Stevia is a naturally sweet and calorie-free leafy green herb that is many times sweeter than sugar. Stevia is related to lettuce, marigold and chicory. It has been used safely for hundreds of years to sweeten foods, and today it is grown and used in China, Germany, Japan, South America, Malaysia, South Korea, and Israel.
Points of Interest
~ It can be safely used by diabetics since it does not produce significant glycemic effects.
~ Studies have indicated it may reduce cavities by slowing the grown of plaque in the mouth.
~ Stevia has been used since Pre-Columbian times with no reports of ill effects.
~ It is completely natural, and contains no artificial ingredients.
~ The sweet compounds in the Stevia leaf are called glycosides.
~ Japan has over 150 patents for the processes of Stevia extraction.
~ It has been used by the Guarani Indians in South America for centuries.
~ It can replace sugar in in most recipes - but not cup for cup
~ Stevia doesn't lose its sweetness at high temperatures.
~ It has undergone years of research proving it safe for human consumption.
~ It is sugarless, adds no calories and can be used as a sweetener in any weight loss program.
~ Stevia can be used by persons with candidiases (a fungal yeast which thrives on sugar).
~ It is expense, but don't let the small bottle or container fool you. It lasts a long time.
Stevia comes in many forms: (The sweetness varies with each form.)
~ liquid concentrate, easy to measure in drops (slight licorice flavor)
~ white powdered extract, non-licorice flavor (the form primarily used in Japan)
~ it is sometimes blended with a non-sweet filler called
~ fresh Stevia leaves - extremely sweet taste with a strong licorice flavor
~ dried leaf, finely powdered (licorice flavor)
It is not recommended as an ingredient in the making of yeast breads because it is not a sugar, and it cannot activate the yeast.
Baked products made with Stevia won't brown, but you can still use the sweetener in baking. Just check your baking occasionally by sticking a toothpick in the center to see if it's done. Also, it does not perform like sugar, and you'll need to experiment with the measurements.
It is a challenge to find just the right amount of Stevia to use because it is so highly concentrated. Using the tip of a toothpick to scoop out the powder is a great trick for measuring, and it should prevent you from using too much. You can also mix Stevia powder with water and measure out the drops.
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