We’ve talked about bad-for-you sweeteners and some that aren’t so bad, but still have calories. What about zero calorie sweeteners? Yes, there are some. One of the most popular is Stevia.
Stevia is a natural product made from the leaves of a plant related to the sunflower. It is native to South and Central America. The plant has been used for decades there as a sweetener for the native teas and for folk medicines. You can buy it at most supermarkets as well as in health food stores. It’s not even expensive.
Stevia has zero calories and a zero glycemic number. It is heat stable and can be substituted for sugar in almost everything.
The drawbacks? It can have a bitter, licorish-like aftertaste. My first encounter with Stevia was several years back in liquid form. It was so dreadful that I didn’t try it again for years. The production of Stevia has come a long way since then, though. Now there are varieties that have no aftertaste and some that are combined with sugar or other sweeteners so that they are very palatable.
Baking with Stevia can be a bit tricky since the comparison to sugar varies depending on the type and brand. It is great as a sweetener for tea, though, and I use it daily in that way.
There is still a school of thought that any sweetener on your taste buds fools your autopilot into believing that sugar is on the way. One thing about sugar — it makes you crave more sugar. Just notice what happens to your hunger and your cravings when you have even a healthy sweetener. You may find that it doesn’t affect you one way or another. Regardless, if you are going to eat something sweet, you might as well make it sweetened with something that doesn’t harm you, add calories, or give you a surge in your blood sugar. Stevia can be a great option.
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown