Your key to using Stevia

earl grey tea(bag) cookies

Why stevia?

This natural, no-cal sweetener from the leaf of the stevia plant is incredibly good for you. Unlike sugar, it doesn’t create an insulin response. Its sterols and antioxidants actually nourish the pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar.

Sugar addicts can enjoy foods sweetened with stevia without suffering all the negative effects of sugar. Risk of chronic diseases caused by too much sugar in our food, like diabetes, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and obesity, can be reduced by using stevia to lower our sugar consumption.

coffee foam

Taste

Don’t expect stevia to taste exactly like sugar. Pure stevia extracts are 300-400 times sweeter than ordinary table sugar. A little goes a long way. Used properly, stevia sweetens food nicely. It takes the sourness out of lemons and yogurt and the bitterness from coffee. The taste is lighter and fresher than the same food sweetened with sugar, which can be cloying.

Every sweetener has its own unique taste. Honey tastes different than maple syrup. Agava syrup tastes different than brown sugar. Coconut palm sugar tastes different than corn syrup. And all these sweeteners taste quite different than ordinary table sugar. But none of these sweeteners are calorie-free or nonglycemic. Stevia is both.

Stevia

Pure stevia extract is in the small round jars, top left. All the others contain additives.

What stevia product should you buy?

Read the label. Buy a powdered product that is 100 percent pure stevia extract. Stevia powders sold in combination with fillers have diminished health properties and can cause digestive problems in some people.

Truvia is one such product, where the stevia is combined with erythritol, a sugar alcohol made from corn. You might also see stevia combined with maltodextrin, inulin, xylitol, and glycerin. These additives are included to prevent clumping, to adjust the taste closer to that of table sugar, and to lower the cost. But all this comes at a cost to your health. Pure is best.

If you only use a little stevia, to sweeten your coffee or a bowl of yogurt, for example, liquid stevia is way more convenient. Again, read the label and buy an alcohol-free, pure liquid stevia.Or make your own liquid stevia, like I do.

100% Stevia – no sugar or other additives

Using stevia

In Canada, I buy New Roots stevia white powder concentrate and I use it to make my own home-made pure liquid stevia sweetener. It’s much cheaper.

Baking  When making desserts, always add the powdered stevia to the liquid ingredients in the recipe and give it time to dissolve, as it tends to clump. Be patient. It dissolves quickly. Also, it dissolves quicker in hot liquids than cold ones.

Stevia works well with chocolate and in puddings and custards.

In recipes that need a crystalline structure to rise properly, like angel cake, souffles, or meringues, you have to use a combination of granulated sugar and stevia. Experiment with your favorite recipes to get it right. These might not be worth the effort.

Stevia-sweetened apple yogurt bowl

Snacks  My favorite snack is what I call my yogurt bowl. I buy 0% Greek plain yogurt, for more protein and less saturated animal fats. Then I add fruit and nuts, and perhaps some cinnamon or vanilla. I finish with home-made liquid stevia made from powdered concentrate to sweeten it all up. So good!

Beverages  For sweetening single cupfuls of tea, coffee, and cocktails, where only a small amount of stevia is needed, I use home-made liquid stevia made from the powdered concentrate. You can buy the liquid extract, but making your own from the powder is cheaper.

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Home-made liquid stevia
Makes 1/2 cup, enough to sweeten 24-36 cups of coffee

  • 1/4 teaspoon stevia white powder concentrate from New Roots
  • 1/2 cup boiling water (filtered or distilled, preferably)
  1. Pour the boiling water on the powder in a small heat-proof bowl.
  2. Gently stir until the powder dissolves. It clumps in the water initially but it quickly dissolves. Within a minute or so you have a colorless solution.
  3. With a funnel, pour it into a small dropper-style, dark-brown, glass bottle. Store the excess in a second dark-brown glass bottle. I found mine at the pharmacy and washed them well before using. Refrigerate or store in a cool place, away from light for longer shelf-life.

Stevia

I find that with time the liquid stevia gets cloudy. It doesn’t affect the taste. Just shake it well before using. But if you don’t use it often, you may want to make it up in smaller quantities. If you have enough patience to divide a 1/4 teaspoon in half, you can cut my  recipe in half.

Adjusting the amount

Too much stevia can change the taste from sweet to metallic. You have to learn for yourself how much is just right. Choose a brand you like and experiment with your favorite recipes. Keep notes and readjust the next time. Or buy my brand and follow my guidelines. Then adjust to your own taste from there. Believe me, if you like sweet foods it is so worth the effort.

Single servings

For single servings of coffee, tea, lemonade, or cocktails, it’s easy to adjust the sweetness to the level you like best.

Start with half a dropper of home-made liquid stevia in your usual cup of coffee. Taste, and if you want it sweeter, add more, one drop at a time. Taste after each addition, until the taste is right. Too much, and the drink tastes bitter.

I’ve found that I like about 1/4 teaspoon of my home-made liquid stevia in my espresso coffee. But to each his own. This technique works for any single-serving beverage.

Sugar equivalents

Most traditional recipes are too sweet for my taste. Normally, I reduce the  sugar to half the amount called for. Then I use the following stevia substitutions:

Sugar           Stevia powdered concentrate         Home-made liquid stevia

1 cup                                       1/2 teaspoon                                       1/4 cup

1 tablespoon                         –                                                              3/4 teaspoon

1 teaspoon                            –                                                               1/4 teaspoon

Accuracy when measuring stevia is important. Over-fill the measuring spoon, then use a knife to smooth the top of the powder, pushing the excess back into the bottle. For small quantities, use the liquid option.

Experiment with each recipe to find your own sweet spot, as each recipe (and taster) is different.

Enter “stevia” into my search box to find some recipes where I’ve used stevia successfully (and one NOT so successfully).

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Heart-smart sweet potato pancakes for your valentine

 Luv U... B mine?

Luv U… B mine?

Here’s a terrific treat for the family on a day that celebrates all things close to the heart. It’s terrific because this valentine doesn’t involve candy, but it tastes wonderful, anyway.

My mystery delight involves sweet potatoes. They release their sugar gently, taking their time, so you don’t suffer from sugar spikes associated with refined white sugar that is added to most sweets.

I published this 4 years ago with all the good news about sweet potatoes. But I’ve since updated the photos and made the recipe even easier (there as well as here).

sweet potato pancakes

Light and fluffy!

Heart-y sweet potato pancakes
Serves 2 or 3

  • 3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes (1 medium potato boiled until fork tender, then peeled, mashed, and measured)
  • 1/4 cup flour (whole grain if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs (omega-3 if possible)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons liquid oil (coconut, if possible)
  1. Boil your sweet potato until fork tender. Then peel, mash, and measure. Use 1/4 cup mashed potato per egg, for each person. My recipe serves 3 people from 1 potato.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and canola oil. Of course you can use any kind of eggs, milk or oil…. but on a day we are celebrating love, I think we should be as kind to our hearts as we can be with these healthy ingredients.
  4. Whisk the sweet potato puree into the liquid ingredients. Then stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are just blended.

Cooking and Presentation

  1. To follow through with hearts on Valentine’s Day, spray a large nonstick or cast-iron frying pan with oil and add a dab of butter for flavor. Heat the pan on medium heat until oil sizzles a bit.
  2. Fill the pan with 1/4-cup scoops of batter. I had room for 3 or 4 at a time. When bubbles rise to the surface of the pancakes, lift a corner and check the underside. When golden brown, flip the cake over, using a spatula. After a minute or three, once the second side is golden as well, flip the cake onto a wooden cutting board.
  3.  Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, turn each pancake into a love-note for your sweetie. I presented these golden treats with a splash of maple syrup and some berries on the side.

 

Sweet potato

Hey, sweet patootie, I yam keen on you! B mine?

 “You are berry cute,” I said. “I think we’re cut out for each other!”

Cloud eggs send salads to seventh heaven

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Egg clouds crown your salads.

This is an easy and impressive dish if you prepare all your ingredients ahead and save making the eggs till the end.

I saw these clouds while surfing for egg dishes and meringues last week. Then I discovered that Rachael Ray herself had copied my take on this idea (haha).

Although most people might like to serve egg clouds for breakfast, my spin involves crowning a lunch-time salad with them. More

A hogbake from Redwall Abbey… and a little kale magic

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Crispy egg ‘N onion hogbake

This recipe, inspired by the Redwall Cookbook for kids, has nothing to do with pigs. For the life of me, I can’t come up with a reason that explains why they named it a hogbake. Perhaps it’s a typo, and they meant to call it a henbake.

Regardless, I loved its simple healthy ingredients. More

This Supplement May Stop Sadness Becoming Depression

One more great reason to make probiotics a part of your daily diet. Probiotics may stop sadness from morphing into depression.

You can get it as a supplement. But you can easily add probiotics to your diet. Eat some yogurt, sauerkraut, sour dough bread, kefir, dill pickles or other naturally fermented foods during the day as a side or a snack. Or add these foods raw to a dish you’re making.

Read this great post from Our Better Health for details.

Our Better Health

How four weeks of supplementation can help stop a sad mood getting worse.

Probiotics may stop sadness turning into depression by helping people let go of the past, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition found that probiotics stopped people ruminating so much.

Rumination is when people focus on bad experiences and feelings from the past.

Dr Laura Steenbergen, the study’s first author, said:

“Rumination is one of the most predictive vulnerability markers of depression.
Persistent ruminative thoughts often precede and predict episodes of depression.”

In the study 40 people were given a sachet to take with water or milk every day for four weeks.

Half of the people received sachets that contained a multispecies probiotic.

The other half received a placebo for the four weeks.

Before and afterwards people’s so-called ‘cognitive reactivity’ was measured.

‘Cognitive reactivity’ is the extent to which a sad…

View original post 188 more words

Cherry clafouti solves one omnivore’s dilemma

Omnivore's dilemma - Pollan

What’s for dinner?

Once upon a time some friends formed a neighborhood reading salon. One night they slogged through the snow to sit by a fire together and discuss a book Michael Pollan wrote nearly 10 years ago — The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Pollan’s story lifts the blinders to show where our food comes from, just as deftly as if he wrote it, well, yesterday.

More

Frozen! Easy home-baked bread for random holidays

Christmas bread

Christmas bread works well for Valentine’s Day, too. Fill it with cinnamon and coconut palm sugar and  serve it with raspberry jam.

Braided bread

I always make braided bread at Christmas… because what would a Ukrainian Xmas Eve be, without a steaming warm loaf decorated with ancient baubles handed down from our great grandmother?

But if you’re looking for directions on making bread from scratch, read no further. For this project, I have always bought frozen bread dough at our local grocery store. I usually have to ask at the cake counter, and someone disappears behind humungous stainless steel doors and emerges with the five stone-hard loaves I need. Easy!

This post is all about the presentation. Your results will look as mouth-wateringly delicious as the warm, fresh bread tastes. More

Gut wars! Arm yourself with yogurt and prosper

Grilled pineapple, sweetened greek yogurt, cinnamon & almonds

Yogurt, yogurt everywhere!

 En garde!

Trillions of bacteria live happily in our gut. The goodies among them help us digest our food and absorb its nutrients. They also help our body make vitamins, absorb minerals, and get rid of  toxins. They make our immune system strong. And best of all, they work on our brain cells to help them battle anxiety, stress, and depression. Friendly bugs in our gut make up the army that protects us from disease, including mental illness.

Good bacteria, called probiotics, come to us in fermented foods. Buttermilk, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, sour dough bread, raw-milk cheeses and kefir all harbor the good guys. For many, though, probiotics march forth  into our gut in yogurt. More

No stove? Cook dinner with your iron!

iron out the wrinkles on your next grilled cheese

Iron out the wrinkles on your next grilled cheese

I’m not sure we should let the little dears in our lives in on this trick… But if you’re ever stuck in a hotel room with no cooking facilities and limited cash for eating out, you can get by with an iron!

I’m not kidding. It’s simple! More

Jack Spratt’s breakfast beets

beets and eggs for breakfast

“Oww. Yikes! Moan…” said Jack, clutching the source of his agony with greasy hands… his bloated belly.

“Hey, Man,” said a worried Vinny. “What in heck did you eat this time, to cause all this grief?”

“All I had was a bite of Mama’s fish and chips. You know I don’t usually eat fried stuff, Vinny. But Mama’s fish and chips? I just couldn’t turn that down, and…” Just then another cramp hit, sending Jack into spasms of pain.

More

Banana crepes

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 Banana crepes banish the blues with just two ingredients…

No lie. This is the easiest pancake recipe on the planet. Make this gorgeous breakfast crepe from only two ingredients.  Forget the milk and the flour. All you need are eggs and bananas. Sprinkle some cinnamon to garnish. Then wave good-bye to Little Boy Blue. More

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia miracle pudding boosts memory

Chia pudding cup

 

Don’t eat your potted pet…

Remember those little Chia sculptures that blew onto the scene about 30 years ago?  We’d water them and give them a little love, and they rewarded us by growing hair and fur in all the right places. They were cute but decidedly not edible. More

An ode to almonds, plus grilled pineapple

Almond blossoms

Almond tree in bloom

Almonds are so super good for you, they deserve an ode. One well-known nursery rhyme featured a nut tree that bore nothing… except silver and gold that is, which, as everyone knows, taste awful.

But those who have been reading along with Vinny know that nut trees in real life bear many wondrous things, more precious than money. More

Sweet potato makes flaky scones a snap

Sweet potato biscuits

Flaky, moist and healthy eating.

The sugar quandry

In my last post I came down pretty hard on refined white flour.  I was referring to the silky white wheat flour that bakers love to use in cakes and cookies. That’s because upon contact with the acid in our stomachs, refined flour breaks down quickly into the sugar our body uses for energy.

What’s more, refined flour likes to hang out in baked foods with ordinary sugar. Thanks to refined flour plus added sugar, our favorite cakes, cookies and biscuits deliver sugar to our blood stream in double doses. More

The sunshine food…mushrooms make omelets good to go

Mushrooms

Add sunlight and grow your own vitamin D! Mushrooms are the only item in your produce section that can provide this important nutrient.

Grow your own mushrooms

Enjoy Vinny’s photo story about the magical mushroom garden he grew in his own home. Put your store-bought mushrooms in a sunny window with the gills facing up and increase their vitamin D content in a 2 days by up to 1000 times. “Majic!!!” Then make yourself a tasty, easy mushroom omelet, packed with vitamin D.

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Check out the recipe at the end of this post.

More

Avocado & Comice… a Great Pair of Pears

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The Avocado and the Pear

Story time

Short and squat, Miss Comice Pear rolled into his office. “I want you to defend me,” she exclaimed, blushing a rosy red.

A desk plaque proclaimed the man she was addressing to be the Honorable V. H. Avocado, LL.M. “What is the charge?” the lawyer asked.

“They say I’m harboring a load of sugar. They accuse me of doing great harm. But it’s not true!” Comice was distraught.

“Calm down,” replied Mr. Avocado. He adjusted his dark green jacket over his rather-rounded middle. “Perhaps if you began from the beginning?” More

eGgs and veG… Breakfast many ways

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Humpty on the half-shell, with hard-boiled egg and beets on toast

“What experiments are we doing, today, Vinny?’ asks Will, poking his head into my basket of vegetables.

“So many ways to cook eggs for breakfast,” says Vinny with glee. “Today, we’re going to try three of them.” More

Lemon water and lemon curd magic

lemons

Lemony Snicket!

 Daily cup of warm water with lemon… a Miracle Worker?

I don’t like sour. But Dr. Mike of 17-day diet fame advises a glass of warm water spiked with the juice of half a lemon every morning…the minute we get up.

At first this sounded dire… like voodoo… a magic-potion sort of thing straight out of the pages of Lemony Snicket. But in the interests of scientific experimentation, I gave it a shot.

More

Mares eat oats and Does eat oats

Banana oat cones are healthier than ice-cream. They are also ridiculously tasty!

Why do Mares and Does eat oats?” asks Will. “Oats look like dry little bits of paper. Ugh. Does Bambi’s mom know something we don’t?” More

The three faces of Brocky Lee

Brocky Lee’s Slaw fortifies a lunch-time soup

Brocky Lee is a fine fellow. He’s a member of a well-recognized vegetable family, the Cabbages. Many of Brocky’s famous cousins include such luminaries as Sir  Cauliflower, Mr. Kale, the brothers Radish and Turnip, and the little Missies Brussels Sprouts and Arugula. More

Hazel tames the giant Nutella: Easy home-made spread

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Our elf Hazel is deeply wise.
Love her and she’ll quench your thirst for knowledge.
Then, she’ll bless you with a silver tongue,
for teaching others what you’ve learned.

So it’s said. But is there any truth behind the power of Elf Hazel?

What we know for sure: Hazel harnesses the strength of her namesake, the hazelnut. Like some other nuts and seeds, hazelnuts  feed the brain. More

Heart-healthy sweet potato pancakes for your Valentine

 Luv U... B mine?

Luv U… B mine?

Here’s a terrific treat for the family on a day that celebrates all things close to the heart! It’s terrific because this valentine doesn’t involve candy, but it tastes wonderful, anyway.

My mystery delight involves sweet potatoes. They release their sugar gently, taking their time, so you don’t suffer from sugar spikes associated with refined white sugar that is added to most sweets.

Sweet potatoes make healthy eating

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest  ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. It beat out  white potatoes by more than 100 points!

Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food.

Sweet potato ranked highest with a score of 184. Potato came in at 83.

More

Fry up a little love this Christmas

Love on toast!

Here’s a twist on a favorite recipe that has love written all over it… a heart-y breakfast to get the family into a peaceful mood for Christmas. It’s made with eggs, Vinny’s theme in recent posts.

Eggs often get a bad rap in the press. But they have lots going for them, More

Maple syrup magic

The sugar shack: Maple goodness is best in small packages! Story source: click my photo

If you really need to have a sweetener, choose maple syrup. It’s good! And now there is some proof that it might also be good for you. More

It’s not always as easy as pie…

http://kmkirbynapkins.blogspot.com/search?q=sugar+bombs

Sugar bombs!

Just when you think you know what things are good for you to eat, someone throws you a hot potato. More

Make a date with cranberries and digest some good feelings

 

dates and cranberries make a good pair

Dates and cranberries make a good pair. Orange horsey likes oats, too!

Dates and cranberries are best friends. These squares make a super healthy breakfast or snack choice, with fuel that lasts and nutrients that are sure to brighten your family’s mood. More

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