Cooking with stevia may be something you’ve been thinking about trying for a long time, but aren’t sure if foods, especially desserts, will turn out to be very tasty. Granted, many sugar-free foods aren’t very inviting, because, hey, when you remove the real sugar taste, it’s not much of a dessert, is it? But today’s innovative, smart use of organic stevia has changed all that.
What is Stevia?
Even though stevia has become very popular in recent years, the green, leafy herb from South America has been used for centuries as a sweetener for teas and foods. In it’s raw state, it’s typically several hundred times sweeter than sugar. In fact, 1 teaspoon can be as sweet as a whole cup of sugar. That’s why less is always more!
Stevia Health Benefits
It’s a potent sweetener that has zero calories and is completely natural. It also offers many health benefits. Studies have shown that stevia can lower blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, and help fight diabetes. It’s also safe, as research has not documented any health side effects.
Forms of Extracted Stevia
Today’s refined versions of the leafy sweetener can be found in both powder and liquid extract forms. Liquid extract is even more concentrate than the powder form and little is needed for various recipes.
How Does It Taste?
There are different types of stevia sweeteners which have an impact on how it tastes. Because of its potency, it can sometimes have an aftertaste that some people aren’t crazy about. But, if you select the right kind of stevia, it can taste very good. Some people report that stevia powder has less of an aftertaste than liquid extract. Of course, your chosen recipe and how you use it will also determine the taste.
How to Choose the Best Tasting Stevia
Choosing the right stevia sweetener to cook with is essential for a great tasting recipe. Be sure to choose stevia that is:
- 100% pure, no added ingredients
- made from whole stevia leaf
- no ‘natural’ flavors
- make sure label states “extract” (if not, it usually has additives)
5 Easy Desserts for Cooking with Stevia
If you’re up for trying some great tasting, easy-peasey stevia desserts, here’s 5 delectable recipes to get you started. You don’t even need a conversion chart, because the stevia measurements are already included for these delicious, sugar-free dishes.
1. Terrific Brownies
Calories per serving: About 70
1/2 cup skim milk
3/4 cup Greek, nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup stevia (pourable version like sugar)
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8″x 8″ square baking pan. Blend all ingredients in a blender for about a minute until smooth. Pour into pan and bake for 15 minutes or until done. Cool on a rack, then serve. Yields 9 large pieces. Yum!
2. Tantalizing Coffee Mousse
Calories per serving: About 160
1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
1 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla liquid stevia
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 tsps dry gelatin
2 cups Ricotta cheese
Dissolve gelatin in the hot coffee and move aside to cool. Blend together salt, stevia, vanilla extract and Ricotta cheese until mixed well. Add coffee gelatin and blend until smooth. Then, pour in whipping cream and blend the mixture on high until whipped thick. You can spoon mixture into serving dishes and set in refrigerator for 2 hours until ready to serve. You may want to add a garnish of shaved, sugar-free chocolate on each serving for added interest. Yields 8-10 servings. Sublime!
3. Easy Chocolate Truffles
Calories per serving: About 75
1/2 cup powdered stevia
4 ounces organic unsweetened baking chocolate pack
9 ounces heavy cream
Chop up the unsweetened baking chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof, shallow bowl. In a small sauce pan, add stevia and heavy cream, then slowly warm over medium heat until sweetener is completely dissolved in hot liquid. Do not let mixture simmer or boil. Pour hot mixture over chocolate bits in bowl. Let ingredients sit for about 1 minute.
Then, take a fork and lightly whisk together until well mixed. Place in refrigerator until firm. Use wax paper to line a baking sheet. Use a spoon or small scoop to place small, round portions of the mixture on the wax paper. Place baking sheet in refrigerator for a few minutes. Yields about 18-20 truffles. Enjoy!
4. No-Cook Chocolate Mint Cookies
Calories per serving: About 95
1/2 tsp liquid stevia extract
7-8 tbsp liquid organic coconut oil
3/4 cup protein powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp peppermint extract
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and stir well. Use spoon or scoop to drop rounded portions of mixture onto a flat, plastic container for storage. Place in refrigerator or freezer to firm. Serve whenever the mood strikes! Yields about 10 cookies.
5. Creamy Vanilla Pudding
Calories per serving: About 50
1/8 tsp stevia powder
1/4 tsp organic sea salt
2 1/2 cups skim milk
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp cornstarch
(NOTE: You can use whole or 2% milk in recipe, if you prefer.)
Pour 2 cups milk in sauce pan and warm on low heat. Mix cornstarch in 1/2 cup milk until dissolved. Then, add to sauce pan of milk. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring continuously for about 3 minutes. Then, lower heat to simmer. Mix in remaining ingredients and let stand until cool. After cooling, place the sauce pan in refrigerator, uncovered. This will allow it to thicken more before serving. Yields about 4 servings. Scrumptious!
Cooking with Stevia: Practice Makes Delicious
You will find that cooking with stevia may require a bit of practice to get your recipes exactly the way you prefer. Keep in mind that different brands of stevia will yield slightly different tastes and consistencies. However, if you stick to the above buying tips, you will enjoy better tasting recipes.