replace the extra with stevia. If a regular recipe from an open website that hasn’t been converted into being traditional foods calls for 1 cup of sugar, I’d normally cut that down to a half-cup and use rapadura. Now, I cut it down to a quarter-cup rapadura and use the stevia equivalent of a quarter cup of sweetener. That allows them to feel like they’re getting a treat without getting their sugar levels rocked- especially important since weekends are the busiest days in our house and we don’t eat on our usual schedule.
Why Not Stevia Alone
Some people complain that stevia, when used by itself or used exclusively with chocolate, has a bitter or ‘off’ flavor. I tried out several flavors of stevia last year and noticed the aftertaste with some brands. That can be worked around by using it in combination with another sweetener, such as raw honey or rapadura, and using a brand that isn’t bitter. I personally use NuNaturals as I believe it has the best flavor with no aftertaste if I’m out of my homemade extract.
This allows me to do things like my peppermint patties and nut butter cups for an afternoon snack without giving myself a sugar rush. Because I once had blood sugar issues, I try to keep my sweeteners to a minimum to ensure that problem will never return. So in a whole pan of them, I’ll only use a small amount of honey. That keeps my blood sugar levels nice and even and it allows me to concentrate and focus while most people are in the 3pm slump.
So I will continue to use stevia, especially my homemade stevia, in small amounts to replace some sweetener in my recipes. I believe my children’s health will benefit from it.
We use stevia as well, but we were fortunate enough to get an actual stevia plant from our local nursery, so we use it 100% raw off the tree in conjunction with some xylitol…
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Here’s my take on it: I think our (collective) palate has been skewed by the overabundance of refined white sugar in our diets. We (as a culture) have come to expect our “sweet” to have no other flavors associated with it. However, to my palate, there are distinct flavors associated with sweeteners other than refined white sugar. Honey has it’s own flavor, “brown” sugars (like rapadura/sucanat/piloncillo) and molasses, too. If I keep that in mind, it’s much less of a surprise that stevia, in turn, has it’s own (after) taste. Acknowledging that has made me a little more thoughtful about whether I “like” it or not in a given application. I have a different, non-sugar-associated, expectation of sweet. (FWIW, we use home-grown, home-dried, green leaf stevia. It’s very different, in taste and in use, than the refined versions.) When I don’t like stevia in a certain use (as with chocolate), I find another sweetener that works for me.
I admit, I have not tried combining it with other sweeteners, but it sounds like a very good strategy.
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I haven’t use stevia. I look at it at the natural foods store often but have not been sure about how to use it. This is article is helpful! How do you know what the equivalent is? The little jars didn’t show a chart just a serving size.
Great post! My youngest deals with blood sugar issues also, so I am researching which options are best when it comes to sweeteners:)
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I buy and use a plain white powder stevia, not the liquids or flavored stuff.
My husband swears he doesn’t like stevia, but what he means is he doesn’t like it in coffee; whereas I do.
I’m diabetic, so much honey or rapadura or maple syrup is not an option for me. Any glucose or sucrose sweetener is going to shoot my bg skyhigh, and of course fructose doesn’t raise bg, but destroys the liver, so… also not an option since T2 diabetes is a liver disease.
The sugar-free options are all nasty chemicals, so it’s stevia for me.
My stevia-hating hubby eats stevia all the time – my sweet onion relish, my bread & butter pickles, my cole slaw, my chocolate syrup for making chocolate milk, are all made with stevia.
I used to make “regular” and “diet version of these foods, but noticed no one could tell the difference, so stopped making the regular.
I usually have a plant going too. But honestly, I’ve no idea what to do with the plant. Only thing I do with it is chew the leaves, along with a few peppermint or spearmint leaves, while in the garden. It doesn’t taste right to sweeten things with; it tastes “green” which just doesn’t go with coffee or chocolate syrup.
I buy the white stevia and make my own liquid. In baked goods, I combine with honey or glycerin. I also just tried the NuNaturals flavored root beer and chocolate. The rootbeer is really good.